How we feed our family of 3 for $300 a month!
Aldi & Trader Joe's Haul
We live in small town USA where the grocery choices are slim. We have a Publix and an Ingles, and when we first moved here I quickly learned the importance of shopping the sales at Publix. If I planned my whole week's worth of meals around what was buy one, get one (BOGO), then I could manage to keep to our budget of around $100 a week.
Shopping the sales quickly became boring and felt restrictive, and if I did stray and plan a meal that wasn't all BOGO, the cost was ridiculous. I tried Ibotta, an app that makes you money when you purchase specific items, but I still wasn't convinced that I was getting the best bang for my grocery buck.
We finally bit the bullet and decided to be more intentional about our grocery shopping by planning one or two big monthly grocery trips to Athens, Georgia. Athens is about 40 minutes from our house and has amazing choices for grocery shopping. We quickly fell in love with Trader Joe's and started purchasing more and more there versus a traditional grocery store. For years I have been in a crazy love affair with Aldi, and we picked right back up in our obsessive relationship when I learned that Athens had one.
Why Do I Love Aldi?
I know some of you are Maybe A tiny bit afraid to try Aldi. So hear me out!
I first started shopping at Aldi when Jarrod and I were newlyweds. Neither of us had a full time job, I was in college, and we had a very minimal grocery budget. After realizing how little we could afford at Kroger and even Walmart, I decided to finally give Aldi a try. I had a preconcieved perception that Aldi carried the bottom of the barrel, or unwanted, produce and other food goods. I was so wrong! Not only did I find that Aldi had fresh, and affordable produce, but also almost anything else I might need from a traditional grocery store at a fraction of the cost. As the years went by, Aldi started carrying more organic products and has not only continually expanded their natural and organic brand, Simply Nature, but has removed all GMOs and 125 other questionable ingredients from all Simply Nature products. Everything I have ever bought from the Simply Nature line has been delicious which leads me to re-purchase, but it is also cheaper than a conventional, or non-organic, product of the same quality at a traditional grocery store #winning!
Click HERE to see the Simply Nature line and learn more about Aldi's promise to quality.
The Huffington Post has a great article on 7 Reasons You Shouldn't Shop at Aldi. You should check it out!
But seriously, if you haven't been to Aldi, you need to give it a try! I promise you won't regret it. Heads up: bring a quarter to rent your buggy (you get it back at cart return), bring your own bags, or purchase .10 bags at the register, and be prepared to bag your own groceries- all ways Aldi keeps their overhead costs down so that they can pass the savings on to the customers!
At the bottom of this post you can see a spreadsheet with each item I purchased from Aldi for the month of November and the price list. You will be amazed at how far your grocery dollars can go!
One Trip for the Whole Month
Starting at Aldi
More than half of our monthly groceries come from Aldi. I like to start our trips at Aldi because I know that the prices are always going to be cheaper than Trader Joe's, and whatever produce or products Aldi doesn't have at that time I can pick up at TJ's.
I want to give you an idea of how affordable Aldi really is. In this buggy I have paper products, tons of produce including 5 bags of sweet potatoes, coffee pods, 7 different packs of meat including organic, 100% Grass Fed ground beef, 8 boxes of Simply Nature applesauce pouches, organic milk, organic almond milk, organic flour, 25 organic/Simply Nature products, seltzer water, bottled water, frozen convenience foods, and so much more! Again, to see the full list of what we bought at Aldi and the prices, check out the spreadsheet linked at the bottom of this post!
Next Stop: Trader Joe's!
When we first started dabbling in the waters of Trader Joe's we mainly bought the fun seasonal items and the specialty treats. Walking down the isles of TJ's (with a sampling of coffee and one of their yummy snacks)is a beautiful experience, and we enjoyed picking up one or two things just for the fun of it. We started venturing out and trying new things once we realized how amazing the prices and quality were. Never have we been disappointed with a product at TJ's!
Meat, produce, spices, cheese, frozen goods, coffee, you name it- we've tried it. And it's all so good!
Click HERE to see a picture heavy post about some of the best TJ's items at Kim's Cravings.
Check out the spreadsheet down below to see the full list of what we purchased from Trader Joe's for November!
How we make it work
In total, we spent $284 during our big grocery haul to Aldi and Trader Joe's. That food should last us the entire month of November. In full disclosure: we had a package of frozen chicken, frozen ground beef, guacamole, carrots, some canned goods, oatmeal, coffee pods, a few eggs, & 2 bags of frozen sweet potatoes left over from last month's grocery run. I will most likely have to run to Publix to get almond milk coffee creamer, more eggs, and La Croix before the month is over.
We eat out one, maybe two times a week, and share a meal with friends and family once or twice a week. Most mornings we eat oatmeal, lunch is snack-like with hummus, boiled eggs etc., or leftovers, and we use black beans as a heavy filler for most dinners to add protein and bulk. Usually a package of chicken or ground turkey can be split into 2 meals for our family of 3, and we don't let leftovers go to waste. We don't really love fruit. Wish we did, but we just don't. I force myself to eat a little bit each day, and Boston eats 2-3 apple and multi-fruit pouches a day, so we don't spend a lot on fresh fruit.
Everything we eat, we love. We stick with recipes we love, and we make them over and over with variations. Sweet potatoes keep us going. We literally eat them all. the. time. So I know to always buy lots of them. Same goes with tortillas and verde salsa. We buy all the same things when we go to the grocery. We have it down to an art, and learning what works for our family has greatly helped with planning meals for a whole month at a time.
Click below to see our November aldi & trader joe's spreadsheet
What works for your family?
Are you happy with your food budget?
Do you love what you cook?
Have a favorite Aldi or Trader Joe's item?
In what ways do you save on groceries?
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