Showing posts from 2014

Best Coffee Picks at ALDI: Product Review

Taking someone else's word for coffee is like sending someone else to try on shoes for you. I have held off on writing a coffee review since I know everyone's taste is different. I am by no means a coffee-snob, but maybe if I give you an idea of the coffees I typically like, then you can get an idea how your taste compares to mine. At Starbuck's I order the Blonde Roast as I find the others to be too bitter and strong for my taste. Before I started shopping at ALDI we purchased a medium roast Seattle's Best and Dunkin Donuts (my husband's fav.) for our home drip. I enjoy flavored coffee as long as it is mild and doesn't go overboard with an artificial tasting flavor. I do not care for Folgers or Maxwell House or whatever is brewed in the waiting rooms of auto repair shops. Clear as mud? 1. Best Daily Drip: Specialty Selected Regular Roasted Ground Coffee: This is my go-to everyday coffee that we make in the morning. It is one of the ALDI "Fan Favorites&qu…

Whole Wheat Flour! Thank you ALDI!

Thanks to Jessica for the heads up on ALDI rolling out whole wheat flour! I spotted this in our store in the last aisle with the other miscellaneous rotating products. They were priced at $2.79 for a 5 lb. bag. Here are the online prices I found on whole wheat flour to give you an idea of how great a deal this is:ALDI: $.50/lbSam's Club: $.92Walmart: $.75Target $.67/lb
I went ahead and purchased two bags, so I will posting some whole wheat baking recipes as I use this throughout the holidays.

Split Pea and Ham Bone Soup

Every year at Thanksgiving we buy an Appleton Spiral Sliced Ham from ALDI for those who are not turkey fans at our dinner table. My husband is a huge fan, so I figured I would cook one over the weekend with some Kaese Spaetzle for a German-themed dinner night. After serving our family dinner, which barely put a dent in the 10 lb. ham, I trimmed and froze about half the remaining meat, portioned out some for weekday lunches with the leftover spaetzle, and still had about 3 lbs. leftover for sandwiches (or whatever) along with the ham bone.

So what to do with the ham bone? I have a couple of soup recipes that call for a ham bone, but this split pea recipe is by far my favorite.

Split Pea and Ham Bone Soup (Slow Cooker) Serves 4, Cost per Serving $.37 Ingredients One ham bone with some meat remaining 1 lb. dry split peas - rinsed and sorted (I have also used lentils when I don't have split peas) 8 cups of water 1 onion, chopped 4 carrots, peeled and chopped 4 stalks of celery, choppe…

Turkey Time: Turkey Stock

This is essentially the same recipe as our Chicken Stock but just a reminder that you can stretch whole turkeys and chickens by making stock from the bones once you've removed all the meat.  Why Make Your Own Stock? I haven't bought a can of broth in years since learning to make this and Vegetable Stock. I love that you can stretch ingredients and make something so useful out of what most people see as trash. As an added bonus, you are eliminating processed ingredients as compared to commercially prepared broth. Below is the ingredient label for ALDI's turkey broth which I would imagine is similar to most commercially prepared stocks or broths.
Turkey Stock Ingredients 1 turkey or chicken carcass (bones- meat removed)
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, peeled
2 stalks of celery, trimmed
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 T. sea salt
Water to fill pot

(Carolyn had a 22 lb. turkey and had to use her canning pot in or…

Turkey Time: Turkey Spaghetti

Yet another way to reinvent leftover chicken or turkey.  Serves 6, Cost per serving $.79 (assuming leftover turkey or chicken) Ingredients 1 package spaghetti noodles 1 can cream of chicken
1 can cream of celery 2 cups cooked turkey or chicken  2 stalks celery, chopped 1/2 c. onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 - 1/2 c. chicken or turkey broth or stock 8 oz. Colby Jack or Cheddar Cheese, shredded Directions 1. Preheat oven to 350*

2. Cook spaghetti according to package directions al dente. Drain
3. Mix soups, turkey, onion, garlic, celery, and broth in a bowl. Stir in spaghetti.
4. Transfer mixture to a 9x13 pan.

5. Top with cheese and bake for 30 min.

Turkey Time: Turkey Enchiladas

In case you have tons of leftover turkey like Carolyn, we have number of recipes coming for leftover turkey. Of course you could always substitute turkey for chicken recipes like Chicken Pot Pie or White Chicken Chili but we thought we would add a few more turkey ideas to the collection. This turkey enchilada recipe was a hit at Carolyn's house and is forgiving in the amount of turkey you use, so if you don't have quite enough don't worry.

Serves 4, Cost per serving $1.35 Ingredients 2 T. butter 1 onion, chopped 1 can cream of celery or cream of chicken soup 1 small can diced green chilies  2 c. cooked turkey (or chicken) pieces 1 c. sour cream 1 tsp. chili powder 8 flour tortillas 1-2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, jack, etc.)
Directions1. Mix soup and sour cream in bowl. 
2. Melt butter in sauce pan and saute the onions. Cook until onions are soft, then add green chillies, turkey, and 2 T. of the soup/sour cream mixture. Cook and mix well. 
3. Put about ¼ cup of the soup/…

Budget Ziti

I get a little bored of lasagna from time to time and this Ziti is my go-to recipe when we want Italian. It is also not a budget buster compared to many lasagna and ziti recipes that can call for pricey Italian sausage or huge amounts of cheese. Serves 8, Cost per Serving $.99

