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Food Lion Frugal Cookoff {Giveaway!}

On August 29 I was invited to participate in the Food Lion Frugal Cookoff at the Southern Women’s Show. The Southern Women’s Show is an annual event here in Charlotte showcasing everything from beauty to fashion to food and much, much more! Over 25,000 women attend this three-day event held at the Charlotte Convention Center. Food Lion was one of the presenting event sponsors and had a huge stage set up in the convention space.

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I have to admit that I was a little nervous when I arrived to find this huge stage set up on the morning of the competition but luckily the Food Lion team did an excellent job prepping us for the event. I knew who my team members were and we’d had a short brainstorming conference call earlier in the week.

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I was super pumped when they gave me an apron with my name and blog embroidered. I definitely had my game face on after putting on my apron! ๐Ÿ™‚

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The way the challenge worked was that we blind selected one of four proteins: chicken breasts, tilapia fillets, ground turkey or boneless pork chops. Once you selected your protein you had 15 minutes to plan your dish and shop the pantry. The goal was to prepare a meal for four (protein and 2 sides) for under $15. My team had a few ideas going into the event but were super limited when it came to shopping the pantry. The selection was limited so we had to get super creative!

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We ended up with the tilapia and decided to go with healthy fish tacos. We had 30 minutes to prepare our dish. While we were cooking the Food Lion Chef came over to offer advice and the event host peppered us with questions. I kinda felt like I was on Iron Chef. (Ha…not quite!)

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We divided and conquered. I made a rub for the fish, cooked the fish and assembled the tacos while my teammates made two different side dishes.

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We were down to the wire when it came to plating our dish but we pulled it all together and had our plates ready to go to the judges as the buzzer sounded.

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We ended up with blackened tilapia fish tacos in romaine lettuce leaves topped with salsa, sour cream and cheese with black bean and corn salad and a spin on patatas bravas on the side. Our dish total ended up at $13.37 (minus the tilapia…they didn’t include our protein in our totals).

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The opposing team did a fried pork chop sandwich with corn and slaw.

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I wasn’t nervous while we were cooking but I sure was during the judging. The food editor for the Charlotte Observer was one of the judges!

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Check out our arms in the air when they announced the winning team. We pulled it off! I totally credit our colorful plate for giving us the winning edge.

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I LOVED MY TEAM! You have to check out K. Elizabeth and Amy’s blogs! We worked so well together and both K. Elizabeth and Amy were absolutely lovely. We got to do a TV appearance on a local morning show a few days after the competition to showcase our winning dish.

I am going to share our recipes with you but first, let’s do a giveaway! Food Lion gave me a $250 gift card to give away to a Peanut Butter Runner reader!

If you have Food Lion in your area and would like to enter to win, leave a comment telling me your best idea of what to do with tilapia fillets!

Limit one entry per person, US only, ends Sunday at midnight.

Now, here are those recipes!

Healthy Fish Tacos

FOR THE SPICE MIX
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

FOR THE TACOS
4 Food Lion frozen tilapia fillets, defrosted
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 head romaine lettuce
Food Lion Sour cream
Food Lion Salsa
1 bag Food Lion Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Combine all seasoning ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Pat fish dry and sprinkle with a generous coat of spice mixture, rubbing it in to distribute evenly on each side.

Pre-heat a large non-stick skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat and add tilapia. Saute fish for 3-4 minute per side, or until firm and flaky. Remove from heat and gently flake fish.

To assemble tacos, place tilapia inside a large washed romaine lettuce leaf and top with salsa, sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.

Mexican Spiced Potatoes

3 large russet potatoes, diced
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil, enough to coat the pan
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
2-3 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
salt

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and sautรฉ for 5 minutes covered.

Remove lid and season potatoes generously with salt. Add paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes and continue sautรฉing until potatoes are tender and slightly crisp., about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent potatoes from burning.

During the last minute of cooking, add garlic and sautรฉ. Season with salt, as needed. Remove from heat and stir in fresh parsley.

Black Bean and Corn Salad

1 can Food Lion black beans, drained
1 can Food Lion yellow corn, drained
1 bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup green onion, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Juice of one lemon
Dash of cumin
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.

I was provided with a $250 gift card for myself and for a reader in exchange for participating in this competition. All thoughts and experiences are my own.

{ 78 comments… add one }
  • 1
    Courtney September 9, 2015, 10:28 pm

    Oh my $250 would be amazingggg! I have actually only cooked tilapia once and it was fish tacos! I like to serve mine with a spicy sauce made with plain Greek yogurt, chipotle peppers, and cilantro.

  • 2
    Madeline September 9, 2015, 10:35 pm

    I’d bake the tilapia in parchment with lemon, fresh thyme, garlic and paprika, and serve the fish with a tomato couscous and wilted spinach!!

