This post is sponsored by Whole Foods Market; all opinions are my own (as always!).

Recently, Whole Foods Market issued me a challenge: create 5 affordable weeknight dinners from just a couple bags of groceries and do it on a budget!

Whole Foods

Since I’m always up for a challenge, I accepted, and then I got to work meal planning. It was important to me, while planning, to 1) let ingredients do double duty (i.e. use cilantro in more than one recipe so it doesn’t go to waste!) and 2) use leftovers to their full potential (i.e. use extra cilantro lime rice from the BBQ chicken salad bowls to serve with the salmon). Not only does this save money but it makes my life easier.

I planned my weekly menu with the following meals (many of them you hopefully already know and love), and using the $125 gift card they sent, I took my little meal plan and went shopping.

• Greek Meatball Pitas with Tzatzki Sauce (recipe below!)
Maple Pecan Crusted Salmon
BBQ Chicken Salad Cilantro Lime Rice Bowls
Curried Lentil and Sausage Soup
Cheesy Spinach Stuffed Shells

Because the closest Whole Foods to me is a bit of a drive, shopping there feels like a vacation. A little special, a little indulgent, and a little fun (especially if I go without the kids, ahem).

Whole Foods

I’m always in awe at how pretty and colorful the produce section is at Whole Foods. I kept getting sidetracked looking at fresh turmeric and dark purple pea pods and forgot I needed to be focused on everyday lemons. But hello! Purple peas. Fun. They certainly don’t carry those in my neighborhood grocery store.

Whole Foods

I love, love, love how Whole Foods sources and provides locally and responsibly grown produce in their markets. I don’t consider myself an overboarder when it comes to always buying everything organic, but there’s something about knowing where my food comes from and how it is grown that makes me feel like I’m doing right by my family.

Also. Let’s talk about how wonderful the bulk bins are at Whole Foods. Bulk bins are my shopping language. Scoop out just what you need…or load up! As we all know, buying in bulk saves money. And I kind of like that.

Whole Foods

My next stop was the meat counter. The chicken breasts were on sale. Sweet! And after I spent about 23 minutes gazing dreamily at all the different options for fresh meat (seriously, so.many.options), I walked away happily clutching my nicely wrapped chicken and wishing I had made a recipe that called for bison sausage. That will be in my future. I’m just saying.

Whole Foods

If you don’t know much about Whole Foods and their philosophy about the meat they provide – well, I’ve learned a lot the last few weeks, and rest assured that Whole Foods is committed to transparent farming and ranching practices. That means, in part, all the meat they offer is from animals raised without antibiotics and added growth hormones, and it’s free from synthetic nitrates or nitrites. That’s a lot of peace of mind right there.

Whole Foods

All in all, I was surprised and happy that shopping for five meals on a budget was extremely doable at Whole Foods. In fact, I came in under budget. Oh yeah! High five. (No really, I was gushing about it to the team member helping me check out my groceries and he totally gave me a high five…and a weird look, but I’m focused on the high five part).

Whole Foods

I have no doubt my success is in huge part to utilizing Whole Foods Market 365 Everyday Value line, which made up a large number of products in my shopping cart. They have an enormous selection of natural and organic products at great prices under this brand, and I love them (I’ve bought them in the past, totally unsponsored, too). All the team members I talked to commented how the 365 Everyday Value line offers high-quality foods that are affordable for everyone, and my receipt would agree with that.

Although I don’t get to my Whole Foods Market very often, every experience I’ve had there has been amazing. Their team members are extremely helpful (even when I ask ridiculous questions, like “where would the large pasta shells be?” as I’m staring right at them), and it makes me wish the store was right around the corner so I could go there every day. But I’ll tell you, the quality is definitely worth the drive.

I will neither confirm nor deny that this desire has anything to do with the loaded bakery case (also, have you ever had their artisan pizza? Seriously, get the white pizza – I die, it’s so delicious).

