Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Volume 6, Number 17: New Food Discoveries

Here are a few food-related discoveries I made earlier this month (the first two of which, I admit, I should have realized sooner except that some stupid and/or lazy thinking got in the way):

Pre-sweetened cereals aren't such a good deal.  Three weeks ago, Kroger had selected varieties of Kellogg's cereals on sale for $1.99, and two of those varities were the 17-oz. box of Frosted Flakes and the 12-oz. box of Corn Flakes. A few years ago, I would have snatched up the Frosted Flakes, based off of the belief that I would be getting 5 more ounces for the same price. But it dawned on me, part of that 17 ounces of Frosted Flakes has got to be sugar. And I need to cut pre-sweetened cereals out of my diet. So I went about figuring out how much cereal I would really be getting, by reading the Nutrition Facts box (seen here.) The math goes like this:
  • A 30-gram serving of Frosted Flakes contains 11 grams of sugar--so it stands to reason that a little over a third of a box of Frosted Flakes is sugar.
  • Considering the entire 17-ounce box, that box has 6.23 ounces of sugar and just 10.77 ounces of actual cereal.
Now I understood why my parents always thought pre-sweetened cereals were expensive (as well as unhealthy): They did the math. At long last, I picked the 12-ounce box of Corn Flakes over the 17-ounce 10.77-ounce box of Frosted Flakes.

Just because something comes in a mix doesn't mean it's hard to make!  Evidently, when it comes to cooking, I have been depending way too much on mixes. Brownies are a prime example--for the last ten years, the only way I ever made them was out of a mix (with Duncan Hines being my personal favorite). How ignorant I was. Earlier this month, I found out that brownies are easy to make--I already had all the ingredients for this simple recipe in the house, including a few I had hardly been using:
  • Cocoa: Last year, I bought a canister of unsweetened cocoa with the idea that I could use it to make hot cocoa in the wintertime, only to find that I'm not in the mood for cocoa nearly as much as I was in my childhood. So it had been sitting in my cupboard for a while (thank goodness it doesn't expire until 2014). Then I saw the recipe linked above on the back of the canister.
  • Flour (I bought it for making bread in my breadmaker, but it's something I don't do very often--not when I can get a loaf of bread for a buck most of the time)
  • Sugar (I bought it for making Kool-Aid, but I had given up Kool-Aid when I switched to diet drinks, so I wasn't using that as much)
  • Vanilla extract (I bought it eight years ago to use in a granola bar mix my mother gave me, but between then and a few weeks ago, I had not used it)
Imagine brownies suddenly appearing out of nowhere.  That's what this "discovery" felt like to me.  Making them without a mix could be cheaper than those boxed mixes, too (it's not often that the Duncan Hines mix goes on sale).  I've already made the above recipe a few times.

Steak sauce gives a kick to one flavor of Hamburger Helper: I used to consider the Beef Pasta version of Hamburger Helper to be one of the more boring varieties, one I'd have "once in a while". That is, until I had the idea of stirring in a little A-1 Steak Sauce. That makes all the difference in the world to be because I bleeping LOVE the taste of A-1.

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