That Time I Spent $172 at Aldi

>> Wednesday, January 24, 2018

I used to boast that I could fill up a whole cart at Aldi and still come in well under $100. Well, I decided not to shop with a list a couple weeks ago. (That's grocery budget 101 stuff, Ashley!) And when I got to the front of the store and started tossing everything onto the belt, I realized I'd made a major mistake. It was one of those weeks when Aldi had, like, so many cool things that were those limited time buys. So, I got sucked in and stocked up.

And then: $172! Ahhhhhh! I was hoping for more like $100.

Here's what I bought:

I haven't gone over what our weekly food budget is in a while. It's been anywhere between $75 and $125 a week in recent years. As we examine our debt and budget options, we're still trying to figure out a number that would work well for us monthly. It needs to accommodate not eating out, school lunch stuff, and special things for our tiny toddler (because she NEEDS to eat, so sometimes I NEED to get her special stuff).

We've experimented with shopping once a month and had good success . . . so I realize that spending a ton at one time isn't always a reason to freak out. But this time was a mistake. A wakeup to get meal planning again. I do actually meal plan each week, but it's been very rough lately.

Anyway, this story had a happy ending. I was able to get groceries for like $65 this week, making the total $240 for the two weeks -- or -- $120/week. I think this sounds like a realistic grocery budget for us. I may bump it to $125 -- or -- $541 a month. Of course, the pay-off-our-loans girl in me says maybe we can shave it down to $500 a month.

But I need it to be realistic and leave some room for wiggle. We try our best to eat a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc. And without eating out, we like to cook a couple "fun" meals each week so we don't feel too deprived.

What I've found in my years of writing about our food budget is that grocery costs vary WILDLY across the country (and world). So, these figures may sound either astronomical to you or like "how can you even feed your family" on that amount. I get that. So, no judgement. I'm just sharing our struggles and triumphs with this stuff.

Whatever the case, I'm glad we're back into the rhythm of buying most everything at Aldi. There are still a few items we cannot get there. Tofu comes to mind. But resisting Wegmans has already lowered our food costs by quite a bit.

Do you have a grocery budget or just buy whatever? How do you figure out how much to spend? Do you end up revisiting the budget often -- like we seem to do?

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