Wining and Dining with Grocery Outlet

I grew up going to the Grocery Outlet with my mom. As a kid, it was just another grocery store. Now, as an adult? It’s an awesomely priced grocery store that doesn’t “feel” like a discount store – it’s a nice, clean store with tons of well-known brands like Toms of Maine, Kind Bar, Mamma Chia, Land of Lakes, Horizon Organic, Chobani, Driscoll’s, Kelloggs, and more. When Grocery Outlet offered me a chance to check out their new store in Sun Valley, Calif. in exchange for a giftcard, I was in faster than a kitten with a laser pointer.

What are some of the deals we got? Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurts, for .59c each. A pound of bacon for $2.99. A wheel of French brie for $2.99. Bagged caesar salad kits for $2.49. A pack of 15 Health Warrior Chia Bars for $7.99 (retails for $21!). I spent $100 and came out with a packed cart – and the best part was, we had three bottles of wine, one bottle of prosecco, and two craft beers. (My husband, a homebrewer and beer enthusiast, wanted me to add that he was “very impressed” by the craft beer section.) WineMeDineMeGrocery Outlet is having a wine sale from today through July 26th – and you’ll find deals on wine 50% to 80% off. That’s a huuuuge savings, and if you’re a vino fan like myself, you’ll want to get in on this. Here’s a few notes from sommelier Spreti Valenti on a couple of the wines I picked up:

  • Masquerade Prosecco: Sparkly wine with notes of peaches, yellow apples, and pears. Make a bellini with a spoonful of freshly pureed peaches, and top with prosecco. Cheers! (I’m going to have this on a Friday night while watching Mr. Robot on Netflix.) $7.99.
  • Ol’ Red: Supports local sourcing, with notes of blackberries, raspberries, plum, and leather. Excellent for bold red wine lovers and served with hamburgers or grilled sausages. We picked up some cajun style andouille, and I think serving this with those would make for an excellent Creole night. $3.99. (That’s cheaper than my preferred drink at Starbucks.)

I also picked up a merlot from Toad Hollow, one of my favorite Northern California wineries, and a garnacha called Layer Cake that’s oh so delectable. The hubby picked out some Lagunitas IPA (gotta represent our Petaluma home-base brewery) and a Stone IPA.

As a side note, while you’re stocking up your home bar, you probably want to check out the produce section, as there were some really great prices like 6 lemons for $1.00, and many organic choices, too. They also had Essie nail polishes for $2.99 (usually 8 bucks at Target), and Kiss My Face baby sunscreen for $3.99.

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So whadda ya say? Sounds like a good deal, right? Find out if there’s a Grocery Outlet near you, and go pick up some bubbly or grown-up grape juice today!

Disclosure: I received a gift card in exchange for sharing my thoughts about the upcoming Grocery Outlet Wine Sale and my shopping experience.

Fitcation Highlights Part 1, Thursday: Paso Robles, SIP The Good Life

Happy Monday, friends! I’m returning to work today feeling refreshed and relaxed after a wonderful weekend meeting many inspirational women at Fitcation! I drove up to Paso Robles on Thursday with my new friend June from Savannah. We quickly broke the ice and were gabbing like old friends within minutes of meeting. I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with my new travel buddy and seeing her next year in Savannah for FitBloggin’! Here we are being silly bloggers on a lunch stop at Pea Soup Andersen’s, a kitschy place you definitely need to stop at!

Bloggers take pictures of EVERYTHING. Photo from Simply Junebug's Instagram.

Bloggers take pictures of EVERYTHING. Photo from Simply Junebug’s Instagram.

We arrived in Paso Robles in the nick of time to check in, get our awesome swag bags, and then head out in a van to downtown Paso Robles. The TravelPaso team had set up some amazing things for us to see and do, including sampling local wine and homemade soda at Pithy Little Wine Company, chowing down on delicious Brown Butter Cookies at the Brown Butter Cookie Company (Salty AND sweet), and then browsing unique knicknacks and goods at the Paso Robles General Store. One of the things I loved about Paso Robles was the friendly, small-town feel. Everybody was so friendly and gracious to have us, which is impressive considering 30 female bloggers can be quite chatty and a little overwhelming with our constant tweeting and picture taking 🙂 . I especially enjoyed meeting two of the owners of the Paso General Store, as they own the shop along with another female friend. Girl power! As someone who’s new to owning her own business, I love chatting with ladies who have been there, done that, and are kickin’ ass and takin’ names. They had some really unique artisanal goods in their shop, and I left with a tin of gourmet ghost pepper salt for a Christmas gift, a hand-poured honey beeswax candle and a metal reusable straw. I could have easily spent a whole paycheck in that store!

Alyssa with two awesome women business owners of the Paso Robles General Store.

Alyssa with two awesome women business owners of the Paso Robles General Store.

