Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for February, 2006


2/27/06 | Kroger Corn Bitz


[ Currently Eating: Early Morning Coffee ]

Kroger Corn BitzNow that I’m getting up a lot earlier due to being on a much different time schedule (try up at 6:30am, bed at 11:00pm instead of 10:30am – 2:00am), I actually find that if I don’t eat breakfast in the morning I tend to fall asleep at the keyboard by ten or so.

I’m not a morning person, so I never understood those people who claimed to love getting up at 6 in the morning, going for a jog and then having breakfast by 7 am. But amazingly, the breakfast thingy is sort of working out. Energy in the morning? Amazing. So you might be seeing more breakfast related things here on Cheap Eats.

Like these Kroger brand Corn Bitz. This store-brand “toasted corn cereal” is basically a wannabe version of the popular Chex brand cereal from General Mills. You know – the cereal that everyone uses to make those Chex Holiday mixes and then try pass it off as their “main dish” at potlucks. I’m kidding… I like Chex Party Mix.

I had some serious doubts about the generic version of Chex. But it was fairly cheap for this full size box, around $2 or so. So we picked it up to try out.

Corn Bitz in Bowl

As far as looks and texture goes, Corn Bitz, is pretty much the same as Chex. Crunchy, crosshatched yellow corn bits that are hollow inside. I was actually expecting there to be more than a few “casualties of war” in the box… that is, smashed up Corn Bitz. Surprisingly, the damage was minimal with most of the corn soliders quite intact.

Continue reading “Kroger Corn Bitz” …


[ Currently Eating: Knorr Alfredo Pasta ]

Knorr Pasta Sides AlfredoThis is the other Knorr® – Lipton® Sides Made With Whole Grains package that I got in the mail. They call it Alfredo, but we all know it’s just creamy instant pasta.

Our earlier review of Knorr Sesame Chicken Rice Sides was fairly positive, whole grains and all, so I was expecting this to be at least decent for this type of side dish. Actually, I was hoping to belt out their glorious tagline “Life just got more delicious!” right after tasting it. Or something.

I haven’t had such a good experience from Pasta Alfredo in general, even those dishes that are homemade or restaurant quality. I think one of my first introductions to Alfredo was at Olive Garden. A decidedly unauspicious place to first get a plate of Alfredo Pasta… I don’t know if they’ve improved but I remember that pasta being pretty lifeless. And salty.

But the heart of the problem seems to be my low tolerance for an excess of cream and cheese in pasta. I’m not THAT lactose intolerant, but I just can’t seem to stomach the joyful slatherings that occur in every so-called Alfredo Pasta that I’ve eaten. In fact, the boil-in-a box ones seem to be less disturbing to my system at times.

Another issue with pasta of this type is the “Clumping Factor” which occurs when the creamy, buttery sauce starts to solidify with the excess starch from the pasta. They aren’t messing around when they say “serve immediately”. You’ve got to be a quick eater to fully enjoy it, although I suspect handmade noodles might fare better in a time test. I think you’ve got about 30 minutes to gulp the mess down usually, though it’s been awhile since I’ve had any Alfredo besides this package.

Anyhow, here’s the review.

Packaging:

These Knorr-Lipton Rice and Pasta sides come in a foil bag that you just rip open and dump straight into the mix. As I said earlier, the design is OK. Boy, the alfredo on the package picture sure looks delicious. It’s almost like they’ve coated every single noodle by hand with the sauce… I have no idea how they got it to look like that. I see they have some salad in the picture background for color… it definitely needs it because the noodles look a bit lonely. But hey, that’s why it’s a SIDE dish.

I put the required additions into a pot: 1-1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup milk, and 1 tbsp butter. Then I boiled it and dumped in the bag. They said to cook it uncovered for 10 minutes over medium heat until it was tender, stirring occasionally. Try stirring near constantly instead! At about 3 minutes I had to turn the fire down to low, and keep stirring it for fear of it burning. I actually went 7 minutes total instead of 10, but that’s OK because I like the noodles al dente.

