This post is sponsored by Harris Teeter. I was paid to share my experience shopping at Harris Teeter and to create a meal plan including a delicious baked chicken cordon bleu pasta recipe.
5-Day Meal Challenge
When I first moved to North Carolina and asked for grocery store recommendations everyone said Harris Teeter was the best place to shop. Since then it’s where I do most of my weekly shopping and now I’m part of the chorus of voices who sing their praises. As we all know, having access to a great grocery store makes life easier when you plan and cook your own meals.
So, when Harris Teeter asked me to participate in their 5-day meal challenge it was an easy yes on my part. The goal was simple: create a 5-day meal plan for a family of four for $50. Challenge accepted.
With a little planning, some strategic shopping, and opting for Harris Teeter private-label products (more about that in a second) it was easy to meet the $50 dinner budget. So, if the idea of making five dinners for $50 sounds undoable unless you’re willing to survive on ramen and crackers for a week, I’m happy to report you can leave the ramen on the shelf. It is possible to eat well on a budget. But, before we get to the recipes, let’s talk about planning and shopping. These are the tactics I use every week to stay on budget…
Grocery Shopping Tips
1. Make a list: After I’ve figured out what I want to cook and eat for the week, I make a list of everything I need. Most of the time, I cut and paste the ingredient lists from recipes into a document (I prefer using my computer versus writing everything down – so much faster). Next, I organize the list. For example, if I have two recipes that call for half an onion I note I need one onion. It might be obvious, but the difference in writing down “onions” versus “1 onion” is money saved and less waste. This whole list-making process takes less than ten minutes.
2. Shop in the kitchen first: I’ve learned I can’t trust my memory. That’s how I end up with three bottles of syrup in my pantry. So, after I make my list, I take it to the kitchen and shop there first. I remove all the items from the list I already have. This also takes less than ten minutes.
3. Order groceries online: While there is typically a small fee to order groceries ahead for pick-up at the curb, I find I save money using this feature. I’m prone to impulse shopping at the store and the best way for me to stick to my list is to not go in the store at all. Harris Teeter provides a great online shopping experience and I love the time it time it saves. After I’ve added everything to my online cart, I schedule a pick-up time. The Harris Teeter employees will call me if they are out of something or need to make a substitution. I’ve been grocery shopping like this for a year now and I love how easy it is.
4. Choose private-label products: For almost every brand-name product there is almost always a less-expensive private-label product nearby and more often than not I choose the private-label. Things like packaging and advertising go into the price of food, so why pay that premium? HT private-label products are as good, if not better than the name-brand options so when I shop online I search for Harris Teeter items with the red square logo.
5 Days of Budget-Friendly Dinner Recipes
Baked Chicken Cordon Bleu
For the last recipe, I created a hearty and comforting twist on chicken cordon bleu. Like the rest of the meals, I took advantage of budget-friendly Harris Teeter private-label ingredients and simple pantry ingredients I already had on hand.
This chicken cordon bleu pasta is a hearty dinner that serves four hungry people. The sauce is made with Swiss cheese that bakes up with pasta, pan-cooked chicken, and ham and it’s topped with crispy breadcrumbs. It’s creamy and comforting and, like the other recipes, an easy and affordable way to get dinner on the table.
So, the moral of the challenge? Make a list, shop your kitchen first, opt for budget-friendly products and everyone gets to eat well.
Be sure to visit Harris Teeter to learn more about their products!Print
- 8 ounces penne
- 1/3 third cup breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons divided
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces and seasoned with kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 1/2 cups 2% milk
- 6 ounces shredded swiss cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 6 ounces diced ham
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the penne and cook it for half the amount of time listed on the package (approximately five minutes total). Drain the penne and set aside. Combine the bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and spread the pieces into an even layer. Brown the chicken, about five minutes on each side. Transfer the chicken to a bowl. Melt the butter in the same pan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until smooth paste forms. Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously. Simmer the milk (adjust the heat if needed to prevent the milk from boiling) for 8-10 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until it’s melted into the milk and the sauce has thickened.
2. Add the parsley and diced ham to the cheese sauce and stir. Add the chicken and pasta and stir again until well combined. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top of the pasta. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling around the edges.
- Calories: 639
- Fat: 23.1g
- Carbohydrates: 59.7g
- Fiber: 2.9g
- Protein: 46.2g