Ingredients 16 oz. dry tube-type pasta, ziti or penne  1 jar of pasta sauce (I prefer the SimplyNature Tomato Basil -organic) 6 deli slices of Provolone Cheese 8 oz. sour cream 12 oz. Mozzarella cheese, shredded 4 oz. Parmesan Cheese, grated
Directions 1. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions and drain. 2. Preheat oven to 350* 3. In a 9x13 pan, spread approximately 2 T. of sauce on the bottom to prevent sticking. 4. Put in half of the cooked noodles. 5. Top with the slices of Provolone spread in a single layer. 6. Top the provolone with the sour cream, spreading evenly. 7. Top with half the sauce. 8. Top with the remaining cooked pasta. 9. Top with the rest of the sauce. 10. Top with the Mozzarell…

Tex-Mex Migas (Breakfast Tostada with Sriracha Cream Sauce)

I enjoyed a variation of Tex-Mex Migas on a recent trip and this was my re-creation. If you have leftover salsa or black beans, they would also be a great topping. I used leftover tostada shells, but you could use broken taco shells or tortilla chips just as easily. Great way to jazz up eggs for breakfast and fairly quick. Serves 4, Cost per serving $.53 Ingredients 4 Tostada shells - broken just fine 8 eggs 1 avocado, diced or sliced (opt.) 2 T. chopped fresh cilantro (opt.) 1/2 c. sour cream 1 T. Sriracha Sauce (new at ALDI) Optional Toppings: black Beans, shredded cheese, pico, onions, peppers, tomatoes, etc.
Directions 1. Make Sriracha Cream Sauce by mixing sour cream and sriracha sauce. Set aside. 2. Cook eggs sunny side up. My preferred method is to melt 1 T. butter over medium heat in a skillet with a lid. Crack eggs into skillet being sure not to break the yolks. Season with salt and pepper and place lid on pan. Watch for the whites to cook through and then remove from pan. Y…

Aldi-why you gotta break my heart?

I went to ALDI Thursday and was in hopes of catching the fresh turkeys for $.99/lb. To my great disappointment I was told they sold out of fresh turkeys in 5 hours! I had to resort to finding another store that had frozen turkeys at $.79/lb (Applemarket for my NE KS friends). So congrats to all you that scored of that fresh turkey deal. Let's hope my frozen one turns out as well.

Butter price back down! $2.29/lb - yippee!

Thanks for lowering the price right before Thanksgiving ALDI! (although I haven't forgotten that it was $1.99 last year)

Aldi-Only Challenge Week 12: $68.99 and Confessions

This was my last week of my Aldi-Only Challenge and I was very happy to stay under my $100 budget each week. My weekly average was $60.78 - well under my goal. If you are willing to be less brand-loyal and a little flexible in your meal planning, then I think staying under $100 for a family of 4 is very doable on a weekly basis. Carolyn always reminds me that my boys are 1 and 5 and that this will be a very different story as their appetites grow. I have no doubt I will need to increase the budget when my boys turn into human garbage disposals in their teen years, but for now I will celebrate this accomplishment as a win! A few confessions:I did purchase KC Strips at Sam's Club and our local butcher shop. The KC Strips that ALDI carries as of now are not on par with the thick, fresh cuts we get elsewhere.My husband purchased name brand pop that ALDI doesn't offer for his lunches. We have tried the Dr.Pepper and Cola-type at ALDI and he is not a fan.I lived off of some of stoc…

Aldi-Only Challenge Week 11: $70.88 - And they have Coconut Oil!

I think someone at ALDI may actually be reading my blog because Organic Coconut Oil showed up on the shelf! I haven't seen it in an ad or online, but all of a sudden there it was, so I will believe it was all my doing (note sarcasm). $4.99 for 14 oz. makes it $.36 an ounce. This is much cheaper than you will find it at most stores, but doesn't beat the Sam's Club price at $.30 an ounce. I enjoy baking with coconut oil as an alternative to canola oil or butter. It does have a coconut flavor to it, so I make sure what I am cooking or baking would be complimented by the flavor.
Back to what I purchased this week: Organic Coconut Oil $4.99Mini Pretzels $1.29Pizza Snacks $2.49Taquitos $3.99Premium Coffee $4.99Sparkling Mineral Water $1.49Bananas $1.09Honeycrisp Apples $1.98Chili Beans $.59Frozen Meals (3) $2.97Feta Crumbles $1.99Cream Cheese (3) $2.97Black Beans $.59Carrots $.99All Purpose Flour $1.53 (Thanksgiving)Evaporated Milk (2) $1.30 (Thanksgiving)Organic Sugar $2.79Mult…

Chile Rellenos Casserole

Serves 4, approx. $.75 per serving Ingredients 2 cans of diced green chiles, drained (or 3 roasted, peeled, and seeded fresh poblanos) 1/4 c. flour 1/2 c. milk 4 eggs 1/2 tsp. salt 1/2 block Colby Jack Cheese, shredded
1 box Jiffy Mix Corn Bread 1/3 c. milk 1 egg

Directions 1. Preheat oven to 400* 2. Layer chiles on the bottom of a 8x8 square baking dish (or similar). 3. In a medium bowl whisk together 1/4 c. flour and 1/2 c. milk until all lumps are gone. Add more milk if needed. Whisk in 4 eggs and 1/2 tsp. of salt. Pour egg mixture over chiles. 4. Bake for 5 minutes or until eggs begin to set around the edges. While baking mix the Jiffy cornbread as directed on the box. (You can use the same bowl - I won't tell.) 5. Remove from oven, top with shredded cheese and then gently pour corn bread batter over top.  6. Continue baking for 15-20 minutes or until cornbread has set all the way through the middle.  

