Reviewed by Louise Totton
Following the festive excesses of Christmas and the new year, January is, for lots of people, about new beginnings, new regimes and this very often includes a diet and exercise plan.
I keep hearing complaints from people that the reason they do not eat healthily is because convenience food is cheaper, that fresh meat, fruit and vegetables are too expensive and are out of reach of lower income households. I have family members who regularly tell me that cooking from scratch is far more expensive than using frozen or convenience foods. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with convenience foods, in moderation. But they’re certainly not going to prove overly helpful in the ‘new year, new me’ plan that so many of us launch into in January.
My focus this month has been on eating clean, eating healthy and trying to swap some of the treats that we all enjoy for something a little more virtuous.
It’s so easy, when walking around the shop, to grab something unhealthy because you’re hungry. With this in mind, I planned my shop far more meticulously than I normally would, writing a list and a meal plan and not allowing myself to deviate from it. I concentrated massively on fresh meat, fruit and veg, picking up a whole chicken, a portion of chicken thighs, a sea food selection from the fridge and turkey mince, as well as some sausages and gammon for when my husband and children wanted something a little ‘meatier’. I also grabbed some frozen fish fillets from the freezer section, which were a great price.
As always, the Super Six offered loads of inspiration for basing our meals on, and I chose oranges, chestnut mushrooms, mangetout, as well as a stir fry veg pack, a soup veg pack, potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots and broccoli. I also stocked up on several of the packs of fun size fruit for snacking from the fruit bowl and packed lunches.
I was really pleasantly surprised with some of the healthier convenience lunch items in the chiller, and bought a fresh Thai carrot soup and a spicy chicken and mango salad bowl. Both superb sized portions, around 100 cals per portion and absolutely delicious; ideal for taking to work and eating at my desk.
We find turkey mince to be a great choice when we’re eating healthily. It works superbly well for curries, bolognaise, homemade burgers and Chinese mince stir fry. This week, I made a chilli con carne with it, grating carrots into the mixture whilst I cooked the meat off. This meant that we all had an extra boost of veggies, and we avoided the issue of the kids picking the chunks of veg out of their dinner. It also bulked it up nicely, meaning there was plenty left for my husband to take to work for lunch the next day.
We had a quick, one pot roast dinner, midweek which was really popular, healthy and took less than 20 minutes of effort. The potatoes and root veg were cut up slightly small than usual, popped in the roasting pan raw with the chicken, some stock and the whole lot was ready together after 90 minutes. I added some Aldi frozen Yorkshire puddings and Quixso gravy for my husband and kids, and everyone was healthy and happy.
I think my main find of the week though is the refrigerated seafood selection. I stir fried this in Frylight (£1.49), with veggies, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and rice wine. I served my husband’s with rice and I had mine on its own, and it was absolutely delicious, the seafood was really interesting (king prawns, mussels and squid), and it cooked to perfection really quickly. A definite new family favourite.
Over the course of the week, we also enjoyed a fish curry, a fabulously hearty mushroom soup, using the mushrooms from the Super Six, and a lovely light meal of chicken thighs with salad and bread.
We ate from scratch every day, and we all really enjoyed the meals that we had. Lunches were salads, soups and sandwiches; we’ve recently discovered just how much we like the smoked ham and sliced chicken from Aldi, so they’ve formed the basis of the sandwiches and salads. My youngest daughter has decided she really loves having the fruity flapjack bars in her lunch box instead of a chocolate biscuit, which is quite an achievement for her as she’s utterly chocolate mad.
For me, what’s great is that in the month of January, whilst shopping at Aldi, I have managed the shed nearly 6lbs, whilst shopping on a relative budget compared to the main supermarkets.
We absolutely love doing the Aldi challenges, it always amazes me how well my family (2 adults and 2 kids, but often an extra adult), can eat for under £70 a week. This week, we spent around £67 and didn’t feel we went without at all. Brilliant, yet again, Aldi.
Why not visit your local Aldi this week and see if you can feed your family for £70 without compromising on quality. To find your nearest Aldi store visit www.aldi.co.uk.