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For me, when it comes to buying groceries on a budget (but not sacrificing quality or choice) nothing beats shopping at Aldi. Sure, the no-frills atmosphere can take some getting used to, but these miniature food marts pack all of the essentials — plus some fun and inspired limited-edition buys — into just a few aisles.
This Power Hour is all about getting the most bang for your buck at Aldi. I’ll walk you through every step of preparing food for the week and getting the food to the table. With just a few hours of upfront time on the weekend, you’ll be set for the week. This week-long plan feeds a family of four and cost me just $50. Here’s how I did it. (Note: If you don’t have an Aldi near you, this meal plan can still serve as inspiration for putting together a budget menu from your local grocery store.)
Listed below are the ingredients you will need for this week’s menu. Aldi’s offerings are more limited than other grocery stores, so being familiar with the items Aldi usually stocks is helpful when choosing recipes. Still, because their inventory can vary from week to week, don’t panic if you can’t find an exact match from your list in store. If, (ahem, when) this happens, substitute with a stocked ingredient that is available.
The most important step to shopping on a budget happens before you set foot in the store. Before you leave home, shop your pantry, refrigerator, freezer, and even your windowsill herb garden (if you’re lucky enough to have one!). Staple ingredients like, oil, butter, salt, pepper, and spices are not included on the list, so make sure you already have what you need.
While roaming the aisles, keep your eyes open for budget-friendly alternatives. Compare the prices between fresh and frozen produce and meats, and make sure to look at the unit prices for shredded versus block cheeses.
Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done
Before you begin to meal prep, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F so that it is ready when you are. If frozen, transfer 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts to the refrigerator to thaw overnight for Monday’s dinner.
Each morning add 1/2 cup boiling water to each DIY Instant Oatmeal Cup. Stir to combine, cover again, and let the oats sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Serve the Spinach and Feta Frittata warm from the microwave, sandwiched between slices of bread, or rolled between tortillas.
Monday, 3-Ingredient Baked Caesar Chicken: Pour creamy Caesar dressing in a baking dish, then add the chicken breasts. Flip to evenly coat in the dressing, then bake at 400°F until cooked through. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese, and broil until melted and lightly browned. Garnish with parsley and serve.
Tuesday, Sheet Pan Gnocchi with Sausage and Peppers: Place sweet pepper pieces and gnocchi on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, and then spread into an even layer. Remove casings from sausage (if needed), then drop bite-sized pieces of sausage all over the gnocchi mixture. Roast at 400°F until the gnocchi are plump and crisp and sausage is cooked through.
Wednesday, Vegetarian Stuffed Sweet Potatoes: Reheat the baked sweet potatoes in the microwave until hot. Return the black bean mixture to the skillet, cover, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, then uncover and simmer until the water has evaporated. Squeeze in the juice of half of a lime. Mix yogurt and adobo sauce. Top the potatoes with the black bean filling, chipotle yogurt, diced avocado, cilantro, and more lime.
Thursday, Broccoli and Cheese Spaghetti Squash Casserole: Remove the prepared casserole from the refrigerator while the oven heats. Bake at 350°F until set and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. If frozen, transfer 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 1/2 to 2 pounds) to the refrigerator to thaw overnight for Friday’s dinner.
Friday, 5-Ingredient Skillet Chicken Parmesan: Pound chicken to 1/2-inch thickness, then season with salt and pepper. Sear until browned, then transfer to a plate. Add 3/4 of the marinara, water, penne pasta, and salt to the skillet and bring to a boil until the pasta is almost al dente and most of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat. Place the chicken on top of the pasta, then spoon the remaining sauce over the chicken. Top with mozzarella slices and Parmesan cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted and golden-brown and the chicken is cooked through.
Power Hour Meal Prep is the series where we help you put it all together. We show you how to eat well during the week with an hour or two of Power Hour prep over the weekend. Every plan is different; mix and match to find your own personal sweet spot.