ALDI-Only Challenge Week 10: $52.42

Almost there- 2 more weeks and then I will confess where I cheated:)

Silicone Bakeware -Muffins Pans! (2) $5.98Premium Coffee $4.99 -Thanksgiving buy aheadTortilla Chips $1.19Organic Baby Spinach $2.49Apple Pecan Strudel $1.50 - Oktoberfest Markdown!Organic Bananas $1.28Shells and Cheese $1.29 - requested by the 5-year-oldWhole Milk $2.89Diapers $4.99Corn Tostadas  $1.49Corndogs $2.19 - requested by the 34-year-oldEggs $.99 - Woo hoo! Egg price back down (butter next?)Lime $.19Artichoke and Cheese Strudel $1.50 - Another markdown!Colby Jack Cheese Block $1.89Popcorn Chicken - combining this with wing sauce for a World Series Snack - Go Royals!Gala Apples $1.89Minced Garlic $1.99 - they were out of the fresh stuff:(Anjou Pears $1.19String Cheese $2.79Acorn Squash $.69Tax $4.24 Total: $52.42
Meal Plan Week of 10/25-10/31
Saturday: Baked Fish, Mashed Potatoes, and Acorn Squash Sunday: Chile Rellenos Casserole Monday: Bean Tostadas (using the linked recipe for the beans) Tuesday: White Chili w/…

ALDI-Only Challenge Week 9: $90.92

I cut it pretty close this week because I made a fatal mistake in grocery shopping. I brought the WHOLE family! I can shop pretty well with just my two boys since I have deal with my five-year-old that he gets $1 to spend when we go to the store. He knows if he asks for other things that are not on my list, then the answer will be no. He does a great job of not asking for treats and junk food beyond what his one dollar will buy. His dad is a different story. We were all out and about this Saturday morning and I figured we would just knock out shopping and go together as a whole family. My shopping list below is evidence of what happens when my husband tags along. Bold print items were not on my list:) I guess I can be relieved that we went to ALDI and not a store that would have cost more for all those little extras.

Organic Bananas $1.28Rising Crust Pizza $3.29Frankenberry Cereal $2.49Count Chocula Cereal $2.49Roast Beef $2,49Raw Medium Shrimp $5.99Frosted Shredded Wheat $1.99Mint Mou…

Huntington Home Rug 24"x36" Product Review

I recently purchased the rug that was the "Red Hot" Special a few weeks ago week for $4.99 to replace our front door rug that was looking a little ratty. There were three color choices, that I saw, and I chose a gray and off-white diamond pattern. A few of the rugs looked a little frayed along the seams already like the construction isn't all that great? I picked one that appeared to be in good shape and so far it is holding up great! It is not rubber backed, so I will probably need to put a piece of non-skid material underneath it, but no biggie. The rugs I last purchase for my kitchen from Target were similar and I paid over $20 per rug, so these are a steal of a deal if they hold up for even a bit.

**After washing once, there are some frayed spots, but I am still not disappointed for $4.99.

Lazy French Dip Subs

Thanks to Carolyn for this quick dinner idea!
Makes 6 sandwiches, Cost per serving: $1.61

Ingredients 2 cans French Onion soup 1 package Deli Rolls 2 packages Roast Beef Deli Meat 1 package Sliced Provolone or Mozzarella 
Directions 1. Simmer roast beef in french onion soup (no water) in a medium sauce pan until warmed through. 2. Drain meat reserving soup for later. Place meat on bottom half of bun.  3. Place cheese on top of meat and broil both halves in oven until the bread is lightly toasted and the cheese is melted. 4. Serve with french onion soup in small cups for dipping.

Aldi-Only Challenge Week 8: $72.21

I have yet to have a week over $100 since I started this challenge and I thought I would be running out of more things, but I am really not. I also started buying ahead for Thanksgiving dinner pantry items so that I don't get hit with a giant bill the week of Thanksgiving. Here is what I purchased this week followed by the meal plan for the week:

Booberry Cereal (my husband demands this every Halloween!) $2.49Diapers $4.99Single Serve Frozen Meals (2) $1.98Blue Cheese Dressing $1.29Wipes (2) $1.70Evaporated Milk (2) $1.58 - ThanksgivingCanned Pumpkin (2) $1.78 - ThanksgivingCoffee K-Cups $4.99Unsalted Butter $3.49 (Yikes! - what is going on with the price of butter?)Chewy Cookies $.99 (husband requested store-bought - trying not to take that personally)Cheese Crackers $1.89Animal Crackers $1.29Caramel Apples $1.29Anjou Pears $.99Frozen Broccoli Florets $.99Iceberg Lettuce $1.29Whole Wheat Bread $1.29Frosted Shredded Wheat $1.99Granny Smith Apples $1.89Cottage Cheese $2.29Extra Shar…

Aldi Only Challenge Week 7: $81.73

My overall total was a little higher this week, but still under my $100 goal. We have officially run out of the brands of pop my husband likes for his lunches and tonic water, so I may have to cheat my Aldi-Only challenge to get those items. Here is what I purchased this week followed by my meal plan with links to recipes:

