I taught both for two years in order to save for emergencies while I am staying home. During the saving process, we were able to pay off my vehicle (we have a Toyota Rav 4 and invested in the skinny cars seats, Radian, in order to fit three kids across in the back), the rest of our credit card debt, Kacey’s student loan, and bulked up our savings. Here is one simple money saving tip when grocery shopping. We normally grocery shop at Target, which has great deals if you use coupons, the Cartwheel app, and the Target Red card, but I have been stopping at Aldi first, then getting the rest of my groceries at Target (which is usually wheat bread products and baby items). More and more Aldi stores are opening around town, and the chain is open in 32 states. Here are my favorite staple items that I buy at Aldi with prices:
· Produce: strawberries ($1.99), blueberries ($1.99-$2.69), salad kits ($1.99)-add in some crock pot chicken and eat half a bag for lunch one day and finish it the next for a cheap and healthy lunch, cantaloupe ($1.99), baby carrots ($.59), and a large bag of variety apples ($2.99)- hands down, Aldi has the cheapest produce and it is delicious. They have special buys each week which are cheaper than regular price.
· Large container of vanilla yogurt ($1.69)- -add some sprinkles (idea given by my former daycare provider, DevonJ) and you have a snack that lasts over a week. Their Greek yogurt is also very cheap and yummy.
· Animal crackers ($.99-$1.49) these are my absolute favorite from Aldi
· Wheat French toast sticks ($2.19), 20 count. I like to use the plastic cups you get from the frosting of the cinnamon roll containers as a dip cup for syrup
· A bag of frozen Tilapia fillets ($3.49), 6 count. Add some olive oil, parmesan cheese, and paprika, bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, add a side of veggies and brown rice, and you have a meal under $7 for 4-5 people. I use to spend around $9 for the same thing at Target.
· Steam in a bag veggies ($.89)
· Buns ($.89), 8 count, but I hate that they don’t usually have wheat buns
· Bread ( around $1.00)
· Large box of 32 count fruit snacks ($2.00-3.49)
· Milk (varies, but is usually cheaper than Cub or Target at $2.39-$2.69)
· Eggs ($1.59)
· Mozzarella or Sharp shredded cheese (4 cups for $3.99)
· Dog treats-large box ($1.99-$2.49)
· Plastic bags of any size (varies from $1.59-$2.59, but cheaper than Target or Cub)
· Batteries (varies, but cheaper than Target or Cub)
· Chocolate chip mini muffins ($1.99, Target’s muffins are $2.99)-very delicious!
· Mini bags of chips or pretzels (around $4.99). If I ever have company over, or host a party, I usually throw these mini bags of chips in a bowl and it is an instant side dish that also cuts down on germs. I then serve some sort of crock pot sandwich meat like chicken caeser sandwiches, sloppy joes, or roast beef.
· Organic apple sauce pouches; various flavors ($1.99-$2.99)
· 12 pack of Aldi toilet paper
Some other items that I have purchased, but don’t feel allegiance too yet are Aldi K cups, coffee creamer, snack packs like the simply organic teddy crackers or chocolate covered pretzels, waffles, and macaroni and cheese (my kids didn’t particularly care for this dish, but I liked it). I like their holiday toy section and their bouquets of flowers as well. I’ll buy their Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick ’s Day pancake mix too. I’ve always thought that their baking corner selection is priced right. If I am making smoothies, I will buy all of the produce and yogurt at Aldi, and then make several batches and freeze them after I blend them (without ice) then thaw them the day before I am going to use them, put them in the blender, and add the ice. This idea was again from my awesome daycare provider, Devon, who also shared many of her recipes with me after we left her daycare.
I don’t particularly like their bottled water (Kacey and I joke that they probably recycle the bottles and go to the back and fill it up with hose water), but I will buy it from time to time. I absolutely do not like their ground beef (it is very chewy). The pork chops are okay and are very cheap, but I am not a pork chop person. I have never tried their frozen chicken breasts or take and bake pizzas.
I can spend about $50-$60 a week there and have enough food for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and about 3-4 dinners. I do have to stop at Target or Cub for my baby items like diapers and formula. Target diapers are the most cost effective diaper to buy, even compared to Costo and Sam’s club. If you have lots of coupons and some good Cartwheel coupons, you can save big at Target, especially when they have deals where you spend $100 on baby stuff and you get a $25 gift card, or the mailer coupons where you get $5-$10 of groceries when you spend $30-$50. Where I go, depends on the deals, but I do know that I usually never go wrong shopping for my usuals at Aldi.
You can go on the Aldi website to find special buys, deals for that week, and make your shopping list online. Aldi fun fact: Aldi is the American incarnation of a German grocery chain and it’s brother store is Trader Joe’s! Remember to bring your own bags to reuse and have a quarter ready to “check out” your cart.