Whole Foods

Don’t forget that Whole Foods Market has thousands of items on sale every day! If you want to be on top of the latest sales and have access to digital coupons, download the Whole Foods app and subscribe to the Whole Foods Market newsletter. I have the app on my phone; it’s so easy to take a quick glance at what’s on sale and see if I need to get on the road to Whole Foods ASAP.

You can also stay up on all the Whole Foods Market happenings by following them on Instagram and Facebook.

Now, let’s talk about today’s recipe. It was quick and painless finding all of these ingredients at Whole Foods, which is good, because you need to get your hands on the lineup for this Greek Meatball Stuffed Pita recipe and make it as soon as possible. Like, maybe now? Can you make that work? Because these stuffed pitas are insanely delicious.

Greek Meatball Stuffed Pita

Whole grain pita bread is stuffed to the max with tender, flavorful Greek meatballs, simple tzatziki sauce (possibly my favorite sauce in the history of ever), and a layer of fresh tomatoes and greens.

Since the tzatziki can be made ahead of time and the tiny meatballs don’t take very long to cook, you can have this meal on the table fast without a lot of stress.

There’s a whole lot to love here! So get cooking!

Greek Meatball Stuffed Pita

Greek Meatball Stuffed Pitas with Simple Tzatziki Sauce

Yield: Serves 4-6

Greek Meatball Stuffed Pitas with Simple Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients

    Tzatziki Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup grated seedless, English cucumber
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch black pepper
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Meatballs:
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • Pitas + Toppings:
  • 4 whole wheat pita breads
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, arugula or a combination

Directions

  1. For the tzatziki, place the grated cucumber in the center of a clean kitchen towel. Roll up the towel and squeeze out the excess water from the cucumber. Place the cucumber in a medium bowl. Add the yogurt, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. This can be made several days in advance.
  2. For the meatballs, preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly grease the foil with cooking spray.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the bread crumbs and milk and let the mixture sit for a few minutes to let the crumbs soften. Add the parsley, egg, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Add the turkey and mix until well combined.
  4. Portion the meatballs into tablespoon-sized balls and place ½-inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes until the meatballs are no longer pink in the center.
  6. To serve, slice the pita breads in half. Dollop a spoonful of tzatziki sauce on the bottom of each pita. Add a layer of tomatoes and greens. Stuff meatballs inside and serve.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/greek-meatball-stuffed-pitas-easy-tzatziki-sauce/

Recipe Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

36 Responses to Greek Meatball Stuffed Pitas with Easy Tzatziki Sauce

  1. Mariann says:

    This recipe for Greek meatball stuffed pitas sounds great and something different to add to the menu this week. Do you peel the cucumber before grating?

  2. Alicia says:

    I don’t live near a WF, but when I’ve gone on vacation to major cities we’ve always (fortunately!) had one near whatever hotel we’ve stayed at. We love their salad bar, especially on vacay when everyone wants a break from eating unhealthy foods that are not our norm. Everyone can get what they want, and it’s as healthy as you want to make it. This recipe sounds easy and yummy!

  3. Janet says:

    I didn’t know there was a whole foods in Idaho Falls area.

    I’m confused…….$125 for 5 meals?? That is $25 a meal, which is not budget in my opinion when we budget $1 to $3 per person per day and eat healthy meals.

    • Mel says:

      Yep, I totally understand what you are saying. This particular budget lineup might not be for everyone but like always (and particularly if you don’t have a Whole Foods close), you can shop around or add or subtract meals from the menu plan to better fit your budget. 🙂 (And I don’t believe there is a Whole Foods in the Idaho Falls area…there’s one in Boise and several in Utah, I believe.)

    • Amy says:

      She’s not that far off on your calculations with 7 people in her family (or 8 if you include the blog!) – and for 5 delicious entrees that are fresh, light, and hearty, I think that’s a great deal.
      Where you and I probably throw in a few ‘cheaper’ or ‘easier’ dinners to balance out the time and budget – she’s cooking 5 full-feature (blog-worthy) entrees…

  4. Amy says:

    I just wanted to say that I <3 your site and your recipes and talk to my friends/family about you as if you were my best friend…! They *ALL* know who Mel is!
    I'm really happy to see that you're doing some sponsored posts, too 😉 I love to see you taking advantage of what your incredible blog has to offer income-wise, while still creating amazingly beautiful -and delicious- content!

