A couple of months ago, I was offered the opportunity to do a challenge for Bon Appétit and ALDI. Since Bon Appétit is one of my favorite magazines and web sites and I shop frequently at ALDI, it was a perfect fit for me. The challenge was to, like their resident chef did, to feed a family of four for under $10.00 dollars, using mainly ALDI ingredients. As a home cook who is always on a budget, that sounded cool to me.
A few years ago, I was under the impression that Aldi was a store that was limited in products, was all generic, didn’t carry GOOD products, etc. I have met many people who have thought the same. We all couldn’t have been more wrong! ALDI was started in 1961 in Germany (that, by the way, still shows as you can find a good amount of German products there, which is wonderful for those, like me, who lived in Germany at one time and still miss it!) and at this point, they have over 1400 stores in 32 states and are a major employer of more than 20,000 people. ALDI manages to maintain its low prices in a variety of ways- 1) Volume Purchasing. They don’t have 100 aisles and a stock of 20,000 items. They run fairly small and have an average of 1300 different items per store, running the gamut from fresh produce to meats to frozen goods to staples to some health and beauty products. Many of the things can’t be found elsewhere and are delicious. I recently bought some French Onion Soup in their frozen section that was wonderful to just heat and eat on a night when I didn’t feel like cooking. 2) They have their own brands. While you can find specials in there that are name brand, the majority of their products are their own brands and are tested, making them just as good, if not better, than the pricier name brand products. 3) Special Buys- ALDI has weekly special buys. These can include certain food products, small kitchen appliances there (I got a panini press there a few years back for under $20 dollars that we still use!) and seasonal items. ALDI’s is a blast to go to near Christmas. That whole German Christmas spirit comes out full force! And, 4) they are very definitely no frills. Not in a bad way, just not fancy. You won’t go there and find ladies hawking samples of the newest food craze, nor does ALDI have a bank or a pharmacy. This helps you get in and out without being distracted by 900 other things AND it allows them to save you some hard earned cash. Plus, at ALDI, you aren’t paying for them to supply you with things like cheap plastic bags that break if you put more than half a pound of food in them. You can either bring your own bags, which from what I’ve seen, is what most people do, or you can buy good old fashioned paper bags from them for 6 cents apiece. When it comes to the grocery carts, there is no teenage boy going out and gathering them up. The carts are made so that you insert a quarter in the slot of a cart that is attached to all the rest. That frees the cart, you shop, then when you’re done, reattach the cart and out pops your quarter. I like to use this as a lesson for my boys in paying it forward each time by leaving the cart there with the quarter in it for someone else to use. It’s the little things, right? 🙂
With ALDI products, as I mentioned above, you can find a little of everything. They have fantastic cheeses, which always draw me in. They also have convenience products, things like frozen egg rolls, which my husband adores or the squeezable applesauce packets, so loved by the little ones and that we frequently include in Joshies lunch. The other day, I bought some fantastic frozen manicotti for myself. 😀
Not sure where an ALDI is near you or even if there is one at all? If you check out this link, you can use their store locator to find a store near you. Curious about their products? This fact sheet shows you some of their products; things they have actually won awards for. Go check it out!
Now for the food! I wanted to do something a little bit different. I have mentioned before that I absolutely love Indian food. Well, I decided to try my own variation on the Samosa, making it easier by turning it into a one crust pie. This way, you’re not frying it and adding 5000 calories to it, plus the easy factor is definitely there. This pie is spicy, slightly exotic, yet still homey and comforting. I mean…pie! I served it with a cooling and creamy cucumber onion salad. You eat the pie and the mild burn hits you, then a bite of the salad leaves you saying, “ahhh”, lol. Here is my breakdown of cost. I was tickled to see that I came in a fair amount under the $10 dollar limit. Some of the ingredients I had to buy in larger amounts than what I used in the recipe, such as the ground beef, so I froze part and will use that another time and estimated my cost with just the parts I used.
For the pie-
Ground Beef- a 2lb package, of which I used half, was $8.00 dollars (this is delicious 80/20 beef, so not low quality in the least.)- $4.00
Can of diced potatoes- ( 15 ounce can)- 65¢
Frozen peas- 1 lb bag was 95¢ (I used 1 cup, so about 40¢)
Onion- 89¢ (I used a bit more than half, so we’ll estimate 50¢)
Red pepper- 90¢.( I used about 3/4 of it altogether, so about 23¢)
package of refrigerator pie crusts-$1.89- (I used one of the crusts, freezing the other for another time, so about 95¢)
Bag of seedless cucumbers (which were baby sized and adorable, btw! 😛 )$1.89. I used about half, so 95¢
More onion and red pepper- included in cost above
Yogurt- a large 32 ounce container was $1.89 ( I used 1/2 cup, so about 25¢ worth.
Various spices, salt and pepper and the jalapeno, for both dishes- 25¢ or so.
Grand Total- $8.18.
So, for about $8 dollars, I fed myself, a 20 year old male, my husband and a six year old boy. And there is still a serving left of the pie for my husband for lunch tomorrow and some of the cucumber salad as well. Not bad, ehh? A filling meal that includes protein, carbs, veggies and even dairy for $8 dollars.
You know the drill. Get to cooking!
Spicy Samosa Dinner Pie
- 1 pound ALDI ground beef
- 1 15 ounce can Happy Harvest diced potatoes, well drained
- 1 cup Seasons Choice frozen peas
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup diced red pepper
- 1 tablespoon diced jalapeno (you could sub in a teaspoon of red pepper flakes if you prefer)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon (feel free to use a touch more if you like. I personally love cinnamon in savory dishes)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons mild curry powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup hot water or beef broth
- 2 teaspoon lemon juice (bottles is fine, fresh is better)
- 1 refrigerator pie crust, room temp
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- salt for sprinkling on the crust
- Cucumber salad-
- 2 cups thinly sliced seedless baby cucumbers (about 4 cucumbers)
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red pepper
- 1/2 cup Fit & Active plain yogurt
- 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon dry dill weed
- 1 teaspoon salt (taste after prep and add more salt if you feel it needs it. Tastes vary on salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large cast iron pan ( or other oven safe pan), combine the ground beef, onion, garlic, red pepper and jalapeno (if using). Brown the meat over medium heat, stirring frequently to soften the veggies and thoroughly cook the ground beef.
- When done, drain well, then return to pan. Add the drained potatoes, the peas, the spices, and the salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about five minutes. You want to get the spices from that harsh, raw taste to slightly cooked.
- Add in the hot water or beef broth as well as the lemon juice. This will help the pie not get dried out in the oven.
- Unroll the pie crust and lay it gently over the meat mixture. Tuck it in around the edges. Brush the crust with the melted butter, then sprinkle with some salt; about 1/4 teaspoon or so should do it. Cut a slit in the middle of the pie crust.
- Bake it at 350 degrees until the crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Remember; the filling is already cooked, so the only purpose of this is to cook the crust.
- While the pie cooks, make the cucumber salad. In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, onion and red pepper. Give it a toss with a wooden spoon, then add in the yogurt, vinegar, sugar, dill, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, then stir it again, making sure to get the bottom of the bowl. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the salad until ready to serve. Stir once more just before serving. This salad is best on the day it’s made, so don’t make it before the day you want to serve it. The liquid from the cukes and the yogurt will make it watery otherwise.
- When the pie is done, let it cool for just a couple of minutes, then serve it up, with a side of cucumber salad!