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  • Grilled Rainbow Vegetables


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    Last month, I shared that one of the best ways I've found to save money on your groceries is to plan your meals around seasonal produce, not meat. Not only is this a healthful approach to eating, it's also a great way to prevent dinner ruts! Today I want to show you how I took the bargains I found at Grocery Outlet and turned them into two delicious, budget-friendly meals.

     

    Peppers

     

    My Grocery Outlet store almost always carries bell peppers at low prices! I decided to use that as the inspiration for this month's frugal recipes. 

     

    Grocery Outlet Ingredients

     

    Here are some of the great deals I picked up at Grocery Outlet to complete a couple dinners:
    • Chicken at $2.19/lb
    • Zucchini and peppers at $1 each
    • Red onion at $0.50
    • Organic canned beans at $0.99

     I even found a big bag of bamboo skewers for just $0.99! Since we're moving into summer now, I took that as my cue to do some grilling!

    All told, I spent a little less than $15 at Grocery Outlet for these ingredients! (See what I'm starting to get at by featuring vegetables?)

     

    Night One: Honey Chicken and Grilled Vegetable Skewers


    What could be more fun than making kabobs for dinner? They are simple to make and full of flavor. It's also an easy way to sneak in extra veggies in your family's diet! Today's recipe is adapted from this recipe I spotted at AllRecipes.

     

    Here's what you'll need:
    • 1-2 lb chicken, cut into 1" chunks (I found that 1 lb made 4 skewers, plan accordingly!)
    • 3 bell peppers, cut into big chunks (I used red, yellow, and orange)
    • 1 red onion, cut into big chunks
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • 1/3 cup honey
    • 1/4 cup soy sauce
    • 2 tsp minced garlic
    • ground pepper
    • skewers
    • Salt & pepper, to taste

    Start by chopping your vegetables into large-size chunks. As much as possible, try to cut them roughly the same size for even cooking.

     

    Chopped Veggies

     

    Mix the honey, oil, soy sauce, garlic, and pepper in a bowl. Allow your chicken and chopped vegetables to marinate in it at least 2 hours in the fridge. You could even allow it to marinate overnight if you have the time!

    Skewers

     

    When you're ready to cook, heat up your grill (or grill pan, as I'm using!). Using the skewers, alternate threading a vegetable and chicken cube until full. As you can tell from my picture above, I left some room at the bottom and the top for easy eating. In some cases, I added an extra veggie here and there, too.

    This is going to take anywhere from 12 - 20 minutes cooking time, depending on the temperature of your grill and the thickness of your food. Rotate every few minutes to ensure even cooking.

     


    Grilled Chicken Skewers

     

     
    You could serve this alongside a salad, fresh buttered bread, and some fresh fruit. Feel free to change up this recipe to suit your preferences and what you find at Grocery Outlet! Mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, zucchini and jalapenos (de-seeded!) would also be delicious.

    Enjoy!

    Night Two: Grilled Rainbow Vegetable Pasta

     

    Summer Vegetable Salad

     

    For the second night, we're going to do something a little bit different with grilled vegetables! This dish has a ton of flavor, it's good for you, and it's inexpensive. What more could you ask for?

    Here's what you'll need:

    • 1 lb cooked & drained pasta
    • 1 can Great Northern Beans, drained (or beans of your choice)
    • 1 red bell pepper
    • 1 orange bell pepper
    • 1 yellow bell pepper
    • 1 small zucchini, sliced
    • 1 red onion, cut into large chunks
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 1/4 cup fresh torn basil leaves
    • Parmesan cheese, to taste
    • Salt & pepper, to taste

    Rainbow Veggies

     

    Start by preheating your grill or grill pan. Then, get to work on your veggies! As I was chopping mine up I realized, "Eureka! It's a rainbow!" Hence, the name of this recipe. Toss your veggies with 1/4 cup olive oil, some salt and pepper.

     

    Grilled Veggies

     

    Grill your veggies until they are fork tender and have that nice char-y look about them. 

     

    Summer Vegetable Pasta

     

    When your veggies are cooked, toss them in a large bowl with the cooked pasta and can of beans. To that, add 1/4 cup olive oil, the fresh torn basil, plus the cheese, salt, and pepper to taste. While this is a vegetarian dish, you could easily add grilled chicken, steak, or shrimp if you wish. Either way - it's absolutely delicious!

    The next time you're shopping at Grocery Outlet, consider how you could turn the bargains you find into healthful, budget-friendly meals!

    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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  • 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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  • 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.....

     

    100_7485 (800x600)

     

    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!

     

    100_7920 - Copy (800x754)

     

    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.

     

    100_7923 (800x600)

     

    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.

     

    100_7924 (800x600)

     

    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.

     

    100_7927 (800x745)

     

    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!

     

    100_7934 (800x708)

     

    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.

     

    mungbean

     

    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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  • 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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  • Fresh-tival is here!

    Our celebration of fresh fruits and vegetables has arrived!  Look for lots of fresh savings on fruits and veggies throughout the store, like a 1 lb package of Roma Tomatoes for just 99 cents!  Seedless Watermelons are only $1.99 each!

    Plus, we have tons of other extreme bargains on fresh produce! Get your 5 servings of savings at the Grocery Outlet Fresh-tival. Heck, get 12 servings of savings! It's good for you.

     

    Fresh-tival

     

     

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