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This post was sponsored by the Indiana’s Family of Farmers. You get to learn about affordable ways to prepare food. I get a few extra bucks in the Royal coffers. The post and opinions are 100% mine. No editing was done by anyone. I’m sure you could find some grammatical errors if you read it again. Read more on my disclosure policy.
Can you believe it’s mid July? This month I put together a meal plan to help us weather the final weeks of summer. It’s been hot outside and the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven. So I decided to turn to my frugal friend the slow cooker and build a plan based around it’s wonderful ways.
If you didn’t know, this is the 4th in a series of $50 meal plans. You may want to look over ALDI Meal Plan: 7 Dinners for Less than $50, NEW ALDI Summer Meal Plan: 7 Dinners for Less Than $50, and ALL NEW ALDI Meal Plan: 7 Simple Meals for $50. With this plan, we basically round out a month’s worth of meals. This meal plan only has six meals, but believe me, you’re going to have leftovers. 🙂
Last month, I answered questions about breakfasts, lunches, and snacks as well as some of the other FAQs I get when I put together a meal plan. If you’re curious, you can find those responses here.
Never been to ALDI before? You definitely want to read The Best Ways to Save Money at ALDI & 15 Items to Always Buy There.
Once again, I will disclaim that in the price I’m not including some seasonings, oils, dressings or condiments. I’m also not including the price of rice and pasta (I buy 25 lb. bags a couple of times of year so the price for where it’s included is minimal). You may not need to buy all of the items on my list. Or you might have to pick up a couple of pantry staples that I have but you might not. I accidentally bought two jars of salsa this time too (crazy debating in the aisle between which two I needed caused me to lose my mind a wee bit so there’s some leeway here). That being said, it should average out to be ~$50.
Here’s what I bought:
While a picture is worth a thousand words, you can’t see everything smashed into this photo, so let me break down what I bought and why. Print out a full shopping list here.
Frozen Chicken Breasts $6.69: This boneless skinless frozen chicken can fluctuate in price from $5.49 to $6.69 at ALDI. Each bag contains 12 servings so we can easily get three meals from a full bag. The breasts can sometimes be large so 2 breasts might be enough for a family of four, depending on the meal.
1 Package Fresh Ground Turkey $3.29: Remember that Turkey Black Bean Chili from the first meal plan? We’re going to use double meat this time. That means double hearty and plenty of leftovers.
Premium Pork Sausage $1.99: It’s been awhile since I’ve made Sausage Pizza Soup. I make a simplified version of this recipe. We prefer a mild tasting sausage so this is perfect for our family. You could choose to add pepperoni, too but sausage, mushroom, and green pepper are the perfect pizza toppings in my opinion.
1 Can of Chicken Breast $1.69: Let’s face it. Sometimes you want to do as little as possible to prepare a meal. Enter my “Can Of” Salsa Soup. Basically you open several cans and throw them all into the slow cooker at the beginning of the day. Super simple. Super yummy.
Frozen Corn $0.95: In three different meals, we’ll use a cup of corn. It’s a versatile veggie that adds a little sweet to a dish.
Peaches $2.49: Peaches are fantastic either sliced and eaten fresh or diced and placed in the slow cooker with some cinnamon. We can get two side dishes from this bag of peaches.
Blueberries $0.99: I love simple and quick fruits that make side dishes a snap. All you need to do is rinse and dish these wonderful berries out.
Head of Iceberg Lettuce $0.89: Lettuce adds just a little more punch to top both the crockpot chicken enchiladas and the BBQ Chicken Nachos.
Organic Chicken Broth $1.79: Not all of our meals are soups but there are three. Of the three, two require the broth to add flavor and filling.
Sweet Potatoes $2.49: I love sweet potatoes. They’re a great side dish whether they are mashed, baked, pan fried, or oven roasted. We’ll make a version of my Slow Cooker Southwest Sweet Potatoes using lime concentrate and cilantro from the garden. But even if you don’t have those items, you can make it a little stripped down. We’ll also have baked sweet potatoes with the salsa soup.
