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  • Your Guide for Going Meatless in March & April

    With many kicking off new healthy habits for the year and spring holidays starting this month, you might be scrambling to find meatless meals that the whole family will enjoy.

    Check out some of our top tips to go meatless this season that will make your mouth water!

    Substitute Fish

    While you can replace your tried-and-true weekday meals with fish fillets or tuna steaks, try substituting fish into your favorite recipes in place of meat. Love grilling burgers? Try salmon patties. Can’t get enough spaghetti and meatballs? Swap in shrimp in your spaghetti. Enjoy your chicken tacos? Experiment with scallop tacos. Using substitutions with fish, the world is your oyster.  

     

    Shrimp Pasta

    Give Tofu A Try

    Tofu might not conjure the most appetizing thoughts, but what is great about tofu is that it takes on a variety of flavors, depending on how you prepare it. We’re not saying you have should replace your Thanksgiving day turkey with a tofurky, but try incorporating tofu into rice dishes, stir fry dishes, soups, and salads for an added protein punch.

    Be Bold With Beans

    Beans are in fact a magical fruit, well…not a fruit but a legume anyway. They are wonderfully filling, and are packed with protein. For dinner ideas, crowd-pleaser recipes include Black Bean Burritos, Polenta with Beans or Falafel.

     

    Beet Salad

    Let Your Veggies Shine

    Spring is the season for a variety of vegetables to be at their peak of freshness. Veggies like artichokes, asparagus, avocado, beets, carrots, cherries, greens, oranges, strawberries, sweet onions and more are all in season in the March and April time. Tempt your taste buds with a Roasted Beet SaladQuinoa Stuffed Avocados or Spring Vegetable Stew.

    Need some more inspiration? Visit your local Grocery Outlet store and stock up on meatless staples to create your own recipe! 

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  • Slow Cooker Pulled Pork, Two Ways!


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

    Every month in 2014, I'm sharing 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. To capitalize on the savings I'll get by shopping at Grocery Outlet, I'll be creating meals that use similar ingredients, or as in the recipes featured this month, using one main ingredient two different ways.

    This month, I wanted to create a couple recipes that minimized your prep time. And what's more convenient than whipping out the slow cooker? So the first day, we're going to throw a pork roast in the slow cooker and then shred it and make pulled sandwiches. We'll use a bit of the leftover meat to create a deliciously different pizza!
     
    Haul from Grocery Outlet


    Here's what I ended up buying at Grocery Outlet:
    - 3.5 lb pork roast
    - 1 package bacon
    - bag of onions
    - garlic
    - 1 clamshell organic salad greens
    - 1 2-cup package pizza cheese
    - 1 pizza crust mix (on sale for just $0.33!)
    - 1 bottle barbecue sauce
    - 1 bottle pickles
    - hamburger buns

    From the pantry:
    - 1 tbsp brown sugar
    - 1 tbsp chili powder
    - 1 tbsp kosher salt
    - 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    - 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

    All together, I paid just under $25 out of pocket at Grocery Outlet for the items from my grocery list above! That works out to $11.64 per meal, or $2.08 per serving (based on 6 servings). That works out to just a tick over $2 per serving, but I should point out that I suspect this menu plan serves more than 6. The pork roast yielded SO MUCH shredded meat that I gave a bunch to a friend to enjoy for dinner!

    Night One: Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ Pork Sandwiches

    I found this highly-rated slow cooker pulled pork over at Chow.com and made some modifications for today's recipe.

     

    Pork Roast

     

    Place one thinly sliced onion and two cloves of minced garlic in the bottom of your slow cooker and pour 1 cup of broth on top. Next, combine the brown sugar, chili powder, salt, and cumin in a small bowl. Pat your 3-4 lb pork roast dry with paper towels, trim as desired, and then rub the spice mixture into the meat. Place the pork roast on top of the onions and garlic in your slow cooker and cook on low 8-10 hours or high 6-8 hours.

     

    Cooked Pork

    When I went to remove the roast from my slow cooker later in the day, my 5-year old daughter wandered into the kitchen and asked, "Mama, what is that wonderful smell?" So warning: be prepared to come home to a delicious aroma!

     

    Pulled Pork

    Remove the roast from the slow cooker and shred using two forks. My roast just fell apart, it was that moist! Don't forget about the broth and onions still in your slow cooker! Run them through a strainer and return the onions back to the slow cooker. You can return the shredded pork to the slow cooker as well. After the remaining broth has sat for a few minutes, the fat will float to the surface so you can easily skim it.

    Add 1 ½ - 2 cups of the barbecue sauce to the pork and combine. Pour in the reserved broth ¼cup at a time, until the meat is moist.

     

    Pulled Pork Sandwich


    The first night, serve the pulled pork on hamburger buns!



    Pickles

     

    I served mine alongside these hot & spicy pickles I found at Grocery Outlet for just $1.49! This is comfort food at its best and quick to serve up!

    Night Two: Leftover Pulled Pork Pizza

     

    Pulled Pork Pizza

    Now of course, you could go on and enjoy pulled pork sandwiches for the second night, but I want to encourage you to be creative with your leftovers!

    Pizza Crust

    Use any pizza crust recipe you like, but I opted for these Betty Crocker pizza crust mixes at Grocery Outlet for just $0.33! One of these makes a 12" pizza. I'd recommend you use 2 or even 3 of these crusts for feeding a larger family. All you need to do is combine with water and let sit for five minutes!

    I topped my pizza with 2 tablespoons of barbecue sauce (leftover from yesterday's recipe), one cup of pizza cheese, one cup of the pulled pork, and 2 slices of cooked bacon, chopped up.

     

    Pulled Pork Pizza Slices

     

    I topped with a tablespoon of chopped cilantro after cooking. Of course, there are so many variations you could take on this pizza. Try adding sliced red onion, green peppers, or crushed red pepper. You could also nix the cheese or add fresh sliced tomato. This pizza was oh so good - and it took only minutes to throw together thanks to reusing the previous night's leftovers!

    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.

    To download this recipe in a PDF, click here: March Recipe

    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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  • 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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  • Hearty Slow Cooker Chili and Chili Cheese Burritos


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project



    You're short on time, you're short on money, you're short on ideas!