Frozen meals (2) $1.98Apple Wedger $2.49 - Special deal this week- similar kind starts around $9-12 at Target and WalMartRising Crust Pizza $3.29Pumpkin Bagels $1.99Gala Apples $1.89Sugar 4 lb. $1.78Organic Bananas $1.28Frosted Shredded Wheat $1.99Dish Detergent $1.89Premium Coffee $4.99Whole Milk (2) $5.78String Cheese $2.89Elbow Macaroni $1.49Unsalted Butter $3.49Monterrey Jack Cheese Block $1.99Colby Jack Cheese Block $1.99Liquid Hand Soap $.85Black Beans (2) $1.18Sour Cream $1.29Baby Wipes $.85Apple Cinnamon "Nutrigrain" Bars $1.79Onions $.99Organic Salsa $1.99Lime $.25Lemon $.59Avocado $.79Half Ham $16.82Pumpkins (2) $5.38Tax $6.61 Total $81.73
Meal Pla…

Recipe Fail!

I had plans of posting a picture tonight of my bierock casserole recipe, but when each of the three gentlemen I live with declined to eat it, I decided it was a bust. My husband tried a little and ate the meat and cabbage filling but said the bread topping was doughy and picked around it. My five year old refused to try any more than one bite and made himself ramen noodles instead. The one year old rubbed the plate on his head and then threw the rest to the dog.

My goal was to come up with a bierock recipe that avoided the canned crescent roll dough and cream of mushroom soup, so I subbed quick homemade drop biscuits instead on top and made a roux for the sauce. Any ideas for a better quick "clean" substitute for the crescent rolls?

ALDI Only Challenge Week 6: $69.78

This has been my most expensive week yet, but still under my $100 goal. Of course I had to get the new quinoa and organic tomato paste and sauce!

Organic Quinoa $3.99Cottage Cheese $2.29NFC Orange Juice $2.29No HFCS Ketchup $1.29Whole Milk (2) $6.00Organic Apples $4.99Tortilla Chips (3) $3.57Whole Wheat Bread $1.29Organic Tomato Paste (2) $1.10Organic Tomato Sauce $.79Monterrey Jack Cheese Block (2) $3.98Colby Jack Cheese Block $1.99Organic Bananas $1.28Cream Cheese (4) $5.16Diapers $4.99Large Eggs $1.49Parmesan Cheese Shreds $1.99Goat Cheese Log $1.99Baby Bella Mushrooms $1.49Baby Wipes (2) $1.70Russet Potatoes $3.49Toilet Paper $6.99Tax $5.64 Total $69.78
Menu Plan 
Saturday: Steak, Baked Potatoes, and Veggies Kabobs Sunday: Neighborhood BBQ - taking Amy's Awesome Spinach Dip Monday: Black Bean and Quinoa Chili (Slow Cooker) Tuesday: Potato Soup (Leftover) Wednesday: Bierock Casserole (Freezer) Thursday: Take Out - Soccer Practice Night Friday: Spinach and Goat Cheese Quiche
Lunch Options…

Amy's Awesome Spinach Dip

This is my go-to recipe for an appetizer when hosting an event. It can be made the day before and baked just before the event. This is an adaptation of our friend Amy's recipe. Always a hit! Ingredients Season's Choice Frozen Spinach, thawed and pressed to drain thoroughly 1 c. Priano Parmesan Cheese, shredded 8 oz. Happy Farms Monterrey Jack Cheese, shredded 1 c. Friendly Farms Whole Milk 1 small onion, finely chopped 1 small tomato, finely chopped 16 oz. Happy Farms Cream Cheese (2 blocks) softened Benita Tortilla Chips, Pretzel Crisps, or baguette-style bread
Directions 1. Preheat oven to 350*

2. In mixing bowl, combine all ingredients with a fork.

3. Transfer to 9x13 glass pan, large quiche pan, or similar. Bake at 350* for 45 min.

4. Serve with chips, crisps, or bread

*Can be made the night before and refrigerated before baking. Make sure you allow the pan to come to room temp. before placing in a hot oven as not to crack the pan.

10 (I mean 7) "Real Foods" I Wished ALDI Carried

Since every time I think about how I wish ALDI has one thing or another, it shows up the next month in the store, I figured I would post my top 10 list and see if ALDI can take care of any of it for me? What do you think ALDI?1. Whole Wheat Flour - organic would be nice, but I'll take it either way  (Thank you ALDI!)
2. Coconut Oil (and other unrefined oils) - I love it for baking, organic preferred (Thank you ALDI!)
3. Whole Wheat Bread with less ingredients/less processed (throw in some bagels and tortillas too:)
4. Cage-Free Eggs (Free Range preferred)
5. Organic Whole Milk
6. Garbanzo Beans  Thanks ALDI! Love having them in store!
7. Cayenne Pepper
8. Organic Cheeses (Bring back the Organic Sharp Cheddar!)
9. Quinoa Thanks again ALDI!
10. Organic Unsalted Butter

If you need shelf space, you can get rid of the "Fruity Pebble" type cereal my kid asks for every time:)

ALDI Only Challenge: Week 5: $47.35

Yet another affordable week at ALDI! I scored some Chinese food freezer markdowns and I am giving the "Red Hot" deal of the week a try - review soon on the Huntington Home 24x36 rug for $4.99. Here is what I purchased this week followed by the meal plan for the week:

