I have found a great time-saver. It is a rice cooker/warmer.
Rice is a wonderful accompaniment to so many meals, and with this handy appliance, I can add the ingredients at once, turn it on, and then ignore it until time to serve up. I can also use it to reheat left-over rice. I can also keep rice at serving temperature while family members eat at different times, such as Saturday breakfast when we don't set the alarm clock. I can have hot rice waiting for lunch after church, or ready for supper after I've worked all evening waiting tables.
What does one do with rice at a meal? Well, top it with spaghetti sauce that was left or planned over. Put any meat sliced thinly on top, add a bit of gravy. Take cooked meat, lightly reheat in a frying pan and add teriyaki sauce, and put that on the rice. Make fried rice with left-over rice and a bit of this and that. Sprinkle the rice with a seasoning blend, and use it as a side dish. (In an international grocery, you can find many varieties of furikake, which is a Japanese rice seasoning blend.) You can put some canned or left-over vegetables on rice, along with some sliced or grated cheese, and then microwave just long enough to melt the cheese. Rice can take the place of potatoes, noodles or stuffing in many different meals. And, you can serve the rice with beans (or whatever else) cooked in the crock-pot. Or, have hot rice waiting for you in the morning to serve with milk and sugar as hot cereal.
I have found that it is just as easy to cook brown rice as white in my rice cooker. The only difference is that I measure the water a bit more generously for brown rice --about 1/4 more water. It comes out just as soft and fluffy as white rice, which means it would be easier to get a finicky family to like brown rice cooked this way. (If you need to be very subtle about introducing it, mix half brown and half white rice, and cover it with sauce before serving. They might eat half the portion before they notice anything is different!)
Rice cookers come in a variety of sizes, and are no more expensive than other similar time-saving appliances. Since rice is such an economical and versatile food, you could easily get enough use to justify the outlay, and if it reduces reliance on convenience foods, it will probably save money in the long run.
Rose Berry - Thrifty Fanatic