After accomplishing a great 64 dollar grocery budget experience at Target, I thought a trip to Aldi with our weekly grocery budget would be easy. Well, I was wrong. This was the 4th time that I tried doing this challenge at Aldi, and it took a while to figure out why it didn’t work and how to work this for our special diet and budget. Here are a few things I realized I had to do when using our $64 grocery budget at Aldi.
Dedicate Half The Budget To Perishables
Our Aldi is inconveniently located in front of a Walmart, across the street from a ShopRite and down the street from a Target that sells groceries. Since they can’t really provide loss leaders, the other stores tend to have better deals on meats, fruits and vegetables. If I was to only shop at Aldi, I had to allow myself to use half of our grocery budget towards those items. Would I always end up using that much? Of course not. But, I needed to have that cushion. This time around, I stayed with chicken leg quarters since they were cheaper than drumsticks, thighs, and boneless, skinless breasts. I also grabbed a package of ground turkey. I stuck with simple vegetables and fruits I could stretch into different meals: celery, carrots, 10 pounds of potatoes, onions, peppers, garlic and bagged salad.
Figure Out What YOUR Staples Are
The best part about Aldi is that you can depend on them to provide you a great price on staple items to help you stretch your grocery budget. Whether I shop there exclusively one week, or just stop in to replenish our staple items, I know I’ll get a good price offered to me. At our Aldi, I always grab a tub of rolled oats, cartons of eggs, soy milk, and 100% whole wheat bread. I have yet to see other stores offer these items at a lower price than Aldi, so I stock up on them. Your staple items might be different than mine, but figure out what they are as soon as you can. Then, you’ll know that if you are dealing with a very tight budget one week, you can at least count on Aldi to have your staples at a price you can afford.
Watch Out For The “Sales”
This is when I give Aldi a bit of a side eye. When I see something is on “special” I can’t help but think of how that is counter-intuitive to what Aldi is all about. They are the store that doesn’t handle frills, deals, and all things in between. Look at the example above. The orange juice that in the special plastic bottle is 1.86 quarts but costs more than the orange juice in the carton with 2 quarts. The difference? The plastic bottle was displayed as a special, is NOT from concentrate, and was displayed where shoppers 5’5″ and up would see it. If a juice being from concentrate doesn’t bother you, then why pay the extra money? Be very careful with the items that you pick. Look at the weight, amounts and even the ingredients. Make sure you are getting the best item for your family, even if there are multiple kinds to choose from in the store.
Pay Attention To Ethnic Items
I’ve talked to quite a few frugal bloggers that shop at Aldi, and they all say that their stores have amazing selection when it comes to ethnic food items. Now, the ethnicity can change depending on where you are from, but my Aldi has a great selection of Tex-Mex and hispanic items at amazing prices. I always pick up a 2 pound bag, or two, of dried pinto beans. They have never gone over 1.89 at my store, and I just love paying well under a dollar for a pound of dried beans. The same goes for canned tomatoes, tortillas and masa haring (corn flour). I’ve learned to incorporate these items into all kinds of meals, not just hispanic ones, because of their insane prices.
Venture Into The Organic
What I’m currently loving about Aldi is that they are offering more organic and gluten free items! My goal over the past year was to introduce more organic items into our home, without having to increase our grocery budget. It’s been an interesting battle, but I’ve paid more attention to the organic items offered at Aldi. If I can get organic produce without increasing my budget too much, I do it. Organic agave syrup has become a staple for our home, as well as organic soy milk. The soy milk is my favorite find, since it is actually cheaper than regular name brand soy milk, on sale, at the other stores.
You Will Pay More For Processed Foods
This is a given, especially when talking about Aldi, but anything processed, frozen, or already prepared will cost you more. Lots of my friends love to purchase some of the frozen items at Aldi, and I’ve even found a few of my favorites. But, anything that is a box mix, frozen dinner, condiments, or even a dip that’s already made will bring your bill up. If you must use frozen items, always allot them in your budget at a reasonable price. If you see that price has gone up, try to either make that processed item yourself, or cut down on other parts of the grocery list in order to pay for them. As you’ll see in my next post, I got a processed item that I really could have left on the shelf.
What was my total for this shopping trip? $66.26. 2 dollars and 26 cents over budget. Want to see what meals I created with all of these items, and the real reason why I went 2 dollars over budget? Click here: 64 Dollar Grocery Budget – Aldi Breakdown.