Mini Egg Rolls $.99Pot Stickers $.99Crab Rangoon (2) $1.98Frozen Single Serv Meals (3) $2.97Tuscan Chicken Pizza $1.99Canola OilWhole Milk $3.00Cream Cheese (2) $2.58Baby Wipes $.85Diapers $4.99NFC Orange Juice $2.29Ham $.49Croissants $2.49Cabbage $.69Swiss Cheese Block $1.99Egg Spaetzle $1.99Organic Salsa $1.99Organic Bananas $1.28Navel Oranges $2.49Woven Rug $4.99Tax $3.83 Total: $47.35
Dinner Plan for the Week:
Saturday: Out Sunday: Kaese Spaetzle and Red Cabbage with Apples Monday: Bierock Casserole Tuesday: Potato Soup and Side Salad Wednesday: Quinoa and Black Beans Thursday: Take Out Friday: Cream Cheese Enchiladas 

I think ALDI is reading my mind!

I am super excited for next week's items (starting 9/24) because they are going to offer...drum roll please...QUINOA! (Pronounced Keen-Wah)

And to top that, it's organic and $3.99/lb which beats the bulk bin price I have paid in the past! I will be revising the Black Beans and Rice recipe for a Black Beans and Quinoa one later this week.  They also are going to offer "natural ketchup" without HFCS- reserving my enthusiasm to see if regular corn syrup is still an ingredient? ALDI - care to comment? FOLLOW UP 9/24 - The ketchup has sugar as a sweetener - no corn syrup (yeah) but would still love to see an organic one.

Oktoberfest Items are here!

The Deutsche Kuche line is featured in the ALDI ad this week. I am excited for Cheese Spaetzle and Red Cabbage with Apples being on our menu next week:) We may also have to pick up the Spinach and Ricotta Strudel and the Bavarian Soft Pretzels. So many delicious choices! What German dishes to you prepare at your house?

On a side note- don't take all of the Red Hot Item this week. I need new kitchen rugs and those patterns look awesome!

Under $100/week: Shopping List for the Meatless Menu

On the Meal Planning Page, there is a 1 week collection of some of one week of our meatless meals. Below is the shopping list you would use at ALDI to make all of the  seven dinners, four lunches, and two weekend breakfasts. Prices listed are to the best of my knowledge as of the date of this post based on our NE KS store. The pantry list items, I am going to assume, are in your fridge or pantry. If not, you will need to add those items to your list, but they are all available at ALDI. If you were to purchase everything on the shopping list, your pre-tax total would be $70.18, leaving some room for fresh fruit, household items, or whatever else your family needs and still being under $100 for the week.
PantryDried BasilDried OreganoCuminDried ParsleyBlack Pepper SaltChili PowderGarlic SaltMayonnaiseOlive OilBaking PowderCanola or Vegetable OilWhite Wine or Distilled VinegarSugarFlour The ALDI Shopping List Priano Pesto $1.29Diced Tomatoes (2 regular or 1 large can) $1.18Flour Tortillas…

Seasonal Baking Items are Back!

I was nearly jumping up and down in the aisle when I saw that the seasonal baking items are back at ALDI! I am sure the other Saturday morning shoppers thought I was nuts as I nearly took a selfie with the yeast. Below are a few of the other iems I spotted:
Yeast Strips $.79Baking Powder $.99Marshmallow CremeBaking ChipsAlmond Extract and...Cloves, Cream of Tartar, and a few other spice additions for the holidays *Thinking ahead to Thanksgiving and cookie and candy baking at Christmas, I went ahead and bought a couple of yeast strips and some baking powder. My ALDI-only challenge will end before Thanksgiving, but I am thinking of seeing if I can pull off an ALDI-only Thanksgiving this year. Thoughts?

ALDI Only Challenge Week 4: $43.31

Yet again, another cheap week as I continue to use up garden produce, freezer, and pantry items. I actually bought ahead this week on a few pantry items as well. Here is what I purchased followed by the meal plan for the week:

Paper towels $.69Whole Milk $3.00Plain Bagels $1.69 (wish they offered whole wheat - hint hint ALDI)Organic Bananas $1.28Yellow Onions $1.28Large Eggs $1.59Yeast Packets (2) $1.58 - YEAH! Seasonal baking items are back!Ibuprofen $1.99Premium Coffee $4.99Frozen Fettuccine Meal $.99 (DH requests frozen meals because he is a lazy lunch packer!)Corndogs $2.19 (DH again)Organic Stevia Packets $1.79Diapers $4.99Gala Apples $2.99Flour Tortillas $1.19Baking Powder $.99 (Seasonal Baking)Buffalo Chicken Boneless Wings $4.88 (DH again - can you tell who likes the processed food in our house?)Chopped Spinach $.99Tax $3.50 Total: $43.31
Meal Plan for the Week
Saturday: School Carnival/Out Sunday: Lasagna with Summer Squash (didn't get made last week) Monday: Mac and Cheese an…

How I Keep My Grocery Bill Under $100 Per Week (Family of 4)

