Thursday, July 1, 2010

Excuse Me, Where Can I Find the Toast?

My parents often joke about a single male friend of theirs who would to the grocery store and ask where the toast was. At the time, asking for toast in a grocery store was a pretty ridiculous request. How hard can it possibly be to stick a piece of bread in the toaster? However, this type of request is becoming less and less humorous, because it is becoming more of a reality. Today, stores are selling things that people would have laughed at 20 years ago: frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (and they even removed the crust for us!), frozen grilled cheese, premixed pancake batter (not pancake mix, but batter, where all you have to do is shake and pour), frozen pancakes and waffles, frozen potatoes. Yes, I said frozen potatoes.

I think that the reason people use frozen potatoes is because they think washing, peeling, and cubing potatoes is a lot of work. Let me say that it really isn’t. If you need some convincing that it really is worth your time to prepare your own potatoes, let’s start by looking at some numbers. I went to the grocery store this afternoon and checked the price of frozen potatoes. The name brand was on sale for $3.69 for a 38 oz. bag (9.7 cents/oz.). The store brand was also on sale and was quite a bit cheaper than the name brand. It was “only” $2.50 for 32 ounces (7.8 cents/oz.). However, last week I bought a 10-lb bag of Russet potatoes for 97 cents – the price I typically pay for potatoes (0.6 cents/oz. – notice, that’s not 6 cents/oz., that’s o.6 cents/oz.). The store brand frozen potatoes cost 13 times as much as fresh potatoes, and the name brand frozen potatoes cost 16 times as much as fresh potatoes!!! That’s enough to make me stop and think before I throw the bag of frozen potatoes into my shopping cart!

Now, some of you may be thinking, “Yes. The 10-lb bag of potatoes may be a lot cheaper, but my time is more valuable than that.” Let me challenge you by telling you that it really doesn’t take very long to peel and cube potatoes, and cooking them takes about the same amount of time. It only took me 10 minutes, maximum, to prepare the potatoes for the recipe below.

If you’re not sure how to quickly cube potatoes, here is how I do it. Slice the potato lengthwise.

Your slices should look like this:With the potato slices stacked, slice into long, thin strips (like French fries). Turn the “French fries” a quarter turn and cube. Don't be discouraged if it does take a little longer the first couple of times. The more you do it, the easier it becomes, and the less time it will take you to do it.

Breakfast Potatoes
3 Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

1-2 Tbsp oil
¼ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. paprika
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat 1-2 tablespoons oil in a frying pan over medium to medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add potatoes. Make sure to stir the potatoes occasionally. You want to make sure they don’t burn, but you also want them to brown and get a bit crispy, so don’t stir them constantly. Once the potatoes are tender, remove from heat and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika, adjusting the amounts to suit your personal preference.

One of my favorite things to make with potatoes is breakfast burritos. They’re easy, tasty, and inexpensive.

Breakfast Burritos
1 batch breakfast potatoes
½ each green bell pepper and small onion, chopped and sautéed
3 eggs, scrambled (I like to add ½ to 1 tsp Montreal steak seasoning into my eggs)
¼ lb breakfast sausage, thoroughly cooked
Tortillas, warmed
Burrito toppings (cheddar cheese, sour cream, salsa, hot sauce, ketchup, etc.)

Place desired ingredients on tortilla and wrap into a burrito. Eat. I said it was easy!

On a different, yet related note, let me tell you that my favorite way to heat tortillas is on the stove. I used to wrap tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave them, but my wonderful sister has enlightened me to a much better way to heat tortillas. Now I heat them in a skillet on the stove over medium to medium-high heat until they’re warm and soft. Try it sometime. I doubt you’ll ever go back to heating them in the microwave!

Ok, let’s get back to the breakfast burritos. Here’s the cost breakdown, give or take a few cents.
  • Potatoes: $0.13
  • Bell Pepper: $0.30
  • Onion: $0.40
  • Eggs: $0.30
  • Sausage: $0.50
  • Tortillas: $0.38
  • Toppings (cheese, ketchup, hot sauce): $0.50
TOTAL: $2.51

For $2.51 (the cost of the potatoes alone, had I bought the frozen ones), my husband and I (and our toddler) were able to eat dinner, plus we have enough leftovers for both of us to have lunch tomorrow. That’s not a bad price for two meals for two adults! And for those of you wondering what to do with the other 8½ lbs of potatoes you now have sitting around your house, rest assured, there will be plenty of potato ideas coming your way!


Kimberly said...

LOVING LOVING LOVING it!! Yes....your blog. I am going to soak it all up! Thank you for taking the time to do this...both of you! I can tell you now that you are going to save our family money, so yes...I am very thankful! :)

...and breakfast burritos are going to be on my meal list now for sure! Aaron will LOVE that! We had omelets for dinner last night, and they were SOOO good!

I feel bad for the husbands who don't like breakfast for dinner :( I'm also very thankful for mine, who does! :)

Whitney said...

oh my goodness! I read all 3 posts and THEN realized it was yours and Sumiko's! lol I LOVE it! It's really helpful, creative, and fun.

Thanks for doing all the hard work with the price checks and price per pound and everything. This is going to be a fantastic resource for me and I'm sure many others :)

Miss ya already :(

Robbie said...

I like breakfast burritos. A LOT.

Kristin said...

I was all excited..because I actually did make breakfast potatoes this morning...even before I had read your blog! :) YUMMY!

I will be honest, though, food prices are just not the same in Canada as they are the states...but I know that your tips will still save money...maybe just not as much as it's saving you!:)

Keep it up...loving the blog, too!

Jen in SLO said...

I've made these potatoes 6-7 times since you posted this. I linked to the recipe from my blog, too. :)

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