7 Ways to Declutter your Kitchen? I have two.

I saw this post linked via the NY Times show up in one of my RSS feed subscriptions, and I burned a free NYT article this month just to kind of make fun of it.

So here are my 2 ways to have a decluttered kitchen, though I will say the above link’s tips aren’t all that bad.  Still, 2 is good enough.

  1. Shop at Aldi and get your staples only from there.

    Seriously – if there is just one kind of garbanzo bean, you’re less likely to, say, have 3 different cans in the back of your pantry because you couldn’t remember whether or not you picked the last can up at Walmart when you are perusing the legumes section of Target.

  2. Do the dishes.
    Everything looks better when the sink is empty.

    Or you know what?  Just turn off the kitchen light and forget the dishes are there.

    It doesn’t solve the clutter, but it does help you forget.  And for the next 9 hours, your ignorance is your bliss….you know, until morning.

 

Coming up on the blog this week (finally!): “fall” spices and “WHERE’S THE FREAKING NUTMEG?!”

Advertisements

Baking with Aldi

20170508_141107.jpg

 

I’ve been impressed with Aldi’s selection of baking ingredients over the last few years.  Organic sugars, pure cane sugar, pure vanilla extract, and all the other essentials and even many extras.

Chia seeds? Ground flax seed? all organic? Yes, please!

Dried fruit and nuts that don’t cost an arm and a leg? Thank you!

I mean, they even have organic eggs. ORGANIC EGGS.

Above are a couple of my favorites.  I really like Morena cane sugar in place of regular white sugar.  I feel a lot better about how it’s processed, and the flavor is great.  I’d use regular white sugar again, but only if absolutely necessary.  As long as I can get this at Aldi (so far I can – 3 different stores in 3 different states!), then I’m good.

The other item I love is the Organic “Light Brown” Sugar.  But first, know this: this is dark brown sugar.  With its strong molasses notes, there isn’t much light about it!  Regardless, it’s delicious and makes a wonderful Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie:

20170508_141023.jpg

I’ve made these cookies at least a few dozen times, and this is the best they’ve tasted!

What you might not see here is the aromatic caramel taste that I have only achieved with this Aldi organic brown sugar.  It’s delicious and really elevates your typical Tollhouse.

Now, there is one major item missing from Aldi’s repertoire: whole wheat flour.  With their movement to make everything more natural in their store, they have neglected to include this key ingredient in healthier baking. 4 or 5 different kinds of sugar, only one kind of flour.

Also, I don’t do Aldi’s chocolate chips.  If they have improved over the last few years, let me know.  Their flavor just wasn’t chocolatey enough for me.

There you have it – a quick appraisal of Aldi’s baking ingredients.  You sure can make some show stoppers with what they have to offer.  It’s worth the trip to save the $$$.

 

Spring Flowers at Aldi

Spring officially begun this week, and it looks like Aldi didn’t forget to partake. 

This little plant was only $2.49, and it sat among other flora to choose from, including tulips and hyacinths of varying colors. 

It was hard to choose just one, so the multi-bloom crocus it was. (The other varieties had just one or two blooms – this one could have 10!) Plus, my daughter’s favorite color is purple, so there was little negotiation after we saw the display. That said, I insisted on a plant that had yet to bloom, and we have since been rewarded with a muliti-day display of beautiful growth. 

Review: Cassie Mamita Organic Double Fire Roasted Salsa


Nom.

WordPress tells me to tell my story, and it can be summed up by the word above. As the label says, this salsa is in fact smooth and savory, and the heat is there right as you start chewing but isn’t overwhelming. 

I’ve had this salsa on baked potatoes with a lot of other savory toppings (cheese, roasted broccholi, Greek yogurt) and this salsa really livened things up. 


Eaten simply with chips (I’m having Organic Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips from Aldi), it’s a great snack that also clears out the sinuses. 🙂

I will certainly buy this again, though I’m not sure how long it will be around. Conventional foods last longer at Aldi than organic, and these special flavors, while delicious, sometimes disappear. 

That said, if Tikka Masala sauce can stay put in the regular rotation, maybe this can, too.

Our life and Aldi

Like any other family in the 98% of America, we are looking to save money.

For us it may look different than others.  It’s not that we just like to save money, though that’s absolutely good in and of itself.  It’s that we need to save money.

We live in a small town in northern rural Iowa with an equally small economy.  In the past, when I started this blog on Blogger back in…2013?…we lived in the north suburbs of Chicago.

As you can imagine, the epicurean landscape of the two locales are starkly different, but we nevertheless needed to keep food spending to a minimum because food spending is where budgets can EXPLODE.

Also, we needed to save money then and now because the life that we lead, one in church ministry, is not usually one flush with cash (yes, some people do profit off the church, but that’s another blog post for another blog and another time).

And finally, why else do we have to save money wherever we can?  Two kids, ages 1 and 3.  Yes, we needed to save money back in 2013.  We both need to and MUST safe money on our food budget now, because, in particular, my one-year-old son eats as much as I do for every meal and has yet to slow down.  One may say it’s because he’s a boy, but I say it’s because the kid ways 28 pounds and is the size of a 2+-year-old.

So last week my husband loaded up at Aldi, and he spent a whopping $114 and change.  The receipt?

 

2017-03-01-13-40-07

 

Yep, that long.  Of course it included some extra items like ice cream and at least 4 different kinds of curry sauce, but hey, 2 weeks-worth of groceries for that price means we get to pay rent, eat well, and have some money to, I don’t know…turn on the lights at night.

