Gourmet Recipes on a Budget

18 Gourmet Recipes on a Budget

Gourmet Recipes on a Budget - champagne-tastes.com

Gourmet Recipes on a Budget

These 18 Gourmet Recipes on a Budget feature gourmet-style recipes that are full of flavor and flair, but won’t hurt your wallet!  

Does your bank account start sobbing as soon as your car pulls into the grocery store parking lot?  Does your credit card start to hide deeper and deeper in your wallet as you approach the checkout?  If buying your usual groceries stretches your budget, buying “fancy food” for a party or date night might send you into a panicked frenzy!  Never fear– fellow budget-conscious foodies!  If you too, have ‘champagne tastes, but a beer budget,’ these 18 Gourmet Recipes on a Budget will help you serve flavorful, gorgeous food– without stripping your savings account dry.

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Green Chef Review- A Week with Green Chef

Green Chef Review- A Week with Green Chef

Interested in a meal subscription plan and want to try Green Chef?  Looking for a Green Chef Review?  I tried it for a week, and here’s what I thought.  Please note: This post is NOT sponsored by Green Chef– I used a promotional email offer for a free week of meals to try it out (but I still had to pay for shipping).

Do you want someone to plan your dinners for you, deliver the food straight to your front door, and keep doing it week after week?  Have you begged your neighbor to be your personal chef, but they refused?  Is your ‘better half’ still laughing?  Did your mom tell you it’s time to learn how to cook, and your cat refuses to grow opposable thumbs and cater to your every whim?  Well, dear reader, I totally understand!  Never fear– you aren’t out of options yet!  There are plenty of meal subscription companies ready to be your personal meal-planning assistant– for a price.  Which is right for you?  Here at Champagne Tastes– I’m here to help!  During my ‘Blue Apron Project,’ I’ve been experimenting, taste-testing, and eating everything in sight.  I’m trying out several meal subscription plans, so you can figure out which is best for you.  Today I’m looking at Green Chef— one of the few meal delivery services out there that offers a vegan menu.

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A Week with Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh Review- A Week with Hello Fresh

A Week with Hello Fresh

A Week with Hello Fresh

Interested in a meal subscription plan and want to try Hello Fresh?  Looking for a Hello Fresh Review?  I tried it for a week, and here’s what I thought.  Please note: This post is NOT sponsored by Hello Fresh– I used an online promo code for $40 off one week’s meal to try it out.

A few years ago, Jamie Oliver came to my hometown to help the schools ‘get healthy.’  The show was controversial locally, because it interviewed mainly unhealthy kids and parents who didn’t know what a tomato is, and some people were upset by how that made us look.  (I was upset too, but mostly because now I knew there were people here who didn’t know what a tomato is!)  I admit– I didn’t watch the whole series, but I saw the aftermath in the schools, and it was Wonderful.  Not everything stuck (the flavored, sugar-filled milk was back right away), but the salad bar stayed, and the breakfast pizza vanished completely.  Not every student took advantage of every healthy option, but there ARE more healthy options for those who want them.  Because of his healthy schools program, I’m a huge Jamie Oliver fan– but I’d never tried any of his recipes.  When I saw that Jamie Oliver worked with Hello Fresh, I was excited to give it a try as part of my “Blue Apron Project.

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A Week with Sun Basket

Sun Basket Review- A Week with Sun Basket

Interested in a meal subscription plan and want to try Sun Basket?  Looking for a Sun Basket Review?  I tried it for a week, and here’s what I thought.  Please note: Sun Basket sent me one week’s worth of meals for free in exchange for my honest review.  

A Week with Sun Basket

A Week with Sun Basket

Does planning dinner exhaust you?  Do you come home from work, march straight to the fridge, and then stare blankly at everything inside?  Do you want to try new recipes, but you’re a little intimidated by unfamiliar ingredients?  Are you trying to learn how to cook, and want a little help?  If so, there are plenty of meal subscription companies just waiting to send food your way.  Choosing the right one for you, however, can be a little overwhelming, particularly since you don’t get to taste test the food first!  Which should you choose?  Here at Champagne Tastes, I’ve been trying out several different meal services to help you navigate your food delivery choices.  I’ll be your taste tester, and let you know what I thought.  Today, we’ll look at Sun Basket— a meal subscription company that offers organic produce, and a large meal selection for those with vegetarian, pescetarian, paleo, or gluten-free diets.

*Note: Along with a free box, Sun Basket also sent me a coupon for you!  Scroll to the bottom of this post for the coupon link.