    Does this sound like you? If so, I want you to join me this year at the Bargainista Blog. Each month, I'm going to give you a Grocery Outlet shopping list and recipes that will provide 2 meals for a family of 6. My goal will be to keep the total serving cost right around $2 per person, as well as keep your prep work simple. We're going to do this by focusing on similar ingredients between the 2 meals or using the leftovers from the 1st night's meal in a different way for the 2nd night. Here's our plan for January: the first night we're going to make a hearty chili in our slow cooker. Perfect for a cold winter's night and super quick when it comes to prep time! Then the second night, we're going to take the leftover chili and bake up some burritos. We'll also make sure to pick up some fresh salad makings to round out the meals.


    Ingredients

     

    Now if you've made chili before you might think it's a bit boring - but that's only because you've not yet tried this kicked up version complete with sausage! I have made many chili recipes in my day, but I have to say this one is by far the tastiest!

    Grocery List:
    - 1 lb ground beef
    - 1 lb ground bulk sausage
    - 1 yellow onion, chopped
    - 1 green pepper, chopped
    - 2 cloves garlic, chopped
    - 2 cans diced tomatoes, with juice
    - 3 cans chili beans
    - 2 stalks celery, chopped
    - 1 bag sharp cheddar cheese
    - 2 bags 10-ct tortillas
    - 1 bag corn tortilla chips
    - 1 container organic salad greens
    - 1 bottle salad dressing

     From the pantry:
    - 4 tbsp chili powder
    - 2 tbsp beef bouillon
    - 1 tbsp cumin
    - 2 tsp ground oregano
    - 1/2 tsp cayenne
    - plenty of salt and fresh ground pepper

     
    I was able to find everything I needed at Grocery Outlet to complete my two meals. My total cost? Just $26.51! That works out to $2.21 per serving (2 meals at 6 servings each). Plus, I should have some food leftover - for instance, I bought an entire bag of yellow onions. 

    Download a PDF of this recipe to print out here: Chili Recipe

     

    Night One: Hearty Slow-Cooker Chili

     

    Hearty Chili

     

     
    I was inspired by this chili at AllRecipes.com which combines ground beef and sausage! I changed up the recipe a fair amount to incorporate ingredients I found at Grocery Outlet and had in my pantry. I also wanted to make sure this recipe wasn't too spicy, so I omitted some of the spicier ingredients.

     

    Sausage

     

    Lucky for me - I found the ground sausage for just $1.99 at Grocery Outlet! Elsewhere, you'd pay about $4! I also found great deals on the other ingredients for this dish including the yellow onions, green bell pepper, and chili beans.

    To cook your chili, start by browning the ground beef and sausage in a skillet. While your meat is cooking, prep your other ingredients and place them all in a slow cooker - this will help maximize your time in the kitchen! Once the meet is fully browned, drain excess fat and add to the slow cooker. Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours.

    When complete, simply spoon into bowls and serve! Top with the shredded cheese and serve with the tortilla chips and a generous side of salad.

     

    Chili!

    Night Two: Chili Cheese Burritos

     

    Chili Cheese Burritos

     

    Night Two is going to be a snap because you already have your chili assembled. Preheat you oven to 350°. Spray a cookie sheet or baking pan. Fill a tortilla with a nice dollop of the chili and top with cheddar. Roll and place on the sheet or in the pan. Cook for about 15 minutes, until warmed through and the tortillas are just baked.

    Serve with a side salad.

     Burrito!

     

     I had a couple of these for dinner last night and they are AMAZING! I'm thinking of making a huge batch and freezing them to send with my husband for lunch! My 7-year old son thought they were delicious too, and he's not normally a fan of chili.

    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: Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Bisque


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project


    The weather's cold, your schedule's packed, and you have no idea what's for dinner. If this sounds like you, here's a thought: whip up a pot of hot soup! Making soup is pretty easy and usually only requires a few ingredients, making it easy on the budget too.

     

    DSCN3461 (600x800)

     

    The other day, I stopped in at my local Grocery Outlet store and found these canned Hunt's tomatoes for just $0.79 each. I decided to roll with it and make tomato bisque! I drew inspiration from this recipe from AllRecipes.com for today's post, eliminating several ingredients and adding roasted red peppers and cheese toast floats for a twist. Ingredients:
    • 4 cans 14.9 oz diced tomatoes
    • 1 red pepper
    • 2 cups half & half
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 1 cup diced onion
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • plenty of salt & pepper, to taste
    • French bread, toasted and buttered, 1 or 2 cubes per bowl (optional)
    • Shredded cheese, about 2 or 3 tbsp per bowl (optional - I used sharp cheddar)

    DSCN3470 (800x600)

     

    Set your oven to 450°. Cut your red pepper into slices, put on a baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil and top with salt. Roast until they are fork tender and the skins are just starting to char - about 10-15 minutes.

     

    DSCN3476 (800x600)

    Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large stockpot and add in the onions. Sautee until softened. Then add all four cans of tomatoes (undrained), salt, and pepper.

     

    DSCN3479 (800x673)

    About this time, I found my red peppers were roasted, so I added them into the soup mixture. Bring it all to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes. Next, add in your 2 cups of half and half and stir until heated through.

    DSCN3482 (800x600)

     

    At this point, you can use an immersion blender to puree the soup. I don't have an immersion blender, so I just pureed it in batches using my Vitamix. Works just as well!

     

    DSCN3484 (800x600)

     

    Now you could eat your soup up at this point and it would be delicious. But I felt it needed something extra... So I took a couple small pieces of French bread, toasted them in the oven with butter, then placed them on top of a bowl of soup. To that, I added a bit of shredded sharp cheddar that I found at Grocery Outlet and finished it all under the broiler for about a minute.

    If you go this route, make sure to use a broiler-safe bowl and set it on a baking sheet to easily move it in and out of the oven.

     

    DSCN3490 (800x600)

     

    This soup was very good, and I do think the toast on top made it perfect comfort food! Best of all, this recipe will yield you lots of soup - easily enough to feed 6 or 8 people or leave leftovers for a smaller family.

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

    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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  • Start Baking!

    As if commissioned by Santa Claus himself, today is National Bake Cookies Day! It's the perfect excuse to get out your favorite holiday cookie recipes and make a mess of your kitchen. And be sure to double the recipes so you'll have plenty to share with friends and family. Before you get started, nibble on these quick tips.

