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  • Italian Wedding Soup and Spaghetti and Meatballs


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project



    Every month in 2014, I'll be working to give a plan for a couple meals you can easily put together for your family by shopping Grocery Outlet. My goal is to keep the menu to $2 or less per serving, based on a family of six. In addition to finding terrific bargains at Grocery Outlet, I'm going to work to save money by using similar ingredients across both meals. For instance, in January I shared an awesome hearty slow cooker chili recipe and then we took the leftovers and turned them into burritos for the next day!

    For February, it's all about meatballs! Meatballs are delicious and quick to make, plus they can be used in a variety of dishes. We'll start by making up a big batch of meatballs the first night we'll make an amazing Italian Wedding Soup. The next night, we'll simmer the remaining meatballs in a simple spaghetti sauce.

     

    Ingredients

    Chances are you may already have many of the ingredients needed for either or both of these recipes like I did!


    Here's what I ended up buying at Grocery Outlet:
    - 1 lb lean ground beef
    - 1 lb ground bulk sausage (OR for leaner recipes, opt for a 2nd lb of lean ground beef)
    - bag of onions
    - bag of carrots
    - 1 clamshell organic baby spinach
    - Fresh grated Parmesan cheese (I found this for just $1.99!)
    - Loaf of sourdough bread
    - 2 (28 oz) cans of whole tomatoes (I found these for just $0.99!)
    - 4 cans chicken broth

     
    From the pantry:
    - 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
    - 1 cup dry breadcrumbs
    - 1/2 cup dry pasta (for soup) - any kind you have will do!
    - dry spaghetti noodles
    - minced garlic
    - 6 oz can tomato paste
    - 2 eggs
    - 1 tsp sugar
    - 1 bay leaf
    - 1/4 cup olive oil
    - salt and fresh ground pepper

     
    All together, I paid $23.27 out of pocket at Grocery Outlet for the items from my grocery list above! That works out to $11.64 per meal, or $1.94 per serving (based on 6 servings) - just under my $2 menu plan goal!

    Not only that, both of the following recipes are absolutely delicious. Even my picky eating children adored them!

    Step One: Meatball Prep!

     

     Meatball Prep

    The first step is going to be the most time consuming, but lucky for you, it's not that time consuming! I recommend you make all the meatballs for both recipes on the same night, to reduce mess and prep time.

    In a large glass bowl, mix the lean ground beef, sausage (if using), breadcrumbs, 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, 2 eggs, 2 tsp minced garlic, and tbsp Italian seasoning.

     

     Meatballs!

     

     I find the easiest way to mix is simply by hand! If you can't get over the "ew" factor, you could process in a mixer. Once mixed, roll into small meatballs. I worked to make mine as consistent in size as possible, for even cooking times. You're now ready to make the next two recipes!

    I should mention that the Italian sausage made these meatballs quite tasty, but definitely upped the fat content. If you're looking to reduce that, I recommend you swap out the sausage for another pound of lean ground beef. Another idea would be to pre-cook the meatballs for the recipes below, to cook off some of the fat.

    Night One: Italian Wedding Soup


    Italian Wedding Soup

    I drew inspiration from this recipe at AllRecipes.com for today's easy and delicious soup! Start by bringing your 4 cans of chicken broth (8 cups total) to a boil. Then, add 1 cup diced carrots, 1/2 cup pasta (I used corkscrew), 1 cup spinach and 1/2 of your batch of meatballs. Cook for 10 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked. That's it! I served mine with the loaf of sourdough bread.

     

    Night Two: Italian Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs

     

    Spaghetti & Meatballs

     

    Once you've tried this delicious spaghetti sauce, I dare you to go back to the jarred stuff! I took inspiration from this recipe at Allrecipes.com.

     

    Spaghetti Sauce


    This recipe is incredibly simple to prepare, but it does require some time - so make sure to plan ahead! Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Stir in the 2 cans of whole tomatoes, salt, sugar, and bay leaf. Cover, reduce to a simmer for 90 minutes. Next, add your meatballs, tomato paste, Italian seasoning and pepper to taste. Cook another 30 minutes, or until the meatballs are fully cooked. Serve with the pasta of your choice. I also love mine topped with a little Parmesan.

    The next time you're planning your family's menu, think about how you could save money by using similar ingredients or leftovers for a second meal. Then, make sure to shop Grocery Outlet first to save even more.

    Join me next month for another menu plan and shopping list!

    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In the rare event she finds spare time, she loves gardening, hanging out with her girlfriends, and watching old cheesy monster movies.