As you can see from my last three weeks of my ALDI challenge, I rarely spend over $100 on groceries for my family for the week. *Revised *10/16/2014
I shop at ALDI (Duh!)I shop alone. Most of the time I shop first thing Saturday morning so that my kiddos can stay home with my husband. That way only one person can be affected by impulse buys (and I'm pretty disciplined).I eat breakfast and bring my coffee along from home when I shop. Aldi is not as tempting as other grocery stores in that way, but it still helps to have a contented stomach when you shop so that it is about getting what you need and not what sounds good at the moment.I meal plan for the week so I buy exactly what I will be needing and not a random assortment of things that will end up going to waste. I build my list based on items in my fridge, freezer, and pantry that need used up first.I make a list and stick to it! I use tally marks on my grocery list to estimate how much am I spending as I go and if it looks like…

Chili in the Slow Cooker

Serves 4, Cost per serving $2.29 (using organic options) $1.39 if not Ingredients 1 lb. ground beef (I prefer the SimplyNature organic) 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with liquid - organic available 1 can red kidney beans (rinsed and drained) 1 can black beans (rinsed and drained) organic available 1 medium onion, chopped 2 cloves of garlic chopped or minced 1 cup water 1 T. Cumin 1 T. Chili Powder 1 tsp. Dried Oregano Hot Sauce to Taste
*We like to top with shredded cheese and tortilla chips.
Directions 1. Brown beef in a skillet. 2. Combine cooked beef, tomatoes, beans, onion, garlic, and water in slow cooker. (I do this the night before and place in fridge.) 3. Cook on low all day. 4. 20 minutes prior to serving, add spices and reduce heat to warm or turn off. You may add salt if you choose, but I don't since the canned beans have quite a bit of sodium.
*Budget Tip- This recipe has double the beans and tomatoes than many recipes do stretching the volume without breaking the bank.

Aldi-Only Challenge Week 3: $47.52

I keep waiting for a week with a huge bill, but apparently we are still eating out quite a bit since I went back to work full time. I also have been trying to use up some freezer items. Here's what I purchased this week:
Whole wheat bread $1.29Grapes $1.58Tortilla chips $1.19Frozen Broccoli $.99Frozen Peas $.99Wheat Thin - type crackers $1.25Fit and Active frozen meals (2) $1.98Cottage cheese $2.29Bananas $1.09Orange juice $2.39Diapers $4.99Lasagna Noodles $1.49Retractable Dog Leash $5.99 (awesome find! Half the price of a comparable one at Walmart)Rising Crust Pizza $3.29Premium Coffee (2) $9.98Whole milk $3.00Tax $3.84 Total $47.52
Dinner Plan for the Week:
Saturday: Turkey Burgers and Baked Potatoes Sunday: Out to Eat (with Carolyn!) Monday: Chili in the Crockpot (made ahead) Tuesday: Vegetarian Lasagna and Broccoli Wednesday: Mac and Cheese and Peas Please Thursday: Out with Grandma Friday: Frozen Pizza and side salad
Tip for keeping your bill down: Set an amount you want to stick to a…

Backyard Turkey Burgers

These are super juicy if you don't over cook them and have a nice southwest flavor to jazz up ground turkey or chicken.  Serves 4, Cost per Serving $.75 Ingredients  1 lb. Ground Turkey or chicken  1 tsp. garlic salt  1 T. Chopped fresh or frozen cilantro 1T. Minced onion 1 tsp. cumin 1 tsp. paprika  1/2 tsp. black pepper 4 slices of cheese (your choice) 4 hamburger buns - I use the whole wheat ones Optional toppings: avocado slices, cilantro, onion, Southwest dressing
Directions 1. Combine meat, herbs, and spices until well blended.
2. Divide and form into 4 patties.
3. Grill approximately 4 minutes per side on medium high heat with grill lid closed. Top with cheese slices for the last minute of cooking. Check to make sure they cooked through. 
4. Serve on buns with desired toppings.

Aldi-Only Challenge Week 2: $56.47 (with Road Trip Food!)

This is my second week of grocery shopping exclusively at ALDI and I was expecting to spend a lot more than I did. I was shocked to come out so far under budget. We took a Labor Day Weekend Trip to Tulsa and I packed lunches, snacks, and drinks for all three days of the trip. We ate hotel breakfast and had dinner out both nights. This also included what I needed for the week for meals at home.
Bottled Water $1.99Seedless Watermelon $2.99Lunch Buddies (ALDI Lunchable) $1.993 Oscar Meyer Lunchables $7.47Whole Cashews $4.29Nacho Cheese Tortilla Chips $1.19Unsalted Butter $2.99Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns $1.29Feta Crumbles $1.99Baking Potatoes $2.692 Nuby Cups $3.78Kettle Chips $1.79Whole Milk $3.00Diapers $4.99Sliced Turkey 1 lb. $3.99Whole Wheat Bread $1.29Deli Sliced Colby Jack $2.19Red Pepper Hummus $1.99Tax $4.57 Total: $56.47
Dinner Plan for the Week Saturday: Out to Eat Sunday: Out to Eat Monday: Frozen Pizza and Caprese Salad Tuesday: Chicken Burgers and Fries Wednesday: Fish Tacos and C…

5 Tips for the Perfect Quiche

I love quiche for all the variations that you can make with leftovers from the fridge. Last night's rendition was a Summer Squash, Onion, and Goat Cheese version. (I have lemon squash coming out my ears in the garden.) I also love how well it reheats the next day. Making a good quiche has taken me sometime to get it down where it sets in the right amount of time, doesn't have all the cheese float to the top, or the crust burnt on the edge. So here is what I have learned:

1. Precook all your mix-ins like veggies and meat. Excess moisture in the quiche will cause it to be too runny and not set correctly. I like to saute veggies like onion, shredded squash or zucchini, broccoli, or tomatoes in olive oil or butter. Press out the moisture really well if using thawed, frozen spinach.

