I know it can be tough to stick with a budget and come up with interesting dinners at the same time! For each month of 2014, I've challenged myself to shop at Grocery Outlet for inspiration. The goal is to come up with a couple nights' worth of dinners that use similar ingredients in different ways. The result? Non-boring dinners that please your family and your wallet.
After the last couple month's worth of heavier (but delicious!) meals involving sausage and pork, I decided it was time to lighten things up a bit. As the spring months start to warm up, I find myself naturally craving lighter fare. So this month? It's all about FISH!
I purchased everything pictured above at my Grocery Outlet store for just $20.80! (To be fair, a bag of frozen sweet potatoes are also included in that amount and didn't make it into the picture.) I actually ended up saving more than I spent on this trip and check it out - I have a bunch of produce, fish fillets, and organic beans. Not bad for good-for-you food!
Here's what I ended up buying at Grocery Outlet. Please note prices & availability may vary from store to store.
- 1 bag of frozen Tilapia fillets, 2 lbs ($5.99)
- 1 package broccoli slaw ($1.99)
- 1 red onion ($0.50)
- garlic (3 for $0.99)
- 2 mangoes ($0.50 each!)
- 1 lemon ($0.50)
- 1 bag jalapenos ($1.99)
- 1 bottle lime juice ($0.99)
- 1 red pepper ($0.99)
- 1 bunch cilantro ($0.50)
- 1 can organic black beans ($0.99)
- 1 bag Rold Gold Pretzels ($2.69)
- 1 bag frozen sweet potatoes ($1.29)
- 1 bag corn tortillas $1.13
From the pantry:
- ½ cup flour
- 2 eggs
- sea salt & pepper
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- vegetable oil, to fry
Night One: Pretzel-Coated Tilapia Fillets
I noticed that this recipe for Pretzel-Coated Fish got great reviews from AllRecipes.com. I also loved the simplicity of the ingredients! I decided to make a couple alterations based on my preferences and what I found at Grocery Outlet. Note that I sprang for tilapia, but my Grocery Outlet had several other varieties of lean white fish in stock that would work just fine for today's recipe (think cod, swai, halibut). Feel free to swap out as you wish!
Start by taking ½ cup flour, about 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp of pepper and placing in a gallon-sized bag. Add 1 lb of thawed fish fillets, and toss gently to coat. Now, create your stations (as pictured above). In one pie plate or shallow bowl, whisk two eggs. In a second pie plate or bowl, add about 1 cup crushed pretzels. You can crush the pretzels using a knife or coffee grinder, but my trick is to place them in a plastic bag and mash them with the blunt end of a meat tenderizer. (It's fun; try it!)
Next, heat up some vegetable oil in a large skillet and pan fry your coated fish for about 10 minutes, until cooked through. (Turning over at about the half way mark.)
I served mine with a bit of the broccoli slaw and some of the sweet potato fries - both of which I snagged at Grocery Outlet. Not only is this a beautiful dish - it's delicious!
Night Two: Tilapia Tacos with Mango Salsa
For night two, we're taking a totally different direction with that fish! Thaw out the remaining 1 lb of fillets from your bag. Whisk together a tablespoon or two of olive oil, the cumin, 1 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro, a dash of lime juice, and a bit of salt and pepper. Drizzle over the fish and allow to marinate in your fridge for at least one hour.
Next, make your mango salsa! Mix together 2 small chopped mangoes (or one large), 2 tablespoons of minced red onion, ½ minced seeded jalapeno, ½ minced red bell pepper, 1 minced garlic clove, 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, and 1 tablespoon lime juice. While this may seem like a lot of work - trust me, it's worth it! It's also the most labor intensive component of both recipes. I should also add this ends up being enough to add on as a relish to your fish tacos, but if you'd like more to serve with chips or have on hand for later - you might want to double the recipe!
Add it to the fridge to marinate a good hour or better before throwing the meal together.
When it's time for dinner, pan fry your fish in a skillet with a little oil. If you prefer, you could also bake it.
When the fish is done, you can cube it or slice it into pieces and fill it in warmed corn tortillas. Top with the mango salsa. I served mine with more of the broccoli slaw and some of the organic black beans I'd picked up at Grocery Outlet. Season these with some of the leftover cilantro and lime. Be creative!
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.