So while I am forced to cook a bit more simply with living in a small town than I did when I lived in the vast cultural landscape of Chicago, I can eat well in regard to both flavor and nutrition because I have an Aldi about 35 minutes away.  Yes, for me it’s worth the long trip, and yes, I do check out other stores for comparisons or even for some slightly better deals (though it’s rare that Aldi is not the cheapest there is).

But despite all this talk about money, my time is quite important, too, as is yours.  Rarely is it worth it for me to hop from store to store to buy single items, and my biggest expenses (dairy!!!!) direct me to where I will shop, and I just can’t go to 3 different places if I’d rather have some other store’s pasta or some other grocer’s produce. It needs to either be all there, or I’m not.

So I’m here to help you and me figure out if Aldi is worth all of our time and some of our cash.  Grocery shopping has never been more complicated, and maybe, just maybe, Aldi can make life a bit easier for all of us.  I’m here to tell you if that’s the case.

Aldi vs. Target: Journey to India – Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce

Hello again!

This time it’s Aldi vs. Target in an ethnic battle for the ages.  I am only slightly exaggerating, because jarred curry sauce + rice+ protein + vegetable is our quick and easy go-to in this house.

Some of you may be familiar with Target’s archer farms Tikka Masala sauce, and hopefully for good reason.  It’s a mild sauce that really can go with a wide variety of ingredients, so you can mix and match to your heart’s content.  I wanted to see how this went with Aldi’s Journey to India Tikka Masala and see if their sauce had the same versatility as our typical Indian standby.

Now, I must admit: this is sauce isn’t at all what you’re going to get at your favorite Indian cafe, but if you’re too busy, too far, or too cash-strapped to afford the trip for the buffet and the mango lassi, you at least have this to enjoy!

20170207_181144.jpg

Target’s sauce average price range: $2.99 – $3.50 (I’ve paid nearly $3.50 multiple times in the past) .  Aldi’s sauce average price: $1.99

Right off the bat, you see the difference in the two sauces.  Target’s sauce has a darker color and is a whole 4.2 oz. less than Aldi.  It claims to be mild in spiciness, while Aldi’s lighter-colored sauce features a medium-spice description.  Aldi’s version also is labeled as gluten-free, while Target’s is not. Aldi’s ingredients are handled on equipment that comes in contact with wheat, however, so that is problematic for those with celiac disease.

20170207_181221

But do take a look at the first three ingredients of the sauces.  Frankly, Aldi wins out on this one with both content and quality.  Also, the spices simply excite me more with the Aldi version than with Target’s.  The caloric and fat levels are higher with Aldi, however, so if that is of concern to you, then it’s worth noting.  I, for one, prefer to eat fat rather than simple sugars, and after doing the math, you get just about the same amount per sauce.

Finally, let’s take a look at the two sauces.  First Aldi, then Target:

20170207_181621.jpg

 

20170216_175756.jpg

Aldi’s sauce spread out instantly, and it did show that the amount covered more of the pan and, therefore, more of the other ingredients.

The meal overall was so tasty from Aldi that I didn’t get a picture before it was gone!  It did definitely have more spice than Target’s sauce, so it was very tricky for my one-year-old son to eat.  My three-year-old daughter enjoyed it greatly, and my husband and I were very satisfied.  Target’s sauce is no problem at all for my son or the rest of my family, and we do enjoy it for the most part.

But if I had my way, and as the primary cook in the kitchen I often do, I’d just put some meat and vegetables aside for my son and slather the rest with Aldi’s sauce.  It was, simply, more complex and exciting for the palette. And with a whole $1.00-$1.50 less in price, it will be my go-to Tikka Masala for from here-on-out.

Verdict in Aldi vs. Target: Aldi wins!

 

 

Key Lime Crunch Yogurt


I love Chobani Flips Key Lime Pie yogurt, and when I saw the Aldi version, called Tilts, I had to give it a try. 

The Chobani flips are something I would allow myself as an escape for when I actually couldn’t. After all, if you can’t fly to Key West, at least you could eat something to have life taste like you’re there!

So, did this Aldi version live up to the test? 

My answer: sort of. You’ll see that the yogurt was quite creamy and there were plenty of toppings to go on it. In fact, I’d say that the Tilts had slightly more toppings than the Flips. 


Another bonus is that I didn’t find a single ingredient I would never eat. This said, there is soy in this food, so if you’re adverse to that, you might speak differently. 

The yogurt itself had a tart yet sweet flavor, and it was colored (as all key lime yogurts are) with natural coloring: tumeric! 

The “white chunks,” as described, actually did taste a bit like white chocolate. This, however, is where the two yogurts depart. The white chocolate chips in the Flips is quite prominent and really compliments the key lime flavor. The white chunks in the Tilts are good, but you need to get a spoonful to notice they are there. 


The graham cracker part of the topping was unimpressive. With theFlips, they have graham cracker crumbles, which actually taste like the crust of a key lime pie. These, while not bad at all, just tasted  very simple, if not a penny-pinching generic brand, and they only added texture, not flavor, to the dish. 

The price as usual, is where Aldi outperformed. I got this yogurt for $0.89, while I never personally have seen Chobani Flips for less than a dollar when they are on sale. 

Overall, I’d say these Aldi Tilts are worth trying and even worth buying if you need a key lime fix. But go for the Chobani Flips if you want that key lime pie experience straight from your fridge.