2. Use whole milk (or half and half if you are feeling like a splurge). Reduced fat milks can be used but you sacrifice the richness and density.

3. If you want cheese mixed throughout the quiche, try …

Aldi-Only Challenge: Week 1: $27.83

In an effort to keep my grocery bills down and simplify things, I am challenging myself to doing all of my grocery shopping exclusively at Aldi for three months. I am allowing myself up to $100/week for our family of four: Mom, Dad, Kindergartner, and 1 year old. This includes any diapers, household supplies, and anything else that ends up in my cart.

One major trick I use for keeping our bill down is meal planning. Here are my steps:

1. List out the nights of the week, then look at your calendar for the week. I allow myself one take-out dinner and one dinner out per week and I try to plug those in on nights that are packed with activities or when I know I will be too tired to put much effort into cooking. I also make sure I plan for special events, treats at school, etc. so they don't sneak up on me.

2. Take a look in your fridge, freezer, and pantry and see what needs used up - for me this week it was tomatoes, yellow squash, and red cabbage- so Yellow Squash Casserole, Caprese …

Nuby No-Spill Cups for $1.89 ea!!!

These 8 oz. handle cups are half the price of the Target price and about $1 cheaper than the Walmart price (per cup). My oldest did so well with these when we transitioned off the bottle. The larger ones are a little bit cheaper at Walmart per cup if you do the 3-pack and can work free shipping or site-to-store.


I have been enticed by a recent Groupon into renewing my Sam's Club membership. I'm usually not a fan of bulk buying because unless you do the math, what seems like a good deal can be a let down. Also, my family just seems to consume whatever it is faster when they know we have tons of them in the pantry. Seeing what I thought might be a decent deal on almonds, I decided to price out the two stores: ALDI vs. Sam's Club

Whole Unsalted Almonds
Aldi: $4.99/ 12 oz. = $.42 per ounce
Sam's Club $15.98 /48 oz. = $.33 per ounce

Shelled Walnuts
Aldi: $6.49/16 oz. = $.41 per ounce
Sam's Club $13.98/32oz. =  $.44 per ounce

Pecan Halves
Aldi: $3.29/ 6 oz. = $.55 per ounce
Sam's Club $13.98/ 32 oz. = $.44 per ounce

Looks like Sam's Club has the winning price on almonds and pecans if you are willing to buy two pounds at a time. However-keep buying those Aldi walnuts-steal of a deal!

I Got a Mattress at ALDI? Review of Huntington Home Memory Foam Queen Mattress

--Update for June 2017 - still loving our Aldi mattress and it's wearing well. (3 years old and no problems)
***See update for July 2015 at the bottom of the post***
I know this sounds strange to buy a mattress from a grocery store and I have reserved posting about this until I had a month to decide if I liked the mattress or not...but here it goes! I bought my new mattress at a grocery store and I LOVE IT!

My last mattress was a pillow-top Englander mattress that my parents bought me as a college graduation present to help me furnish my first apartment. My husband and I have slept on that thing for 12 years and we had flipped it, rotated it, and flipped it again trying to postpone what I was sure was going to be a $1000 purchase to get a mattress we could agree on. So when I was reading that ALDI was going to offer a 10" memory foam for $199.99, we did a little research and decided to jump at it. At that price, we figured it would only have to last a year or two to feel like…

Slow Cooker Easy "Baked" Beans

I love this recipe for making me look like an awesome cook when I go to barbecues without a lot of effort. The leftovers freeze well to pull out later as an easy microwavable side. This would be vegetarian if you use vegetarian baked beans (not at ALDI) or substituted another can of beans instead.

Ingredients 1 can light red kidney beans, drained 1 can chick peas, drained  1 can Great Northern beans, drained 1 big can pinto beans, drained 1 big can baked beans with sauce 1 large onion, peeled and chopped 2 cloves of garlic minced 3/4 c. ketchup 1/2 c. maple syrup 1/4 c. brown sugar 2 T. steak sauce or Worcestershire  1 T. prepared mustard 1/2 tsp. black pepper (omit if you use steak sauce)
Directions 1. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker on low for at least 4 hours.
2. Stir every hour. If it is too runny, leave the lid off for the last hour to thicken.

Freezer to Crockpot: Place all ingredients listed into a gallon freezer bag. Press air out of the bag, seal and freeze for up to 3…

Slow Cooker Ketchup

I'm not a huge fan of HFCS-laden ketchup, especially when my five-year-old would eat ketchup with a spoon if given the chance. This one is a great weekend recipe when you are going to be home throughout the day because it requires attention about every hour. This does have a different consistency than commercial ketchup, but that's one of the best things about it!

Recipe cost: $3.79, yields approx 6 cups
Ingredients 2 cans SimplyNature Diced Tomatoes (Organic) 2/3 c. Baker's Corner brown sugar or maple syrup 3/4 c. Happy Harvest white vinegar 1/4 c. chopped onion 1/4 c. finely chopped celery 1 clove garlic, minced 2 tsp. sea salt 1/4 tsp. black pepper 1 pinch of cinnamon Directions 1. Put all ingredients on high in the slow cooker. Once boiling, turn to low.
2. Using an immersion blender, blend well. (You could also transfer in small batches to a regular blender if you don't have an immersion blender).
3. Even hour or so use a rubber scraper to scrape down the sides a…

Simple Salsa

Mild salsa similar to local Mexican restaurants - must have a food processor for this recipe as a blender will come out too thin.