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I tried Blue Apron for a week, and here’s what I thought. This post is NOT sponsored.

Blue Apron Review- A Week with Blue Apron

Interested in a meal subscription plan and want to try Blue Apron?  Looking for a Blue Apron Review?  I tried it for a week, and here’s what I thought.  Please note: This post is NOT sponsored by Blue Apron– I used an online promo code for $50 off one week’s meals to try it out.

A Week with Blue Apron

A Week with Blue Apron

Alright everyone– it’s story time.  Once upon a time, I thought I wasn’t affected by advertising.  I rarely watch commercials, I do research before buying things– I cannot be swayed!  Right?  I thought so, but then one day I found myself at the gym, pounding the treadmill, drooling inexplicably over an Olive Garden commercial (I don’t even LIKE Olive Garden, guys!), and then convincing the husband we NEEDED to try their Taste of Italy THAT NIGHT.  Well, friends, that’s when I knew ads work.  (It’s okay though, because that meal was really tasty!)  Recently, the ads on Pinterest and in my email drone on and on about meal subscription companies– you know what I mean, Blue Apron and the like– and honestly, I’ve been a bit obsessed.  These companies promise to deliver ready-to-cook groceries straight to your door, and I WANTED it.  I worried, though.  Was this a clever advertising campaign design to make me lust after expensive food that I didn’t need?  (Probably.)  Would I end up loving it anyway?  (I really thought I would!)

The problem is, once I started looking, I had a little bit of sticker shock.  Using these meal delivery companies is pricier than going to the grocery store, no lie.  (At least, it is for me with my Aldi shopping ways.  If you frequent Whole Foods or other pricier grocers, you might disagree.)  No matter how long I looked, however, these companies still seemed so FUN.  I loved the idea of little ‘home cooking lessons,’ with ingredients I didn’t normally have easy access to (or just hadn’t tried).  The more I looked, however, the more confused I got– because there’s a bunch of meal delivery companies, and they all offer something a little bit different.  That’s when I decided I probably wasn’t alone– you might be confused and curious too!  And that, dear readers, was the beginning of a new project.  Let’s call it– The Blue Apron Project.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be trying out a few different meal subscription services, and giving you the 411.  The info.  The low-down.  Ya dig it?  (If you want to bail now, to avoid any more bad jokes/outdated slang/awful puns– I totally understand).  Let’s start with the one you’ve probably heard the most about– Blue Apron.

*Note: Blue Apron did NOT send me a free box, but they DID send me a coupon for you!  Scroll to the bottom of this post for the coupon link. Continue reading

Navigating the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Navigating the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Navigating the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is easy, and with a little planning, can be a fantastic getaway both for bourbon lovers and those who simply want to sight-see

Navigating the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Navigating the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is easy, and with a little planning, can be a fantastic getaway both for bourbon lovers and those who simply want to sight-see!

Fellow foodies, if you, like me, enjoy tours of vineyards, distilleries, and breweries– listen up!  I’m sure you’ve heard of famous wine-tasting regions, such as California’s wine country, Italy’s Tuscan vineyards, and France’s Loire Valley.  Those areas are special because, while there are other fantastic vineyards scattered across the world, these are in clusters, and make for spectacular vineyard-hopping getaways.  You may or may not have realized, however, that several major bourbon distilleries in Kentucky are also clustered together, and make up the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.  Kentucky’s native limestone rock makes bourbon production easier, and 95% off all bourbon is made in Kentucky.  The Bourbon Trail runs from Lexington to Louisville, and as of September 2016 has nine official stops.

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Food to Pack for Road Trips

Food to Pack for Road Trips - Tips for Packing, Food for When You Have a Cooler, and Road Trip Staples. Bonus: Cooking While Camping

Food to Pack for Road Trips

You’ve been driving for hours.  Your only food options are McDonald’s, Wendy’s, or a gas station, and all you can think is that you really, really, want something homemade and flavorful.  You’re in a food desert.  If this sounds awful, horrible, nightmarish, imagine how you’d feel after several days of barren food options.  How can you protect yourself from this tragic situation?  Pack your own food.  We’ve already talked about how packing food saves money, and it can definitely give you healthier and more flavorful food options.  What, though, can you pack?  Today we’ll look at a round-up of travel-friendly foods from around the blogosphere.