     

    Holiday Baking

    Stock up on staples. You don't want to be caught mid-mixing without those simple ingredients. Look for great deals at your local Grocery Outlet store, and stock up on the baking basics - like flour, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract, chocolate chips. Keep chocolate chips in the freezer to maintain freshness.

    Mix in a holiday flavor. For a fun holiday twist, substitute traditional ingredients for holiday-inspired ingredients. Try adding crushed candy canes for a peppermint topping, or try this Egg Nog Cookie recipe.

    Pretty packages. If you feel inspired to share your sweet treats, wrap them up in a unique way. A large mason jar is a perfect way to show-off what's inside – and they can reuse the jar.

    Now it's time to throw on that apron, cue the holiday music and start baking!

    Happy Holideals from Grocery Outlet!

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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.

     

    DSCN2452 (800x600)

     

    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!

     

    DSCN2490 (800x600)

     

    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

    DSCN2497 (800x600)

     

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

     

    DSCN2499 (600x800)

     

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

     

    DSCN2502 (800x631)

     

    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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  • A Cornucopia of Thanksgiving Goodness and our $3 Thanksgiving Menu

    Thanksgiving week is here! It's our favorite holiday at Grocery Outlet and we want to help folks embrace the cornucopia of Thanksgiving goodness - food, family, football and gratitude!

    Let's start with gratitude. We are thankful for you, our customers, for your loyalty. We are thankful for each Grocery Outlet Owner/Operator for working hard every day to help families put food on their tables. And we are thankful for our team of smart people that help score amazing deals on name brands we all love, so we can pass the savings along to our customers. Yes, we are feeling the Thanksgiving love!

     

    Thanksgiving

    And now onto the food. We asked one of our favorite food bloggers, Amy Sherman of Cooking with Amy, to develop a traditional Thanksgiving menu with all the trimmings. We're not talking about those elaborate menus with complicated recipes and expensive ingredients that you'll find in the glossy magazines. Amy's mission was to keep the recipes simple and to use ingredients from Grocery Outlet so it will cost less than $3 per person. That's Thanksgiving dinner - and dessert - for less than a latte!

    You can find the menu, recipes and print the complete shopping list here: Download a PDF

    Happy Holideals from Grocery Outlet!

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  • What To Do With All Those Leftovers

    After the big holiday meal, you'll have a lot of turkey and trimmings left over.  Here are some great recipes from Amy Sherman, of Cooking with Amy, to use up your leftovers in new delicious meals.

     

    To download a PDF of these recipes, click here: Leftovers Recipes


     
    Turkey Pot PieTurkey Pot Pies
    Serves 6

    1/4 cup butter
    1 large onion, diced
    3 carrots, chopped, about 1 cup
    1/2 cup flour
    2 cups turkey or chicken broth
    1 cup milk
    2 cups leftover turkey, diced
    1 cup frozen peas
    6 biscuits, 1 pkg ready-to-bake biscuits

     

    Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large heavy skillet or saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots, and cook until soft and golden. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for an additional minute, then whisk in the stock vigorously to avoid any lumps.

     

    Whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer, then turn the heat to low and cook until thick but still saucy, stirring often, for 5 - 10 minutes. Stir in the turkey and peas, then season to taste with salt and pepper.  Arrange six ramekins on a baking sheet. Spoon the filling into the ramekins. Roll out the biscuits to fit the top of the pot pies and cover each ramekin.  Bake until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling, about 20 minutes.

     

    Turkey Cranberry Melts
    Serves 4

    3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
    8 slices whole wheat sandwich bread
    1/2 cup cranberry sauce
    4 turkey slices, about 8 ounces
    8 thin slices cheddar, colby or jack cheese, about 4 ounces

     

    Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread. Place four slices, buttered side down, on work surface and spread unbuttered side with cranberry sauce. Top with turkey, cheese and remaining bread (buttered side up).
    Heat a nonstick skillet or griddle over medium-low heat. Add sandwiches and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until bread is golden brown and cheese is melted.

     


    Curried Turkey Rice Soup
    Serves 4

    Broth
    1 turkey carcass, broken into pieces 12 cups water (or enough to cover the carcass)
    1 onion, peeled and cut in quarters
    1 stalk celery, cut in quarters
    2 carrots, cut in quarters
    1 teaspoon salt

    Soup
    1 teaspoon oil 1 onion, diced
    1 apple, peeled and diced  1 carrot, diced  1 stalk celery, diced  1 teaspoon curry powder 4 cups turkey or chicken broth
    1/3 cup rice  1 cups cooked turkey, diced

    Broth
    Combine turkey, water, onions, celery, carrots and salt in a large pot. Bring the stock to a boil, then lower the heat and cover. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Remove lid and simmer for another 30 minutes. Strain the stock, removing the bones and vegetables and skim off the fat.

     

    Soup
    Heat a soup pot and add a teaspoon of oil. Add the onion, apple, carrot and celery and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes of until vegetables are softened. Add the curry and stir. Add 4 cups broth and rice and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, to a simmer and cover, cook until the rice is tender. Transfer 2 cups of soup the blender and blend until smooth. Return to pot, add the turkey and heat through. Serve right away or store in the refrigerator for 3 - 4 days, in the freezer for 2 months.

     


    Split Pea and Ham Soup
    Serves 6

    1 Tablespoon oil
    1 medium onion, chopped
    1 teaspoon salt
    3 carrots, diced carrots
    1 stalk celery, diced
    Bones from the baked ham
    1 pound dried split green peas
    8 cups water
    1 cup leftover baked ham, chopped

    Heat 4-quart stockpot on medium heat, add oil. Add the onions and salt and cook until the onions are translucent, 5 minutes.
    Add the carrots, celery, ham bones, and 1/2 pound of the split peas. Add 8 cups of water, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Skim off the foam while cooking.
    Add the remaining split peas, cover and continue to simmer for another 20 minutes, or until all the peas are soft.  Remove the bones and add the ham. Cook for another 5 minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve right away or store in the refrigerator for 4 days or the freezer for up to two months.
     

     

    Grilled Ham, Pear & Cheese SandwichesHam Grilled Cheese
    Serves 4


    3 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
    8 slices sourdough or white sandwich bread  Dijon mustard 8 thin slices cheddar, colby or jack cheese, about 4 ounces
    1 small pear, peeled, cored and sliced
    4 ham slices, about 8 ounces  

     

    Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread. Place four slices, buttered side down, on work surface and spread with mustard, then top with cheese, ham and pear slices, and remaining bread (buttered side up).

