Food Lion Frugal Cookoff

A few weeks ago, I was invited to the Food Lion Frugal Cookoff!  Think: the food and frugal bloggers’ version of Iron Chef.  Our challenge?

Imagine this, you just found out a friend and her husband are in town. Now you must pull together a meal for four in a flash! Oh and one thing. You only have a $15 budget and 45 minutes until dinner is served.

Who Says You Can Have Too Many Cooks in a Kitchen?

Since that was the only information we received before heading into Talara to take on the challenge, we were a little nervous.  But, my partners (Roni from Green Lite Bites and Liza from (a)Musing Foodie) and I determined to have fun and do the best we could!

The evening kicked off by uncovering our “mystery” protein (which we had to build our meal around), and we had 10 minutes to plan our meal, 10 minutes to shop from their pantry (of select Food Lion products), and 45 minutes to whip up an entree and two sides that would tantalize the judges, who included Kenny, Talara’s executive chef and Suzanne Loudermilk, the food editor/restaurant reviewer at Baltimore magazine.  Commence nail biting!

We were given the four pork chops (the other three teams received chicken, ground turkey, and tilapia); and immediately, our recipes started flying!

Pork stir fry?  “No, too mundane!“  Pork chops with a peach mango chutney?  “What?  No peaches or mangos in the pantry!?!?”   Mashed potatoes for a side?  “The butter sends us way over our budget!“  Rice, instead?  “Newp, that doesn’t quite fit with our menu.”  Announcer: “You have 30 seconds left to plan!”  *hyperventilation*

We finally decided on Apple-Spinach Stuffed Pork Chops, Rustic Roasted Potatoes, and Balsamic Candied Carrots.

Sounds impressive, right?  Actually, what was even more amazing was that we prepared our meal in 45 minutes, with only one knife and oven problems that cost us about 15 minutes (see above picture of Roni’s face – that’s probably when we realized the oven was still cold)!   Once everything finished cooking, we had a few seconds to plate our meal, grab a few pictures, then, divide it up artistically for the 5 judges.

At that point, we were just relieved that nothing was undercooked and we had fulfilled all the requirements!  But, the suspense and anxiety began to build as each team paraded their dish in front of the judges.  We were the LAST team to present our meal – and, let me tell you, the time really s.l.o.o.o.o.w.s. when you’re waiting with your heart pounding!!

But, despite being the last team to finish cooking (our pesky potatoes slid out of the oven as they announced “times up!”), and coming in just under budget at $14.90 (out of $15.00), Team Pork WON!  And, as part of the perks of winning, our meal will be featured at Talara this weekend (through Sunday, July 14)!!  So, if you’re in the Baltimore area, be sure to swing by Talara and let me know what you think!

Next week, I’ll be sharing the recipes for our winning meal, a Food Lion gift card giveaway, and a promotional video, once we receive it!

{Disclosure: We were invited to attend the Frugal Food Lion Cookoff, and as winners, received prizes.  But, we were not obligated to write any posts – I just wanted to share my experience with you, so you’ll hopefully have a chance to try out our dish this weekend!}

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