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How To Make Your Food Taste Better

How to Make Your Food Taste Better- 5 Easy Steps for Better Flavors

Have you ever eaten a delicious, mouth-watering meal prepared by a friend, asked them for the recipe, and then discovered, to your dismay, that your version simply doesn’t taste the same?  What happened?!  What mysterious recipe secrets did your friend leave out?!  We’ll assume, for a moment, that your friend actually did follow the recipe.  We’ll also assume, because they love you, that they aren’t trying to sabotage your meal by giving you a faux-recipe, and did not leave out their top-secret ingredient.  What could have happened?  Today we’ll look at a few easy ways to make your food taste better.

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How to Save Money on Food While Traveling

How to Save Money on Food While Traveling: Tips for Eating on Road Trips, Airplane Holidays, and International Travel

Obviously I love food, and I love eating food.  I also, of course, consider eating local food to be one of the best parts of traveling.  You know what I DON’T love?  Spending $20 on awful sandwiches at the airport, all because I was desperate for food and hadn’t planned ahead.  Yes, it happens, but sometimes it doesn’t have to.  Here are a few ways to Save Money on Food While Traveling.

How To Save Money When Traveling: Tips for Road Trips, Airplane Traveling, and How to Find Food in the Airport

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Top 10 Food to Eat After Dental Work

Top 10: Food to Eat After Dental Work

Top 10 Foods to Eat After Dental Work- Because you know you're still hungry even though your mouth hurts

Top 10 Foods to Eat After Dental Work

These Top 10 Foods to Eat After Dental Work will help you stay full after dental work or oral surgery, because even if your mouth hurts and you can’t chew!

Today’s post: Food to eat after dental work.  I’ve always been one of those weird people who loved going to the dentist.  I loved how clean my teeth felt after a cleaning, and how I never seemed to get a cavity.  Recently, however, I had to switch dentists, AND get a few fillings, AND have oral surgery.  Ouch.  After the surgery I remember thinking.. “I’m so glad I can’t feel my face,” and “How much did I just pay??,” and “Did he really say I can’t chew anything for a week???”  I found myself wandering around the food aisles at Target with the husband, looking sadly at all the food I couldn’t chew.

I can’t be the only one with this problem, right?  What does one eat after getting their wisdom teeth out, or after a root canal, or gum graft, or after other super fun dental work?  In my case, after surgery I wasn’t supposed to eat anything that needs to be chewed for 3 days, and then only soft food I could easily chew on one side for another 4-5 days. Was I really supposed to eat nothing but applesauce and Jell-o for a whole week?  That wasn’t going to happen..  No one would want to put up with my hunger induced grumpiness. Thankfully, the husband puréed things and brought me mashed potatoes, my mom brought me puréed potato soup, and my cat reminded me that he usually doesn’t get the food he wants either.

Today’s post is a list of foods that I found worked for me.  There’s all kinds of dental work out there, and some of these foods might not work for you, depending on if you have stitches, where your stitches are, etc.  If you, like me, have to drink your food for a week or so, this list should help!  The list will go from snacks, to light meals, to protein filled yumminess that will actually leave you full. If you’ve tried other foods that worked for you- let me know in the comments!!

Note: When you start transitioning back to food that needs chewed, go slowly! Your stomach won’t thank you for skipping straight to heavy and dense food. Start with soft food like pasta, and go with smaller portions. Make your way slowly back to your normal diet.


Top 10 Foods To Eat After Dental Work. Because you know you're hungry even though your mouth hurts.

 1. Applesauce

Homemade Applesauce

Homemade Applesauce

I know- I just knocked applesauce and said I couldn’t bear to eat it all week. Okay sure. But the truth is, as a snack, it’s quite tasty and it won’t hurt your mouth.  It could even work as a breakfast.  If you’re feeling up to making your own- this Homemade Applesauce is pretty hands off.  If you don’t feel like cooking, get some No Sugar Added Applesauce and eat up.


2. Granita / Ice Cream / Fro-Yo / sorbet / sherbet

Wild Berry Lavender Granita with Whipped Ricotta

Wild Berry Granita

This one is another no brainer- but don’t overlook it, because cold and creamy really does feel amazing on a sore mouth.  Skip the popsicles if you can’t bite down or can’t open your mouth big enough after your dental work.  Try this Wild Berry Granita recipe to make your own frozen treat.  Skip any add-on toppings (Unless it’s whipped cream. Always say yes to whipped cream).  You could also eat ice cream on some really soft fluffy cake.

