Earlier this spring, over on my Facebook page, we chatted a ton about grocery bills.
How much we all spend, what we all buy, how we all save, etc.
It was so enlightening to see what families all over America really spend to feed their families and it gave me something to think about.
As you know, I have been working super hard to provide better meals for our family –I am cooking at home more in an effort to eat healthier and also because I really just want to save money.
Not eating quickie meals out has been a major savings for us.
I’m not proud of it, but, keeping it real, I used to hit drive thrus with The Dudes (and sometimes even their friends) all the time. They would be starving after practice and, knowing what time making another meal at home would push bedtime to I would just roll through Burger King, toss food into my backseat, and be ready to start the shower line when we got home.
I felt it was my only option, but that was because I wasn’t doing a great job of preparing.
Or parenting for that matter.
I didn’t feed them hearty, home cooked meals before practice because I didn’t prep it early enough in the day and, because I wasn’t cooking, there wasn’t anything left to offer them in the evening.
Already feeling guilty for relying so heavily on fast food options, I sat down and did a bank account audit on myself. I realized that I was spending an average of $115 per month on convenience food items for myself and the kids!
That’s insane you guys.
I could buy so many things with $115 a month. Or, I could save $115 a month. And then, at the end of the year I could take my $115 that had turned itself into $1380 and go on a nice little getaway with the fam.
Or donate it to a cause I feel passionate about.
Point is, I needed to stop it already with the going to fast food joints.
So, I started the cook at home project I’ve been sharing with you each week and I have cut back my convenience food spending considerably. Now, in fairness, summer hasn’t been the best example because I like to take the Dudes for ice cream from time to time and we eat out a bit when we travel.
But, even with that in mind, in July, I only spent $45, and that includes the two times I got smoothies after going to the gym!
That being said, it’s not my only money saving opportunity.
I need to get smarter about my shopping too, starting with where/how I shop.
After hearing everyone’s input on my fan page I decided to start with a trip to Aldi supermarket!
I’ve kept and open mind about it because so many people I trust (like you guys) have praised it so heavily.
I spent an hour in there trying to fall in love. Unfortunately, I have to be honest and say, didn’t happen.
I’m not trashing the idea entirely, I’m just saying that I love me some artisan bread and deli meats and that’s not what that Aldi life is about.
Top of my head, I feel like there are some things I can get from Aldi and some things I still have to go to Wegmans and Costco for. Personally, not worth it –if I have to waste my gas driving to three stores to get what I need for my family each week, I maybe need to rethink my plan a bit.
But, maybe it can work for you!
If you’re thinking about trying it, here are some things I think you should know before you go.
5 Things To Know About Shopping at Aldi Supermarket
1. You have to take your own bags and rent a cart. Not a big deal, as long as you know in advance to have a quarter and some reusable shopping bags in hand when you arrive. If you’re me and you had no idea about the cart and totally forgot the bags, you can sweet talk an old lady in the parking lot for hers and buy bags inside.
2. If you have a brand preference you will probably be disappointed. That’s not to say everything at Aldi is the same brand or generic. For example, they had the BBQ sauce we always buy and the cereal I love too. They did not have our peanut butter brand. They did not have our salad dressing brand. They did not have the sausage we like. Some things I am cool with, I don’t play games with my peanutbutter though.
3. If you have allergies or special food needs, you will probably be disappointed. There were very, very few organic or allergy friendly foods in my Aldi when I went.
4. The produce is hit or miss. As in it looked like someone hit it multiple times and then tried to throw it into the container but missed. I hear this is not the case at all of them, but you guys, the eggplants were oozing. I almost bought one to prove it to you, and then I remembered I was there to save money, not spend it on overripe food I’d have to eat in my car on the way home if I wanted to not waste it.
5. You can save money. Seriously, I bought a butt load of groceries and I spent about 3/4 of what I normally spend at the store.
6. Make sure you check to see if your Aldi takes credit cards/bank cards. Until recently, ours did not.
7. All Aldi supermarket locations are not created equal. My business partner, Liza, a foodie blogger, swears by hers. She says the produce is great, it has a ton of options, and it legit saves her cash. You can read about how she has learned to save money by shopping at Aldi on her blog, (a)Musing Foodie.