2.11.2009

Thursday's Thrifty Meals at New Seasons



Those of you locals who read my blog know how eclectic I am in my grocery shopping. I like Trader Joe's for some things, I do Azure Standard for lots of things, and for meat I usually buy it off the bone. All of this renders my "weekly shopping" down to a minimum since I pretty much go for fresh produce and fresh seafood, poultry, or beef cuts that I don't have on hand. I do try to usually use what I have, so this keeps my weekly costs down. I realize that not all of my readers have access to Azure or the freezer space to store tons of whole chickens and hamburger meat, so I'm going to begin featuring a weekly "Thursday's Thrifty Meals" featuring the weekly specials at New Seasons Market. This is part of a greater project in conjunction with $5 Dinners who features a "Weekly Bargain Meal of the Week". Each Thursday, since New Seasons' ad cycle goes from Wednesday thru Tuesday each week, I will be offering a few meal ideas (gluten-free, of course!) based on the best deals in their weekly! This will be helpful for me, as I usually start thinking about the next week's menu on Friday and try to do my shopping on Sunday afternoons while dear husband is home. Even better, I have the option of getting my groceries delivered from New Seasons if it's a particularly busy week!!

Planning meals is crucial to saving money in two key ways:

1) You plan your meals based on what you have on hand (pantry staples; rice, lentils, beans, pasta, etc.).

2) You use the weekly specials to augment what you have with fresh, perishable goods like produce and meat/seafood/dairy and to restock your pantry with staples as they come on sale.

THE PROBLEM WITH SHOPPING FROM THE WEEKLY ADS:

I've found personally, that there are many pitfalls with shopping from the ads. I believe that about 80% of what is in the "advertised specials" is junk food that we don't need to eat. What? Fruit Loops are 2 for $5? Kraft Mac N Cheese is 5 for $1.00? Yipee. Those foods are not options for me, and even if I was on food stamps I wouldn't feed that non-food to my family.

Okay, off the soapbox, I think you get my drift. So I'll take a pass on the Diet Coke and Frito-Lay specials and dig around for the meat and seafood deals and surround it with delicious, in-season, local produce, eggs, and dairy and do my best to demonstrate on how one can be Thrifty and Oreganic.

By the way, I should mention that I get no money or points or privileged parking spaces from New Seasons Market for doing this. They will probably never know. I am simply choosing to support this local and sustainable business that has a commitment to supporting local farms. They actually sponsor some of the local farmer's markets because they want their farmers to stay strong and productive for them!

Their customer service is outstanding. I have a neighbor who works at New Seasons and formerly worked at Safeway. The benefits package she received at NSM was incredibly generous compared to Safeway. And New Seasons gives so much back to their community.

The reason why I'm taking the time to "defend" New Seasons so much is that sometimes I get the sense that people who are trying to be thrifty poo-poo these types of stores as "yuppity". In my opinion, there are those stores in Portland, but New Seasons is not that store. So if prejudice kept you away, please give them a chance.

End diatribe. Begin weekly meal deals:

Mostly Vegan Organic Black Bean Nachos w/ Salsa Fresca:

8 oz Black Turtle Beans (Western Family) (use your slow cooker to prepare them ahead of time as mentioned here.) ($0.88)

-or- if time is tight:

1 can Natural Directions organic black beans ($1.20)
1 bag Kettle Organic Tortilla Chips ($1.99)
1 container Brown Cow Cream Top Yogurt (or make your own!) ($0.59), in which case you'd need 1 cup's worth of Pacific Village Organic Milk, which is $0.19)
4 scallions (about $0.50)
1 serrano pepper ($0.10)
2 Organic Roma Tomatoes ($1.00)
1/2 Med Yellow Onion ( $0.40)

Assuming you didn't already have some of the ingredients on hand:


TOTAL: $5.40 (w/ dried beans) $5.72 (w/ canned)

You can re fry the black beans with some cumin and chili powder in a little lard or coconut oil if desired. Serve over chips and top with chopped scallions. Use cream top yogurt in place of sour cream.

