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.
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!
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.
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
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
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.
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.