     

    Heat a nonstick skillet or griddle over medium-low heat. Add sandwiches and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until bread is golden brown and cheese is melted.
     
     
    Ham Breakfast Strata
    Serves 6 to 8

    Cooking spray
    10 eggs
    2 cups whole milk
    1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    6 cups sandwich style bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
    12 ounces leftover baked ham, diced
    8 ounces colby, cheddar or jack cheese, thinly sliced or shredded

    Spray a 2 - 2 1/2 quart baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and mustard.
    Place half of the bread in the bottom of a baking dish. Top with the ham and half the cheese. Repeat with a second layer of bread, pressing down as necessary to fit in the baking pan.
    Carefully pour the egg mixture over into the bread and top with the remaining cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
    Preheat the oven to 350° F. Remove strata from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature for 15 minutes. Bake the strata, uncovered, until puffed and lightly golden brown, about 1 hour. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.


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  • Breaking Out of the Dinner Rut: Apple, Bacon & Cheddar Grilled Cheese


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    When the chilly fall weather hits, many of us like to think about comforting foods like chili, stews, or that old standby - grilled cheese and tomato soup! Today I wanted to share a very simple way you could change up that plain ol' grilled cheese into something deliciously different. Here's what you'll need:
    • Bread
    • A few slices of cooked bacon
    • Sliced apples, such as Granny Smith
    • Good quality cheese - I am using cheddar
    • Butter, softened

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    I couldn't help but notice this Hickory Smoked Thick Cut Bacon at my Grocery Outlet store last week... it was only $4.99 and elsewhere you'd pay over $12! I thought it'd be the perfect ingredient to add to my new and improved grilled cheese!

     

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    The second fun ingredient for today's recipe: apples! My Grocery Outlet store was selling a bag of Fujis and Galas for just $1.50, but I opted for the tart Granny Smiths for a couple bucks more. These apples are on the small side, perfect for kids' lunches or recipes like today's, where you just need a few small slices.

     

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    There's no reason to go with a plain old cheese slices when you're shopping at Grocery Outlet! They have so many delicious cheeses at low prices to choose from. I opted for a sharp yellow cheddar, but I also think a Swiss cheese would work excellent with today's recipe.

     

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    I opted for a classic, old fashioned white bread and spread plenty of softened butter on.

     

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    Now, if you like a good mustard or maybe a flavored mayo, you could also consider adding that at this point. I'm not a huge condiment gal, so I kept this pretty straight-forward and skipped adding mayo or mustard and went straight for the apples.

     

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    Next, I layered on the cheese and crisped bacon. Yum!

     

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    From here, just cook up your sandwich in a skillet. I think the key to making a perfect grilled cheese is lots of butter, and lots of time. Keep it at a medium heat and let the bread brown slowly, giving the cheese time to melt. 

    The next time you're in a rut with your dinner, one idea would be to try changing up the ingredients or preparation a bit. And make sure to check out your local Grocery Outlet store for great ingredient ideas, too!

    To download this recipe in a PDF, click here: Download PDF

     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: Sausage & Pepper Mac 'n Cheese


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    At a freezer meal swap I participated in recently, my good friend Haley brought this delicious homemade macaroni and cheese casserole to share. (You might remember Haley from this video we were in for the Grocery Outlet YouTube channel a few months ago!) Unlike just plain old cheese and noodles, hers had chicken sausage, vegetables, and a breadcrumb topping. It was perfect comfort food!

    I loved the idea of elevating an old standby dinner - macaroni and cheese - into something a bit heartier. Talk about a perfect way to get out of a dinner rut! Taking inspiration from Haley's dish, I headed to my local Grocery Outlet to see what I could find to make something similar.

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    I found these packages of Beeman Gourmet Sausages priced at just $2.99! Elsewhere, you could expect to pay up to $5.99 for the same product. I decided to select the Apple and Gouda Cheese variety. We've had it before and it's delicious!

     

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    I couldn't help but notice these beautiful peppers for just $0.50 each! This is a great deal on colored peppers - they can often be as much as $1.50 at other grocery stores (and sometimes more.).

     

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    Finally, the pasta. I found this package of rotini for just $0.89. Feel free to use whatever pasta you want for this recipe; it certainly does not have to be elbow macaroni.

    Start by preparing your bag of 1-lb pasta according to package directions. Veer towards cooking it "al dente" as you'll be baking it up in the oven a bit. While the pasta is cooking, you can begin to cook up the other components of this casserole.

     

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    I sliced up all four chicken sausages (12 oz) and browned them lightly in a skillet with a little bit of olive oil.

     

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    Next, I added in a diced red pepper and continued cooking for another minute or so, just until soft. Turn off heat and set aside.

     

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    Now it's time to make your cheese sauce. Gather 1 cup of warm milk and 2 cups of shredded cheese (I chose 1 cup of sharp cheddar and 1 cup of Colby Jack, but you could vary this based on your preferences). Start by melting ¼ cup of butter (that's ½ a stick) over medium heat. Once it's melted, whisk in 2 tablespoons of flour. The mixture will thicken and bubble pretty quickly, so make sure to keep whisking - don't let it burn! Once you see the bubbles form, begin to drop in cheese shreds by handful and alternate with adding the milk, whisking constantly, until it's all incorporated. Finally, add a pinch of salt. At the end you should have a delicious, silky smooth cheese sauce!

    Turn off the heat, and set aside. If you've timed everything right, your pasta should be just about done now. Go ahead and drain it.

     

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    As you might have guessed, you're going to mix the pasta, cheese sauce, and sausage all together. Pour into a lightly-greased casserole dish. Sprinkle ½ cup breadcrumbs and drizzle with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Bake in a 350º oven for 15-20 minutes until set.

     

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    Well, how was it? I have to tell you that of all the dinners I've featured here on the Bargainista Blog, this is hands down my favorite! It's hearty fall comfort food at it's finest, but it's still quick and easy to make. I spent a total of $8.39 preparing this dish thanks to Grocery Outlet, so it's also friendly on the budget.

    A special thank you also to my friend Haley for the idea!  Download the PDF of this recipe here: Recipe Card.

    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: Bacon & Egg Casserole with Citrus Smoothies


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    Have you ever had cereal for dinner? I'm not going to lie - I've done it before. I think we can all relate to those crazy days where the thought of digging through recipes and cooking is too much to think about. Today I'd like to share with you an easy recipe that's inspired by breakfast, but more substantial than a bowl of Toasted O's or Fruity Rings. While you can definitely enjoy it for breakfast, it's a go-to dinner recipe in my house because of how quick it can be prepared and requires only a few ingredients.

     

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    For this recipe, you'll need a pound of ground breakfast sausage or bacon. I found this Aberdeen Farms Hardwood Smoked Sliced Bacon on sale for $2.99 at my Grocery Outlet. The beauty of shopping at Grocery Outlet is that you never know exactly what you'll find! Feel free to tweak today's recipe with whatever yummy looking sausage or bacon you find at your store.

     

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    Start by preheating your oven to 350º. Cook your bacon or sausage and drain. While it's cooking, tear up four pieces of bread and sprinkle them on the bottom of a casserole dish. I used wheat, but white works great too. I prefer using a "fluffier" type bread in this recipe - nothing too dense or heavy.

     

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    Crumble your bacon or sausage and put it on top of the bread pieces.

     

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    Next, top with 2 cups of grated cheese. I like using a medium cheddar.

     

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    Whisk six eggs with 2 cups of milk together and season with fresh ground pepper. I omit salt because there is plenty in the bacon!

     

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    Pour the egg mixture on top of the casserole and bake in the oven between 20-30 minutes, when eggs are set.

     

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    This is such a delicious, hearty casserole!

     

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    I like to serve this dish with some sort of fruit or fruit dish. While at Grocery Outlet, I noticed they had pineapple Chobani Greek Yogurt at my store for just $1.99. I decided to pick some up along with a bag of frozen mango for $3.99 to make a tropical smoothie.

     

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    For the smoothie, I simply combined 1/2 cup of the Greek yogurt, 1 cup frozen mango and 1 cup orange juice. To kick it up a bit, you could add a nice handful of organic spinach (which yes, they also carry at Grocery Outlet!).

     

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    So there you have it: breakfast for dinner that's NOT a bowl of cereal!

     

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    The next time you're at your local Grocery Outlet store, see what fun and frugal ingredients you can find to spice up your dinner table!  Download the recipe here.

     

    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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  • Giving Back on a Budget

    As July winds down, so will our company-wide “Independence from Hunger” food drive on July 31. So far, our loyal and community-conscious customers have collectively donated almost $275,000 in cash and food donations — all of which will go directly back into their local communities to help those in need.

    While the “Independence from Hunger” campaign may be coming to end, the need of those in your community may not. Making a difference in the lives of those around you doesn’t have to cost money or even much time. You can donate kindness and compassion in many ways, on a daily basis. Below are five cost-free suggestions to give back to the community — starting today!
    • Smile! You never know who might be in need of it. It’s so easy to fall into a mentality of “you versus the world,” and you might forget that those around you are most likely feeling the same pressure or stress you are feeling. A smile can remind a stranger that they’re not alone and that we’re all in this together. You can even take it a step further — like opening a door for someone, or giving a compliment.  
    • Attend a local event and spread the word. Local events like festivals, fairs and fundraisers are usually free to attend, and the money that is spent there will stay in your community. Spreading the word to friends about the great things going on in your neighborhood will encourage them to stay in town and shop locally — promoting growth and benefiting everyone.
    • Grab a box and give. You’d be surprised to know what good your old, forgotten things might do to those who need them. Call your local schools and shelters and find out what the guidelines are for donating. On the bonus side, donating your unwanted items will also help de-clutter and simplify your life, making you a happier person with extra kindness to give.
    • Walk with a purpose. Take a walk around your block with a garbage bag. Picking up litter will help beautify your neighborhood, while at the same time, boosting your energy. Plus, if you’re neighbors catch a glimpse of your good will, it might inspire them to give back as well.
    • Reach out and research. Whether it’s once a week or once a year, take some time out of your schedule to reach out to local services and ask what they might need from you. There’s guaranteed to be at least one cause in your local community in need of your time. Small things like collecting cans, reading to children or cleaning up local parks don’t cost anything, but can change everything.

    Independence from Hunger


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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.

     

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    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.

     

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    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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  • Breaking Out of the Dinner Rut: Goat Cheese & Apricot Preserve Appetizer


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    Normally, I don't try to spice things up at the dinner table with fancy cheese because it's so expensive! However, Grocery Outlet always surprises me by offering up gourmet cheese for ridiculously low prices. This has been true of all the locations I've had the pleasure of visiting.

     

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    While at my local South Tacoma store recently, I stumbled upon such a cheese find. Check it out:

     

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    It's a small log of honey-flavored goat cheese for just $1.99. Elsewhere, you'd expect to pay about twice that. As I've never cooked with goat cheese before, I thought this would be just the ticket for this month's Breaking out of the Dinner Rut post. After all, I have definitely fallen into a pattern of choosing the same basic cheeses over and over again. Why not let a Grocery Outlet steal spark a new culinary experience?

     

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    While shopping - I bumped into my pal Christopher who works at Grocery Outlet. (He's actually the genius behind the Grocery Outlet YouTube Channel - make sure to check out their fun videos if you haven't already!). It turns out I was there during a wine tasting. How awesome is that?

    I mentioned the goat cheese to Christopher and he said he didn't much care for the stuff. But then he remembered an exception! He'd recently had an appetizer at a local restaurant which consisted of a crostini topped with dried fruit, pecans, and honey. I thought this sounded like excellent inspiration.

    So here's my version of that idea, frugal-ed up using Grocery Outlet ingredients!

     

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    Goat Cheese and Apricot Preserve Appetizers

    Ingredients

    • Crackers or appetizer-sized toast
    • Dried cranberries
    • Preserves of your choice - I selected apricot
    • Small log goat cheese

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    Start by spreading a little of the preserves on your crackers. Now you could use those fancy little toasts or crostini if you want, but I found that plain old crackers worked just fine for this recipe.

     

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    Next, spread a little of the goat cheese on top. You'll find that it may crumble a bit. Don't worry; it doesn't affect the flavor one bit.

     

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    Can you believe you're almost done with this recipe?

     

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    Finally, top with a few dried cranberries.

     

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    That's it!