  • 3
    Marissa September 9, 2015, 10:38 pm

    I would bake it in the oven and eat it with roasted veggies

  • 4
    Sarah September 9, 2015, 10:45 pm

    I think a teriyaki bowl made with tilapia, veggies, and brown rice would be amazing!

  • 5
    Brenna Doherty September 9, 2015, 11:03 pm

    I would make a Tilapia Po’ Boy Sandwich ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 6
    Kiki September 9, 2015, 11:06 pm

    Talapia piccata!

  • 7
    Sarah September 9, 2015, 11:13 pm

    I’d bake the tilapia in a foil packet with lemon and rosemary! Then I’d serve it with a fresh salad and brown rice.

  • 8
    Matt September 9, 2015, 11:22 pm

    Fish tacos!

  • 9
    Rachel September 9, 2015, 11:31 pm

    I’ve wanted to try cilantro lime tilapia! Over quinoa or brown rice.

  • 10
    Erin September 9, 2015, 11:49 pm

    I would love to doa simple lemon butter sauce with tilapia but those tacos sound amazing too!

  • 11
    Christy September 9, 2015, 11:57 pm

    Tilapia BLTA sandwich !

  • 12
    Carly September 10, 2015, 12:29 am

    Such a fun post! I love food lion and would love to have an extra 250 dollars for my groceries there(: I like to use Tilapia to make a honey mustard glazed fish for my salads.

  • 13
    Farrah September 10, 2015, 12:52 am

    Congrats! I season the tilapia with pink Himalayan salt, fresh ground pepper, a little fish sauce and pan fry fish in olive oil on medium high heat for 3-4 minutes per side, adding fresh lime juice when done. I serve this with garlicky stewed tomatoes with onions okra over quinoa or Trader Joe’s organic brown rice. Delish!!

  • 14
    sabrina September 10, 2015, 12:57 am

    Love tilapia, we actually have a tilapia fish farm in Hawaii, people love our product. Always hear how yummy it is deep fried as a whole fish. We’ve cooked it up and enjoyed it! The tail and head are the best ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 15
    starla September 10, 2015, 1:10 am

    All of that looks so good. Funny, because the first thing that comes to my mind with tilapia is definitely tacos! Yum! I also really loved fresh, fried tilapia with homemade tartar sauce and fries!

  • 16
    Virginia September 10, 2015, 5:18 am

    Blackened on top of a burrito bowl!

  • 17
    kate September 10, 2015, 5:33 am

    My fiancรฉ does a great honey-BBQ baked tilapia – so good!

  • 18
    Jordan Randall September 10, 2015, 6:23 am

    I would do Parmesan encrusted tilapia! So good! With a side of baked sweet potato fries and squash and zuccini.

  • 19
    Caroline September 10, 2015, 7:16 am

    Wow! I would love to try a mexican night with some of those recipes!

  • 20
    Emily S September 10, 2015, 7:27 am

    I would stick with baking it…I tried to make fish tacos last week and they were borderline disastrous…

  • 21
    Melissa a September 10, 2015, 7:36 am

    so this is a completely uneducated guess as I am a vegetarian who has never had tilapia before. But I think a salsa verede marinated tilapia and then pan fried would be great over a quinoa burrito bowl. In the bowl I would include heartier veggies like crispy Brussel sprouts, and butternut squash. Served with more salsa and sour cream!

  • 22
    Jenn F September 10, 2015, 8:05 am

    Blackened tilapia with a mango salsa!

  • 23
    John Mark Patrick September 10, 2015, 8:16 am

    Honestly, I’d put the tilapia back and get something wild-caught and a little healthier. But I sure could find plenty of salmon and tuna with that gift card!

  • 24
    Caroline September 10, 2015, 8:27 am

    Bake it in parchment or tinfoil with lemon, garlic, capers, thyme, and rosemary. Serve along with a tomato, mozzarella, and basil salad for a healthy Mediterranean-inspired dinner!

  • 25
    Claire September 10, 2015, 8:32 am

    I like your fish taco idea! Sounds delicious!

  • 26
    Karen September 10, 2015, 8:41 am

    Grilled tilapia over a bed of lettuce with a lime, cilantro vinegarette dressing.

  • 27
    Lauren September 10, 2015, 8:42 am

    Yum! I think I would have baked it in parchment paper with dill and lemons!

