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3 Grocery Outlet Dinner Finds for Spring (All $10 or Less)

3 Grocery Outlet Dinner Finds for Spring (All $10 or Less)

3 Grocery Outlet Dinner Finds for Spring (All $10 or Less)

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It’s a challenge these days to get dinner on the table without breaking into the kids’ college fund, but I’m here to say it can be done. A new tool in my arsenal is a discount store by the name of Grocery Outlet. This West Coast-based retailer boasts 475 stores in the United States as of February, with plans to add at least 60 more this year, primarily in the Southeast. It’s not shying away from competition with big-name retailers, either. Grocery Outlet is opening locations in Cincinnati, Ohio, which is the backyard of grocery giant Kroger. 

In addition to stocking its shelves with surplus stock, factory overruns, label changes, and the like, the discount retailer (and its franchisees) has committed to carrying meat, dairy, vegetables, and other staples you’ll find in most other full-service grocery stores. Some products might be about the same price as what you’d find in your nearest supermarket, but many will be considerably less and even exclusive to Grocery Outlet.

It’s important to note that some items are limited, and might be out of stock the next time you visit. Many of the ones I buy regularly, like these dinner staples, have consistently appeared on the Outlet’s shelves for at least six months — and they’re all under $10.

1. Orca Bay Wild Ahi Tuna, $9.99 for 1 pound 

The tuna I buy at Grocery Outlet is a brand from Orca Bay and I like the quality of the product. It’s sold by the pound, with five or six pieces in a package. The packaging isn’t resealable, so rather than transfer individual portions to freezer-proof bags, I look at the tuna as a meal prep opportunity. My husband and I love tuna. 

The first night, we’ll eat the grilled tuna steaks with a homemade wasabi sauce on the side. Green salad is my dinner veggie and I usually make rice to go with it, but adding a serving of mashed potatoes instead won’t break anybody’s heart. The next night, I use the leftover tuna, rice, and sauce to assemble the almost-no-effort dinner that is my deconstructed sushi bowl. I chop up cucumbers, julienne carrots, and slice an avocado for the bowls. Sometimes I sprinkle the top with sesame seeds. Ounce for ounce this is the easiest dinner in my rotation. 

Being an oily fish like salmon, the tuna stays fresh-tasting in the refrigerator for a couple of days after I’ve cooked it. Depending on the weather, the schedule, and my mood, I’ll slice up the remaining one or two steaks and add to a salad (never a bad idea) or finely chop with sweet onions and dill pickle for a superior tuna salad sandwich.

2. Aidells Italian Style Chicken Sausage, $5.99 for 24 ounces

I buy these on the regular at Grocery Outlet and pack them away for those inevitable last-minute dinner emergencies. We love them, and really any excuse to eat them will do. The spice mixture is perfect, with a nice amount of fennel and Italian seasonings. They are great served on sandwiches or with roasted broccoli. You can also slice them into pan-fried coins and toss them with roasted potatoes and vegetables or on to a pizza.

Typically I pay $5.49 for four sausages, which isn’t all that cheaper than other nearby grocers (except on Tuesdays when seniors get an additional 10% off their entire order). But on a recent trip, I spotted a twin pack of eight for $5.99(!). At just 50 cents more for twice as many sausages, this a prime example of Grocery Outlet’s opportunistic buying power.

3. Texas Tamale Chicken Tamales, $6.99 for  1 dozen  (18 ounces)  

Having tamales, the national dish of Mexico, for dinner on a random Wednesday is just a little bit special. They are time-consuming to make by hand, so home cooks usually defer to their abuela, if they have one, or they buy them from their favorite restaurants. Traditionally they are served for holidays or special occasions, but having tamales in the freezer means they can show up on any ol’ weeknight too.  

Like many of the items I’ve picked up at Grocery Outlet, I hadn’t seen Texas Tamale Company’s gourmet chicken tamales before, but was drawn in by the cute packaging (that drawstring bag) and original recipe (they were developed at a Houston food cart). Grocery Outlet is responsible for my trying a whole world of emerging brands from various regions around the United States and even abroad that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about.

As I steamed the dozen tamales for the suggested 15 to 20 minutes, they smelled deliciously of corn and spices. (You can also microwave them.) The tamales are small but filling and they come wrapped in corn husks you have to remove before eating. The corn wrapping holds a very lightly yet nicely seasoned chicken mix and the whole thing was tender, fragrant, and absolutely comforting. I served mine with salsa and a green salad and thought, definitely family dinner material

The tamales are frozen in one piece, which is less ideal if you live in a smaller household and only want to make one or two or even six. But! They also reheat well in their corn husk wrappers — we inhaled them again at lunch the next day. The only other tiny quibble I have is with the stated serving size: The package says six servings, but I think four is more realistic. At $6.99, it’s still a bargain that feels like a real extravagance.

What’s your favorite dinner staple to pick up at Grocery Outlet? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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