3. Green Smoothies

Are you craving vegetables?  Do you miss salads?  If you haven’t tried a green smoothie yet, this might be the time to do it.  My favorite combination is spinach, plain Greek yogurt, frozen fruit, and a little coconut water or orange juice.  You can also make them more protein filled by throwing in a few nuts or some nut butter.  Make sure you get it blended extremely well, and taste it as you go to make sure it’s sweet enough.

4. Pudding

Masala Spiced Chia Pudding- Make this Vegan Breakfast or Dessert by mixing seeds, milk or milk substitute, sweetener, and Indian spices, and leaving it in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

Masala Spiced Chia Pudding

You already know you love pudding.  It’s creamy.  It’s sweet.  If you’ve had too much ice cream since your dental work, and can’t stand the thought of eating any more sugary sweets, try this Masala Spiced Chia Pudding for a healthier pudding that works for both breakfast and dessert.  This vanilla or chocolate pudding recipe is also delicious and easy.

5. Greek Yogurt + Honey

This is a great option because it’s full of protein, is creamy, light, delicious, but still takes practically zero effort.  You can even buy single serving containers of Greek yogurt that have honey in a separate section of the bowl.  You could also do this with cottage cheese if the curds don’t bother your mouth.

6. Puréed Soup

This Indian Spiced Tomato Soup is a flavorful twist on the classic American soup is made with warming spices, tomatoes, and fresh herbs. Champagne Tastes - champagne-tastes.com

Indian Spiced Tomato Soup

Soup! Yes, that’s right, a “real” food! A food you can eat because you’re hungry and it TASTES GOOD! Okay- I admit- normally when I make puréed soup, I don’t blend the entire pot of soup, because it typically tastes a little better when there’s texture.  But if you have stitches in your mouth and can’t do anything but sip or slurp, blend it all up.  Skip any toppings.  Skip the bread and crackers you normally use to scrape the bowl. It’ll be okay- you can eat all that next week.  Make Tomato Soup, or try blending up a soup you normally eat chunky (like Potato Soup!).  You can also find  puréed soup pre-made in boxes (I like Trader Joe’s boxed soups- especially the Tomato + Roasted Red Pepper soup).

7. Mashed Potatoes

This carb filled dish doesn’t even need modified.  Just make your mashed potatoes like you normally would – peel and dice potatoes, bring to a boil in water, simmer until the potatoes are soft (about 20 minutes), drain, add butter and milk, and then blend up (blend well- this isn’t the time for chunky potatoes).  Season with salt and pepper. Stir in some sour cream or feta cheese for added flavor and creaminess.  Side note: you can also make mashed sweet potatoes, but I found that the stringy texture of sweet potatoes was too much for the stitched up palette of my mouth on the first few days.  If you want mashed sweet potatoes, blend them up as well as you can (maybe even using an actual blender instead of a hand mixer), until your mouth heals a little.

8. Oatmeal

Easy, Vegan Overnight Pumpkin Oatmeal- Steel Cut Oats cooked in a slow cooker overnight. Let the slow cooker make your breakfast while you sleep

Overnight Pumpkin Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfasts, because it’s healthy and filling.  Some of you may find that you can just make oats and eat up after dental work with no problems.  The rest of us probably need to get out the blender.  Overnight steel cut oats are already pretty creamy, but you may find that it needs puréed to keep anything from getting stuck in your stitches.  Try making Overnight Pumpkin Oats or Overnight Cranberry Oats, and then pour some into the blender and then sprinkle sugar if needed.  Skip the toppings- no nuts or extra berries this time.


9. Refried Beans

Beans!  Now we’re talking.  Some of you may be laying home in bed for a week after oral surgery, but others have to go to work! Go to school! Operate a motor vehicle! And how, I ask, are you supposed to do any of those things without protein?  Lets be honest- refried beans are BEST served with rice or tortilla chips or taco shells.. But that’s just not an option right now.  Serve your beans with some hot sauce, a salsa that isn’t chunky, and some sour cream.  Then sigh with happiness as you discover that your belly is actually full.

10. Soft Scrambled Eggs

As your mouth begins to heal, you might want to start including some soft food that requires minimal chewing.  To make soft scrambled eggs, warm a nonstick pan on low heat, and spray with oil or allow butter to melt.  Whisk eggs together with salt, pepper, and a little milk / cream / or sour cream.  Pour it all in the pan and let it cook slowly.  Remove before it’s completely solid (about 10 minutes), as it will continue to cook a little after the heat’s turned off.  For more detailed directions, check out this tutorial on The Kitchn.