>> Wednesday, March 19, 2014
I didn't do quite as well as I had imagined for our total monthly grocery budget. I had been trying to stick to a $60 average. By the end of the month, I needed to stock up on some more costly staples, like maple syrup and Earth Balance.
Here's a brief rundown of the month's costs:
Still, I'm proud of my progress from when we were keeping track. And I'm certainly happy with our Aldi shopping experience. Some of you have been asking for specific recipes I've made with all Aldi foods, so I'll be working on that. Others are wondering what the best bets and things to avoid are.
* I don't have my receipt (what we bought is in the cart below) because we've been cleaning our house so much, I think I tossed it. Actually, the grand total was $80, but that included a box of 96 diapers for Ada at $25. Yes, we use disposables now . . . and it's a long story that will hopefully end in potty training soon!
- Greek Yogurt
- Organic Apples
- Block Cheese
- Fit & Active Flax Wraps
- Most Simply Nature products
- Dark Chocolate
- Mozzarella Balls
- Frozen Berries
- Steel Cut Oats
- Rolled Oats
- Peppers (all varieties)
- Organic Salsa
- Dried Beans (we found Pinto last week!)
- Fair Trade Coffee
- Almond Milk
- Anything that's locally grown
- Canned Goods
- Organic Spinach
- Organic Honey
- Baby Food (can't beat the price -- all natural)
- Frozen veggies (we got this stir-fry mix that was really tasty!)
SKIP (From Experience)
- Shredded Cheese (ours burns easily, so we get block instead)
- Flour (our stores only stock white)
- Sugar (again, it's all just refined white)
- Peanut Butter (it works, but it's not the best)
- Nuts (I'd still rather buy in bulk)
- Cucumbers (haven't looked so good)
- Brussels Sprouts (again, just didn't look vibrant)
- Asparagus (never looks very good + is small)
- Garlic (tiny and dries out fast)
- Organic Milk (seems to be priced the same as what we buy at Wegmans)
- Bread (it's OK, but the $ get the "good" Aldi kind, I'd rather buy our usual slices)
- Most processed foods (but we avoid those anyway, so we haven't tried many)
- Fresh Tomatoes (went bad fast in my experience)
- Hot Sauce (sort of meh compared to Sriracha)
- Chocolate Chips (are passable, but I'd rather splurge and just bake less)
- Diapers (aren't priced much better than at any other big box store)
However, we've now been to THREE different stores in our area and they are all so different with their offerings. And things change by the week and seasonally, so I think rotating between several, if you can, can get you the best variety.
For example: One has these awesome organic apple juice boxes Ada loves. The other two don't. One has steel cut oats, the other two don't. One has vegetable broth. The other two don't. And their stock is always changing -- what's in those discount bins is stuff that is usually not going to show up again for a while, if ever.
In a way, though, this bare-bones approach is helping us the most of all. Usually the items that vary by store are more of the "wants" versus the "necessities" on our list. So, we can do without them or find some new "want" if we really, well, want it that much.
Which brings me to one of the best points of all:
Yes. I've been supplementing with Wegmans. But Aldi is beating my all-time favorite store in some notable areas. First: I can shop in Aldi and get my week's worth of groceries in 10 minutes flat if I hit it when the lines aren't long. That's SUPER SPEEDY! At Wegmans, I linger along the aisles and find things I didn't even know I wanted. So, that's point number 2: I stick to my original list at Aldi because the frills just aren't there . . . and even when they are, they are cheaper.
If I had a vice at Aldi, it'd be the Moser Roth 85% dark chocolate. I get 2 bars a week that total $4. Not a horrible indulgence. At Wegmans, on the other hand, I went in to get Earth Balance, maple syrup, and some tofu and came out with peanut butter that tastes like cookie dough, fancy Lacey Swiss Cheese, a round of brie, and a $5 loaf of bakery bread, among a few other things.
Anyway, we averaged $73 (rounded up) for each week this month. I'd like to try another month of shopping at Aldi, but I think with our family -- a most realistic number might be $70-$75/week, especially since we're making an effort to eat most meals at home, even those we used to go out for on the weekends (lunches mostly).
However, and this is best of all, I am confident if we had to stick to a $60 budget that we could. I have an "emergency budget" where food is only $60 and entertainment is cut entirely. Basically, the $70-$75 definitely includes extras like chocolate, occasional juice, extra avocados, baking supplies, etc. -- but $60 (or less!) would cover all the essentials to feed our active family.
// WHAT NEXT?
Next time, I'll be back with recipes using Aldi foods specifically -- along with a few more tips and tricks I've learned about shopping at discount stores. There's another one in my area that I've been meaning to check out, so I'll report back next week!
Have you shopped at Aldi yet? What's your BEST food pick and your WORST one?
# This post is not sponsored. I have no affiliation or relationship with Aldi. All my thoughts are my own as a person who has regularly been striving for a lower grocery bill.
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