Thursday, February 3, 2011

Project Food Budget - Week 4: All Hail Trader Joe's!

I am glad January is under our belt now. It just means we are getting closer to spring! Yay! It's a brand new month of budgeting and clean slates (and partially clean plates?!) We didn't do too bad in January, in fact, we actually were under budget in other areas of our expenses (which is a good thing after the indulgences of Christmas)!
Also new this month, I joined Weight Watchers Online again and am learning the new PointsPlus system.

I had a hankering for all things Trader Joe's this week. If I had more time (and a patient toddler--yeah right!) I might have tried to get some of the basic stuff at my usual Aldi's, like milk, eggs, fruits and vegetables.
Goal: $75/week
Actual: $98.92 (oops!)

The trip to Trader Joe's was worth it. Here's a little sampling of what I got and how it'll be used:

Breakfast: TJ's carrot ginger oat bran muffins, almond butter with roasted flaxseeds, organic reduced-sugar strawberry preserves, bananas, kiwis, blood oranges.
Snacks: organic blue tortilla chips, 5-layer fiesta dip, guacamole hummus, persian cucumbers, baby carrots, salad, grape tomatoes, sugar-free dark chocolate bar.
Dinners: Trader Joe's packaged foods--roasted sliced turkey breast, sweet potato spears, steamed lentils, roasted chicken breast, corn tortillas, eggplant parmesan towers, and mini chicken tacos.

Note: Several of the above items were already devoured by hubby and myself, particularly the 5-layer fiesta dip!
Here is a recipe for what I made last night. I actually found it in my food processor instruction booklet.

Layered Turkey Eggplant Casserole
Serves 6

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb. ground turkey
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 medium eggplant, peeled
1/2 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese  (or just 1 cup of either kinds of ricotta; I just needed to use up my fat-free stuff)
1 egg
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 cups marinara sauce (I used Lucini Tuscan Marinara with roasted garlic from Costco I had in my pantry)

Spray a 13x9 dish with non-stick cooking spray. Brown ground turkey in a skillet until no longer pink. Set aside. Peel eggplant and slice very thinly or use a food processor with a slicing disc. Set eggplant aside. Add multipurpose blade to food processor and add Parmesan cheese, ricotta, egg and pepper. Process until well blended.
Spread 1/2 cup marinara sauce over bottom of baking dish. Cover with half of eggplant, and half of turkey. Spread with ricotta cheese mixture. Sprinkle with fresh parsley. Cover with remaining eggplant, turkey and sauce.
Bake uncovered at 350° F for 40 minutes. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake for additional 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and eggplant is tender. Feel free to swap the turkey for sausage (the recipe originally called for) or omit meat all together. Make it your own!

With the new Weight Watchers PointsPlus, I calculated a value of 8. Enjoy with a side salad or carrot sticks (which is what I had).

Read about how the Project Food Budget Challenge got started here.
Here are fellow food budget challenge bloggers:


emily said...

good luck with weight watchers! i'm sure you're budgeting will even out for the month. :)

Stephanie Brown said...

I so wish I had a Trader Joe's!