The New Aldi Refrigerator Find That Helps Me Get Dinner on the Table in Just 5 Minutes
Between play practices and gymnastics workouts, book deadlines and car repairs, meal time can get a little bit — make that a lot — hectic in my household. That’s why I’m always searching for budget-friendly finds that make meal prep easier and faster (I keep two packs of diced pancetta stashed in my freezer for emergencies).
The other week, I discovered my latest dinner fixer just as I stepped through the automatic doors at my local Aldi. (How’s that for efficiency?) Tucked between some freshly made egg rolls and some ready-to-heat mashed potatoes, I came across these Chicken Pad Thai Meal Kits. Because my son especially loves Thai food, almost as much as I love a dinner shortcut, I grabbed a kit and a few of my favorite staples, and headed for the checkout.
What’s So Great About Pulmuone Chicken Pad Thai Meal Kit?
The refrigerated meal kit contains three individually sealed packets: noodles, sauce (with chicken, mushrooms, onions, carrots, among other ingredients), and crushed peanuts. You only have to add one teaspoon of oil to your wok or pan for heating. The instructions call for a total of four minutes of cooking, and the kit, by itself, took that long to cook in my wok. Because I threw in a quickly made plain omelet for extra protein, there was an added minute to my cooking time.
The pad Thai had just the right tang of tamarind, balanced by ginger and garlic. The rice noodles, when heated with the oil and sauce, came out with a perfectly al-dente texture. There were just enough peanuts to add a nice amount of crunch — I don’t think it needed any more or less.
It was almost as good as making it from scratch, and it was much quicker. (It also saves me a trip to a second store for tamarind paste at another grocery store.) And it was less expensive than our favorite Thai restaurant.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Pulmuone Chicken Pad Thai Meal Kit?
Weighing more than a pound, the label on the $8.99 kit says it makes 2.5 servings, but it’s more like three servings. I portioned out a bowl for myself, another for my son, and I set aside a third for my hubby (who was still at work). It was so good, though, that my son — who usually grabs some fruit or another sweet snack after his dinner — ate up the remaining portion (aka my hubby’s dinner).
I quickly learned my lesson! The next time, I made two packages (one for my son and one for my husband and me). I also added a bit of leftover shredded chicken to bulk up the meal and because my son always wants more protein.
I do recommend grabbing an extra package or two the next time you’re at Aldi — and not just because you have a growing child who eats double portions. I went back just a few days later and the store was out of the pad Thai and beef bulgogi kits (the bulgogi is really good too, BTW). The clerk told me that the kits are pretty popular and sell out relatively quickly. Although they’re labeled in yellow, which should mean that they’re a year-round item, not seasonal or an Aldi find, Aldi corporate informed me that they are actually a spring special.
Lucky for me, the clerk took down my number and, less than a week later, she called me when the store was restocked! I picked up four kits, which should last for at least two meals (unless my son spots them in the refrigerator first!). He’s already told me he wants me to make him one for a school lunch sometime. And come to think of it, because they’re so quick to cook, they would make an easy Thermos lunch during our equally time-crunched mornings.
Find it in stores: Pulmuone Chicken Pad Thai Meal Kit, $8.99 for 19.5 ounces
Have you tried this meal kit? Tell us about it in the comments below.