Saturday, March 6, 2010

TIME TO SHOP! 3/7-3/13 $56.29(awesome Aldi!)

Aisle One Staples

Salsa (can be fresh)$1.99
Ripe olives $1.19
Dijon mustard $1.19
Honey $2.29
Bay leaf .50

2 cup cheddar cheese $2.29
1 cup Sour cream .89
Blue Cheese $1.99
4 Slices Cheddar or American cheese $1.29
8-12 Eggs .89

Tortillas (12 corn or white)$1.19
Whole wheat pasta.99
1 can kidney beans .59
1 can white beans (or dried if you will soak and cook them in advance).59
1 can diced or whole tomatoes .59
2 cans tuna .96
1 can black beans.59

Green Onion (white will substitute).39
Cilantro $1.29
Fresh Salsa (if substituting for canned)$1.99
Cherry or grape tomatoes$1.99
Fresh garlic (if you have a mincer – otherwise, minced).89
Sweet Potatoes $2.49
Celery $1.29
Carrots $1.19
White onion $1.29
Avocado (3)$2.37
Romaine hearts (or salad mix w/ purple cabbage)$1.99

Bacon (can be turkey bacon)$1.99

Chicken 3 lb bag$6.29
Individually Frozen Salmon Fillets $3.99
1 bag frozen veggie of choice (or fresh)$1.19

1 can chicken broth .59
Hamburger buns .89

Not from Aldi
1-28 oz or 3-10 oz cans Green Enchilada Sauce $1.59
1 can chick peas .99
D’Italini pasta (look like little hollow pencil erasers)$1.59
Cilantro (unless Aldi has it this week!)

Total: $56.29

We love Aldi, so we're still setting up the shopping list for their stores... but since the store says it will have up to 90% of your everyday needs, it's appropriate
to expect that from time to time we'll have you shopping somewhere else too... this week you really can't help but buy three of the items somewhere else.  You need garbanzo beans (or chick peas), you need the green enchilada sauce, and the D'Italini pasta REALLY makes the salad and the soup.  You never know - Aldi might surprise us on any of these items, but don't be upon it.

Saturday's French Toast, bacon & Fruit Smoothie $5.06

Oh, if I could only have french toast every day ... I love french toast.  French toast with thick texas toast, with white bread, with dense whole grain bread, with homemade bread, with a loaf of french bread or baguettes ... what ever the bread, it matters not to me, I LOVE FRENCH TOAST!  Now, if only the rest of my family felt the same.. they're more like once a month folks - and frankly, since we're trying hard to not repeat our entrees during this project, the family is actually quite pleased that French Toast is being served now...they're naively thinking that just because it's off the dinner menu, it's off their menus entirely - oh well...

French Toast (for four)
4 egg whites .36
2 whole eggs .18
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup skim milk .10
1 tsp vanilla extract .15
1 tsp cinnamon.05
1 tsp sugar (or sugar replacement of choice).05
8 to 12 slices of bread - depending on what kind it iscooking spray .40
1 cup syrup .30
Total: $1.59

combine the eggwhites, eggs, cinnamon, sugar, water and milk.  whisk to combine (cinnamon will float, it's ok!).  heat pan to medium low heat ... remove from heat, spray with cooking spray, and return to stove top.  Dip bread into egg mixture one piece at a time, and put bread into frying pan.  Cook for about 90 seconds to 2 minutes, flip.  Cook another 90 seconds to two minutes.  Remove from pan and place on a piece of paper towel lined platter.  Invert a serving bowl over platter to store heat... repeat the dipping and frying pattern until you're done.  mmm.

Bacon .99
Cook.  -- oh, you were hoping for more...
option one - place bacon in a room temp pan, turn on heat to medium low, and cook until it needs to be flipped - probably about 4 minutes depending on thickness of pan and type of stove and desired doneness of bacon.  Flip, and cook second side - another 3 or so minutes.
option two - microwave.  Place four or six strips of bacon at a time between two layers of good papertowel on a microwave safe plate.  Cook about 3 minutes until the paper towel is saturated with bacon fat.  Bacon will crisp once you remove the paper towel.

(I must admit I NEVER cook bacon in the microwave, but I'm trying to remember how I watched my good friend Cathy make it... I was really impressed by how good her microwaved bacon turned out.)