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  • Breaking Out of the Dinner Rut: Greek-Style Turkey Burgers


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    When you get in a dinner rut of making the same meals over and over, one easy way to change things up is to simply reinvent one of those meals! For today's recipe, I thought I'd take a classic go-to dinner, hamburgers, and do a little something different with it drawing inspiration from the aisles of my local Grocery Outlet.

     

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    I found this 3-lb chub of Jennie-O Fresh Ground Turkey Meat priced at $5.99 at my Grocery Outlet - that works out to just $1.99 per pound!

     

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    Grocery Outlet always has amazing cheeses at ridiculously low prices, including Feta. That's when I got the idea to make Greek-style turkey burgers! I picked up some additional ingredients I thought would work well with this plan including Kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes, and fresh cucumbers. Here's what you'll need:
    • 1 lb Ground Turkey
    • ¼ cup chopped Kalamata olives
    • ¼ cup crumbled Feta cheese
    • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes
    • 1 tsp minced garlic (about one clove)
    • ¼ tsp dried oregano
    • Salt & pepper, to taste
    • Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, Greek-style dressing - to top your burger
    • Hamburger buns

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    Start by mixing the olives, sun dried tomatoes, Feta, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano in a deep bowl.

     

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    Next, work in the turkey meat and press into patties using wax paper. Fry them up in a little olive oil in a skillet.

     

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    Once your turkey meat is cooked thoroughly, it's time to build your burger! There are so many ideas here, but I opted for lots of fresh veggies like spinach, tomatoes, and cucumbers - all from my Grocery Outlet! I also happened to have a Greek style dressing on hand so I used that in place of mayonnaise. Delicious! I hope today's recipe has given you some inspiration to break the dinner rut by making some simple tweaks to a meal you regularly make.

     

    Download a PDF of this recipe here: Greek-Style Turkey Burgers

     

    Like this post? You might want to read the others in this series:

    Make sure to come back next month for another fun installment!

    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In her spare time, she likes to read, garden, and has recently taken up canning.

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  • Breaking Out of the Dinner Rut: Crispy Oven Fried Chicken


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    I always find a good selection of cereal at my Grocery Outlet... and I've recently noticed them carrying nicer brands, too! I recently found this Bear River Valley Honey Nut Rounders bagged cereal at my South Tacoma Grocery Outlet store for just $1.99.

     

    DSCN0662 (800x600) (2)

     

    I decided it would be the perfect, simple ingredient to put a fun spin on a dinner classic: fried chicken! I mean, talk about a quintessential summer picnic food right? I wondered if I could come up with a non-deep fried version that would still be moist and packed with flavor. I'm excited to tell you that I did! The other great thing about tonight's recipe is that you should likely have most of the ingredients on hand already - so it's a good one for the budget.

     

    Crispy Oven Fried Chicken


    For a PDF of this recipe, click here.

    Ingredients
    • 1 package of fryer chicken pieces (~ 1-2 lbs; skin on or skinless)
    • 1/2 cup flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
    • 1 cup crushed honey-flavored cereal (or other cereal of your choice)
    • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
    • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
    • 2 eggs, whisked with a splash of milk

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    I started with a good quality package of chicken. Check it out - my Grocery Outlet store carried these organic, local drumsticks for just $3.27! Now you could go skinless, but I prefer skin once in awhile, so I left mine on. (I justified it by reminding myself I wouldn't be deep frying!)

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    Preheat your oven to 400°. Mix the flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow cake pan or pie plate. Dip each chicken piece in the mixture, dust off any excess flour and set aside.

     

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    Now it's time to prepare the coating. You're going to start by taking your cereal and processing it down. Before we go on, I want to mention that you could really use any number of cereals you find at your Grocery Outlet store - feel free to experiment around! I like using a honey-based cereal for the sweetness, but you could also opt for something like corn flakes or a crispy rice cereal.

    Don't worry if you don't have a food processor for this next part, either. I don't and I don't let it stop me! Ready to see my secret?

     

    cereal

     

    I just put it in a plastic bag and smash it with a rolling pin! A meat tenderizer also works well (just use the flat end). As you can see, I didn't entirely pulverize the cereal, but left some bigger pieces for texture. Do what you like.

     

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    Once your cereal is processed as you like, mix in 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs and 1 tsp of poultry seasoning. Here too is some room for spicing things up. Feel free to add garlic powder, cayenne, or grill seasoning depending on your taste preferences. When you're done, put the mixture in a shallow plate or pie pan. In a separate pan, whisk a couple eggs with a splash of milk.

    As you can see from the picture above, I like to create a clear assembly line for my chicken! It's going to go in the egg wash, then to the breading and finally onto a cookie sheet topped with a lightly sprayed rack for the oven.

     

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    I like my pieces really covered, so I make sure to take extra time to pat down the breading on any bare spots.

