This is the final day of the Iron Chef Moms Challenge and I have been both challenged & inspired by the dishes that Meredith & I have put together. I hope that you walk away with a sense of what we were both trying to accomplish. Meredith has proven that it is possible to eat very inexpensively by just going to your local supermarket and picking up the items that are on special at the stores. I was trying to prove that Aldi offers many affordable choices for your dinner hour.
I think more than that, at least for me, I wanted to prove how you can eat well and not spend a lot of money. I think a lot of times people walk away with the impression that if they go to a discount store, that they are reduced to eating processed meats and chips. I know about this impression, because that is how I had thought of it a few years ago. The food, at that time, looked like a bunch of junk food to me and I didn’t see anything there that would be worth serving to my family.
When we moved here though and my husband’s salary drastically decreased, we had no choice but to cut corners. I did not know a lot about cooking and never had the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom before.
Aldi Supermarket does offer good food for low prices. I do miss the frills of the other supermarkets- a bagger, picking my groceries up at the door, and the thousands of choices of each product. I don’t miss the price tag though, which keeps me shopping there.
Despite Aldi being my favorite store, I do love to shop the other grocery stores for the exact reason that Meredith has pointed out. Shopping loss leaders in the fliers can be a huge savings to your family. My well-stocked freezers prove that theory! I have tons of meat and cheese that I have purchased at greatly reduced prices and I enjoy shopping the end of the day when the manager’s special tags are calling my name. I have gotten great deals from the supermarket and do feel that shopping the fliers can save you a lot of money. Imagine combining the Aldi shopping with one extra trip to a supermarket to pick up the very best deals of the week.
Setting aside ten dollars even, to shop the loss leaders at the other stores, can be beneficial in the long run to your grocery budget. Coupon cutters can get even more savings by bringing their tote of coupons with them. I know many people, with proper planning, that get food for free or even get money back on their purchases! That is amazing and a tribute to what good shoppers we all could be if we invested a little time into it.
I hope you see through my meals, the desire to provide good food that looks like restaurant-quality eating, but costs you only three or four dollars compared to the twenty or thirty dollar tab you would run if you went out to dinner.
I am anxious to hear all your thoughts and what you have gained from this challenge. What meal was your favorite? What has changed about the way you want to shop? Are you able to eat less expensively than you thought?
For our final day, I made one of my favorite foods for the kids…meatloaf. For some reason, my children are not big meatloaf fans, but make meatloaf muffins? Well, now that is a different story entirely! The best part about preparing meatloaf in your muffin tins, in my opinion, is how much quicker it is to do these versus in the loaf pan. Smaller portions cook up in thirty to thirty-five minutes instead of an hour like the larger loaf. They also transport well for lunches. This recipe tastes like meatballs to me and it is so yummy.
Please ignore the fact that we are eating instant mashed potatoes. Those are my husband’s favorite kind and they are much easier for me to make, so how can I argue with that request?
I served these with a side of steamed broccoli. I love the fresh broccoli hearts because I get the part of the broccoli that I really want. The frozen variety carries more stems than anything else, but mixed in a casserole or dip, they are just fine. If you want to save a little money though, prepare the frozen variety using the microwave instructions, but cook them just a hair under then what it says on the bag. Then take a handful of parmesan cheese a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle it on top with a little salt and pepper. Give it a light toss and the kids will love it more because it has a little cheese on top.
I can make just about anyone a lover out of broccoli. My only trick is I cook them just until they are done so that the broccoli still has a bite to it and it is still that pretty bright green. My kids will even eat it this way. I just cook the broccoli in an inch of boiling water. Put the broccoli heads in and let them cook four minutes. Drain them and let them sit in the hot pan until the rest of the dinner is ready (about five to ten minutes). They will be perfect!
Yields Four Servings
1 pound ground turkey (purchased in the frozen section)
1/3 cup breadcrumbs (the Italian variety work well or fresh breadcrumbs)
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, but only use about ¼ of the tomato sauce in the meat mixture. Press the meat into the muffin cups (you should be able to get eight out of this amount of meat). Top with a dollop of tomato sauce on each one. Cook for 30-35 minutes. Serve two per person.
This was served with freshly steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes (we like the butter-flavored variety).
1 pound ground turkey for $0.89
1 egg for $0.07
1 can tomato sauce for $0.19
I package of broccoli hearts for $1.29
1 package of mashed potato mix for $0.40
Total Cost For a Family of Four: $2.84
Total Cost Per Person: $0.71
My overall total for five meals, feeding a family of four, was $15.38. This means that my average cost per person for an entire week of dinners was $3.85!
I am feeling pretty pumped about this! This is how we eat every week so this has helped justify all the time and effort I put into our dinners. What a savings for our family! We could not eat out once for that amount of money unless we dined on nasty fast food.
This also demonstrates how our $50 a week budget works. I still end up with about thirty-five dollars leftover for the other stuff. We also keep an extra ten out each week for maybe a little splurge here and there. This is usually reserved for those little social engagements like coffee with a good friend or those unexpected events where I have to pitch in a little money at a playgroup. There are
weeks that go by where I never even spend this money. If I can go under the fifty dollar amount and still provide great food for my family, I have a little extra for a special treat for myself or for the kids.
Please share with me your thoughts. Was the Iron Chef Moms Challenge worth it? Would you like to see another face-off with a different type of shopper? Share away!
Please check Meredith’s blog for her final tally and her last meal. I am sure she has something wonderful going in her kitchen and I will be anxious to see the final totals!
Note: This recipe will be added to “the Aldi Queen” and all ingredients listed will be added to my weekly menu planner. My planners are posted every Friday so you can get a week’s worth of ideas and a grocery list in one stop! I am running a little behind today so the planner will be up by this evening.