Fruit Smoothie

In a blender container, combine the following:

1 container (6 oz) yogurt of choice .49
1/2 of a 16 ounce package frozen fruit of choice (mixed fruit is best!)$1.49
1 cup liquid - apple juice, milk, water, white soda,  or some combination there of  (we don't recommend vodka at this time of the morning).50

10-12 ice cubes.
total $2.48
put yogurt in the blender first, then frozen fruit and some of the liquid - cover tightly and turn on blender to whatever medium is on your blender... blend for 20 to 30 seconds, shut it off, remove cover and stir.  Replace blender cover and repeat process until your smoothie is as smooth as you like it.  Serve.

Total $5.06

Ah, what's for dinner this week? March 7-13 $36.79

Let me fill you in!  Menu planning is delightful... it's changing my life for the better.  I'm so much more calm every evening - dinner just magically gets to the table almost.  And money - savings - YES.  It's so nice to work thru my stash of products and replenish for next to nothing on coupons, catalina deals, and good solid prices at the Aldi.

Anyway, let's see what's in store for this next week.

Sunday - Chicken Enchiladas
Monday - Chick Peas & Pasta
Tuesday - Honey Dijon glazed salmon w/ Sweet Potatoes & Veggie of choice
Wednesday - Minestrone Soup
Thursday - Joe's Chopped Salad
Friday - Tuna Melts (for Robert)
Saturday - "Breakfast" Burritos

This ought to make for a happy husband as I'm doing two "favorites", and he'll probably be excited about five of the seven.  Since I don't have any prizes to offer up, I won't encourage you to guess which two he could probably pass on.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Spaghetti con Tonno(tunafish)

Here is one of those times where a bit of trust between Kim and I is required. Sometimes our taste buds are completely in sync, and sometimes we just "cant see" how something could go together. I grew up eating pasta in a tomato sauce with tuna, especially during lent. Kim, has never once tried this combo and is a bit skeptical, but true to her form, always willing. Heres the recipe, good luck Kim:)

2 cans tuna .96
1 small onion diced .20
2 garlic cloves minced .10
1 16 oz can of tomato sauce .59
1/4c olive oil.20
1 lb pasta.99
Total $ 3.04

heat oil in skillet on low
saute onion and garlic
add tuna when onion is glassy
saute all together 5 minutes
add tomato sauce and simmer together on low for 30 minutes
add salt and pepper
Boil noodles according to instruction
toss noodles and sauce together in pasta bowl
top with parsley(optional)
red pepper optional as well.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Its Been a Great Trip So Far

Kim and I meet every Thursday Morning to discuss our meal ideas for the following week. We thumb through cookbooks, scan the internet, talk about family favorites, or meals we have always wanted to try, not to mention gab about what ever good friends gab about at any given day. Kim lives about 40 minutes from me and usually I go her way b/c she has a little one still at home, and much easier for me to travel. This meal planning could be done over the phone, but I think Kim and I both agree we look forward to hanging out a few hours, and we love talking about food. I think we have both taken on a more adventurous and creative attitude about food and about cooking. I, for one, used to make a lot of pasta. I would say "my son loves it", which is true, however, how would I have known he would "love" a Egg, Bacon and Cheese Panini? or a Herb Encrusted Salmon(he loved both of those) if I didnt try. I think working together as a team with Kim, has made all the difference in the world. I would never have done this alone. I would have gone along the way I did for 10 years and start thinking about dinner aroun 2:00, and of course the "dread" would come over me. If someone would have said 9 weeks in, 40+ days we would have had no repeat meals, I would never have believed it. Not to mention the savings I feel in the pocketbook, and the healthier I feel in my body. It feels like everynight we are making a really tasty health, gourmet meal. I feel like the ideas are endless, and I look forward everyweek to planning and then making all the meals for the week. So my hat off to Kim, it's been 2 months and it wouldnt have been half as fun without you! 2 down 10 to go.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ready to fly Oriental Stir Fry $5.09


Rice for four
1 pound chicken $2.10
1 bag (2+ pounds) oriental flavored stir fry veggies $2.99
Total $ $5.09

cook four servings rice in your rice steamer or on the stove top according to direction.  If you don't have a rice steamer, seriously consider one - when I got mine as a gift from my MIL, I was totally put out by having it... seriously, the thing cooks by weight, not time.  I don't know ... it's magic, it's one of those things we don't have to understand, we just have to accept and move on.  get yourself a rice steamer.