     

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    I think they look pretty displayed on a cutting board with some sprigs of mint or other fresh herbs. (I had mint in my garden, so that's what I used!) You can serve this as a prelude to a light dinner alfresco, perhaps with some sparkling wine (make sure to check Grocery Outlet's wine department for fabulous prices there, too)!

    All told, I spent about $8 on the ingredients to make this recipe. I love that it's totally frugal but looks like I paid a lot more to make it.

    How were these?

     

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    I think the results speak for themselves!

    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: Danish Wedding Cookie Trifle


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    After dinner, I'm more apt to pull out some cookies or scoop some ice cream for the kids if they want a treat. I do like to bake and make desserts, but I just don't think to do it all that often (which I suppose isn't necessarily a bad thing for my waistline!) For this month's Breaking out of the Dinner Rut feature, I wanted to come up with a dessert recipe to help you turn an ordinary day into an extra special one. I knew I wanted a delicious and "pretty" recipe, but one that would be quick and easy to make. I perused Grocery Outlet's aisles for a little inspiration .... something fun, unique.... And then I found this:

     

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    Danish Wedding Cookies for $1.49!
    I can't say that I've seen these anywhere else, but I have seen them a few times now at Grocery Outlet and have been curious to try them. And what could be more fun than eating a cookie supposedly reserved for a wedding in a foreign country? I definitely had to take these home. Here's what they looked like, upon opening:

     

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    Yes, they were good. VERY good. Kind of like a little chocolate chip cookie surrounded by a sugary coated goodness. I decided I should continue to eat a few more while I came up with a recipe....

     

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    After some pondering, I decided to trifle these cookies. Now, I've never made a trifle before, but I have eaten a trifle! It's kind of a lasagna of desserts, because you layer fruit, pudding, and usually cake. But instead of cake, we're going to use the Danish Wedding Cookies. Ingredients: 16 Danish Wedding Cookies, chopped 1 package instant vanilla pudding, prepared to package directions 1 banana, sliced thinly Fresh berries (I used blueberries) Whip cream Mint leaves and additional cookies for garnish (optional) Makes enough for 1 regular trifle dish or 2 pint-sized Mason jars Start by gathering all your ingredients. I made the mistake of putting the pudding together only to realize it sets very fast and I was not ready. Don't be like me. Get everything set and ready to go!

     

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    Now I don't own a trifle dish, and it seemed rather silly to go out and buy one! So I came up with the idea of using Mason jars. I think wine or margarita glasses or clear mugs would work well, too. Be creative and don't feel that you can't do this recipe if you don't have a trifle dish. Start by putting in four crushed cookies in the bottom of each pint-sized jar.

     

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    Next, top with a good dollop of the vanilla pudding, a few sliced bananas, some whipped cream, and a few berries.

     

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    Very simply, you'll repeat these layers, in the same order: four crushed cookies, the pudding, bananas, whipped cream, and berries. Allow to set in your fridge for about 3-4 hours.

     

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    Just before serving, top with the garnish of your choice! I opted for a fresh sprig of mint from my garden and another Danish Wedding Cookie. I would think fresh shaved chocolate would also be delightful. This dessert is exactly the kind of thing I want to eat in the evening out on the deck after a long day.

     

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    This dessert sure looks fancy, but would you believe I only spent $4.27 on the ingredients I needed to make it? (I already had the milk, berries, and mint at home.) The best news is you don't have to wait around for a Danish Wedding to enjoy this pretty dessert. Bon appetit!

    Download just the recipe by clicking here: Danish Wedding Cookie Trifle Recipe

    For more ideas, check out my other posts for 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: Asian Mung Bean Salad


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    I recently happened upon a different item at my local Grocery Outlet store and I knew instantly that I had to bring it home for a fun dinner creation.....

     

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    Organic Sprouted Mung Beans for $2.99. Now I'm definitely familiar with bean sprouts, but not sprouted mung beans. I flipped over the package and it read:

    These tiny fresh-tasting beans have a rich creamy texture and nutty-sweet taste.

    Suggested uses included salads, pilafs, soups, purees, and sandwiches. Turns out, these are quite nutritious too! One serving (1/4 cup dry) contains 7 grams of dietary fiber and a whopping 10 grams of protein. It's also high in iron and vitamin C and low in fat. I'm thinking this would be a wonderful superfood for vegetarians to explore!

     

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    I decided to try these sprouted mung beans for the first time in an Asian-inspired salad. Today's recipe is quick, easy, and delicious! It's enough for 2 large servings, or 4 sides.

    Ingredients:

    Salad
    1 cup dry mung beans
    2 cups mixed salad greens
    couple sprigs cilantro, chopped
    1/4 cup chopped sweet peppers

    Dressing (from Once Upon a Chef's Asian Slaw recipe)
    2 tbsp honey
    2 tbsp vegetable oil
    2 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
    1 tsp soy sauce
    1 tsp sesame oil
    small piece of ginger, minced
    1 clove garlic, minced
    dash sea salt

    Start by prepping your mung beans. Add 1 cup of dry beans to 3 cups of boiling water. Let boil for 5 minutes before removing from heat, covering, and allow to set 4-8 minutes.

     

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    While my mung beans were rehydrating, I got to work on the rest of the salad. I found some lovely salad ingredients at my Grocery Outlet store yesterday - organic baby kale, organic mixed Romaine, a big bag of sweet mini baby peppers for just $3.99, and a bunch of fresh cilantro.

     

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    Have you ever tried these peppers? If not, I recommend them! They are perfect for dipping in hummus, slicing on sandwiches, or great when your recipe just calls for a little bit of pepper.

     

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    Prepare your dressing by mixing all the ingredients listed above and stirring. This is one of my very favorite Asian dressings I've come across on the web, and I make it often. Incidentally, I found a 1 lb bag of ginger at my Grocery Outlet for $1.99 and the garlic for $0.33 each. If you can't use up all the ginger before it goes bad? Consider chopping and freezing leftover portions or making ginger tea!

     

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    By now, your mung beans should be cooked and your salad ready to assemble! Toss the greens in the dressing, top with the peppers, scoop on some mung beans and sprinkle on the cilantro. I did have a decent amount of the prepped mung beans leftover, so I will refrigerate them to use in another recipe in the next day or so.