Also, they say to let it sit for 3 minutes but I’d basically put it in your serving dish right away due to the coagulation issues. The sooner it gets eaten, the better.

Appearance and Texture:

The biggest issue is of course the glue-like consistency of the dish, but I had other problems with the sauce as well. I couldn’t get it to coat the noodles anywhere near like the picture. Maybe that’s dumb of me to expect it to look like it but I did try. Mixing it well seemed to help, though that broke up the noodles a bit.

Those fettucini noodles are extremely flat, although they are the right shape for alfredo. They are so flat they’re almost like paper or something. Also they are quite a bit shorter, though that wasn’t a big issue.

Knorr Pasta Sides Alfredo

Continue reading “Knorr Alfredo Pasta Sides” …

2/20/06 | New Doritos Bag


[ Currently Eating: Ooooolong Tea ]

Bag of DoritosYou may have to avert your gaze from the bag of Doritos in order to prevent burning holes in your retinas. Boy, the color of the packaging is fiery. This is actually the original Nacho Cheese flavor of Doritos but I almost thought I had bought a “Flaming” variety. I know the design isn’t super new but I saw it at Target the other day and decided to pick it up because it was fairly cheap at $2 as far as name-brand chips go. Plus, I had a gift card, so it turned out free…

The new packaging for Doritos (I’m sure it’s new because of the words “New Look, Same Great Taste” are featured prominently on the front) basically screams out shiny red and orange colors “Hey, buy me, you lame ass shopper!” It worked on me I guess, but that was because I hadn’t seen this bag design before. I sort of liked the old school Doritos bag with the see through packaging and slightly less seizure-inducing colors. It was just more friendly.

An interesting note: I’ve been trying to figure out what that “fire-squiggle” on the front is. The best I can come up with is that it’s supposed to represent your EKG reading just before your heart stops from eating too many chips. Or maybe it’s a subliminal chicken scrawl that is beaming the message, “It’s OK to have orange colored, stinky-sock odor fingertips while you’re eating Doritos.”

Doritos on Plate

Yep, Doritos, Cheetos and all those deeelicious “cheese-powder” snacks have that habit of distributing unwanted orange dust on your fingers. I have tried eating Doritos with a spoon and also with chopsticks, but it’s just not the same. Chip bags are funny in that the more you eat and the lower the level of chips in the bag drops, the more orange powder you tend to get all over your hands. This is because you have to reach deeper into the bag to grab chips. One way to minimize cheese powder on your hands is to cut the top of the bag clean off with scissors once you get deep enough into the bag.

Another method (I haven’t yet tried this) is to open a new bag to take the excess air out, seal it up and then take a rock and pound the hell out of the chips. Then, pour it into a cereal bowl and eat it with a spoon. This seems promising in a ghetto sort of way, but I can’t bring myself to waste a bag testing it.

Continue reading “New Doritos Bag” …


[ Currently Eating: Grilled Fish with Rice ]

Knorr Rice Sides Chicken SesameWell, here’s ANOTHER Cheap Eats review of a healthier product… you’d think we’d changed our focus or something. Not so… I promise I have reviews of unhealthy cheap eats coming up soon…

Anyhow, I recently received samples of Knorr® – Lipton® Sides Made With Whole Grains to review in the mail. What we have here is their Sesame Chicken Rice Sides.

First, an aside: One of my earliest memories of going camping with my family is eating out of styrofoam cups filled with Lipton Cream of Chicken Soup. The soup was a dried powder that you added boiling water to. It was a bit gluey, and probably extremely bad for you. But because we only had it during camping trips, it was a sort of treat for us. We also had the bigger packs of Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup that had these unbelievably skinny noodles… almost like broken angel hair pasta. And don’t forget that slightly metallic tasting Lipton Instant Brew Ice Tea powder which came in a tall glass jar which was a staple on trips to hot environments.

