If you’re interested in tightening up your budget a bit, you might be able to address this quickly in the “food” column of your budget and save money on groceries.
save money on groceries by:
(1) making a list.
First thing’s first, I know it is daunting and old-fashioned, but friends, you have to plan ahead and make a list.
If you’re shopping for the next week of meals, it is helpful to think of those meals when creating your list.
I sometimes write what I need down as the week progresses on an eraser board on our fridge. Or I start a grocery list in my phone.
If you’re anything like me, you forget what you have at home and buy uneccesary extra items without that list.
(2) Planning Meals Ahead of Time.
I plan to create a weekly printable list of meals that you can all use as ideas for your weekly or biweekly shopping list.
Planning meals ahead of time is a good idea, otherwise, you’re going to the grocery store blind. And as you might have seen before, my favorite quote is:
“A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Dream” – Dave Ramsey.
First, let me define what I mean by a meal plan. A meal plan is DIFFERENT from a diet plan in that I’m not specifying what you have to eat. A meal plan is simply a guide that has various recipes.
I would never advocate for a diet plan because they are rigid and unsustainable. Also, I can’t tell your body what it will want or need for satisfaction and energy on a daily basis.
(3) Using an app like INSTACART to build your grocery list.
It is easy to use and it is helpful for staying within your budget as you can see your total before you head to the store. Also, the prices are often higher on Instacart to be able to pay driver’s and such.
**SIDE HUSTLE TIP** – Want to earn extra money? Become an Instacart grocery shopper or delivery driver!
The service is really handy if you’re willing to pay a delivery fee or monthly membership fee. However, if you’re willing to go into the store, you’re likely to save that extra little bit and build a cushion into your budget.
(4) if you’re not shopping at Aldi grocery store, you’re missing out!
I’m able to spend $300-350 a month for a family of 3 shopping mainly at Aldi.
My family of 3 consists of myself, my 16 month old son, and my husband who is gone for work every other week. Therefore, I don’t have to worry about feeding him for usually 2-2.5 weeks of the month. I believe that saves us about about $50-$100/month.
I’m able to get all the essential meal items at Aldi and ALWAYS for a reduced price.
Typically, I grocery shop every other week.
OCCASIONALLY, I will shop weekly or make a stop if I see a good sale on mushrooms for $.69 for example (usually $1.89).
what is Aldi?
Aldi is an international brand and the first store opened in Germany in 1961. The first store in the US was opened in Iowa in 1976, my home state! There are now 1900 stores across 36 states.
Aldi is a no frills grocery shopping experience. They focus on having the most commonly purchased grocery items so you can get in and out, quickly. This is why they are able to have such great discounts for their customers.
What does “no frills” mean you ask?
- Well, you have to bring your own quarter to “rent” a cart, but you get it back at the end of your shopping session.
- You also have to bring your own bags or use the empty boxes that products come in. They sell bags for you to bag items in and the expectation is that you will reuse them for future grocery shopping outings.
- Customers have to bag (or box) their own groceries after check out (a minor technicality if you ask me).
Most of the products in the store is Aldi’s own brand. They are tested in the Aldi kitchen, taste as good or better than the national brand, and are backed by Aldi’s Double Guarantee.
Folks, I can count on one hand how many things I’ve gotten from Aldi’s that I haven’t liked.
Groceries I Buy At Aldi’s:
My husband doesn’t eat breakfast, he just has a tall glass of cold milk. Until recently my 16 month old usually ate breakfast at daycare, so it was just me for breakfast.
My breakfasts usually consist of:
- a bagel with cream cheese,
- peanut butter toast, smoothies with yogurt and fresh or frozen fruit,
- bananas, berries or other fruit,
- the occasional egg sandwich on the weekend,
- or pop-tarts with milk.
All of these products are tasty and always at a lower price than competing stores. Need I say more?
**DIETITIAN TIP** – Many people don’t know that there is a difference in “wheat bread” and “100% whole wheat bread”. Wheat bread is actually much like white bread and just colored to resemble wheat bread, 100% whole wheat bread contains the whole fiber that customers are looking for. I like to point this out because I feel customers are trying to buy the most nutritious bread and maybe don’t have all the information they need.
Lunch for us means something quick and easy. That is something we can warm up or pop on the pzazz, in the air fryer, or in the oven. We eat quite a few leftover supper items, frozen pizzas, frozen breaded chicken, or Bremer meals that you can warm up in minutes in the pan.
**DIETITIAN TIP** – I can hear your thoughts now…. “Aren’t most of these convenience foods and less nutritious than other foods?” The answer is, yes, they are convenience foods. However, they serve an important purpose for our health. That is reducing stress by being ready in minutes and still providing valuable nutrition and fuel for our bodies to get through the rest of the day.