  5. Kate says:

    I also agree that I’m happy to see you do a sponsored post. We are so very lucky to receive your content for free each day, and want you to get compensated so you will continue wanting to do it!!! I know you definitely have high end shopping readers out there and it’s great to see what they have at Whole Foods if you haven’t been by in a while.

    • Mel says:

      Thanks, Kate. I appreciate you saying that. I won’t/don’t do sponsored posts very often but participating in one every now and then with companies I’m well aligned with definitely helps “pay the bills” of blogging so I can keep offering my favorite recipes to everyone consistently (and freely!). Thanks for your support!

      • Cheryl says:

        I’m sure glad that you do!! Your website is my “go-to” when I’m looking for a new recipe because I know all of the recipes you share are always excellent! Your Sweet and Sour chicken has become a favorite staple on our meal rotation!

  6. Becky says:

    I’m no where near a Whole Foods, but I love that I can get these ingredients anywhere!

    I can’t wait to try this one! I think my pickies will even like it!

  7. Debbie N says:

    Whole foods can be affordable if you watch sales and take advantage of their monthly coupon book. My favorite thing there is definitely a splurge,though. Whole Foods Chocolate Eruption Cake is delicious.

  8. Susan says:

    But unfortunately, Whole Foods is synonymous with the most vicious child abuse. They’re all in with Planned Barrenhood, heavily supporting the child murderers with a portion of each purchase made in their stores.

  9. Lisa says:

    Some feta would be delicious on this pita…can’t wait to try it!!

  10. Kristin says:

    I love Whole Foods! I think that was some savvy shopping buying 5 nutritious and fresh meals for under $125! Hard for me to admit but my most favorite thing to buy there is the cakes! Instead of making them for my daughter’s birthdays, I buy them…and usually eat 75% of them myself! Love all their fresh food and I agree, the Market 365 are great deals! Can’t wait to try the pitas! Thanks!!

  11. Brianne says:

    I LOVE Whole Foods and buy some products from them regularly. I’ve always felt like I couldn’t afford to buy my routine groceries there on my budget. I usually spend less than $25 per dinner each night. However, I can afford $125 for five meals especially considering the quality. I like how you included some pricier items such as salmon with other more affordable options like soup. It proves that you can eat healthy, fresh, good quality foods and be on a budget. I, too, love your blog. Your cooking style is much like my own. While I follow a few blogs, yours is my favorite. Thank you for the consistently delicious recipes. You’re amazing!!

  12. Teresa says:

    I love this pita recipe–looks so delicious and easy! I am lucky to have a WF within 10 minutes of my house and I admit I shop there every week, sometimes twice weekly. With no preservatives, the food does not last very long. I’ve been very happy with the 365 foods overall. The only one I remember I did not care for was the 365 organic chicken broth. I love knowing where my meat and seafood come from. Yes, it is pricey for some stuff, but I think it is worth it for me, especially if I focus on the 365 options. I cannot wait to make those meatballs!

  13. Amy W. says:

    You. Are. Awesome. Period. 🙂

  14. Rachel Russell says:

    This was SO. GOOD. We will be making this again for sure- one of my fav Mel recipes! We didn’t have bread crumbs so used crushed whole wheat saltines instead and then rolled meatball in Panko with some Greek seasoning ( from Mels Greek dip!) before baking. Also added some feta to the finished pita- thanks to reader tip above- was FAB! Thanks Mel! This was fast and a keeper!

  15. Bharat Ratna says:

    Made these and it was amazing!

