Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for August, 2007

8/28/07 | Mushrooms

[ Currently Eating: Potato Chips ]

Cheap Eats - Mushrooms

Time, time, TIME. There’s little of that today, so here is another cop-out post on vegetables in order to save time. These are actually Crimini (or Cremini, or Baby Portobello, or Portabellini) mushrooms I sliced up and cooked for a bit. Great for toppings on hamburgers and other Cheap Eats.

One of the most distinct memories I have of as a child is going to a mushroom farm. I remember jumping out of The Beast (a pre 1970s Ford Ranger truck, that only got sold last year) and into piles of fertilizer and soil and mushrooms that were just all over the ground. It was pretty insane. If I remember correctly they just scooped you some by the shovelful, dirt and all. I can’t remember exactly, but I think it was very cheap compared to the supermarket.

Anyhow, fast forward to today and you most often see mushrooms packed in those little styrofoam boxes. White button mushrooms are the most common, though portobellos are popular and sold separately. Farmers markets have them too. The thing is – mushrooms are pretty darn expensive, and they have a comparatively short shelf-life. I’m not even going to get into some of the more expensive types of fungi. So you need to look out for sales (Trader Joe’s has them usually for $1.50 to $1.80 which is surprising, but keep in mind they’re unwashed). Or find a mushroom farm – I don’t even know how they run those now or if they let people just walk in and buy some in bulk.

The thing about mushrooms is that they go well with so many breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes that I’m inclined to cut them just a little slack for being such expensive buggers. You just have to remember to use them up in a timely manner. Mushrooms in gravy, omelettes and spaghetti are a favorite for us. Stuffed mushrooms are a lot of work if you use the little ones, but pretty amazing as appetizers. I usually try to plan to use them in at least 2 or 3 meals straight so they don’t have a chance to go bad.

Price: $1.59 for box
Found At: Trader Joe’s
Cheap Eats Score: 6/10

[ Currently Eating: Baked Pasta A La Yums ]

Hibachi House Teriyaki Chicken

Wow. I have to admit that its a great time to be a pseudo product review blogger if you really know what you’re doing (but I don’t, so the point is super-moot), because you can get scads of free things in the mail. In the past couple months, I’ve had to turn down several offers, just because there’s no way I could keep up with it – especially with my revised limited posting schedule of one measly review every one or two weeks. I guess I could just write super short reviews (which is what the majority of blogs do), but I’m just not into that. Yet.

But man, is it hard to turn down free food! Especially because this is the Cheap Eats blog where Free Is King. Well, I just couldn’t turn down the new Hibachi House fire-grilled style frozen meals. And I’m glad I didn’t, because they went all out with the package. See below.

Hibachi House Big Bag Of Stuff

This arrived on the doorstep… there were seven meals in all packed into this duffel bag along with dry ice. I’ll probably combine them into 2 or 3 reviews, because although they were all different varieties, they can be grouped together into similar types. It’s basically grilled chicken with rice, shrimp with rice, chicken fried rice or shrimp fried rice. The sauces are really what change.

So what’s the whole idea behind these Hibachi House meals? Well, first let me back up and say that just 2 days after I received the offer to review them, I was watching TV and saw some new Healthy Choice Frozen Dinners in a commercial. They were called “Cafe Steamers“. Pretty weird because the idea seems similar to the fire-grilled food in a steam pouch that is what Hibachi is all about. I guess the competition is so fierce or something in the frozen food biz that everyone’s chomping at the bit to get market share on these fads. The Cafe Steamers even had a similar “strangely shaped” box like Hibachi’s – see below.

Hibachi House Teriyaki Chicken

Since the chicken, rice and sauce packets are in pouches, there’s no need to make it this weird trapezoidal shape – other than as a marketing thingy. I guess it’s supposed to be a hibachi stove? One other (nerdy designers) thing we noticed about the graphics on the box is that they did some multi layer processing where the pieces of chicken and shrimp are masked out and a highly reflective coating is placed only on them to make it stand out. Yup, nothing escapes our well-trained eyes!