We are slowly but surely expanding our repertoire of recipes for lunch and supper at our house.
Our current supper recipes include:
- canned goods: vegetables, cream of soups, beans, olives.
- fresh chicken: usually breasts or drumsticks. (we get most other meat from other sources)
- fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits: mushrooms, broccoli, potatoes, avocados, frozen vegetable blends, and any fruit on sale for that particular week
- starches: instant brown or white rice, pasta (they don’t have all kinds but they have a good variety), organic white quinoa
- dairy: cheese, cottage cheese, butter and milk are MUSTS for my family. Aldi has great prices on both spreadable and stick butter.
- ethnic foods:
- seasonings and oils: olive, canola, or vegetable oil – all great products and super competitive prices. I use their taco, ranch, and italian seasoning packets frequently.
All found at Aldi, all quality products, and all for AMAZING, UNBEATABLE prices.
**DIETITIAN TIP** – To reduce sodium intake, rinse your canned vegetables a few times before using in your recipe.
- ICE CREAM & POPSICLES.
- FRUIT & GRAIN BARS.
- POPCORN -movie theater style butter anyone??
- CHIPS, COOKIES, AND CRACKERS. The Benton’s chewy cookies at Aldi’s are the SAME COOKIES as the Chips Ahoy! brand found at other stores and they are almost always $2 less per package.
- MOO TUBES.
- SLURPABLE APPLESAUCE – my son’s personal fave.
YOU NAME IT, ALDI HAS IT MY FRIEND.
Organic versus Non-Organic:
Aldi has many Organic buying options for their customers. Buying Organic isn’t something I have done much of (related to increased cost). Organic foods have no difference in nutritional value than their non-organic counterpart. However, organic farming is more sustainable than traditional farming and gives back to the Earth in great ways.
I’ve been trying to find ways to leave less of footprint on the Earth so if you have some room in your budget, I would recommend trying some of these options.
Aldi does team up with local farms to help you get the freshest produce at low prices which I would definitely recommend! Look for the “locally grown” logo to find fresh fruits and vegetables grown on a farm near you.
(5) Buy groceries in Bulk.
Buying groceries in bulk is almost ALWAYS the more affordable option. When looking at single versus bulk items, pay attention to the price per each or the price per ounce to help you decide which size is the best bang for your buck.
We mainly buy meat in bulk. And actually, we just started this year. We ordered half a hog from our local meat processor for $197, it worked out to be about $2.35/lb!!
Friends, I’m not sure if you buy much pork products, but that is a HUGE savings. Bacon is almost ALWAYS >$3-$4/lb and sausage is always AT LEAST $2.99/lb. Not to mention the premium cuts of meat we received too like hamsteaks and pork chops.
If you’re not someone who enjoys pork, the same can be done with a beef.
(6) Watch local grocery store ads for deals and coupons.
Groceries that I can’t find at Aldi, I usually try to look for in the sale ads at my other local grocery stores.
I’ve noticed that soda at Aldi is usually always the same at other stores (because it isn’t their brand). Therefore, I wait until a 3/$10 sale at my local Hy-Vee or Fareway grocery stores.
I also can’t purchase certain sauces, spices, or frozen items (like toaster strudels – my husband’s favorite) at Aldi and look for these items elsewhere.
Aldi does not do coupons since their items are discounted so much already. Therefore, I usually don’t look for coupons much. But there are sometimes great deals on essentials with coupons.
**BUDGET TIP** – Be leary of ads! I have somtimes thought I was getting a good price on an item with an ad at an alternative grocery store when in reality, it was still cheaper at Aldi!
It doesn’t have to be a daunting task to save money on groceries. Like I just eluded to, I’m not a crazy couponing gal. I would rather save valuable time and money by going to a grocery story where I’m going to get the most competitive prices, always!
(7) GROW YOUR OWN FOOD OR BUY LOCAL
My husband finally let me plant a garden at our house this year. I’ve grown tomatoes in pots before and always have so much fun with it.
I can’t tell you how exciting it has been for me to watch this garden grow! We are so excited to have fresh vegetables throughout the year and also to teach our son about the basics of growing your own food.
You can start small by planting seeds in a pot if you have nothing else.
I recently listened to a podcast that mentioned potatoes and radishes were the easiest vegetables to grow quickly.
If growing isn’t an option where you live, consider finding your nearest local farmer or Farmer’s Market and purchasing from them.
Best of luck!
Share your grocery/food wins in the comments!