Recipe Cost approx. $1.65 Ingredients 1 can Happy Farms diced tomatoes, drained
1 can Casa Mamita diced tomatoes and chiles, drained ("Rotel"-type stuff)
1/2 medium onion, loosely chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 clove of garlic
1/4 c. fresh or frozen cilantro (seasonally available at ALDI- I freeze tons of it when they have it in)
1/2 tsp. sugar/agave nectar/honey/sweetener of your choice equivalent to 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Directions 1. Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until onions are finely chopped and all ingredients are incorporated.
2. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving for flavors to blend.
*I freeze this in batches to always have on hand. If you find this to be too mild, you could always add a fresh jalapeno to the batch. If you would prefer to use the SimplyNature Organic diced tomat…

Pretzel Cheesecake: Happy Independence Day!

Ingredients Crust: 2 c. crushed pretzels (measure after crushing or you will be short) 5 T. sugar 3/4 c. butter, melted
Filling: 2 block cream cheese, softened 1 c. sugar 1 container (8oz.) whipped topping (or make your own whipped cream-about 4 c. needed)
1 pint fresh strawberries, trimmed and quartered 1 c. fresh blueberries
Directions 1. Preheat oven to 350* Mix together crushed pretzels, sugar, and butter. Press into a 9x13 baking dish in an even layer. 
2. Bake for 10 minutes to lightly toast the crust. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. 
3. For the filling, use an electric mixer to cream together cream cheese and sugar. Fold in whipped cream. 
4. Spread evenly over cooled crust. I like to use a table knife run under hot water to get a smooth finish. 
5. Decorate with strawberries and blueberries as pictured. (On other holidays this dessert gets topped with cherry pie filling).

Unprocessed at ALDI

For those of you who follow Lisa at 100 Days of Real Food, here are the items I have found at ALDI that qualify as unprocessed. If an item is available as USDA organic, I mark it with a * I love to stick as close to her "rules" as I can but even her budget challenge at $125/wk is WAY more than our current grocery budget, so I cheat a little here and there to make it work. Click on UNPROCESSED for a few of our recipes that are whole/real/clean-food recipes. I will add to this list as I find more!

Produce: Everything! -plus the greens in the fridge cases and some frozen berries and veggies *Bananas $.64/lb
*Baby Kale, Baby Spinach, Spring Greens, and Arugula $2.49/5oz.
*Baby Carrots 16oz.
*Gala Apples 3lb.
*Navel Oranges 4lb. - haven't seen these at my store yet
*Grape Tomatoes 10oz.
*Pineapple Meats: Grass-Fed Ground Beef* $5.89/lb (not local- so stretching this one a bit)
Wild-Caught Salmon (freezer) Freezer: *Blueberries $2.99/10oz. *Strawberries  $2.69/12oz.
*Green Bea…

Frogmore Stew (Shrimp Boil)

We picked this up as family dish when my grandma was living in Florida. The best part is no plates or silverware! With shrimp prices being a little high right now, it's not a budget meal for us, but a delicious special treat and still much more affordable than eating out. If you have a side burner on your grill, this is a great one to do outside. Serves 4, $3.25 per serving 

Ingredients 1 T. salt 1 lemon, quartered 2 quarts of boiling water 1 lb. Kielbasa sausage cut into 1 inch pieces - ALDI carries in regular pork or turkey Kielbasa 4-8 baby red or new potatoes, depending on size. If they are very large, cut in half to reduce cooking time 4 corn on the cob, peeled and halved if desired 1 lb. raw, deveined shrimp (I used medium) Cocktail sauce, spicy mustard, hot sauce, and melted butter for condiments (opt.) Directions 1. Bring a stock pot of water to a boil. Add 1 T. salt and lemon quarters. If you have liquid crab boil or crab boil spice bags, use it - but they don't have…

Blueberry Muffins

Nice and simple muffin recipe and blueberries are a great deal at ALDI right now! These freeze well in bags and then make a nice grab and go breakfast or sack lunch treat. Makes 24 muffins, $.12 per muffin

Ingredients 3 c. Baker's Corner All-Purpose Flour 1 1/2c. Baker's Corner Sugar 1 tsp. Stonemill Essential Salt 1 T. Baker's Corner Baking Powder 2 Goldhen eggs 2/3 c. oil (whatever you like to bake with) 1 c. Friendly Farms Milk 1 pint fresh blueberries
Directions 1. Preheat oven to 400* and grease muffin pan unless using liners.
2. Combine all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder.)
3. Combine all wet ingredients and then mix into dry with a fork. Batter will be thick but not lumpy.
4. Gently fold in blueberries.
5. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until starting to turn golden on the edges.

Cream Cheese Fruit Dip

Great way to turn fruit into dessert or a quick summer snack. Ingredients 1 block cream cheese 1 T. pure vanilla extract 3 T. brown sugar (or honey)
Fresh Fruit
Directions 1. Allow cream cheese to soften at room temp.
2. Blend all ingredients with an electric mixer until well incorporated and fluffy.
3. Serve with fresh fruit such as apples or strawberries.