Canned Crushed Tomatoes $0.95: The tomatoes are central to the chili. I love how thick they make the dish.
Green Peppers $1.49: I primarily purchased these peppers for the Pizza Soup; however, you can always slice the other two and use them as a side dish.
3 Cans Black Beans $1.77: You know I love black beans. Three cans for three different meals to add more protein to the mix.
1 Jar Pizza Sauce $0.99: Yum-o pizza soup. Everyone in our family loves this dish! Also, I forgot to put this item in the picture so you won’t find it. Sorry about that!
Baby Bella Mushrooms $1.89: You’ll definitely have leftover mushrooms but you’ll use about half of them in the pizza soup.
Restaurant Tortilla Chips $1.19: You can use the chips as a side for the Chili but don’t go all crazy. You’ll need the majority of them for the BBQ Chicken Nachos.
Mexican Shredded Cheese $2.49: Cheese is my favorite friends. This week, I wanted three different varieties for different meals. You’ll probably have leftovers of all three. This cheese is for the Slow Cooker Chicken Enchiladas.
Shredded Cheddar Cheese $2.99: The cheddar cheese is best with the chili and nachos.
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese $2.99: You’ll just be using the mozzarella cheese with the pizza soup. You can either cheese it up big time or just have leftovers.
Unsweetened Natural Applesauce $1.89: Look, I know it’s not the fanciest of side dishes, but applesauce is simple (pour from jar, eat, repeat) and incredibly frugal. We’re using it for two meals this plan.
20 Count Fajita Tortillas $1.19: We will layer these tortillas in the slow cooker to make a layered green enchilada chicken lasagna of sorts. We won’t use them all, though. With the extra cheese, you could easily make quesadillas to go with the salsa soup.
Green Enchilada Sauce $1.89: This is a speciality item for ALDI so it might not be there every week. However, when I saw it, I knew it would be amazing layered with black beans, chicken, cheese, corn, and tortillas.
Mild Salsa $1.89: I accidentally purchased two jars of salsa – both at the same price point. One is twice the size, though.
The Grand Total: $49.26
The Meal Plan
Turkey Black Bean Chili
with Cheese and Tortilla Chips
This is a delicious family favorite and it’s so easy. You can choose to use half or all of the ground turkey. If you want to save half of it, place in a Ziploc bag and freeze for a later date. Top the chili with just a few tortilla chips (you’ll need the majority on day 4) and some cheese.
Before you go to bed, thaw two of the chicken breasts. Again, trust me, they are huge and you’ll need to cut each in half the next morning for the dinner’s recipe.
I found this recipe on my sweet friend Jackie’s site and it’s become a family favorite. Because I can never quite stick to a recipe though I do vary it a little bit. I don’t use an entire chicken and opt for the boneless skinless chicken breasts instead. It still works great.
I’ve used ALDI’s Seasoned Salt before which has all of the spices plus some sugar in it or I’ve used the recipe as is and added some brown sugar to the mix just for a savory sweet flavor. It amazes me how the chicken is so moist and how the simple step of adding the aluminum foil to your slow cooker allows you to switch things up a bit.
Use a 2nd crockpot (if you have one) to make the Slow Cooker Southwest Sweet Potatoes. Since you have a little extra leeway in your budget, you could opt to purchase a lime at ALDI. I already had lime concentrate at home. I also had fresh cilantro from home but you could easily fit that in for under $50, too. Remember, I accidentally purchased two jars of salsa. I’m going to leave out the onion this time or sub in dried onion instead.
I have three small slow cookers so I’ll finish by dicing peaches and throwing them into the third one with just a bit of butter (you could use coconut oil, too) and some cinnamon. If you don’t have three slow cookers (I’m a little obsessed) then you could simply serve fresh sliced peaches on the side or even bake them in the oven.
This is one of my favorite quick and easy meals. For a long time, I called it my “Can Of” soup. Basically, empty half the jar of salsa (the larger oz. mild salsa) into your crockpot. Drain and rinse a can of black beans and add it to the mix. Add 1 cup of frozen corn. Drain the canned chicken breast and add it to the crockpot. Finish by adding 1/2 of the box of the Organic Chicken Broth (refrigerate the rest and use on Meal #6). Stir well. Cook on low all day or on high for 2-4 hours.