     

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    The warm mung beans added a nice touch to this salad - and they had such a mild, pleasing flavor! I could see how well they'd work on any number of recipes. While researching their use for this post, I also learned that some people even enjoy turning them into a cake! Now how would that be for a nutritious alternative for your kids?

    If you're looking for new, fun ingredients to make cooking fun again without breaking the bank? You need to visit Grocery Outlet!

    For more ideas, check out my other posts for 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: Cactus Tacos


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    I always find unusual and inspiring ingredients at my Grocery Outlet. This helps me avoid the much-dreaded "dinner rut" and keeps my meals fresh and fun. Recently, I found this item on my Grocery Outlet store shelf:

     

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    Hmmmm. Jarred tender cactus.

    I can't say that has ever graced my dinner table and I think it was just the ticket to keeping my menu creative this week. At $1.79 for a large jar, it would hardly break the bank to give it a go! That's another thing I adore about Grocery Outlet - I get to try new ingredients, but without having to spend a small fortune!

    I did a little research, and it turns out this can be a pretty versatile ingredient. You can serve it as is, use it on salads, incorporate it into Tex-Mex dishes, or toss it with beans and rice for a side dish. I decided to try it a couple different ways. But first, I was super curious about the smell and taste...

     

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    Time to pop the lid!

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    The smell was totally pleasant. It reminded me of a cross between jarred chilis and green beans. I was excited to give it a try! I decided to do a spin on tacos with the cactus. You could use chicken or pork, but I opted for a pound of thinly cut ribeye steak that I picked up at Grocery Outlet for $7.

     

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    Here are the ingredients you'll need to complete this recipe:
    • 1 lb thin steak, such as ribeye or flank steak
    • 1 tbsp cumin
    • ground pepper
    • 1 cup prepared salsa (your choice)
    • 1 cup jarred cactus
    • cilantro, to taste
    • corn tortillas
    Start by rubbing the steak with the cumin and ground pepper. Then top with the salsa. I had a verde salsa on hand, so that's what I used. Cover and allow to marinate in your refrigerator for an hour (or more!).

     

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    Preheat your broiler when you're ready to assemble the tacos.


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    How long you will cook the steak depends on two things: 1) the thickness, and 2) your preferred "done-ness" level. I personally have come to enjoy mine just slightly pink, so the meat remains tender. This steak was pretty thin, so I found broiling for 4 minutes on each side (8 minutes total) was perfect. I would encourage you to start with less time on the timer versus more. You can always cook a steak more (but not the other way around).


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    While your steak is cooking, drain and rinse your cactus.


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    I then warmed my cactus in a skillet. I didn't add any extra oil or seasoning, but I suppose you could do that if you wanted to. I wanted to enjoy the flavor on its own this time. If you are feeling creative, you might add garlic, peppers, beans, onion, or jalapenos at this point, too.


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    Here is my steak resting after being broiled. I let it sit on this cutting board for about 5 minutes before cutting it in thin strips across the grain. These two things will help keep your steak nice and tender. (Just like the sliced tender cactus, right?)


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    Assembling the taco is pretty easy: add some steak strips to the middle of a warmed corn tortilla and layer on the cactus. I topped with plenty of cilantro.


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    This recipe was delicious! (Yes, I did manage to down BOTH of the tacos pictured above for dinner.) Except for the time spent marinating your steak, it takes relatively short time to cook and put together too.


    If you feel you always make the same tacos with plain old ground beef, sour cream, and flour tortillas, try this cactus version instead! And here's a bonus idea for you:


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    Quesadillas!


    The next time you find yourself in a dinner rut, explore the shelves of your local Grocery Outlet store. You might just find some unusual, fun, or inspiring ingredient to get you excited about creating meals again. In case you missed them, you might want to check out the meals I've previously shared for 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: Sundried Tomato Pesto Chicken Stuffed Manicotti


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     


    It can be so easy to grab for the same ingredients to make the same recipes over and over, can't it? That's why I love hunting for interesting foods at Grocery Outlet. They can help keep me from getting in those dinner ruts! Last month, you might recall how I discovered these pasilla peppers at my local Grocery Outlet store and used them to put a spin on traditional stuffed peppers. This month, I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful new Maple Valley store in Washington and did I ever find some delicious treats!


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    They had beautiful organic pasta for just $1.50. I rarely venture beyond plain old spaghetti (and maybe penne when I'm in a mood!), largely due to the cost. Sure, it would be fun to try some new pasta - but who wants to spend $4 or $5 a bag? Not this gal! But $1.50? Now I'm game to change things up at the dinner table a bit! I decided to poke around and see what else I could find to put together a fun new pasta creation.

     

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    Check out these beautiful pesto varieties: garlic galore; basil, garlic & sundried tomatoes; and bail & garlic. I decided to pick up the basil, garlic & dried tomatoes. After that, I decided to see what I could find in the cheese section to complete my meal.

     

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    If you like cheese of any kind, you really need to make Grocery Outlet your stop. Check out these tubs of shredded Asiago, Romano and Parmesan cheese - all for just $1.99 each. I've seen similar tubs for $4 or more at other stores! It's all good quality stuff, too.

    Taking my Grocery Outlet ingredients, I decided to do a spin on this beautiful Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells recipe I discovered a couple weeks ago. Here's what I came up with:

    Ingredients: 1 package manicotti
    1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (optional: plus more for garnish)
    1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast cubed and cooked
    1 package cream cheese (I opted for fat free)
    1/2 cup sundried tomato pesto (OR other pesto of your choosing)
    Fresh ground pepper & salt, to taste
    2 tsp minced garlic
    1-tsp fresh chopped Italian parsley (optional: plus more for garnish)
    One batch Bechamel Sauce


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    Start by making your filling. Place the cream cheese in a bottom of a mixing bowl and add the garlic.

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    Next: the pesto! I was really excited to give this a whirl. You can mix it to your taste, and I wanted a really pesto-y taste, so I ended up adding about 1/2 of this container.

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    Add the cooked, cubed chicken. Make sure the pieces are not too large, because you are going to be stuffing your pasta. If you would prefer, you could omit the chicken for a vegetarian take on this recipe. OR, you could swap Italian sausage for the chicken for a different flavor combination.

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    Mix in 1/4 cup Parmesan, freshly ground pepper, salt, and a good measure of fresh chopped parsley. If you wish, you could add some other Grocery Outlet cheeses into the mix! I think a little mozzarella would be rather tasty.

