Amy Clark

Iron Chef Moms Challenge: Day Three- Caesar Chicken Pasta Salad

Today’s Featured Cookbook: Cooking Light Magazine. This is a great one to pick up from your library or pick up their books chock full of dinner ideas!

Pantry Items of the Day (according to Martha): Today I am sharing her excerpt on spices. “Most spices will lose their potency after about a year, but their flavor will deteriorate faster if stored improperly. Keep them in airtight, light-proof containers, away from the heat. Choose an accessible drawer or cabinet or a wall-mounted rack. Do not hang your spices above the cooktop.”

Welcome to day three of the Iron Chef Moms Challenge. I hope that you are getting some great ideas for your dinner hour between our dishes and Meredith’s tasty fare. It has been a lot of fun to see how this is all playing out. Meredith is an excellent shopper and I admire her knack for finding the best deals and finding ways to utilize those ingredients. She is certainly making me a believer that it is possible to eat very inexpensively by planning your meals around the fliers. Her meal today is a mere $.59 per person! That is pretty darn incredible! Great job, Meredith!

I choose to shop Aldi Supermarket for a number of reasons, but the main reason has always been the savings to our family. There are savings to be had, not only because the food is so cheap, but because you are not tempted by all of the other goodies available in the store.
For example, when I would go to Wal-Mart, I would go with a list in hand and plan to get those items only. That was it. Nada. Nothing else. Then I would be lured to other areas of the store or I would find myself putting items in my cart that I could have done without. Maybe it is lack of discipline, but shopping at a superstore is a super drain on our budget. With Aldi, I walk in and out with exactly what is on my list. On occasion they will have a special purchase available that is worth going a dollar or two over, otherwise I stay on the straight and narrow. I also enjoy the convenience of going to only one store to do my shopping. It is so nice to be able to walk in and out of the store and have everything I need. The only disadvantage is that you have to plan properly before entering the store for your meals that week. Aldi has select ingredients so it can be difficult to plan sometimes. Thank goodness for “the Aldi Queen” blog though, because you will never have to worry about that again!

For our family’s grocery budget, we budget fifty dollars a week. This includes all of our toiletries, paper products, and cleaners. I don’t find it a challenge to stay within our budget because I enjoy planning menus and I consider sticking to my budget almost a game. I love to go under budget and my husband always gets a kick out of my cost breakdowns for the things we eat. “Oh, you love this dish? Guess how much it cost…go ahead, guess! Two cents and not a penny more- can you believe it?”

I think what has always been important to me is no matter where I shop, that I make really good food for my family. We eat very well and I am proud of what I am able to make and to make it so inexpensively is just the icing on that cheap cake we are eating!

Let’s begin talking about today’s menu. Yes, I do realize that I have done three chicken dishes in a row. We eat a lot of chicken in our house, but I promise to do better the rest of the week. I have some other meats unthawing for our next meal, so be sure to check back for a non-chicken dish.

It was very warm yesterday (I am posting these a day ahead so you can view this in the morning) and the last thing I felt like eating was a hot dish. I made a Caesar Pasta Salad dish because it was a nice cold dish and it makes for really great lunches for the week. In the original recipe, I use feta cheese instead of the parmesan, but feta is not available at Aldi…just yet! This dish was taken from Cooking Light Magazine. Enjoy!

Caesar Chicken Pasta Salad

1 pound chicken (about three small breasts)
½ pound penne pasta (This ingredient is available this week at Aldi. If it isn’t at your store, you can substitute with elbow macaroni)
1 romaine heart, chopped
½ pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1/3 cup Caesar dressing
A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top

Bake chicken breasts as directed on package on a cookie sheet. While the chicken is baking, chop the romaine heart and halve the tomatoes. Cook pasta until al dente, as directed on package. Drain and rinse pasta with cold water. Dice the cooked chicken and put this in a bowl. Toss in pasta, tomatoes, lettuce, and the dressing. Mix until all the ingredients are incorporated. This can be served with a little sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Amy’s Notes- Because I wanted plenty of food for leftovers, I actually cooked the entire box of pasta and kept all the other ingredients the same. This stretched the dish further and we have enough for four more lunches. Additional dressing can be added to leftovers to keep pasta from tasting dried out. Basically, for forty more cents you can feed another four people! That makes this a great dish to entertain with!

Cost Breakdown:

Chicken breasts- $5.99 a bag, used one pound for $1.71
Penne Pasta- $.79 a box, used half the box for $.40
Romaine heart- $1.59 for three, used one for $.53
Cherry tomatoes- $1.79 for a container, used half for $.90
Total Cost To Feed Four- $3.54
Cost Per Person- $.89

Note: This recipe will be added to “the Aldi Queen” and all ingredients listed will be added to my weekly menu planner. My planners are posted every Friday so you can get a week’s worth of ideas and a grocery list in one stop!

Published March 14, 2007 by:

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of MomAdvice.com. You can read all about her here.

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