Tonight was Italian night at the Dollar Tree.
The menu was:
Spaghetti with tasty sauce
Almost gelato with almond biscotti
All items were purchased at our awesome Dollar Tree in Nacogdoches.
Where is Italy?
See it on a world map right here!
Total cost = $6.00
(Not $6 “each” but $6 total for this full table of food, with some leftovers not shown in photo!)
First, let’s talk about that spaghetti.
You can see it says “50% More Free” and it was so much spaghetti! I was careful to use only as much as I estimated would be in a regular box, and even doing that, I still had more spaghetti than we needed and put some in the fridge. Plus, there was still a lot left in the box, plenty for another meal later. For the sake of this post, though, we’ll call it “$1.00 worth of” spaghetti, as if it were a regular box.
Next, the sauce!
This was a basic plain sauce, just a “flavor”, not “chunky”. I didn’t add anything to it, but in your real world, I’d recommend chop up anything you might have extra in the fridge, leftover veggies, bits of onion, whatever, and add all that in. Spaghetti sauce is very forgiving that way.
The can said 40 calories per serving, and 5 servings in the can. But I used it all, on four plates, so that puts it at 50 sauce calories per plate.
These veggie balls were delicious! I was happily surprised at how tasty they were and would definitely get them again. That said, they did stay quite soft, even when baked in a hot oven, and they did not keep the ball shape even for a moment once the fork reached them. I broke them up into the sauce on individual plates tonight, but next time, I would just do that right in the pan, which would spread the flavors throughout and also add more texture to the sauce.
I was disappointed that there were not 12 in the box, which I would have assumed as a standard (3 per serving, 4 servings per box), but oh well, there were only 9, so that was that. You may notice one plate has none – that’s because of allergies. There were more left on the pan, not shown in the picture.
Because there were fewer than an even 4, I’ll call that only 100 veggie ball calories (instead of the 120 shown on the package).
A trip to Italy traditional includes gelato, so “ice cream” it is.
It’s not fancy, I agree, but it seemed to fit the meal. This package said 1/2 cup per serving and 6 servings. I’m not sure how they measured that, because I used a measuring cup on purpose to try to be exact, and I only got 4. Which worked out fine, but still, though you should know. 90 cal on the box, plus a little more, I guess, so 100 cal -ish each ?
The biscotti package had enough cookies for each serving to have 4, but I was confused, and only put 3 in the dishes, and then ate up the rest myself, while wondering why there were these “extra” pieces in the package!
Calorie & Cost Summary
I am definitely not an official nutritionist, or dietary advisor of any sort, so I’m just doing some regular basic math based on the labels and per-serving info, the way those labels are intended to use by regular people.
Calories Per Plate
Spaghetti – 200 calories
Sauce – 50 calories
Veggie balls – 100 cal
Steamed mixed veggies – 50 cal ?
Ice cream – 100 cal
Biscotti – 140
Total Calories – about 650 (ish) (it’s for supper, after all, not a snack)
Total Protein – about 14 g (ish)
(sorry I forgot to take a photo of the veggies, but I think I remember they were 50 calories a serving)
Cost Per Plate
.25 spaghetti (1 box / 4 plates)
.25 sauce (1 can / 4 plates)
.25 veggie balls (1 box / 4 plates)
.25 veggies on the side (1 bag / 4 plates)
.25 dessert (1 ice cream / 4 bowls)
.25 cookies (1 box / 4 servings)
Total Cost Per Plate – $1.50 (ish….maybe another few cents in tax?)
A good price for a full meal of real food, including dessert!
Now try a few words and phrases in Italian! Here are some places to try. (not affiliate links, I’m not selling, just fun places I like for languages.)
Duolingo – popular free language-learning site
Pimsleur – try a free 30-minute conversational lesson today to go along with your meal – it’s fun!
(after that, there is a fee, but the free lesson is really free)