After doing some shopping and exploring, we headed to Studios on the Park, an awesome community art space. Once we got there, we kicked off our festivity with a certain drink that would be making a recurring theme during the whole Fitcation…. SIP Certified WINE! Because nothing says “fun” like gal pals and vino, the lovely people at SIP, which stands for sustainability in Practice, helped coordinate many different wineries supplying their grown-up grape juice for our pleasure. What is sustainability in practice? SIP says, “SIP is a sustainability certification for California winegrape growers. The program looks at the farm in its entirety addressing water conservation, energy efficiency, air quality, habitat conservation, business stability and social responsibility. Each applicant is audited by a third party inspector to confirm that they meet the strict eligibility requirements.”

Community Art Space Studios On The Park, Paso Robles

Community Art Space Studios On The Park, Paso Robles

The whole SIP concept is cool on so many levels – not only are you putting the most premium ingredients in your body, but when you buy wine that has the SIP Seal on it, you’re helping to support viticulturists who truly care about the environment. When you look at the beauty that abounds in any wine country, it makes sense that we’d do everything we can to help protect it. Now that I’m educated in SIP, I’m going to make sure all of my wine purchases moving forward are SIP approved. It’s the least I can do to help save our environment while catching a nice little buzz at the same time. CHEERS to that, right?!

Paso Robles Wineries Help Loosen Up Travel-Tired Bloggers with Delicious SIP Certified Wines!

Paso Robles Wineries Help Loosen Up Travel-Tired Bloggers with Delicious SIP Certified Wines!

In addition to grapey goodness, we had a super yummy and healthy locally sourced meal from FIG Good Foods of Atascadero. One of my favorite dishes they served was a wonderful Indian spiced roasted vegetable medley. It may have been Morroccan, but you ate it with a fig and olive chutney on top and it was GOOOOOD. It also was something I wouldn’t regularly make for myself, so this signaled the start of a vacation beginning. As y’all know, I’m all about the yum-yums, so here’s a snap of me looking tickled pink with such a fancy and tasty meal!

Yummy Fig Good Foods catering from Atascadero/Paso Robles

Yummy Fig Good Foods catering from Atascadero/Paso Robles

After imbibing in yummy food and wines, it was either back to the hotel or out to a bar. I chose to go back to the hotel, knowing that our early start time the next day would have me yawning if I didn’t get some shut-eye. It was the perfect way to start a fabulous, fun-filled Fitcation. Come back tomorrow to find out what we did on Friday, and what wine tasting has to do with this friendly little beaver!

So now, tell me. Have you ever been to a wine country, and if so, which one?!

A Dam Fine Wheelbarrow. What do beavers have to do with wine? Find out tomorrow!

A Dam Fine Wheelbarrow. What do beavers have to do with wine? Find out tomorrow!

 

Skinny Margarita Monday

Sometimes, I enjoy a fine adult beverage. Usually, I love a glass of chilled white wine, or if I’m feeling especially decadent, Bailey’s irish cream mixed with ice cubes and milk. However, lately I’ve been craving the salty, lime taste of a margarita. But what’s a calorie counting gal to do?! Booze calories add up quickly, and I’m the type that would much rather eat my calories than drink ’em. Margarita mix in particular is loaded with sugar – and that packs heat if you’re trying to watch what you eat drink.

Limey! Only 95 calories for a magical margarita.

I’ve been wanting to try Bethenny Frankel’s Skinny Girl drinks, but I’m frugal, and if I’m spending $17 on a bottle of booze, it better be a fine, aged wine for me and my sweetie – not a low-calorie elixir with the name “skinny” in it. Something that costs $17 should be fattening, anyways. Enter my cost-cutting ways and new favorite low-cal booze – Margaritaville’s Skinny Margarita. A whole handle of this potion was only $11, and while initially I was skeptical, I have to say – this stuff rocks.(No, I am not plugging for Margaritaville or anything, but if they wanted to hook me up with some free stuff, that’d be awesome 😉 )

I mixed a little Aloha with Hola and made a Strawberry Margarita/Daquiri thing.

4 oz (1/2 cup) is 95 calories, which isn’t bad for a decent sized drink. The first time I tried it, I just had it on the rocks. The best thing about this stuff is that it’s basically lime juice, tequila, and agave nectar. Tequila is made from agave anyways, so it’s kind of genius for them to use a natural, low-calorie sweetener that comes from the same thing the booze is made from. The agave nectar doesn’t leave any artificial sweetener after taste – one of my peeves with Splenda or aspartame.

The second time I had it, I went wild and had two servings (1 cup = 190 calories) with 1/2 cup frozen strawberries (30 calories). Blend it all together and you’ve got yourself a fancy pants Margarita-slushy-dacquiri thing. It was quite delicious, and after I added a dollop of fat free whipped cream (5 calories), I felt like I was on the beach in Cabo, instead of in cat-hair covered sweatpants toiling away on a thesis.

I'm whipped for whipped cream.

If you’re counting calories or watching your weight or just want to be a jubilant, lighter-weight drunkard, I recommend you check out Margaritaville’s Skinny Margarita. It’s tasty – and will no doubt soften the blow of Monday! C’mon – it’s 5:00 somewhere!