Hibachi House Teriyaki Chicken

Hm.. my shoulder is fading fast so we’re going to have to speed things up. Lucky, I took so many pictures. Above is how the inside package appears. The main dish is mixed together in the steam pack, while there is a separate package for the sauce. Basic instructions are to make a slit in the main dish pack and microwave it for 6 minutes. Meanwhile defrost the sauce package in hot water. Then you can either mix the sauce in or use it as a dipping sauce.

Continue reading “Hibachi House Teriyaki Chicken” …

8/14/07 | Tomatoes

[ Currently Eating: Chocolate Dipped Cinnamon Altoids ]

Let’s face it: those reviews of candy, snacks, processed foods and Banquet frozen dinners are way more exciting than simple reviews of fruit and veggies. I get a ton of comments with those reviews, but readers pay less attention to plain old “nature-al” foods. After all there’s only so many epic blog rants that you can write about beets. (To all you beet-lovers out there, I’m not hating on beets!)

Still, with us trying to eat a little healthier (emphasis on the “a little” for me), you might notice some posts added of plain old vegetables in between the pop-tarts and frozen pizza. For instance, here’s some tomatoes.

Tomatoes on Cheap Eats at Bloglander

We’ve recently become addicts of the local farmer’s markets. One thing surprising about a lot of them (at least here in Southern California) is that you might think that since a lot of stuff is pesticide free grown at home or is ultra chic gourmet style, it is more expensive. That’s the case with some of things, but you can also find a lot of locally grown produce for good prices. It’s not ethnic-megamarket bargain basement cheap, but for the quality of the vegetables and fruits it can be pretty decent.

We get a lot of herbs, vegetables and fruits at some cheap prices, much cheaper than the average American Supermarket. These vine ripe tomatoes might have been 3 dollars a pound or so, and would have been sitting in the cold at the market for a long time. When we get them at the farmer’s market we just leave them out instead of putting them in the fridge.

Continue reading “Tomatoes” …

8/7/07 | Fiber One Raisin

[ Currently Eating: Hibachi House Chicken Fried Rice ]

Fiber One RaisinI have been getting so much cereal lately for review. The thing with cereal is that I hate to keep opening new boxes until I’m done with the old ones – otherwise there are 10 boxes of cereal open. And since I don’t eat a TON of cereal for breakfast, they sometimes can go a bit stale.

Which is why I only opened this box of Fiber One Raisin Bran Clusters which I received months ago today. There seems to be a huge push on the whole fiber thing lately for manufacturers. This cereal claims to have 1 1/2 times the bran of standard Kellogg’s Raisin Bran. For me, I’m pretty “regular” and I eat enough of it daily, so it’s not so much of a concern. I guess a little extra doesn’t hurt – although, judging by the number of people who wrote in regarding the Fiber One Chewy Bars you want to go very easy on fiber rich foods when you’re first increasing it in your diet. Otherwise, you’ll have many a date with the throne…

Anyhow, the Fiber One Raisin Bran cereal looks like standard bran flakes with the addition of some raisins and small “clusters” of what I believe are oats and perhaps some almond bits. I’ve since learned not to even attempt to get a box-quality snapshot of cereal with the milk in it (who can compete with using Elmer’s Glue for milk?). So here’s the old spoon and bowl setup shot of just the cereal.

Fiber One Raisin Bran

The first thing you get when you open the package is a very strong scent of brown sugar or molasses or honey. It’s a nice smell, but it’s quite powerful. I just poured some straight out of the box into a bowl.

I’m going to have to admit that I had to hunt for a few more raisins and clusters and place them strategically to make the photos look “normal”. The raisins themselves were pretty nice and plump, although pretty skimpy in quantity. Oat Clusters were even worse – I don’t even know why they bother having them in there if they are going to be that size and so scarce. I’ve had quite a few oat clusters cereals in the past, and as far as that goes, this is probably at the bottom as far as the quality and quantity of the clusters. The rest of the cereal is all bran flakes which looked pretty normal and probably above average in quality and size.

Continue reading “Fiber One Raisin” …



Recommended Reads