Loss leaders and a couple awesome recipes

There is a grocery store around here that has frequent “Buy one, get two free” sales. These sales aren’t as good as they were a few years ago, but Jeff and I decided to go this time, since there were a few things we wanted.

There are two different types of grocery shopping excursions in our house: the “go with a list from the meals you planned for the next two week and just purchase what’s on the list” trip (a good thing to do when the sales aren’t very good). Then there is the “lets buy what’s on sale and we’ll build a menu around that” trip. That’s what we did this week. We got a few really good deals like six lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts for 9.50, three packages of split chicken breast (about 1.5 lbs each) for 5.50, and 15 lbs of potatoes for 4.00. We are going to be eating a lot of potatoes in the next few weeks. Velveeta was on sale this week and I’ve had a recipe in my head for a while now so I picked up a brick of that. Overall, we spent $72, but my savings totaled $79. Remember, when you go to a sale like that you should only buy the sale items. I noticed that items not on sale were way more expensive than what I pay at my normal grocery store. Watch your prices!

Okay, two recipes to share. When I make food, I don’t measure things so you’ll have to bare with me. The measurements are just suggestions and estimations.

Chicken Parm

My husband loves chicken parm, but it’s so expensive to go out and get it at a restaurant. Here is my super quick and easy recipe. It’s so good and I usually prefer it to going out.

What you’ll need:

  • breaded chicken breasts – 2 per person if they are small, 1 if they are large. See Note Below.
  • one jar or can of spaghetti sauce, whatever flavor you like.
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • pasta (spaghetti, ziti or penne is best, I think)

I buy perdue or tyson in a bag. I really like the new whole grain perdue chicken breasts. They have less fat and it’s tough getting whole grains into Jeffery. As for the spaghetti sauce, try the stuff in the can. It’s in the same area as the jarred spaghetti sauce. It has all the spices in it and is so much cheaper than the jarred variety. Do not confuse this with the tomato sauce in a can with the rest of the canned tomatoes.

Start a large pot of boiling water and heat your oven to 450 degrees. Cover the pot of water so it boils faster. Cover a sheet pan with foil or, better yet, parchment paper. I know it’s expensive but it’s worth it. The parchment will absorb some of the oil off the chicken and make it crispier.  Arrange your chicken on the sheet pan and put it in the oven. If the oven isn’t exactly 450 yet, that’s ok. The package directions probably tell you to cook the chicken at 425, but I find if you cook it at 450 it’ll be a bit crispier and I like my parm that way. Especially when you are putting sauce on top of it, crisp before is important.  I cook my chicken for the same amount of time as the package directions, making sure to flip it halfway through. Set a timer for half the cooking time.

Your water is probably boiling now. Add your pasta and a small handful of salt. It’s important to salt your pasta. It gives it flavor. Yes, it looks like a lot of salt but most of it is going to wash down the drain with the pasta water. Trust me, it’s good. Stir your pasta around and set a timer for about 3 minutes shy of the package directions. You don’t want to overcook your pasta, but you don’t want to have to hover over it either. Now is a good time to make a little salad if you’d like. I’m a huge fan of bagged salad on sale. Top it with a bit of mozzarella to match the flavor back to the chicken parm. It’s probably time to turn the chicken. Open the can or jar of sauce and pull the mozzarella out of the fridge. Your pasta is probably done so drain it, but don’t rinse it. If you are concerned with sticking, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and toss. When the chicken is finished, top with sauce and cheese and stick it back in the oven for 2-4 minutes. Put the rest of the sauce in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high until hot. Don’t forget to cover the sauce! We don’t want a mess.

Serve the chicken parm with additional sauce and some pasta on the side or serve it family style with the pasta on the bottom. This is a really nice looking meal and it tastes awesome. Plus, it’s wicked fast. You should be able to make this one in about 30 minutes and there are very few dishes to clean up. Throw away the parchment and your sheet pan is clean. See? I take care of ya. If you wash the pasta pot real quick while the chicken is finishing, that’s one less pot. Now all you have is the strainer and the bowl the sauce is in. Not bad huh?

Philly Cheese Steak Pasta

We had this tonight and it was awesome. The Velveeta was on sale and I had the rest of the ingredients on hand so it didn’t hurt my budget at all. If you don’t have sandwich steak, use ground beef or roast beef instead.

What you need:

  • about 1/2 to 3/4 of a pound of sandwich steak, from the meat counter or the freezer section.
  • whatever veggies you like on your cheese steak: onions, peppers, mushrooms, etc.
  • 3/4 of a lb to 1 lb of pasta, shells or bowties work well.
  • 1/3 to 1/2 a cup of milk
  • 3/4 of a lb to 1lb of Velveeta
  • black pepper

You’ll notice the measurements are kind of all over the place. Well, I don’t measure stuff and I’ve found that people have different preferences. You might like your pasta a little drier or with lots more sauce. You might put in a lot of veggies and just a little bit of meat. It’s up to you.

Put on a pot of water and cover it. In a large skillet on medium high, start cooking up your steak. It’ll cook fast so watch it. I cooked my frozen steak a few pieces at a time. While cooking the steak, cut up your veggies. I like the onions and peppers in long strips. After you’ve cooked all the steak, put it in a bowl and add the onions to the skillet. Turn down the heat to medium and add the other veggies. Cook until they just start to soften.

When your water starts to boil, add the pasta and some salt. Stir and set your timer for a few minutes less than the directions on the package. Then you’ll know when to check it. Put the meat on your cutting board and chop it up a bit. Then add it to your skillet. Add the milk and the pepper. Cut up your velveeta and add to the skillet. Stir the Velveeta and the meat mixture until the Velveeta melts. When the pasta is ready, drain it and add it to the skillet. Mix everything together and eat it. I really like this one. I hope you do too.

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