     

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    The secret to keeping the breading on the chicken? Use a rack! I also sprayed my chicken with cooking oil as well as spraying some on the rack. As you'll soon see from my final photos, I lost very little breading this way. (Plus, it makes for easy clean up.)

     

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    Give the chicken a turn at 20 minutes. Cook an additional 20 minutes or until no longer pink.

     

    chickendinner

     

    The result? Delicious! My chicken was very moist inside and full of flavor. The honey cereal added a subtle sweetness to the dish. This chicken was quick to assemble, easy on the budget, and most important, family-friendly.

     

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    You could serve it hot, as I did; or serve it chilled. As for the leftover cereal? Well, I'd say you got breakfast covered too!

    Like this post? You might want to read the others in this series: Make sure to come back next month for another fun installment!

     

    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In her spare time, she likes to read, garden, and has recently taken up canning.

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  • Bargain TV: What to Get your Valentine

    This Valentine's Day, we've got you covered at Grocery Outlet Bargain Market. Let Christopher show you all of the great deals that you can pick up for your sweetheart without causing heartache for your wallet!




    What are you planning for your valentine? What's the best valentine you've ever received?

    Assignment time: what's your favorite chick flick? Leave a comment and let us know.

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  • Cut Back on Food Waste

    This weekend I finally cleaned out my fridge.  It was scary.

    In December we had the holidays, followed by the mad rush to get back into the normal swing of everyday life, and as a result, my refrigerator hadn't had a good going-over in quite some time. I lost a lot of food due to my negligence, and I'm sure I lost quite a bit of money to boot.

    Food waste is a serious problem.  As of 2011, it's estimated that 1.3 billion tons of food (about 1/3 of total worldwide food production) were lost.  In developed countries like ours, most of that waste happens at the consumption stage, when the food has already reached the consumer.

    Food and Dirt

    I was pretty shocked at how much I had to throw in the compost bin and trash can, and it made me wonder how I might cut back on food waste in 2012.

    My plan:

    1. Plan my meals.  It always feels like a hassle, but I just do better when I have a plan.  It cuts down on shopping time, helps me eat healthier, and I know what's in my pantry and fridge so that fewer products go to waste.

    2. Shop my kitchen first.  Look at what you have around you before you spend.   You might have the kitchen staple you've just put on your list, so check your fridge and your pantry before you head to the store.

    3. Store produce properly.  Tired of finding a drawer of wilted, slimy vegetables?  Some fruits emit ethylene, an odorless, colorless gas that speeds ripening and can lead to the premature decay of nearby ethylene-sensitive vegetables.  It's important to store foods that give off ethylene gas separately from those that are sensitive to it.  Check out this guide for tips on how to store produce and when to eat it.

     4. Use less-than-perfect produce to make stock.  If you've never done this before, it's pretty easy and uses up any discarded vegetable bits you've got in your fridge. This website has several different stocks to make with instructions: Reluctant Gourmet.

     5. Eat leftovers.  When I put mine away now, I put them at the very front of the fridge at eye level.  Sometimes I even write the date on the top of the box, so I know how long I have.

    If I follow these rules, I should have a much more pleasant fridge, and less of my money and my food will end up in the scrap heap.

    What about you?  How do you reduce food waste?  Share your ideas with us.

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  • Summer Food Safety

    Cooking outdoors is a summer activity best shared with family and friends. But in order to stay healthy, it's important to follow food safety guidelines to prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying and causing food borne illness. Use these simple guidelines for grilling food safely:

    Store to Home
    When shopping, buy cold food like meat and poultry last, right before checkout. Put packages of raw meat and poultry into plastic bags to guard against cross-contamination, which happens when raw meat juices drip onto other food packages.

     

    barbequing

    Cook Thoroughly

    Cook food to a safe minimum temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Meat & poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside. Use a food thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature.

    Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures
    Whole poultry: 165 °F
    Poultry breasts: 165 °F
    Ground poultry: 165 °F
    Hamburgers, beef: 160 °F
    Beef, veal, and lamb (steaks, roasts and chops): Medium rare 145 °F, Medium 160 °F
    All cuts of pork: 160 °F
    Source: USDA.gov

    Don't forget to check out your local Grocery Outlet store for great values on excellent cuts of meat!  Our meat is cut-to-order just for Grocery Outlet, then packed and delivered fresh several times a week. All of our fresh-cut meat is USDA Natural—minimally processed with no added ingredients.  So-called “sale” meat at regular stores is not well-trimmed, so you pay for parts you can’t eat, but Grocery Outlet trims extra-close, so you get the most for your money.

    We provide quality meat at great prices.  It’s just that simple.


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