Balsamic Pork Chops with Butternut Squash and Harvest Salad

I have to admit, I've never been to ALDI Markets. But, after my first shopping trip, I realized it certainly wouldn't be the last! The closest ALDI location was only 2 miles from my house, which is nice and close for me since I seem to be running everywhere with being a mom, after-school activities and sports, blogging, and having a full-time job.

I popped a quarter into the shopping cart (you get it back at the end), and was on my way with my bags in-hand. I did a little research before I went, and ALDI is able to pass savings on to the customer by altering a few things like these. This is fine by me because I have more plastic bags than I know what to do with, so I was happy to bring a few with me to the store. If you happen to forget, they sell paper and large plastic bags at the checkout for less than a dime.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that ALDI offers many organic items, priced much lower another large-name market. I won't say the name, but it rhymes with "soul dudes". :-) Many products were priced significantly less than what I'm used to paying at my typical grocery store (my face lotion alone was $3 cheaper!). I had a full cart of groceries at the end of my shopping trip, and I had spent only $101.46. I can't tell you the last time I had a cart full of groceries for less than $150-200.

Since I am a mom on the go, I am always looks for quick weekday meals that I can prepare ahead of time, and are nutritious for my son. Football practice is 3-days per week, along with games on the weekends so I've needed to be rather creative for our dinners. The boneless pork chops looked just beautiful, so I grabbed a 4-pack of them for $4.47. It's the fall and squash is plentiful, so I was excited to see firm butternut squash (only $1.49!). I picked up a head of lettuce ($1.19) and a honey crisp apple ($.49)to round the meal off. All I needed were a few staple pantry items that are always on-hand. This market had all makings for: Balsamic Pork Chops with Butternut Squash and Harvest Salad.

I peeled the squash, scooped out the seeds, and cut into large diced pieces. I arranged on a baking sheet and drizzled with EVOO, salt and pepper, and roasted in a pre-heated 425 degree oven until they were beautifully brown and caramelized. Butternut squash is such a healthy alternative to a heavy carbohydrate like potatoes or pasta, and since it's sweet, I knew it was going to pair really well with the pork. I wanted to use every part of this squash so I rinsed off the seeds and put them on some tin foil with EVOO, salt and pepper. These roasted in the oven for about 10 minutes before getting toasted and nutty-- which was a perfect crunch for the salad!

I seasoned the pork with salt, pepper, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a bit of balsamic vinegar. I seared both sides in a hot grill pan w/ EVOO, and popped into the oven (which already had the squash) to finish cooking the rest of the way through (about 6 minutes).

For the salad, I made a simple dressing with balsamic vinegar, EVOO, agave syrup (you can use honey), salt, and cracked black pepper. I sliced the apple thinly, tossed everything together and topped with some of the roasted squash seeds.

What I created was a healthy and balanced meal in about 40 minutes total time! The best part? This meal was enough to feed four people (or my son and I twice!), for only $7.64!!!!!! That's insane!

I hope you try my Balsamic Pork Chops with Butternut Squash and Harvest Salad, and love it as much as we did!