Make a salsa with the tomatoes, peppers, and onion to top the nachos.

Tuna Stroganoff (I omitted mushrooms)

1 can chunk light tuna ($0.89)
1 med yellow onion ($.79)
1 can Amy's Organic Cream of Mushroom Soup ($1.99)
1 container Brown Cow Cream Top Yogurt (or make your own!) ($0.59) Use in place of Sour Cream.
8 oz Lundburg Organic Brown Rice (on sale, $1.00/8 oz)

TOTAL: $4.26


Stock Up On:
Organic Maple Syrup ($6.99 each, reg. $8.99)
Applegate Farms Uncured Bacon (2 for $7)

For more amazing inspiration, please check out the other contributors to $5Dinners Weekly Bargains, including my friend and fellow local blogger, Frugal Granola!

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7 comments:

CHEESESLAVE said...

WOW I'm impressed, Carrie! I was just watching a show on Oprah where a woman did $5 dinners but of course she was shopping at the regular grocery store and buying GROSS factory farm chicken.

I think she paid $2.50 for a whole chicken. Something like that. Anyway - that is crazy! The price is way too low to be sustainable. And certainly not healthy since those birds are fed GMO corn and soy.

I wish my husband would be happy w/ a meal like the ones you made but he can eat an entire can of tuna *by himself* and I can never make a meal without meat. I made a 7-layer dip last week that he loved, but of course it had a layer of taco meat.

:-)

Michele @ Frugal Granola said...

Yum- When I saw those chips & beans on sale, I thought of nachos, too. :) Do you happen to know if Kettle Chips are gluten-free?

I have to avoid the canned tuna & soups, though, because of the hidden gluten, so I'm glad you were able to create a dish with them! :)

Thanks for the referral e-mail; I'll have to try it out in a week or two!
Blessings,
Michele :)

Alyss said...

New Seasons is AWESOME. And they have, by far, the hottest produce boys and girls in town :) A particularly cute one gave me a teeny little mandarin orange to sample last week. I almost asked him to marry me :)
Downfall to hot produce boys - sometimes you are more motivated to go shopping than cook whats in the house ;)

Carrie T said...

Cheeseslave,

Thanks! Yeah, I read a lot of "frugal grocery" blogs but everything that makes them frugal is packaged and totally unsustainable, often. That's what I strive to show in this blog, that you can be thrifty and eat well. You may have to sacrifice some other things for the sake of your food budget, and for those of us on theraputic diets, it's a must.

Generally, though, if you don't have major allergens, I think it's totally possible to eat for way cheaper.

Yeah, I wonder if maybe 2 cans of tuna would beef it up more. I think it would still be under $5.00!

You could also add some slow-cooked organic beef tongue (I get it for $2.50/lb from a 100% grass-fed farmer locally!) to the nachos; it'd really add a lot more "meat" and protien for probably like $0.50 more for the meal. My 1 # of tongue serves 20 people!!! That's 5 meals!

I digress...thanks for the comment!

Carrie T said...

Michele,

Yeah, you have a good point. Amy's Cream of Mushroom, as I recall, does have wheat flour as thickener!!! I actually recently found a recipe for cr. of mushroom soup on crockpot365.blogspot.com which is way more frugal.

The problem with using the ads is that I rarely buy canned stuff anyway, and I save so much more that way!!!

Kettle Co. may not be certified gluten free; I believe the company also makes pretzels (?) which obviously contain gluten.

DD and I can't do corn anyway, so I would probably just make it a black bean taco salad :)

Let me know how the home shopping goes!

Carrie T said...

Alyss,

You go girl! In my secret life, I actually dream of working in the produce section of New Seasons. I sometimes help other customers while I'm shopping there already!!! The workers know my kids by now my kids know some of them by name!!!

It's awesome!

Carrie

$5 Dinner Mom said...

Thanks girl! I got it linked in!!!