  • 28
    Martha September 10, 2015, 8:43 am

    I’d cook it in miso and serve with stir fried veggies over udon noodles or brown rice

  • 29
    April K. September 10, 2015, 8:50 am

    My husband likes Tilapia, but I rarely cook it. I love your fish taco idea so that’s going on the menu for next week! BTW, thanks for the awesome recipes (and workouts)! Every one I’ve tried has been great. This week I made the Chicken Meatloaf and the PB Banana Muffins and both were a hit! Thanks again. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 30
    April September 10, 2015, 8:57 am

    My husband likes Tilapia, but I rarely cook it. I love your fish taco idea, so that’s going on the menu for next week! Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 31
    Abbie September 10, 2015, 9:28 am

    I have been incorporating tilapia regularly in my weekly menu. My favorite recipe is a parmesan and breadcrumb encrusted tilapia with quinoa and veggies. Delicious!

  • 32
    Julie @ Running in a Skirt September 10, 2015, 9:36 am

    Wow! This would have been so stressful for me! You guys nailed it. What a yummy recipe!

  • 33
    Shanna September 10, 2015, 10:24 am

    I broil my tilapia with parmesan and greek yogurt on top. It is yummy!!

  • 34
    Sara @ Oats & Rows September 10, 2015, 10:53 am

    What a cool experience!! When I cook tilapia, I usually bake it with either sliced lemons and pepper or drizzle it with sriracha and squeeze some fresh lime juice on it.

  • 35
    Lauren September 10, 2015, 11:17 am

    fish tacos!

  • 36
    Britt September 10, 2015, 11:33 am

    When I think fish, I always think tacos first! But I also like to bake it with a crunchy Panko crust

  • 37
    Kristen September 10, 2015, 11:42 am

    I would blacken the tilapia fillets and cook in a fish basket on the Big Green Egg…the spicier the better!

  • 38
    Lauren R September 10, 2015, 11:52 am

    We love tilapia and a $250 gift card would be amazing!! I would love to try your winning recipe for healthy fish tacos… it looks delicious!

  • 39
    Christin September 10, 2015, 12:11 pm

    Congrats on the win!!! Those fish tacos look delicious. That is definitely the first thing I would choose to make with tilapia, but if I had to pick something else, I would coat them in bread crumbs and Italian seasoning and bake them over a bed of zoodles and marinara sauce. With shredded parm on top because: CHEESE. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • 40
    Laura September 10, 2015, 12:40 pm

    I pan fry it with brown sugar and orange!

  • 41
    Alice September 10, 2015, 1:08 pm

    Nice work! That must have been fun.

    I would do a quick marinade of ginger, soy, a bit of jalapeno, brown sugar & garlic, then cook it in a grill pan (or on the grill, of course). I’d serve it with mango/pineapple/red pepper/red onion salsa and since I’m on a corn kick, I’d add a corn muffin and maybe a side of asparagus.

  • 42
    Jacquelyn September 10, 2015, 1:08 pm

    I would make a tilapia pizza. I would use Flatout bread, have a mango salsa as the base and add avocado with roasted bell peppers. Delicious!!!

  • 43
    Gina M September 10, 2015, 1:11 pm

    My best idea is to cook them stove top with lime juice, garlic, and butter.

    Thanks for the chance to win!
    wildorchid985 AT gmail DOT com

  • 44
    Jeanean September 10, 2015, 1:20 pm

    I can walk to the Food Lion from my house so $250 would be awesome! I only made Tilapia 1 time and it was blackened and I pan fried it in a little olive oil.

  • 45
    Brittany @ brittanyholtz.com September 10, 2015, 1:31 pm

    You look amazing and SO in your element!!! Cooking is SO not my thing!

  • 46
    Shelly September 10, 2015, 1:50 pm

    Congrats! I don’t know what I would do with tilapia filets, as I’m a vegetarian that doesn’t eat seafood, but I could certainly do an awesome rub for some fried tofu and go that route!

  • 47
    Lindsey September 10, 2015, 3:08 pm

    fish tacos or spiced and seared!

  • 48
    Valerie September 10, 2015, 3:21 pm

    Mmmm everything. I’d like to make fish cakes!

  • 49
    eva September 10, 2015, 3:27 pm

    I love baked tilapia with rosemary, lemon and capers with some paprika. Serve it with a green salad. Super healthy and delicious!

  • 50
    amy September 10, 2015, 3:34 pm

    Fish tacos is the only thing I’ve ever done with tilapia, but I loved reading the other comments for ideas!

  • 51
    Sara September 10, 2015, 3:58 pm

    I love a good white fish in lemon-butter sauce. Can’t wait to make those fish tacos though! Great giveaway!

  • 52
    Michelle September 10, 2015, 4:51 pm

    Not an entry – no Food Lion & I’m a Canadian ๐Ÿ™‚
    Just wanted to say congrats and I love the pictures – you ladies look both fun & intense and your recipes look great, so trying them!! I just made corn tortillas and I’m onto the next step so that is how I would cook tilapia!

