You can’t talk about saving money on groceries without talking about rice. It goes with almost anything. Whether you eat brown or white rice is a matter of choice, but it’s still a cost saver, a great way to get your grains, it works great at every meal and it is really easy to prepare. Rice is probably my biggest money saver; we eat it at least once a week, usually more.

From breakfast to dessert, main course to side dish, all it takes is a few inexpensive ingredients to change this grain up. Rice is an open slate to flavors, whether it’s curry or Mexican rice, it blends well with whatever seasonings you are using. I prefer just plain white rice, and I love my rice cooker; it has a place of honor on my countertop. Cook up something saucy and pour it over the top, yum.

Although I have several recipes for meatless meals that include rice, I prefer my rice with meat. It doesn’t take as much meat, however, and works great to use up my leftovers. An obvious choice is stir fry or fried rice for me, but we’ve been trying to mix it up and expand our choices. This week that meant soup; I don’t usually use rice in soups, but I can.

I love the taste of stuffed bell peppers. My problem is, that’s a lot of peppers to stuff, and I’m too busy to actually get to it. It probably doesn’t take that long, but I never get to it; stuffed peppers stay on the oh-that-sounds-really-good list. I buy the supplies and then end up making something else. This week, I turned those ingredients into a soup, and it has the flavors I love with no stuffing. The presentation isn’t as nice, I admit, but it was a hit all around my house.

Stuffed Pepper Soup

1 pound (total) ground beef and/or sausage

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

3 medium bell peppers, chopped

1 29-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 15-ounce can stewed tomatoes

2 cups beef broth

1 tablespoon oregano

2 tablespoons basil

Brown the ground meat with the onion and garlic. Add the bell peppers, tomatoes, broth and spices. Bring to boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer on stove for about 30 minutes. Cook the rice separately. Add the rice just before serving; you may want to add the rice to individual bowls if you will have leftovers so the rice doesn’t become soggy.

This week’s menu is based on the Treat’s ad in the Calaveras Enterprise.

Stuffed pepper soup

Taco salad

Chorizo and rice


Fried rice


For recipes and a cost breakdown, visit calaverasen­


Single mother to three rambunctious boys and a princess. Making every dollar count! Kids are expensive, and they always seem to need stuff.