Prepare chicken by cutting into approx. one inch cubes.  In a large fry pan or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat until hot.  Put in chicken, cover, cook until steam escapes around cover.  Remove meat and cover with aluminum foil or an inverted plate.
Return to heat and warm another tablespoon of oil, then add 1 bag (more than 2 pounds!) Asia Specialties Oriental Vegetables - cover and cook for 5 min. sirring occasionally.

Add 1/2 to 3/4 of the Asia Specialties Sauce packet AND prepared chicken to the fry pan or wok. Cook covered for five minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables are cooked.

Stir and serve

My kiddos wanted "orange chicken", so I splurged and bought the sweet & sour flavoring at Aldi ($1.79), then instead of mixing my chicken into the stir fry I sauted the chicken in a separate frying pan then coated with sweet & sour flavoring ... if you saute long enough it will get gooey and sticky just like the take out kind.  We served it along side the veggies.

Steak in Balsamic Marinde topped with Carmelized Onion and Blue Cheese $10.88

OK folks, true, I am not a big steak eater or fan, however, many in my family are! a I do love balsamic vinegrette, carmelized onion, and blue cheese,so I know there is no reason on a different date I cant include all those "extras" in a recipe for tuna steak, swordfish, salmon...what else??

Here goes it, litterally my first attempt at making steak
preheat oven 350
4 steaks(whatever kind you can find) I bought T bone $7.19(marked down from $10)
1 medium onion(red, yellow).20
3 oz blue cheese .60
1/2 cup balsamic .25
1/4 soy .05
1 tablespoon minced garlic .05
1/2 cup olive oil .25
1 tablespoon brown sugar .05
4 meduim potatoes $1.25
1 lb frozen vegetble .99
total: $10.88

cut up potatoes in desired chunks, top with s and p and 1/2 cup olive oil
place in oven to bake 40-60 minutes

In a small skillet or sauce pan, combine balsamic, soy and garlic, heat for 10 minutes, stirring so garlic doesnt burn.
salt and pepper steak
place steak in a baking pan and marinate with 3/4 of balsamic mixture for 30-60 minutes
in the meantime
slice onions thinly
heat 1/4 cup olive oil in skillet
add brown sugar and onions, cook on very low, stiring onions often so they dont burn
when onions are soft and glassy remove from heat
place steaks in oven
cook anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes depending on how welldone is the preference
to crisp the steak a bit, put them under broiler for a minute when they are done cooking

place steaks on individual plates
pour remaining marinade over steaks evenly
top with carmelized onion and blue cheese

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thai Shrimp Salad $12.19

Tonight we welcome back after a (long or short, depending on appreciation for the Olympics) hiatus ... The Biggest Loser.  Both Barbara and I DO NOT MISS this show.  Here we record it and watch it starting at 8:20...never call and be a spoiler - that's not funny!  Barbara on the other hand schedules nearly everything around TBL... including her food - so, logically, we star another Jillian special in tonight's dinner spot.

Thai Shrimp Salad
8 cups mixed greens lettuce $1.49
12 ounces precooked shrimp, thawed $2.99
about 4 cups red bell pepper $1.99
about 4 cups carrots .89
about 4 cups chopped cucumbers.99
bean sprouts (if desired)
1 package snow pea pods $3.29
1 ounce peanuts.20
4 Tbsp natural peanut butter .15
6 tsp soy sauce .20

Total $12.19
whisk peanut butter and soy sauce together.  slowly stir in enough water to make "sauce" the consistency you desire for a salad topping (you may need as much as 1/4 cup).

chop peppers, carrots & cucumbers
Put salad greens on four plates - divide everything equally - including shrimp and 1/4 ounce chopped peanuts and soy/peanut sauce mixture.

that's it!  Enjoy! 
if you used a full cup of the red bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, bean sprouts, and peapods along with the shrimp and peanuts/pb/soy per the recipe, then you're enjoying:
416 calories
13 grams fat
46 grams carbs
17 grams of dietary fiber
36 grams of protein.

Folks... that's a meal!  No need for bread ... and it's like sixteen servings of veggies in one day (ok, really, it's 5 servings of veggies - maybe more).

