Shrink Your Grocery Bills Without Using Coupons… and WIN!

instant bargains

When I tell people I run a deal site and give advice on how to snag groceries for less, most people jump to the conclusion that I use a lot of coupons.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  There were times in my life that yes, I clipped coupons.  A LOT of coupons.  I also had more time then.  As a busy mom, I now feel I’ve got more effective ways to use my time.  I still clip high-value coupons when I see them.  I just don’t go nuts with the Sunday paper.  And, I STILL don’t spend a lot on groceries.

There are so many other ways to save money, shrink your grocery bills and eat well for less.  My book, Instant Bargains, includes 600+ tips on how to do just that.   The book doesn’t just include my own tips, it includes advice from my friends, family and the Mommysavers Discussion Forum Members.   I want to offer you a copy of my book as well as $25 to spend at ALDI.  If you haven’t discovered ALDI yet… why not?   Read more about Saving Big Bucks at ALDI on Mommysavers.

We’ve got multiple ways to enter this giveaway.  Our winner will receive a copy (I will autograph if it you’d like) as well as a $25 ALDI gift card.  Both are great resources to help you shrink your grocery bills! I will choose one winner at random on Wednesday, August 15th.  Good luck!

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Rigatoni with Bolognese Sauce

rigatoni with bolognese sauce

rigatoni with bolognese sauce

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Last week my husband and I had the pleasure of shopping at Bario Batali’s store, Eataly, while we were in New York City.   Not only do they have great ready-to-eat treats and drinks, they’ve got a fabulous marketplace stocked with gourmet foods.  I would have preferred to have picked up some of their delicious-looking meats and cheeses, but I doubt they would have fared well in my luggage on the trip back home to Minnesota.  Instead, we picked up a bag of rigatoni.

I’ve made rigatoni with bolognese sauce before, but it had been a long time (I usually make my parents’ spaghetti recipe when craving a red sauce).  These wide noodles are great for hearty sauces like this bolognese.   Veggies are the heart of the dish.  Traditional bolognese is typically a bit thinner, but I like my veggies a little chunkier (as you can see in the photo on the right).   For the “traditional” bolognese sauce, you can chop them in your food processor or blender for the right consistency.  When it comes to cooking, I don’t like to follow the rules!  You can also add Italian sausage if you’re not a fan of meatless dishes.

Frugal Tip:  Mascarpone cheese can be expensive.  An acceptable alternative would be to use Neufchatel or cream cheese instead.   Look for great prices on fresh produce like onions, carrots, mushrooms, peppers and garlic at ALDI food stores (see what’s on sale at ALDI in the Mommysavers Grocery Bargains Forum).

 

Rigatoni with Bolognese Sauce
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Fresh veggies and wine lend an earthy flavor to this rich bolognese sauce
Ingredients
  • 1½ C. hot water
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and chopped finely
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ¼ C. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pkg. white mushrooms, chopped coarsely
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • ⅔ C. red wine
  • ½ cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta, cooked
  • ⅔ cup Parmesan cheese
  • One ring Italian sausage (optional) sliced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, red pepper, and garlic. Saute until tender. Add the thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, mushrooms, sliced sausage (optional), tomato paste and tomato sauce. Stir until sauce begins to thicken (about 5-6 minutes) and mushrooms are soft. Add the wine, and reduce heat. Cover. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add mascarpone cheese.
  2. Pour your bolognese sauce over cooked rigatoni in a large casserole baking dish. Top with grated Parmesan and bake until cheese bubbles.

Roasted Garlic & Herb Beer Can Chicken

beer can chicken

 Beer can chicken is one of those meals you can’t go without making each summer.  It’s tender, flavorful, and falls right off the bone.  Best of all, it’s easy and doesn’t cost a lot!

I got the whole chicken for under $5 at ALDI.  The seasoning is McCormick’s Grill Mates Roasted Garlic and Herb.  We use our Weber Poultry Roaster for his, but it’s certainly not necessary.  Just stick a can of beer in the cavity of the bird, place on a solid surface (like a roasting pan) and you’re good to go!

Roasted Garlic & Herb Beer Can Chicken
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Serves: 4-6
 
The beer makes the chicken moist and flavorful!
Ingredients
  • 1 4-lb. chicken, whole
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3-4 Tbsp. McCormick Grill Mates Roasted Garlic & Herb (or other poultry spice)
  • 1 can beer

Instructions
  1. Rinse chicken inside and out, and pat dry. Rub the chicken with the olive oil, then rub with spices. Take a few swigs of beer (you don’t want it to be too full) and place the can in the cavity of the bird, and secure it on a flat surface (like on a roasting pan). Use the legs of the bird as a tripod, or support to keep it stable.
  2. Grill over medium-high heat for 1¼ – 1½ hours. Cover the grill for the first hour of cooking. After that, check the bird periodically to see if it has reached the internal temperature of 160-165 degrees. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving.

 

Frugal Tips:  When it comes to preparing a whole chicken, don’t throw ANYTHING away!  You can use the drippings to make a flavorful chicken gravy.  Add a little Wondra and whisk on the stove with a little water until it has thickened.

I also simmer the chicken carcass for about 60 minutes to make homemade chicken stock.  Store them both in zippered containers for future use.

chicken-gravy1

chicken-gravy

chicken stock

Easy Raspberry Chipotle Salad Dressing

raspberry chipotle salad dressing

archer farms raspberry chipotle dressingI am a big fan of recipes that don’t take long; and if the outcome tastes like restaurant fare, even better!  I picked up a bottle of this Archer Farms Raspberry Chipotle grilling sauce at Target yesterday (just $2.99!) and used it to create a salad dressing in under five minutes.   I tossed it with a greens/spinach mix, goat cheese and sliced almonds.  It was delicious!

Frugal Tips:

  • Look for goat cheese at ALDI.  Last month, I spotted President Brie logs on sale there for just $.99!  Sam’s Club and Costco are also great sources for inexpensive cheese.  Soft cheeses are more perishable than hard cheeses, but they can be frozen.
  • Sliced almonds run about $2.49 (ALDI) to $2.99 (Target) a bag.  A little goes a long way!  I used less than 1/4 bag on these salads.  Don’t forget to put the partially used bag in the freezer so the nuts stay fresh for the next time you use them.
  • The rest of your Raspberry Chipotle Sauce will taste good on grilled chicken, but it’s also great as an appetizer.  Pour about 1/3 C. over a block of softened cream cheese for a frugal appetizer.  Serve with crackers or cocktail bread.
Easy Raspberry Chipotle Salad Dressing
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
An easy semi-homemade dressing that’s ready within minutes!
Ingredients
  • ½ C. Raspberry Chipotle Sauce (any brand will work)
  • ⅓ C. vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Whisk the ingredients above together until emulsified. Enjoy!