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Celebrity Chef Pat Neely to judge the $15 Meal #FamilyDollarMore4Less Contest

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Can't figure out what to cook for the family?!.... How about creating a delicious meal for $15 bucks?! This month, Family Dollar partnered with Celebrity Chef, Restaurateur and the Food Network's “Down Home with the Neely’s” star Pat Neely for the Family Dollar More For Less Recipe Challenge giving fans a chance to win groceries for an entire year! Family Dollar selected ten popular online bloggers giving them the delightfully daunting task of creating an appealing recipe with only a $15 dollar budget to grocery shop at their local Family Dollar store and prepare a tasteful meal. As part of the challenge, popular foodie expert Pat Neely will judge the bloggers recipe creations giving one lucky blogger the experience of a lifetime...to meet and cook with the fun loving chef in his famous kitchen!

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I had the opportunity to catch up with the culinary genius Pat Neely to ask a few questions regarding his participation in this exciting Family Dollar Contest and tips on how to always create a great meal.

Q: When did you realize you could "throw down" in the kitchen? Did cooking start out as just a hobby and then you realized you could be successful at it?!

A: Cooking has always been a passion for me! I fell in love with cooking when I was 13 and my mom had surgery. During her recovery, I prepared several meals for her and the rest of the family. I have never worked a job other than in the food industry. I started working with my uncle in his restaurant as a teenager. I opened my first restaurant when I was 23 years old. Once I had children and started preparing meals for them, my passion for cooking grew even stronger.

Q: On the show, you create meals for the family all the time. As part of the #FamilyDollarMore4Less Challenge, what dish would you like to see created?! If you had to take the challenge, what would you create?!!

A: As a part of the #FamilyDollarMore4Less Challenge deciding which dish I would like to see created is a difficult question. The selection of food products at Family Dollar is enormous, so this is an incredibly difficult question! From the spices, pastas, soups, sauces, and other products, you can get pretty darn creative. Plus, add snacks and desserts...your options are unlimited. It'll be exciting to see what the challengers come up with. If I were participating in the challenge, I would probably create a unique casserole and a tasty dessert.

Q: We love how much fun you have in the kitchen, but how do you balance a successful business and family responsibilities?!

A: You know it’s really not that hard to balance business and my family responsibilities. I learned a long time ago that they both need attention. My business has always been like a hobby for me because I love what I do. I also have always been aware of how short life is so I took time out for my family. My daughters are out of the house now, but, looking back, I truly have no regrets about how my daughters were raised. My wife and I always spent time with them, took them on vacations every year, helped them with their homework and attended their school and social events. It’s a juggling act, but I'm proud of the way we handled it.

Q: When Pat Neely is not cooking at home, where are some your favorite places to eat out?!

A: I really don’t have a particular favorite restaurant. I love to try new and different places to eat. I get to travel all over the country eating at exciting restaurants. It would be unfair to choose one.

Q: Family Dollar asked you to take part of the #FamilyDollarMore4Less Challenge. Why was it important for you to get involved?!

A: First of all, I was over the moon when Family Dollar asked me to help promote their brand!!! I've shopped at Family Dollar for years. They stock food products that I cook with everyday. Secondly, the convenience is huge for me. They have a location not far from my house which is a huge plus with my hectic schedule. The stores are clean, the staff is friendly and knowledgeable and the prices are great. The savings fit into everyone's budget. People need to know that Family Dollar stands for the same standards as I do - Quality Food, Value, and Convenience.

Q: When you think of grocery shopping, most people don't know that Family Dollar carries groceries ...do you shop there and what are some of your favorite foodie items carried at Family Dollar?!

A: The grocery selection at Family Dollar is really top shelf. The food brands are the best you'll find anywhere - the same as the major supermarkets. I'm thrilled that Family Dollar is making food a big deal. Most people would be shocked to know that Family Dollar carries most of the food products that are already in their pantries. I’m particularly excited about the Family Dollar branded food line, Family Gourmet. This brand carries everything from spices, snacks, to pasta.

Q: 5 must-have tips (for the folks that aren't so savvy in the kitchen)...on how to create great meals?! A tip on the best way to shop for groceries when on a budget?

A: Here are a few tips:

1. Plan your meals before your shop

2. Select food items that can be cooked in different ways

3. Carry a calculator

4. Learn how to create a different meal using leftovers

5. Pay attention to specials and coupons

Q: You've partnered with Family Dollar to give away groceries for a year and to judge the $15 dollar meals created by the Family Dollar Bloggers, tell us what you are looking for in a great meal?! What makes a great meal?!

A: The main thing I will be looking for is creativity, flavor, and presentation. A meal is made truly great by the chef's passion for cooking. If you cook with a smile and are having fun that energy will shine through in your dish.

Want to WIN Groceries for a Year from Family Dollar?! Simply select and vote your favorite dish by visiting FamilyDollar.com which will automatically enter you in the Family Dollar More 4 Less Sweepstakes giving you a chance to WIN Groceries from Family Dollar for an entire year!

or Just visit this link below and VOTE to Enter the Contest:

mysav.in/food

Don’t forget to Follow Family Dollar on Twitter @myfamilydollar and use the hashtag #FamilyDollarMore4Less to submit your favorite Family Dollar recipe creations!

Also, Check out the slideshow to get a sneak peek at all the bloggers recipes and choose for your favorite #FamilyDollarMore4Less meal!

*Disclaimer: Bloggers received some of the products reviewed on this blog from Family Dollar for free. All opinions reflected are honest, findings, beliefs and experiences are factual and true.

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