Stretching out those groceries

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At my last grocery shopping trip I bought a 3.2 pound package of ground beef for $14.44 with my digital coupons and the meat discount my grocery store was offering. They also had an instore special for a one pound package ground Italian sausage for $2.99 marked down from $5.99. I also scored a free 8 ounce package of shredded cheese, I chose a parmesan blend. Ground beef is so versatile and I was confident I could stretch this out for a few meals with what I already had at home.

I sliced three tomatoes and placed them in a cake pan with two cloves of garlic, some fresh thyme sprigs, course kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and drizzled it all with olive oil. They roasted in the oven at 425 degrees for a little under 30 minutes. Once they were cooled a bit I put in my emulsion blender and made a light gorgeous sauce (tomato coulis).

For the meatballs I combined half the package of ground beef and the entire package of Italian sausage along with the parmesan cheese blend as my binder for a lower carb profile. Adding two eggs, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper and gently combined it with my hands before baking the balls at 350 degrees until they were done, about 20 minutes. I set them on a baking cooling rack to bake over a baking sheet but it was a bear to clean the little squares afterwards so next time I will bake them directly on the parchment lined baking sheet.

I made a brown butter sauce and added the cheese blend along with some of the pasta water from the spaghetti which was cooked one minute less then the minimum required time so it wouldn’t be over done while it swam in the brown butter and cheese sauce. Pouring the roasted tomato sauce over the pasta and meatballs and topping with a bit of the cheese made a delicious and pretty meal! There was enough to put away for lunches and drop some off for son and daughter and law. And enough left over meatballs to serve with a mushroom sauce (canned cream of mushroom soup) over brown rice.

The second meal with the remaining ground beef was turned into enchiladas. It’s such an easy two pot meal. Once you brown the ground beef and add the seasonings of your choice, whether it’s a prepackaged taco mix or a combination of cumin, cayenne, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano, it is a simple bake in a casserole dish.

We use the the Mission Carb Balance tortilla shells for many dishes – I cut them into triangles and fry for chips, make quesadillas, meat and cheese rolls – but enchiladas I make at least three times a month.

I have learned to spray the pan first with a nonstick cooking spray and then I pour a small amount of canned red enchilada sauce into the bottom of the pan. After I snuggle the stuffed tortillas into the pan I spread a small can of green chilies over the top and then the rest of the enchiladas sauce before covering the entire dish with shredded cheese. I bake them at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. There was plenty of seasoned ground beef left for nachos and tacos on a second night. The 3.2 pounds of ground beef was the base for four generous meals. How do you stretch your groceries?

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