If you want, you can add a cup of rice to the mix but I find it’s better to actually prepare the rice separately and serve it over the soup. Depending on the variety of rice, it can get mushy during the day in the crockpot or take things over. It’s so incredibly simple. Use 8 of the Fajita Tortillas to make cheddar cheese quesadillas to serve on the side. Our girls prefer just cheese in theirs but sometimes I add a little salsa to ours or any other chopped veggies I might have on hand or even a little bit of leftover bacon from breakfast. Serve some applesauce on the side.
BBQ Chicken Nachos
Crockpot Peaches or Fresh Slices
This is so simple it’s not funny. Place 3-4 frozen chicken breasts into your crockpot. You can add salt and pepper or even garlic but you don’t have too. Cook on low all day long. By the end of the day it should smell like glory in your house and your chicken will be so tender that you can easily shred it with a fork.
I love preparing plain chicken and pork like this in our crockpot and then using it in a variety of ways – sandwiches, tacos, nachos, with noodles or rice, or just straight up on the plate with some barbecue sauce.
To assemble the nachos, spread tortilla chips on a large pan. Top with some of the drained shredded chicken (I use a slotted spoon and keep the juice in my slow cooker for the rest of the chicken). Add cheddar cheese. Drizzle with your favorite barbecue sauce. It doesn’t take a lot at all. I’ve made my own before using ketchup as a base, too. Check out these recipes for homemade barbecue sauce if you’re all out. Drain and rinse the third can of black beans and use 1/3 to 1/2 of the can sprinkled on the nachos. We’ll use the rest on Meal 5 so don’t throw them out.
Top with some of the chopped lettuce for a little extra veggie crunch.
Again, you can make some crockpot peaches or serve fresh slices as a side.
At the end of the evening, drain the extra chicken. You should have plenty left over to use for tomorrow’s meal.
Layered Green Chicken Enchilada Lasagna
This is a simple and delicious meal. Begin by mixing the leftover plain chicken with 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce. I love green sauce but you could use a red sauce too. Mix together remaining black beans from the day before and the rest of the frozen corn
Next, spoon enough enchilada sauce to cover the bottom of the slow cooker. Layer in a tortilla. Spoon some sauce over the tortilla. Add a layer of chicken, a layer of the beans and corn, and a layer of the Mexican cheese. Repeat for 3-4 layers. For the top layer, use only a tortilla, some sauce and cheese.
Cook on low/warm all day or on high for an hour. Everything in the mix is already cooked (except the frozen corn) so you’re really just melting things together and toasting it up. It’s crazy simple and delicious. If I have it on hand, I’ll top with a light sour cream or a plain greek yogurt (which I think tastes like sour cream). And you can also top it with some of the chopped lettuce, too.
This is such a hearty meal that I began adapting from this recipe for our family years ago. It’s like a pizza in your slow cooker and it’s so delicious.
Brown and drain the sausage and add to the crock. Then, simply empty the jar pizza sauce and fill with water to get any remaining sauce from the sides of the jar. Next, pour in half the box of the Organic Chicken Broth, chopped mushrooms, chopped green pepper, and any Italian seasonings you might have. You could also add other pizza ingredients – like chopped or crushed tomatoes, onion, or pepperoni – but it’s not necessary.
If you have a cup or two of pasta, that does well in this soup too. A penne or a rotini are nice but even elbow macaroni works. Like the rice, you need to add it later in the day or cook it separately though or it could take over the entire soup and eventually break apart. Just sharing my learned from experience two cents. If you’ve navigated pasta in your slow cooker before, proceed with your wisdom and bad self.
Top with cheese just before eating.
You can serve some applesauce on the side, but we all know that everyone just wants the soup. When I have extra time on my hands, I whip up home mead breadsticks or even bread bowls but the soup is pretty filling even without it.
So are you up to the challenge? How many meals can you make with $50? Share your plan with me in the comments! I’d also love to hear your favorite go-to slow cooker meals!
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