  • 53
    paige c September 10, 2015, 5:37 pm

    I think fish tacos would’ve been the first thing to pop in my mind too! The lettuce wrap was a good quick thought too though! I love food challenges; this sounds like it was so much fun!

  • 54
    Molly September 10, 2015, 5:48 pm

    Lemon + garlic + butter + tilapia. The first three ingredients can make ANYTHING better! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 55
    Lyall September 10, 2015, 7:24 pm

    Those tacos sound great! I’d broil the tilapia with some breadcrumbs and a little lemon juice.

  • 56
    Brandi H September 10, 2015, 8:08 pm

    We love tilapia baked in the oven and then topped with a mixture of butter, lemon, and garlic!

  • 57
    Rachel September 10, 2015, 8:19 pm

    My favorite way to eat tilapia lately is with a chopped almond and dijon crust! It’s so delicious, you just spread the dijon on the fish, dip it in a little egg and then dip it into chopped almonds and pan fry on each side until brown and crispy!

  • 58
    lindsey September 10, 2015, 9:11 pm

    I think the last time we cooked with tilapia I topped it with avocado and dashes of paprika. Mmmmm.

  • 59
    Jennifer September 10, 2015, 9:38 pm

    I love to bake tilapia in a foil pack with garlic, onions, and peppers.

  • 60
    Kate O September 10, 2015, 10:44 pm

    Congrats on the win! Talapia is tough because I tend to find it a little boring. To spice it up I often do a taco like marinade or a lemon/garlic/Parmesan option with rice and roasted veggies. I’m new to the south (and to Food Lion) and would love to have the help of $250!

  • 61
    Kelly M. September 11, 2015, 8:02 am

    Just like you did-I love fish tacos.

  • 62
    Jacquelyn September 11, 2015, 10:11 am

    I would make Tilapia Pizza. I would take Flatout bread and lay a mango salsa as the base and then add Tilapia, avocado, and roasted peppers. Delicious!

  • 63
    Alyssa September 11, 2015, 10:25 am

    I would love to grill it and serve it a top a corn salad!

  • 64
    tara September 11, 2015, 12:38 pm

    im not a huge fish fan but i do like fish baked in the oven with a mixture that sounds sorta odd but is really good of a tiny bit of mayo, softened butter, and parm. baked up and sprinkled with some GF breadcrumbs is really good. i dont have a food lion super close to me but if i did win i’d love to donate it to a local charity.

  • 65
    Katie September 11, 2015, 12:47 pm

    I like to bake mine crusted with (1) parmasean and italian bread crumbs, or (2) almond meal and shredded coconut. Quick and easy to throw in the oven when I get home!

  • 66
    Katie September 11, 2015, 1:38 pm

    I would make a fish chowder!

  • 67
    Tara | Treble in the Kitchen September 11, 2015, 1:40 pm

    I love this!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Congratulations ๐Ÿ™‚ I am so happy you won!

  • 68
    Cassie Tran September 11, 2015, 7:40 pm

    I’m not sure if I have any in my area, but I would make tilapia lettuce wraps!

  • 69
    Juliana September 11, 2015, 8:10 pm

    I usually cook my tilapia with a blend of African spices that include garlic, ginger, and pepper. Tilapia is such a versatile fish.

  • 70
    Catherine Jackson September 12, 2015, 8:59 am

    I love baking tilapia and topping it with salsa, capers, and olives. It sounds like a weird combination, but it is delicious! I usually serve it with rice/quinoa and roasted veggies!

  • 71
    Vangie K. September 12, 2015, 10:03 am

    I love making tilapia with rosemary roasted potatoes and green beans! Thanks for the giveaway and congratulations on winning the competition! It looked super fun:)

  • 72
    Ashley September 12, 2015, 2:31 pm

    I would turn that tilapia into a fish taco

  • 73
    HS September 12, 2015, 5:39 pm

    I like Ginger and Cilantro Baked Tilapia .

  • 74
    Caitlin W September 12, 2015, 7:36 pm

    I would cook the tilapia in a skillet with lots of olive oil andgarlic, then shred the fish and add onions, tomatoes, lime juice, and salt and pepper! This makes a great filling for tacos or you can serve over rice!

  • 75
    Sonya Morris September 12, 2015, 10:25 pm

    I really stink at making Tilapia! I like Tilapia blackened the best but only if someone esle has made it!

  • 76
    Terra Jackson September 14, 2015, 9:15 am

    I love Tilapia, my favorite way is blacken. What is great about tilapia it will take on so many different favors, every one will like it no matter what spices you use to bake it or fry it or grill it.

  • 77
    Candace M September 14, 2015, 8:51 pm

    Tilapia with roasted potatoes and butternut squash.

  • 78
    Betsy Joyner September 15, 2015, 6:49 pm

    Can’t wait to try the recipe !

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