Last year, my dude and I tried to hit as many Washington state counties as we could with the goal of jumping into one of our state’s nearly 8,000 lakes in each one. We didn’t make it to all 39 counties (…but 11 ain’t bad?), so we’re picking it up again this year. We started last week by packing up homemade snacks and sustenance, furnished by my church/favorite budget grocery store, Grocery Outlet.
I’ve been going to Grocery Outlet for years because they consistently have top shelf brands on sale for unbelievably low prices. In some cases, things can be around 80% off their grocery retail price – I’ve seen it with my own eyes!
Seasoned Grocery Outlet veterans know that N.O.S.H. is the best part of the store – it stands for Natural Organic Specialty Healthy, so this is where you’ll find the superfoods and organic brands at prices that will create actual tears in your eyes.
I’m all for traveling, but even when you’re tooling around close to home, these little mini-trips have the potential to be just as expensive as a swanky night out. The goal is to keep it as minimal as possible, so when Grocery Outlet asked if I wanted to collaborate, I knew that it would be a perfect time to showcase how incredible affordable their high quality products are.
Like most stories about adventuring, ours starts out with… bacon.
Well, it at the very least included bacon. It was maybe a major theme in our day plan, but it was only because Grocery Outlet carries literally my favorite kind of bacon Ejay’s Black Forest Uncured Ends & Pieces. (Do those look like “ends and pieces” to you? No? Me either.)
It looks burnt & ominous, but oh my god – it is the best bacon. It has no nitrites, nitrates, or added preservatives – the darker pieces are from the ends, so they have more of the rub. The only sweetness in it is a little bit of natural cane sugar, which is what makes it so dark (No dyes! No artificial anything!) and everything else is standard bacon fare. All pronounceable ingredients! If black forest style bacon isn’t your thing, they also have an classic recipe that you’ll definitely love. I was so pleased that I was able to find 2.5 lbs. of no-grody-ingredients bacon for under $5.
Yeah. So I built my entire day around it. We were heading on a day trip to Leavenworth, WA where literally every building has a Bavarian theme, both architecturally and aesthetically. Pretty much unlike anything I’ve ever seen – particularly on the west coast of America.
In order to get there, we had a long 2-3 hour drive over the Cascade Range on beautiful Highway 2 in our dinky little Toyota Echo. Honestly, that car is the whole reason we started exploring the state we live in – can’t say no to a fast moving shrub with 36mpg!
Obviously, the answer to 6 hours in the car is a carefully planned and highly appetizing menu of cooler treats:
- BLTs on Organic Multigrain Bread
- Pea salad
- Granola bars
- Banana Chocolate Quinoa Protein Muffins
Sounds a little bit like a school lunch, but we made sure it was grown up and delicious. It had to be good enough to ward off the zillion fast food restaurants along the road.
Grocery Outlet always has really high quality, locally-made, and frequently organic bread in stock. It’s never fresh that day, but it doesn’t bother me. Good bread will last, and keeping it in the fridge will help! I picked up this Organic Sliced Multigrain from The Essential Baking Company located in Seattle, WA for $1.99.
Most of the time, the “fancy” bread at Grocery Outlet is only $1.99. Definitely check for local artisan bread in your Grocery Outlet!
I also grabbed this big bag of Roma tomatoes (the ever important T) and sliced some up. I usually go thin because I’m serious about sandwich stacking.
For the “lettuce” portion of the BLT, I was excited to find these excellent Organic Super Mix Superfood Greens from Classic Salads – only $2.99!
Don’t those leaves look awesome? There’s some serious flavor in dark greens, not to mention about 1000x more nutrition than basic iceberg lettuce!
Okay, now for the most exciting and important part: assembly.
With the obvious additions of mayo (if you’re into that), I favor putting the lettuce underneath the bacon with the tomatoes on the other piece. It sounds like it’ll be a disaster to close up, but I assure you, the mayo is your adhesive friend here, in addition to it providing deliciousness and also a moisture barrier between your bread and those juicy tomatoes.
I am sorry, but that bacon looks (and is) ridiculously good.
Highway 2 cuts right through Snohomish County and goes over the Cascade Mountain Range. It was amazing to see the weather change from the western side of the mountains, where we live, to the east, where it looked an awful look like the midwest and the temperatures jumped from about 65 to 85 in two hours. We live in a weird place.
Our other provisions included a classic pea salad that was inspired by the pea salad I remember from picnics as a kid. Seriously, this is one of the easiest dishes to put together, and since it’s a cold salad, it keeps exceptionally well in a cooler. (Bonus insulation and sustainability points if you can
Basically, it’s peas (less than $1 at Grocery Outlet), bacon (already have), shallots , and a mayonnaise-based dressing all mixed up together. It’s super oldschool and definitely a good way to insert some “green” into your menu.
You can use red onion in this, too, but the shallots I found at Grocery Outlet were gorgeous, and I got the entire bag you see up there for only $1.99. I have used at least 3 shallots and easily have half the bag left! (We also fried some until they were crispy for a stir-fry recently. Damn good!)
We also brought some quick-to-eat provisions in the form of Kashi Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt Granola Bars – a box of six for $1.99. Seriously! Why haven’t you gone to Grocery Outlet yet?!
Banana Chocolate Quinoa Protein Muffins
I can’t get through the day without chocolate, so I needed to pack something that was a straight shot of fudgey goodness. Recently, I came upon these chocolate banana quinoa muffins which were amazing, and this time I decided to substitute the cocoa powder with a Quest chocolate milkshake protein packet I had, and with some quinoa that I got, yes, from Grocery Outlet at the stellar price of $5.99 per pound, I whipped up a batch of minis.
These are loaded with protein and the chocolate chips are nice, too. (Bonus for the allergic – they’re also gluten-free!) We usually cruise through these a little bit faster than I expect us to. They’re so good, and the quinoa is basically undetectable!
We didn’t spend more than $25 on the main ingredients for these things, and the rest of the magic came from cheap and/or basic pantry items like cocoa powder, mayo, and bananas. I love setting myself up for a day of travel with food that actually makes me want to eat it – otherwise, I easily fall prey to roadside burgers and restaurants. Grocery Outlet is the perfect match!