By: Dagmar Farr, Senior Vice President, Member Services, Food Marketing Institute
Affordable Health Meals Supermarket Chef Showdown Finalists

Supermarket Chefs know that for their time-strapped, budget-conscious customers, getting a family meal on the table that won’t cause wallets or waistlines to bulge can be a tall order. Supermarket Chefs also know that shoppers often equate “affordable” with unhealthy and uninteresting. These misconceptions have been creatively disproved by this year’s Supermarket Chef Showdown Finalists in the Affordable Family Meals category: Jason Miller of Balducci’s, Greg Roach of Wild Oats and Alois Maierhofer of Giant Eagle. Here’s how Supermarket Chefs are creating interesting dishes on a budget with an eye on nutrition.  

How Supermarket Chefs create interesting dishes on a budget:

Turkey Meatloaf Provencal with Sweet Potato Hash and Arugula SaladAll three finalists created their recipes by putting a unique twist on a familiar family favorite. Chef Miller created Turkey Meatloaf “Provencal” with Sweet Potato Hash and Arugula Salad as a cleaner, more modern version of his mother’s meatloaf. Where his mother once slathered the meatloaf in ketchup, Chef Miller refines the recipe with a classic Provencal sauce. Chef Maierhofer also updated a family favorite to create his recipe for a Twisted Wunderbar Bologna Sandwich with Pickled Root Vegetables and Steak Fries. “Hillshire Bologna brought me back to my childhood in Austria and my mother’s amazing cooking. What makes it current is an Asian infusion,” says Maierhofer. For Chef Roach, his recipe for Bronzed Chicken with Quinoa and Beer Brat Jambalaya is all about introducing people to new ingredients. He explains, “I love comfort food, don’t get me wrong. I’m just interested in getting people to discover new kinds of comfort food.”

How Supermarket Chefs balance nutrition and affordability:

Does a family meal that’s nutritious, affordable and convenient still sound too good toTwisted Wunderbar Bologna Sandwich with Pickled Root Vegetables and Steak Fries be true? Not to these Showdown competitors! Supermarket Chefs know how to navigate grocery aisles to create convenient, affordable family meals that are also nutritionally balanced. Chef Miller opts for lean ground meats to create his healthy, crowd-pleasing meatloaf, and encourages budget-minded consumers to do the same. When it comes to incorporating vegetables, Chef Roach trusts that no matter the time of year, he can direct his customers to the frozen aisle to find fresh, affordable, healthy options. Commenting further on affordable ways to keep family meals interesting and nutritious, Roach says, “Spices make it easy [for shoppers] to take one ingredient and make 100 different dishes.”

Skillet-Chicken-Quinoa-JambalayaTo create their original recipes, each of the chefs looked to 2015 Supermarket Chef Showdown sponsors for inspiration. Chef Miller’s modern meatloaf dinner calls for McCormick spices, Aidell’s Andouille Sausage, Swanson Chicken Stock and Bolthouse Farms Balsamic Dressing. Chef Roach’s jambalaya calls for McCormick Gourmet Collection Cajun Seasoning, Tyson Boneless Chicken Thighs, American Craft Beer Brats, Pictsweet Chopped Green Peppers and Campbell’s Tomato Soup. Last, but not least, Chef Maierhofer’s kicked-up bologna sandwich calls for McCormick’s Golden Dipt, Zatarain’s Creole Mustard, Thai Kitchen Pad Thai Sauce, Crisco Canola Oil and Wunderbar Bologna.

Chef Miller, Chef Roach and Chef Maierhofer will highlight their affordable family meal recipes on June 10th in Chicago, Illinois as they battle it out in a live cook-off event on the FMI Connect expo floor. To learn more about FMI’s Supermarket Chef Showdown, please visit us at and join FMI’s growing culinary community of supermarket chefs.

The FMI Supermarket Chef Showdown is made possible by sponsors, including McCormick & Company, Campbell Soup Company, The Hershey Company, Hillshire Brands Company, The J.M. Smucker Company, Mondelez International, and The Pictsweet Company. Kitchenware products for this year’s cook off are being donated by Good Cook. Ingredients for this year’s cook off are being donated by Roundy’s Supermarkets, Inc.