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ravioli With Mystery Tomato Sauce $4.23

I think as this blog developes we are going to keep trying ways to be creative, and one of the ways to be creative is to "hide" food in food. I dont think in general it is right to be deceitful to my child, however, when it comes to his overall health, simply not telling him something is acceptable to me. Hiding ingredients isnt as necessary to Kim as it is for me, her kids actually eat and enjoy some vegetables. My son just doesnt like vegetables, and no matter how hard I try to prepare them ways he will "tolerate" them, he looks at them like they are green eyed monsters.
Tonight I made ravioli, which he loves, and I loaded up the marinara sauce with cooked carrots, and guess what- he wasnt the wiser.
I think the key was to add savory ingredients to the sauce, inorder to combat the sweetness of the half of pound of carrot I added.
I will say, even though I boiled the carrots and mashed them as much I could with the food processor, the sauce still was kinda clumpy. Next time I make it, I am going to make a meat sauce, and then the vegetables will be hidden better in the meat. However, Michael didnt say a word about the sauce, and ate two helpings.(:

Secret Sauce
1 jar prepared Marinara .99
2 minced garlic cloves .20
1/4 cup olive oil .25
4 medium carrots .30
1/2 onion diced .20
1 lb Ravioli $2.29
salt and pepper
Total: $4.23
Boil water in pot and add carrots, boil until soft
drain carrots and place them in food processor or blender, until completely creamy
Heat oil in skillet on low. add onion and cook until limp and glassy.
add garlic suate 10 minutes
add carrot to skillet and salt and pepper
saute all together 5 minutes
Transfer to sauce pot and add bottled marinara
Simmer on low for 45 minutes

boil noodles according to directions and top with sauce
add fresh parm

Totals for week Feb 21 $ 42.79 Awesome!!

Salad with walnuts, blue cheese, cranberry $6.43
Pizza Pinwheel $5.99
Chicken Cacciatore $7.67
Meatloaf $6.94
Chili $ 5.88
Tilapia $ 4.79
Pasta Funghi $5.09

Total $ 42.79

Grocery Shopping For The Week of Feb 28 $71.01

OK, so I did go over budget by $1.01, which really bummed me out, however, Kim probably didnt go over budget b/c she found steak at Aldi for much cheaper then $10.00. I went to my local Dominicks(aka Safeway) on my mothers advice and purchased 3 Porterhouse steaks for $10.01. The brand is called Ranchers Choice, and Kim is correct in assuming that I know not to much about meat, but I do know ordering a steak in a upscale Steak joint, can cost upwards $30-40, so the $10.00 didnt make me feel so bad, especially the quality of Ranchers Choice, I've been told is very good.
On the topic of the budget, I will say, with the $10.00 included for steaks, I personally spent a whopping $41.00, which included soy sauce and balsamic, which I know I will have leftovers of. I had some ravioli, chicken, onions, potatoes, carrots, bluecheese and peppers left over from the last few weeks. I have to assume everyone in general has some kind of food in fridge or cupboards, whether it is condiments or dry goods, so although the $71.01 wasnt what I wanted to see when I added up the grocery list, I am ok knowing I spent a lot less.
Just think I spent less today, then a meal at a steakhouse!!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cream of Broccoli $1.94

The only difficult thing about making this super easy soup is waiting...
Turning up the heat will not make it cook faster!

Cream of Broccoli Soup
8 ounces broccoli - fresh or frozen .54
4 Tbsp butter .20
1/2 cup flour .15
1 chicken boullion cube .05
4 cups 1% milk .30
1 cup shredded cheddar .70
1 ounce blue cheese (optional)
Total $ 1.94

Wash and chop broccoli into small chunks - soup is an excellent place to use the stem portion of the broccoli - save the flowers for another time and use the stuff you often throw away in the soup.  Place broccoli with a 1/4 to 1/2 cup water in a glass bowl.  Cover with a glass plate and microwave for 5 minutes.  Follow same basic direction if using frozen or cooking stovetop not in the microwave.  The goal is really soft broccoli with about 1/2 or slightly more cup water to add flavor and nutrients to the soup.

In a large pot (minimum 2 1/2 quarts) melt butter over medium heat.  Add flour and boullion cube and stir to a thick goopy paste.  Cook for one minute.  Add four cups of milk.  Heat painfully slowly over medium or even medium low heat stirring at least one time per minute for a minimum of 11 or 12 minutes.  Then add the cheeses.  Cook another two to five minutes.  The soup should be sticking quite well to the back of a spoon by now, then add the broccoli and the water in the bowl to the soup.  Reduce to lowest possible heat setting and stir nearly constantly until ready to serve.  It will thicken more upon cooling.
MOST IMPORTANTLY... DO NOT LET THIS SOUP BOIL.  If you boil the soup at any stage in the process it will seperate, it might taste watery, and it will look icky.  It is edible, but it won't be nearly what you were hoping for.  Patience is key to making this soup.