Tuesday, March 20, 2012

$7 Dinner {and 2 lunches and more!}

I used to love grocery shopping. And so did my husband. In fact, we loved grocery shopping together, it was "our thing."  We would just go up and down every aisle later in the evening when the store is nearly empty, filling the cart full of randomness - which would make us 3-square meals every day for a couple of weeks.

I must admit, that was pre-kids, pre-budgets and of course before we moved to Chicago... where grocery stores occupy the footprint of an Old Navy, have the merchandise selection of a Sears {blah} and the price tag of a Nordstrom.

Then, we moved back to suburbia in Minnesota. I can recall the first time I went grocery shopping in a Cub Foods and I came home and told Jeremy how the produce area was so big and smelled so fresh, and the aisles were so spacious, and they had all kinds of merchandise offerings to select from.

Of course this was an upgrade from the Chicago-version of grocery stores, however, as I started to focus on meal planning and being budget conscience...I began to grow more and more frustrated grocery shopping.

There is no longer one store that "has it all." I truly do miss my Kroger, or even a Meijer. My lack of a one stop shop that is priced right, requires me to either visit three different grocery stores with a 7-month old in tow...or carefully select which one will offer the deepest discount pending our meal plan for the week, what's on sale at which store, and if our grocery needs are more staple food versus more produce and meat. As you might imagine...now, I loathe grocery shopping. At the end of the day, the only thing the grocery landscape in the Cities has going for it - is the fact that there is a SuperTarget on every corner, which is always a delight shopping in...just not always the least expensive route. {Thankfully, Miss L started joining me at the stores in the beginning and is used to my usual Friday routine!}

With all that said, I am pretty proud of my $7 Dinner|Lunch|Lunch|Additional Dinner meal{s} as outlined below:

I noticed a 5pk of Johnsonville Italian Sausage on sale for $2.99 {usually in the $4-5 range}, so I found a great recipe on their Website for Italian Sausage Rigatoni:

I modified the recipe for the size of our family...and boy is it uber-easy and delicious!!

  • We grilled 3 of the 5 sausages to add that extra "grill flavor" {Plus, it was 80 degrees in March in Minnesota...grilling was kind of a requirement this past weekend!}
  • Meanwhile, I prepared the pasta {I bought farfalle pasta on sale for $.98, and only used half of the package, so there is more for another meal}
  • I added some EVOO to a sauce pan, added some minced garlic and about 1/3 of a sweet red pepper diced {$2}
  • Once cooked, I added some Hunts Zesty & Spicy Pasta Sauce {on sale for $1}
  • Tossed the sausages {cut up coin size} into the pan, along with the farfalle and some freeze dried fresh parsley and some crushed red pepper!

    And just like that...a delicious, easy and inexpensive dinner {$7 total}
Plus, we didn't even eat all of this - so...we made 2 containers of leftovers for lunches this week and we plan to make the sausage brats with some leftover St. Patty's Sauerkraut {purchased buns for $.88 on sale}, the leftover red pepper will help with our Chicken Shisk-ka-Bobs on Saturday and the farfalle pasta will be ready in our pantry for an impromptu meal purpose.

So, there you have it...Italian Sausage Rigatoni dinner, another dinner of  Brats, 2 lunches for Jeremy...all for $7! That makes me feel a slight bit better about my grocery shopping situation. Plus, this recipe pleased even the most particular palate in our household and is now a staple in our dinner line-up!


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