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Spaghetti with Turkey-Quinoa Meatballs

November 8, 2009

I have been thinking a lot about my grocery budget lately. It’s gotten A LOT better than before. I remember spending over $100/week on groceries for two people a couple years ago. I would go to three different grocery store every week and it was just too much to keep up. Now, I try to make it $50-60/week total for two people. Which really isn’t that bad, considering we eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner in 6 times a week. That’s 18 meals/person, 36 meals for the both of us. We go out to eat at least once a week, maybe twice. I would like to go out to eat more, but  B likes staying in and eating my food. Lucky him. A lot of times, it just takes one meal out to get me back in the kitchen again cooking and creating new recipes for the week. I like to spend Sunday thinking about different recipes I’ve seen on the internet or on T.V that I would like to recreate and modify at home. I also think about what I’m going to make the whole week before I make my weekly grocery trip. I realized a lot of my spending was spent on things I “didn’t really need”. I don’t need that jar of mango chutney if I’m only going to use it in one dish, or that can of black beans when I already have navy beans and cannelini beans in my cabinet. I think that’s the greatest thing about cooking, you can substitute pretty much anything you have on hand for the actual ingredient. It’s different though with baking, which is why I don’t do it often because I am always missing just one ingredient!

Anyways, I write about my budget because I realized I was buying way too much poultry during the week that we could eat up. Also, I am trying to make my dishes lighter, and get my protein from other sources, such as beans, eggs, quinoa etc. Now, I allot myself one poultry/seafood item a week. That way I can buy the highest quality of meat, yes all that free-range, organic deal. This week, I decided to buy some lean ground turkey which I wanted to make homemade meatballs with and another recipe you’ll see soon this week. A $8 package of meat can make 8 meals between the both of us, which is a great deal. You might be wondering how this is possible. The meat is not necessarily the main ingredient in my dishes, I bulk them up with other cheaper ingredients. For example, instead of making meatballs just from the turkey meat, breadcrumbs, and some seasonings, like traditional meatballs, I bulked up each meatball with quinoa, which is another great cheap source of protein. That way, I made more meatballs and used less meat.

These money-saving tips really do help when you are on a budget. Food can be expensive, but it is definitely more expensive to eat out everyday. In addition to my one poultry of the week, the rest of the grocery budget goes to fresh fruits and vegetables. I already have most of the seasonings, oil, and all the essentials at home already so I don’t spend money on those every week. Sometimes, if I’m under budget, I’ll grab a couple treats for the both of us. B loves smoothies, so I make sure I have enough money every week for a bag of frozen fruit. I can’t live without greek yogurt, which is extremely costly, but I have found not making it a daily food can cut my costs down a lot. Instead, I buy two per week and find something else to eat as a snack. I treat them more as a special treat now that I don’t pile a whole week’s worth of yogurt in my shopping cart. I hope these tips can help you save a little more money every week. Even if you start by cutting down your grocery bill by $10/week, imagine how much money you can save in a year.

Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs

4 servings, 2-3 meatballs each


  • 1/4 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups diced cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Cook quinoa according to directions, set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 1 minute. Stir in canned tomatoes and cherry tomatoes; increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low. Partially cover and let simmer while you prepare meatballs.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, quinoa, turkey, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, pepper and salt. Gently combine with your hands. Form into 12 oval meatballs about 1 inche long.
  4. Heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; blot with paper towels. Brown the remaining meatballs.
  5. Add the meatballs to the sauce. Simmer over low heat, partially covered, for 50 minutes.
  6. Serve with your favorite pasta

Forming meatballs: Keeping your hands wet when shaping meatballs will prevent the meat from sticking, making the task much easier.


8 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2009 5:09 pm

    Andee, you should have a blog on the sustainability of food! The way that you’re cooking and the way that you’re shopping are both highly recognized methods that are used in sustainable living. Cutting back on meats and only purchasing free range/cruelty free items is totally the way to do it!

    • andee permalink
      September 15, 2009 5:27 pm

      Maybe it’s time for a new blog name? I try to live as sustainable as possible (free range, farmers market), but sometimes convenience/price becomes a big factor in how I choose my foods and the way I live. I am definitely trying to be more “green” and starting to realize how my actions impact the environment. I’m actually taking this class at school called “Environmental Strategy”, basically how business affect their local surroundings and how consumers pay for their actions. Interesting class, and I’m starting to see a change in the way I view my surroundings. Thanks for the feedback 🙂

  2. Jessica Lieu permalink
    September 15, 2009 6:29 pm

    Include “sustainable cooking” in your tags!

  3. November 9, 2009 9:17 am

    I just love all these new ideas for quinoa that have been popping up lately!

  4. November 27, 2009 5:08 pm

    Andee, thanks for referring me to this post. This recipe looks perfect for tomorrow night. I am going to do two batches, one with red sauce & one with just olive oil & chili pepper flakes (acidic red sauce gives me a tummy ache sometimes).

    • andee permalink
      November 28, 2009 12:04 pm

      Let me know how it goes!

  5. Beardo permalink
    August 21, 2012 6:14 am

    This is an amazing recipe. I make it at least once a month. Thanks.


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