Saturday, February 16, 2013

Food review: budget cooking with Harris Teeter

In a week when Harris Teeter made headlines for all the wrong reasons (a possible sale of the company to either Publix or Kroger), I still enjoyed bargains at Harris Teeter and was able to come up with a healthy, but frugal meal.

I had seen produce at Harris Teeter that was reduced for quick sale, so I picked up a bag of mushrooms and a bag with three red bell peppers and a tomato. Each of these bags was $1 only, a bargain considering the amount of vegetables I took home.
This weekend now came the decision what to cook? I prefer to fix big portions on the weekend, so I can store left overs for lunch in the coming week and also store containers in the freezer to thaw out for a quick meal some time in the future. I decided to do an Asian-inspired dish because the red bell peppers and the mushrooms were well suited for a curry dish.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - budget meal with ingredients purchased at Harris Teeter!
From the pantry, I grabbed some yellow curry and a can of coconut milk as well as a can of diced tomatoes with jalapenos mixed in already. I then started cutting the peppers, tomato and mushrooms into bite-size portions and added everything to the crock-pot. I had some leftover homemade chicken stock that I added as well. Then I went looking for some meat to add since I did not feel like creating a vegetarian dish. I came upon a bag of Harris Teeter home-style meatballs that I believe were bought as part of a meal deal some time ago. I tossed those into the crockpot as well. Then I stopped and a good thing it was because the slow cooker was filled to the brim.

I let all the ingredients cook for a couple of hours until the chicken stock started boiling, then added the coconut milk and curry powder. I left the slow cooker on a high setting and waited another 2 hours to ensure that the precooked meatballs would absorb the curry and the flavor of the vegetables. The house started to smell wonderful. I paired the meatball curry with some Barilla whole wheat pasta  and ended up with a flavorful and healthy meal.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - healthy, but satisfying meal, full of flavor and vitamins!

Considering the total expense, this dish was a bargain since the whole crock pot was filled with the curry sauce, meatballs and vegetables. In addition, all ingredients, with the possible exception of the curry powder, were bought on clearance or with coupons. combined with sale prices in many cases, so bargain cooking can be healthy and flavorful.

On the note of Harris Teeter possibly being sold to a competitor. I would hate to see this happening. I do not care very much for the local Kroger staff and their policy towards coupons. I am not a fan of extreme couponing, but I do use coupons regularly because it allows me to stay on budget. Harris Teeter has a uniform coupon policy, whereas Kroger allows managers to set their own policy for each store. This to me is a questionable practice since one part of bargain shopping, whether or not it involves coupons, is planning. And to properly plan, I need to know how sale prices and use of potential coupons are being handled. For Harris Teeter I never had an issue with the limit on purchases or rain checks or coupons. Note that I list coupons last because a lot of my savings come from wisely using rain checks and jumping on bargain prices when I see them. My first purchase out of school was not a dining table or big TV but a freezer, because a freezer allows me to store groceries bought in bulk at sale prices and I find having freezer storage essential to staying on budget with my groceries.

Anyway, I do hope that Harris Teeter stays an independent, North Carolina-based grocery story chain because the Walmart that opened up in my neighborhood has yet to be a regular stop for me and compared to Kroger, I buy a lot more items at Harris Teeter because the bargains are better!

No comments: