What Do I Buy at ALDI? Cheap, Healthy Food

When people hear I shop at ALDI, one of their questions is usually…”What do you buy there?”

Now just like any grocery store, you can make all kinds of food choices at ALDI – everything from junk food to good, real food. They stock a lot of organic foods, chicken and lunch meats from animals raised without antibiotics (#1 factor in my book for meat purchase), and a huge selection of quality produce at prices you won’t believe.

The closest ALDI to me is about 15 minutes away, so I typically don’t go in for just a few items. I make a list of what I need and know that I’ll inevitably pick up a few extra too. Some of the items I like there (for different reasons, but almost always related to cost) are: tortilla chips, almonds, wine, eggs, yogurt, bacon, lunch meat, chicken, frozen fish and shrimp.

So here goes for what my last trip there yielded with prices.
Grand Total was:$72.07

  • Romaine Hearts $1.99
  • Baby Portabella Mushrooms $1.99
  • Cauliflower $1.99
  • Salami Bites $3.49
  • Ham (lunch meat) $3.29
  • Broccoli Crowns $1.79
  • Granola (organic) $2.69
  • Pretzel snacks $1.79
  • Egg Noodles $1.49
  • Beef Broth $1.79
  • Whole-Milk Organic Yogurt $2.99
  • Tuna (Pole-Caught) $.99
  • Sharp Cheddar $1.89
  • Peas (Frozen Organic) $1.99
  • Linguini Noodles (Organic) $1.19
  • Pineapple $2.29
  • Mangoes (four) $2.36
  • Avocados (two) $1.78
  • Lemons (bag of six) $2.79
  • Gala Apples (3 LB) $2.99
  • Flower Bouquet $3.99
  • Roma Tomatoes (16 OZ) $.79
  • Bananas (Organic 2 LB) $1.38
  • Green Peppers (2 Pack) $.89
  • Blueberries (2 Pints) $2.58
  • Baby Spinach (Organic) $1.99
  • Kefir $2.89
  • Oven-Roasted Almonds $4.99
  • Tortilla Chips $1.69
  • Large Eggs (Dozen) $.89
  • Large Eggs (Dozen) $.89

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4 Things That Helped Me Cook Better Stir-Fry

wok

Want to cook stir-fry like the kind you get at a typical Chinese restaurant? You can. Just a few things to keep in mind before you start.

1. Get a wok. Now not just any wok will do. You can spend a lot of money on one, get a cast-iron or non-stick… but none of those are needed. The cast-iron ones are too heavy to handle once they’re hot and the non-stick ones will never get hot enough to actually sear the food. You want a carbon steel wok. You can find one online or in a store for as little as $14.99 and it will do the job! Just read the instructions first. You’ll spend about an hour after you first get your wok to season it with heat and oil. Then you’re set.

2. Clean your wok with oil and salt. Pour about a tablespoon of canola oil in the wok and sprinkle in some kosher salt. It will resemble a paste. Then scrub it with a paper towel. Don’t ever use soap to clean it. Rub out the salt but leave some of the oil, which helps it develop a great coating.

3. Let the wok heat up well before cooking. Add some oil. [good fat is not bad]

4. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Put too much meat or vegetables in the pan at once and you will steam them instead of searing them.

Here’s a couple of bonus tips: I always prefer using fresh veggies to stir-fry. Frozen will work, but it helps to steam them first before putting in the wok. Don’t be afraid to pick up a bottle of pre-made stir-fry sauce from the grocery store. They really work and taste pretty good. Once you get the hang of the cooking part, then experiment with different sauce recipes.

Knives (Guest Post)

Every meal that I prepare begins in the same place, at the cutting board. I love to prep the meal by cutting, chopping, and dicing all the ingredients I will need before I ever turn on the oven or stove. The cooking process is so much smoother and faster when you don’t have to stop and chop veggies between steps.

Morimoto's Knives

I place great stock in the knives that I use and take great care of them. Get a good knife, treat it properly, and it will have a very long life. If you don’t treat your knives well, it doesn’t matter what quality of knife you buy, they will not last you. Top of the line knives can dull, pit, or rust from misuse (even stainless steel, don’t be fooled). So, if you’re looking for ways to care for your knives, here are a few tips from my kitchen to yours.

First, make sure you have an appropriate cutting board. Wood or plastic are the two best options out there as they are softer, providing more give against your knife and therefore doing less damage to the sharpened blade. If you have a board made out of a hard surface with no give (glass, marble, stone), get rid of it! Contact with a cutting board is the most frequent cause of a dull blade.

Even if you are careful about your blade and cutting surface, your knife will dull in time. You will need to sharpen your blade with some regularity as your knives begin to dull. I cannot recommend a specific timeline for this as everyone uses their knives with different levels of regularity. The picture below shows an extreme example of wear on a knife. The knives are from Iron Chef Morimoto’s restaurant. The top knife is new and the bottom is one that has been used for three years.

If you notice your knife start to dull or if you feel yourself using more force to cut an object, please make sure and sharpen your knife (Many knife companies will even sharpen your knives for you if you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself!).

Finally, washing and storing your knives are important. NEVER wash your knives in the dishwasher. The heat and abrasive chemicals will damage your knives faster than any other method. Instead, hand wash your knives directly after each use with warm water, mild dish soap, and a soft sponge. Dry them directly after and store them. store them either in a drawer or a knife block. If you store them in a drawer, it is best to leave them in their sheath. When using a sheath, though, make sure it is not leather, as leather will hold moisture which can pit your blade. Storing your knives in a knife block is the best option, and I tend to recommend standard wooden knife blocks.

If you follow these simple steps to caring for your knives, your knife set should last you a long time.

Happy chopping!
Danny Bennett

Tips for Better Pancakes

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Here are my top two tips for pancakes no matter what recipe you use (though I have some favorites):

– Cook them in a cast-iron skillet. Nothing else gives you the same golden brown, crisp outside like at a restaurant. Make sure you let your pan heat up long enough and don’t cook higher than medium.

– Let your batter sit before cooking. After you mix together the dry and wet ingredients (never over mix), let the batter sit for about 10 minutes.

I’ll share some favorite pancake recipes and ingredients in another post, but this will get you started. Pancakes are easy and tasty to make at home!