My husband played football in high school and college. When we met he was in his senior year of college and practicing football twice a day. He says that in high school he used to order two foot long subs from Subway and still be hungry. One of the first things my mom said when we found out our third child was a boy was, “You are going to need a bigger grocery budget.”
All four of our kids have big personalities and even bigger appetites. We are a family of eaters. My girls (10 and 7) are both active and come home from gymnastics and swim practices as if they are famished. My boys (ages 5 and 3) sometimes eat larger portion sizes than me…and that is saying a lot.
Between having four kids and my oversharing about our debt free journey, I am often asked how much we budget for groceries. When they ask how I could possibly feed 6 bottomless pits on only $130 a week, I tell them all the same thing.
It is only possible because of Aldi. Nope, Aldi is not paying me a single dime for this. I have been sharing about how much I love their stores over the past six years and have turned many friends on to them. I’m just that much of a fanatic that I took the time to write out a shopping list, weekly menu and share my receipt.
Aldi seemed too intimidating to me until my dad starting shopping there and raved about it. I was surprised, as he is a foodie (and maybe even a food snob), so I knew it had to be good food if even he was impressed. The first week of January 2012, when we started our Total Money Makeover, I finally mustered up the courage to go in with my two little girls, a quarter and my cash envelope. At this time, our grocery budget was only $70 a week. It was more than doable with a meal plan and built in “Macaroni Mondays”, which the girls still fondly remember.
Like my other favorite grocery store, Trader Joe’s (Aldi’s sister company), most of their products are their own private label. Just a couple comparisons here — the least expensive tortilla chips at Wal Mart are $2 a bag. My favorite Aldi tortilla chips are 89 cents a bag.
I could go on all day comparing, but I will just show you my receipt from yesterday instead.
This receipt includes all* of the ingredients for 6 people, 3 meals a day for 7 days and snacks!
*with the exception of peanut butter because I am brand loyal to Skippy and green peppers only because I forgot to physically put them into my cart. At $1.99 for the 3-pack, I would still be under my budget. I also didn’t include things like salt and pepper or baking powder because I only buy those every couple of months.
I acknowledge that we could tighten this budget up even more if we were eating 25 cent boxed Mac and cheese (that’s right — Aldi’s macaroni and cheese is 25 cents per box!) every night. We do “kid food” regularly because it fills those little bellies up, stretches the dollar and is a guarantee to be a hit with everyone. However, at least half of our meals are homemade and I really do try to add nutrition and keep processed/prepackaged food to a minimum. (It’s a constant balancing act). For example, even on Macaroni Mondays, I would mix in steamed broccoli to stretch the meal and balance it out nutritionally.
It is a value to me that my kids try a large variety of food and I enjoy cooking and creating meals from scratch. I grew up in a family that ate dinner together every night and my dad is an amazing cook. We virtually never had pizza, hot dogs or macaroni and cheese in our house. The first time I had hamburger helper or ramen noodles was not until I went to college.
Here is the list of snacks currently written in a note on my fridge- for the sole purpose of pointing at when someone whines, “there’s nothing to eat”….
- cheese and crackers
- apple slices and peanut butter
- banana slices and peanut butter
- celery, carrots, cucumbers or bell peppers with guacamole
- chips and salsa
- ice cream
- leftover baked oatmeal (if there is any!)
- fruit and yogurt parfaits
- cottage cheese
- dried cranberries
Things I will order from Instacart (via Publix) next week –
Red bell peppers (they have them in Aldi, but they come in a multi pack and I don’t love the orange or yellow peppers), Hidden Valley Ranch, Skippy Natural Creamy Peanut Butter, canned pumpkin for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal (which Aldi carries between September-January and is only somewhere around 79 cents a can), Hormel Black Label Bacon and toilet paper/paper towels from Costco — I’m actually letting my Costco membership expire because Instacart just started delivering from Costco without having to have a membership!
I recently read that Instacart is partnering with Aldi. Aldi delivery isn’t available in my area yet, but it will absolutely change my life when it is. I may never step foot in the grocery store again!