  16. Stacie D. says:

    I was a little caught off-guard by this post because it felt a little less genuine than you usually are. And while I agree with a previous commenter who said she is glad you are doing some sponsored posts (seriously, you do so much for us, and compared to some other bloggers I really can’t complain at all), it just didn’t feel totally “Mel” to me.

    Having said that, I am not a Whole Foods shopper, but if I ever find myself nearby, I know I have some suggestions I can trust and I won’t feel so overwhelmed. So maybe that negates what I said above?

    I guess I’m saying this wasn’t my favorite post (although the recipe looks yummy and I will try it at some point). Just wanted to give some honest feedback from one of your most loyal fans.

    • Mel says:

      Thanks for your feedback, Stacie. I value loyal readers and appreciate hearing all sides. I can totally understand what you mean (most sponsored posts are dictated heavily by the sponsor’s preferred wording) and is the reason I have and will keep sponsored posts to a minimum. It’s a hard situation to be in at my level of blogging, because I’m trying to strike that balance of being compensated for the work of blogging without “selling out.” It’s a constant balancing act and I hope to do right by myself and by my readers. 🙂

      • Stacie D. says:

        Thanks for your thoughtful response, Mel. And thank you for all the thought you put into every single post you make. I am sure it is a very difficult balance for you and I so appreciate that you do it because I love, love, love you and your blog!

  17. Michelle says:

    I shared your blog with all my girlfriends ! Love everything you post , and all your recipes. I would be lost without your inspiration. Thank you .

  18. Rebecca says:

    I completely support your sponsored posts when they are aligned with your point of view. You are not selling out – you are getting compensated (and deservedly so) for providing great content. I would hate for you to burn out because the time/money/fun equation got out of balance for you in the blogging sphere. Lastly, your “endorsements” run the gamut from Whole Foods to the mentoring program in Africa so you are not one dimensional when it comes to promoting companies and causes you believe in. Keep at it – you are doing a great service to your readers. I was so moved by your posts about your trip to Africa and the incredible impact that such a minimal amount of money can make one the lives of the women that you highlighted – I will be supporting that organization in the future and would never have been exposed to it if not for you.

    • Mel says:

      That means a lot, thank you, Rebecca! Mostly, I’m so grateful you have loved learning about Mentors. I have more to report on that amazing organization and the work they’ll be doing with the donations made by all of you.

  19. Ryan says:

    Mel, thanks for being so thoughtful about your posts including sponsored ones such as these. By way of feedback for Whole Foods, they should consider that in one post about pitas, it’s very contrived to force a blogger to talk about nearly every display in the store (related or not to the recipe) and to throw in promotions about their app and social media presence. Valuable content marketing does not stuff so many promotional aspects in one post and they should back off their dictates and they’d have better results. VCM is subtle and helpful without feeling sales-ey, and what they’ve forced here is not.

    All to say, I totally support you Mel and appreciate your posts. Partners such as Whole Foods should think harder about their approach.

    • Mel says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Ryan. I agree with you 110%. I’m sorry the post felt a little contrived; it was a difficult balance for me this go-round and I have a whole list of “lessons learned.” 🙂

  20. Melanie B says:

    I’m going to have to take this challenge and try out Whole Foods Market. I’ve never bought anything there because it’s so expensive, but with your plan I can finally see what I’ve been missing. Well, I know what I’ve been missing. Whole Foods is amazing!
    Also, I made the meatball pita sandwiches with the creamy dressing from your chipotle chicken skewers recipe. It was so delicious! and my boys loved it!

  21. Amy says:

    We loved this meal! I always appreciate your tips on what to serve with meals too!!

  22. Christen says:

    This meal was absolutely fabulous. I was in heaven and it was so easy!!!

  23. Sheriece says:

    I’ve made these twice since you posted and we absolutely love them!!! I kinda hope they get their own stand alone post someday because they’re excellent.

    I agree with someone above who said it’s great to see you being compensated for all the work you do! #teammel

  24. Laura says:

    These meatballs are amazing! A big hit with the bigs and the littles. Thanks Mel!!

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