Cheapo Easy Cheesy Rice (or Easy Mac and Cheese) Recipe- Gluten Free

Sometimes the recipes I share here on this blog are fancy and cookbook worthy. They're delicious and frugal and look amazing...
And sometimes there are recipes like this.
Far from gourmet, it's something I've started making recently when the kids are hungry and I don't have energy to think up something fancy or time consuming to make them, but need to feed them something beyond rice cakes and peanut butter. Luckily, despite being super simple to make and not much to look at, not to mention pretty cheap, my kids love this meal and think it's delicious. (Though it just looks like white rice, it actually is cheesy and gooey, though not so visible from this picture.)
I use white rice for this when I want something as cheap and as quick as possible, but you can also replace the rice with a package of cooked pasta, gluten free or not, for a super easy mac and cheese. Or you can use brown rice, quinoa, or whatever else you prefer.

The cheese I use for this is a soft white spreadable cheese sold locally, known as quark cheese. However, you can use whatever soft white cheese you want, though the taste will vary somewhat but still be tasty. I've made it also with yogurt cheese and sour cream in the past.

How much does this cost?
Well, it's hard to give an exact estimate, but the breakdown is as follows:
Rice locally is about $1.40 for a kilogram package (2.2 lbs), but I often buy it on sale for 86 cents for that size package. This recipe uses less than half a kilo (40% of a kilogram) making the rice for this recipe cost me between 35 and 45 cents.
The white cheese... well, I try to only buy it on sale, when it is $1.40 for a half kilogram (~1 lb) container, and this recipe uses half that container, so 70 cents. Not on sale, that container would cost $2.57, so it would cost $1.28 not on sale.

I buy my grated cheese from the cheese counter at the grocery store, and the cheapest cheese is $3.75 per pound, which worked out to be $2 for a non packed container of grated cheese. I used less than half of that container for this recipe, so lets say more or less $1 for that.

The quarter cup oil, honestly, is so cheap since I buy my oil on sale for $1.29 per pound (it works out to maybe a penny or two for this recipe), and same with the garlic powder and salt, so I'm leaving them out of the total cost.

Therefore, if I buy everything on sale, this recipe costs me no more than $2.05, and not on sale it costs $2.70.

For a recipe that is super easy to make and the kids love, and is enough to feed all the kids with leftovers, and has carbs and protein, and just needs sliced raw veggies to round out the meal, that really is an amazing price. And it isn't too unhealthy either.

Cheapo Easy Cheesy Rice (or Easy Mac and Cheese) Recipe- Gluten Free

2 cups white rice (or brown, or quinoa), 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt OR 1 package cooked pasta (gluten free or not)
1-1 1/4 cup soft white cheese/quark cheese/yogurt cheese/sour cream or cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated cheese
1/4 cup oil
1 pinch garlic powder
Salt to taste
Pepper (to taste)- optional

1. Boil up your rice or quinoa until fully cooked. Or if using pasta, cook it and strain.

2. When hot, mix in the rest of the ingredients, mixing well so all the cheese melts.

3. Adjust salt to taste.

If you want to make this a meal in one, feel free to mix in a package of frozen veggies. Spinach or broccoli would be especially awesome in this, though that would up the price, and not all kids would go for that.

What is your meal of choice to prepare when your family is hungry and you don't have a lot of energy to cook and you want to keep prices down? Does this look like something you'd make for your family? 

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. I tried this with ground-up cauliflower instead of rice, very good. Baked it for a while, till it looked brownish. Thanks! this one's a keeper

  2. I make something similar all the time, rice + soft white cheese + a spoon of pesto. Sort of a poor man's risotto. Occasionally I make it "fancy" by leaving out the pesto, frying a finely grated carrot until it's nice and brown, then adding the rice and water and cooking as usual. It gives it a nutty toasted flavor, and makes the dish a pretty orange.

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