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Easy Kid-Friendly Meatless Meal

Meat can be expensive. Especially when you don't know when or what kinds of sales to look for. Or if you don't know of a discount store in your area.

Meat does go on sale often. For great stock up prices. So, start tracking those and keeping an eye out. This is one of the ways that we fill our freezer! We have also purchased a half a beef in the past, and that will last us about a year right now and breaks down to amazing prices for high quality and healthy beef! We've also done this with a half a hog. As well as, we purchase doe tags for our hunting friends and family to shoot us a deer in season, and then we process it! So, there are some ideas for you on how to stock-up on meat on a budget.

One of the main ways that we get our meat to stretch and last, is that we always try to have a meatless meal at least once a week. Sometimes twice. Usually the family doesn't even miss it. The easiest and most successful meals that I do this with, are pasta dishes. They are so filling as is, that we don't feel like we are depriving ourselves without the meat. Even more so, when we add in a bread!

But most recently - I found a brand at my local Hy-Vee called Alpha Foods. They are a meat alternative brand that offers some of our family favorite food staples like 'chicken' patties and 'chicken' nuggets. They even have grilled 'chicken' strips and ground 'beef'. Also - ALLLLLL kinds of already made burritos! ANNNNNNNND they even love to offer ibotta deals!!! So, its another great way to save money! And if you're a vegetarian family looking for more delicious options - definitely check these out!!! They even offer direct shipping from their website!

Anywho - let's get on with it!

We are using the Chik'n Nuggets from Alpha Foods in this recipe!

We called this meal - SPAGHETTI NESTS

Here's what you need:

1 lb spaghetti noodles

2 eggs

1/2 c. parmesan cheese

1 jar of spaghetti sauce (or about 2 c. of homemade)

some sort of chicken nugget (you could use grilled or homemade or whatever!)

- we used the Alpha Foods chik'n nuggets

shredded mozzarella cheese

muffin tin & oil or grease to prevent sticking on the pan

Step 1. Boil your pasta.

We boiled up this entire 3 lb box that I got on clearance for an AMAZING deal. I will pull out what we need for this recipe and put the rest in the fridge to use for leftovers later this week.

Step 2. Cook up your chicken.

- I air fried our chicken nuggets. It made them so crispy and delicious! I cooked them on 360* for 20 minutes, shaking them every 5 minutes.

Step 3. Whisk up the 2 eggs and the 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese in a bowl.

Step 4. Drain and rinse noodles.

- make sure you use COLD water for this! For a couple of reasons. We need the noodles to be completely cooled off before putting them in with the eggs and parmesan mixture. Otherwise, they will cook the eggs and make them scrambled before making the 'nests'. Which we don't want! Another reason is, by using cold water to rinse it actually helps prevent sticking of the noodles. I always rinse my noodles like this and then I don't have to add a bunch of oil or butter to prevent the sticking together.

Step 5. Combine the noodles with the egg and parm mixture.

Step 6. Grease the muffin tin.

- This is important. Things will stick terribly if you don't.

Step 7. Swirl the noodles in the muffin tin to make the 'nests.

Step 8. Add a small spoonful of sauce to the top of each nest.

Step 9. Top each sauced nest with one chicken nugget.

Step 10. Top each chicken nugget with another small spoonful of sauce.

Step 11. Top each chicken nest with shredded mozzarella.

Step 12. Bake at 400* just until cheese is melty and starting to brown.

Serve up and enjoy!!!

Throw a side on the plate and maybe some homemade bread and dinner is done!

We are actually planning on making these as little finger foods for New Year's Eve this year. This kids will be thrilled! They loved them!!! Even my super picky 6 year old who doesn't eat anything I make these days! LOL.

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