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Learning an Easy Way to Save Money - Going Back to the Basics

08/02/21 | Dana LaRieal Morales

Have you ever noticed how history truly repeats itself, not only in fashion but in food as well.  I think back to when I was young, it wasn't unheard of for us to have a delicious casserole meal like rice and chicken with cream of mushroom soup.  You know what I'm talking about!  If you are over the age of 30 (and some of you younger if your Grandparents were around regularly) you will remember when your mom used to make food that would seemingly feed the masses.  How did she do that?  Back then we probably didn't think about it too much or you thought she was just magic.  

Well, first let's set the record straight, she WAS magic!  All moms are...I'm a little biased here but you know...truth!

Anyway, the reality is that she probably made a lot of meals that were inexpensive and would stretch...spaghetti (or really any type of pasta dish), casseroles with rice and/or beans at the base, stew, pot pies, etc.  My family prior to the recent event, which shall remain unnamed, my family had returned to focusing on freezer meals, soups and casserole dishes.  This was fabulous when we were faced with this life-changing shoot world-altering event.  

So, I thought it would be good to share with you a way that you and your family can not only make faster dinners during the week but do so and save money at the same time.  How you ask?  By cooking !!! duh duh duhhhhhh.

Oh my gosh, I crack myself up!  Seriously, we are going to return to cooking more freezer meals, soups and casseroles to our meal lineup.  This will help us not only save money but to save time and meet some of our health goals as well.  Talk about life transitions!!!

Identifying the Lies We Tell Ourselves

I remember when I first started doing this, I really had to sit back and be honest with myself as to why I wasn't cooking as much as I could.  At the time I was single, but I know you've used those same excuses before. Some may have used them more recently than they'd like to admit.

You know the excuses I'm talking about...I'm too busy to cook, it's cheaper for me to eat out or I'm too tired, it's too hard to cook for one person...yeah yeah yadda yadda.  Let's just be honest with ourselves. We are just being L.A.Z.Y...yeah I can say it because when I used to make those excuses I was being lazy.  Now, that's not to say we weren't busy, but we always find time for what we really want to do.

Well, I realize that you can't change a habit overnight, but I can definitely help you to change one small step at a time.  I have for years made this dish that is absolutely delicious and it doesn't take much at all.  I am going to post the recipe here (as I make it) and will link to the original recipe so you can determine which you prefer. 

Anniversary Chicken (my adapted recipe from allrecipe.com click the title for the full recipe)

Ingredients

  • Chicken (however much you want)
  • 1/2 cup soy basting sauce (low sodium)
  • 1/2 cup Ranch-style salad dressing (I often eye-ball this, I haven't screwed it up yet)
  • Shredded Cheese (whichever kind you prefer)*
  • Bacon bits (real or canned)*
  • Rice (enough to serve number you are feeding and throw in extra for left-overs)
  • Water (enough to cover the rice)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Place chicken in a baking dish, pour soy sauce and then the ranch dressing over chicken evenly.
  3. Sprinkle rice in between the chicken pieces and pour water over rice (Don't add too much water at the beginning, you can add more later to thin the sauce out if necessary).
  4. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Baste chicken with sauce halfway through cooking time.
  5. *Optional - You can add bacon bits and cheese to the top of your chicken at the end of cooking until melted. Garnish and serve.
Cooking Tips:  

The soy ranch dressing that the chicken and rice cook in is absolutely delicious! Depending on your preference, you can make the sauce thick or think it out by adding additional water.  You could also use teriyaki sauce if you want (the original recipe uses that, but that is not a staple in my pantry so I swapped it out). 

I usually turn and baste the chicken (stirring and blending the sauce some) halfway through the cooking time.  

Remember soy/teriyaki sauce is sweet and can be high in sodium so I usually buy the low sodium sauce.  You can also adjust your soy/teriyaki to ranch dressing measurements based on your preference.  I really don't measure and haven't screwed it up yet. 

This meal is very inexpensive and can feed a ton of people based on how you make it.  It takes me maybe 5 mins to prepare and the magic happens all on its own.  You can replace the rice from the recipe with cauliflower, omit it and/or make a different side if you are doing Keto or just cook it separately if you choose. 

I just like one-pot cooking whenever possible and the sauce that is made is mixed with the rice/cauliflour, which is delicious.  So, try this recipe and let me know how it works for you.