Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stop and Shop Bargain Meal, week of 8/21-8/27

I apologize for my lateness in getting my bargain meals up. My kids are out of the house for a few days and I spontaneously decided to purge all the clutter, trinkets, trash, and Barbie shoes from their bedrooms. It ended up being a monumental task... I am basically done, but I have a mountain of perfectly good useless stuff to donate to Goodwill. Anyway...

Hrm, guess what's on sale at Stop and Shop? Pork chops again, 1.99/lb (and grapes again, .99 lb.) What on earth can we do with that? Well, I am learning not to be surprised when I find recipes that involve odd combinations of ingredients. When I typed "pork" and "grapes" into, I got a list of possible recipes (some involved grape juice, some involved grape tomatoes, but some involved actual grapes! Imagine that.)

One recipe that sounded good, and do-able, with some substitutions, is Pork Tenderloin with Honey Grape Sauce. The recipe calls for a 2 lb. pork roast that you grill, and then you make a sauce with the grapes that you pour over it. Obviously, you can just cook the pork chops any way you like, and then make the sauce. The recipe calls for red grapes rather than green grapes, but it's certainly worth giving a try with green grapes. Most of the other ingredients are common pantry staples, and if you don't have something you can always substitute (chop up a little onion in place of shallots, or use ground ginger instead of fresh.)

To serve with it, you can make a box of Rice-A-Roni, $1/box this week, and whatever vegetables you have on hand. I bet the grape sauce would be very nice poured over rice!

Friday, August 21, 2009

What To Do With Stockpiled Veggie Burgers: Shaw's Bargain Meal week of 8/21-8/27

This week there is another catalina deal going on at Shaw's- this time, it's ConAgra food products (so Hunt's ketchup & tomatoes, Wesson Oil, things like that) and Kellogg's products- buy $25 and get $10 for your next purchase. I was holding out for a good Kellogg's sale so I could do the $10 Fuel for School rebate- so that's what I did during my first shopping trip today. Basically, I got my 8 boxes of cereal (though I need more cereal like I need a hole in my head) and 2 boxes of Morningstar Farms black bean burgers for less than free! With my coupons, I spent about $17 out of pocket; then I got $10 back, and I sent in for the $10 rebate.

Can I just interrupt this blog posting to say that manufacturer's rebates are such a huge pain?? I mean, they ask you to buy 10 products, and not only do you send in the receipt, but you have to cut the UPC code off of every box? Do they realize that I'm stockpiling here, and these boxes will be in my basement for months- I don't want a whole bunch of mutilated cardboard boxes in long-term storage. And of course all that cardboard in the envelope makes it impossible to send in the rebate with a single stamp. Ok, complaining time over. Obviously, they make it difficult so that most consumers won't even bother with the rebate.

So, with sales like this going on, it's been easy for me to stock up on veggie burgers lately. Now, almost everybody in my family will eat veggie burgers without complaining. I really don't mind them at all. But they're not the kind of meal that you really look forward to. I generally serve them when I'm not feeling imaginative and I want something on the table fast. I think my mom used to serve us hot dogs (blech) when we were kids, when she was in the same situation. So I was curious- is there anything more interesting you can do with veggie burgers? Once or twice I've cut them up and used them in a pasta sauce or something, but I want more ideas now, because I have so many!

Some possible ideas:

  • slice them up in strips and grill them; use them to top a salad
  • slice them in strips for use in a stir-fry
  • crumble up and use either alone or combined with ground meat in chili, shepherd's pie, pasta bakes
  • add to ground meat in making meat loaf
  • chop them up and mix with salsa and cheese- serve as a dip for chips.
  • slice them up, cover in bread crumbs, and fry them
  • mix them up with beans as part of a burrito or taco filling
  • make Sloppy Joes
  • use them as part of a stuffed peppers recipe
This week at Shaw's, there is a pretty sweet deal on potatoes- a 5lb bag of red potatoes is only .99 after you use a Shaw's coupon. Based on that, and our surplus of vegetarian fake meat, I think an attempt at Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie is in order. Most recipes online feature some form of curried lentils as the "meat"- I've seen a few with just chopped veggies and some with tofu, crumbled mushrooms, things like that. But this one involves actual veggie burgers. It has a lot of ingredients, but anything you're lacking you can probably substitute or leave out.

I prefer my shepherd's pie to be on the simple side. I usually just season my ground meat with pepper and salt, stir in whatever vegetables I have (corn is nice), top with homemade mashed potatoes, and bake (a few minutes under the broiler gives a nice crispy crust.) It's one of my family's favorite foods so I don't feel the need to try a fancier version anytime soon. I plan on trying out my own version of Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie in the near future, and I'll keep you posted as to the results!