So, when you say Lipton I get a good shot of childhood nostalgia. But this is Knorr – Lipton … they’ve apparently joined forces (well, they are both owned by Unilever) to make this Rice Side. Ok, on to the review.

Packaging:

The Rice Side packaging is a five ounce foil bag, with the rice and flavoring placed together directly inside and not in an additional bag as is sometimes the case with these instant rice products. The designs is fairly nice and notably features both logos prominently. The package says “Whole Grain Rice & Pasta Blend in a Sesame & Chicken Flavored Sauce” which is pretty accurate. This is a SIDE dish… you’re not supposed to consider it as stand-alone food. As such, calling it “chicken flavored sauce” is fine I guess… I suspect it’s mostly just the same thing that’s in Knorr Bouillon Cubes

The directions on the back are pretty easy to follow. Just put everything in a pot with 2 cups water and optional tablespoon of margarine. Cook it for 12 minutes, let it sit for 3. Stir up and serve. Not rocket science.

Appearance and Texture:

I cooked this for the recommeded time plus two minutes in a clear glass soup pot… so I could see how it was doing even though covered. I added the 2 minutes of cooking time because it didn’t seem done yet.

The rice side seems a bit wet though I think that’s the intention. It’s definitely not a fluffy rice dish, but more of a sticky pilaf. I didn’t mind the wet consistency at all. The challenge for them of course is going to be selling the public on the virtues of brown rice. But after all, this IS their whole selling point… the “first mainstream side dish made with whole grains”. Note, that “mainstream” addition… I’d guess that’s pretty important because there are untold number of healthy choice rice sides that have been on the shelves for years.

Knorr Rice Sides Chicken Sesame 2

Hey, everyone knows it’s healthy. But those who aren’t used to the extremely firm and rougher texture of brown rice may need some time to adjust. I grew up eating home-cooked brown rice (or a mixture of brown and white rice) around 2-3 times a week so I’m used to it. You really need to chew brown rice. In this respect, I think it was a wise decision to mix this rice side with little bits of whole grain pasta in order to make the dish easier to eat. The pasta shapes are tiny tubes of durum semolina and contrast nicely in texture with the harder rice.

I thought the colors of the rice dish was a bit boring, though it did jive with what you expect healthier food to look like. It’s a mostly dull beige in color – but hey it’s a rice side dish after all so what do you expect?

Continue reading “Knorr Sesame Chicken Rice Sides” …

2/7/06 | Grapefruit


[ Currently Eating: Leftover Chinese Food ]

I realized that I’ve been ignoring fresh fruit and produce lately at Cheap Eats and opting to profile fast food or snacks. So today we’ll talk about Grapefruit. Citrus fruit can be pretty good cheap eats especially if you can find them for FREE. What, how does that work again?

Grapefruit Cut in Half

Well, if you in a fairly temperate locale, there’s a good chance that you’ll have some fruit trees around you. If they aren’t your own, then perhaps your neighbors or relatives have one. Often, the fruit is left on the tree until it rots and falls to the ground. What a waste.

Now I’m not suggesting you go over to your neighbor’s house in the dark of night and appropriate their citrus crop. But if you see them completely ignoring it, you might think about asking them if you might have a few of those lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines, kumquats, tangelos, and grapefruits.

I think lemons can be especially useful for any number of recipes (tons of them call for fresh lemon juice). Limes are great for drinks. Oranges are a bit more difficult to get for free, because most people who grow ‘em definitely eat them.

I’ve got lime and grapefruit trees in my backyard but neither are spectacular producers. My parent’s trees however, are exploding with fruit. Along with oranges and billion of avocadoes (hello, guacamole), I recently picked up a bunch of grapefruits from their house.

Continue reading “Grapefruit” …




Archives

Links

Recommended Reads