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    Mix it all together. This might not look pretty, but trust me - take one whiff and you'll be wanting to just spoon it right out of the bowl like this! Heavenly!

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    At this point, I set aside my filling mix to chill while I worked on cooking my pasta and prepping the Bechamel Sauce. Here's one more look at the beautiful organic pasta I ended up with:

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    I cooked the entire package until al dente in salted water. While the pasta cooked, I made the sauce. Now, I'd never made a Bechamel sauce, but I figured - why not? The whole idea is to get out of a rut, try something new!

    To make the sauce, I followed this recipe at Epicurious. Turns out, I had everything I needed in my fridge already and it took mere minutes. Easy peasy!

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    You can get the full details at Epicurious, but it basically involves melting butter, adding a little flour and watching it bubble, adding hot milk, waiting for it to thicken and seasoning with salt and pepper. Really, really easy.

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    At this point, you should have the filling, the pasta, and the sauce done. It's time to assemble! I started by adding a small portion of Bechamel to the bottom of a baking pan, to prevent sticking. My manicotti was a "mini" version, so I found roughly 2 tablespoons of the filling did the trick. I worked to get two pieces of chicken into every noodle.

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    Here are all my manicotti noodles nearly ready for the oven!

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    I topped with the Bechamel, making sure to cover each noodle evenly and topped with a little more Parmesan for good measure. Then I popped this dish into a 350° oven for about 20 minutes.

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    The finished product! Yes, this dinner took a little more time, but I promise, it's worth the effort! Delicious!

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    Serve with plenty of fresh green salad and maybe a loaf of crusty Italian bread or garlic breadsticks. This recipe should serve 4-6, depending on appetites.

    If you've been in a dinner rut, can I recommend paying a stop to your local Grocery Outlet? I guarantee you'll find some new ingredients to jazz up your meal plan this week without breaking the bank. Make sure to come back next month and see what new creation I've come up with. If you missed it, check out my Stuffed Pasilla Peppers recipe from last month, too.

    With thanks to What's Cookin, Chicago? and Epicurious for today's recipe inspiration.

    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: Pasilla Peppers


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    It can be really easy to get stuck in a dinner rut, can't it? We stock our pantries and refrigerators with the same items, gravitate to the same recipes, and plan our meals around the same foods.

    Over the next several months, I'd like to show you how Grocery Outlet can help you get out of a rut and get inspired to create beautiful meals that won't break the bank. Unlike other stores, you never truly know what you're going to find at Grocery Outlet! I like to think of it a bit like treasure hunting. So what better place to visit to find creative ingredients that will get your imagination going?

    Yesterday, I visited my South Tacoma store and found this beautiful bag of pasilla peppers for just $1.49. They sold them individually for $0.50, but the bag of four was a better bargain (works out to $0.37 each).


    Now I'd never cooked with these before, but the price was right and I was completely intrigued. How could I use this ingredient to make a delicious meal? I was determined to find out.

    After a little hunting on the internet, I learned that I could stuff them - much as you would green bell peppers. I loved the idea of a Mexican-inspired stuffed pepper recipe!

    Here's what you'll need to recreate my stuffed Pasilla Pepper recipe (serves 4):

    • 4 Pasilla Peppers, cleaned and whole
    • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 can of Ro-Tel tomatoes, undrained (fire-roasted would work well, too!)
    • 1 cup frozen corn
    • 1/2 cup onion
    • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
    • 1 tbsp cumin
    • salt, to taste
    • freshly chopped cilantro, to taste (I used about 1/4 cup)
    • 1 1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese (or Monterey Jack)
    • freshly chopped tomatoes, sour cream, etc. to serve (optional)

    The first step is to broil your peppers. This took about 10 minutes and I flipped them every 2-3 minutes. They will start to char up, and this is OK!



    When done, allow to sit and cool for a few minutes until you can handle them without burning yourself. While waiting, you can prepare your filling.


    Start by sautéing the onion in a little olive oil. Once the onions turn translucent, add the garlic and cook for another minute or so.



    At this point, I added the can of tomatoes, the can of black beans, cumin, and salt. I let the mixture simmer for a couple more minutes.



    Next, I added the cup of frozen corn and cooked for another couple minutes, until everything was warm. Finally, I added the chopped cilantro. I like a lot of cilantro flavor, so I went with about 1/4 cup, but of course, any of these seasonings could be done to taste.



    By this point, your peppers should be cool enough to handle. Very carefully, make a small triangular slit just below the stem. Then, remove the stem and the seeds. Take care with the seeds and make sure to wash your hands immediately after! You do not want to forget and then rub your eyes after working with them (speaking from experience here!).


    You can also remove the charred parts quite easily at this point.



    Continue the process for all four peppers. This took me several minutes to complete.



    Now it's time to stuff these babies. Just prior to stuffing, I added 1/2 cup of the cheese into the mix. I don't know about you, but I like cheese mixed through, not just on top. Make sure to stuff the entire pepper. A regular tablespoon did the trick for me!



    Finally, top with more cheese and bake in a 350° oven for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted.



    Serve and enjoy immediately!


    I have to say, I loved this recipe. I had a second helping and it got two thumbs up from my husband. It was a nice spin on the traditional green peppers and would definitely spice up your meal plan this week.


    While I was preparing it, it occurred to me you could easily create variations to suit your diet, tastes, and/or what you have on hand. Here are a few other ideas I came up with for the stuffing ingredients:

    • Rice
    • Quinoa or other whole grain(s)
    • Ground meat (I would think chorizo would be excellent!)
    • Dairy-free by omitting the cheese or using a vegan "cheese"
    • Mexican-style cheese, such as Cojita (see what your Grocery Outlet has in stock!)
    • Different vegetables - squashes, bell peppers, tomatillos
    Creating a beautiful, healthful meal such as this does not have to break the bank when you shop at Grocery Outlet! By shopping at Grocery Outlet and using items already in my pantry, I ended up spending a total of $6.26 for the entire dish, or just $1.56 per serving!


    I hope I've inspired you to check out your local Grocery Outlet and see what new and interesting ingredient you can find to help get you creating in the kitchen this week!

    Have you ever cooked with pasilla peppers? What have you found at Grocery Outlet recently that surprised you?

    With thanks to Tasty Kitchen, City Mama, and  SparkRecipes for today's recipe inspiration.

    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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