Let me ask you a question, have you ever dreaded going to the grocery store, knowing you were about to fork over a wing and a thigh (get it? Food humor, lol) to pay for all this stuff? I’m sure you’ve heard everyone say that it’s so much cheaper to cook your meals at home, instead of eating out? Instead you’re thinking, with the amount I spend on groceries, I could almost eat out every meal and it would cost practically the same. Yeah, that used to be us, well…mostly, just not the whole eating out for every meal.
We used to spend $100+ on groceries every single week. I used to get all our groceries at Kroger. My thinking was that since I have the Kroger-Plus card, everything was “on sale” and it was all a good deal. Companies like to make you think since you have a “membership” that you’re getting a great deal, and we were falling for it, hook line and sinker.
Not long after we discovered Mr. Money Mustache, we started looking into our monthly spending, and one of the highest costs was also one of the easiest to curb. You guessed it: our grocery bill. So, we took the plunge and started shopping at Aldi and would get very few items from Kroger or Sprouts. Starting out, we would get meat (mostly chicken) from Kroger, just because they consistently had the best deal for the amount of chicken we were going through. Sprouts would occasionally have their chicken on sale for cheaper than Kroger, but not usually.
At first, I was hesitant about shopping at Aldi because none of the stuff was familiar and they didn’t have “name-brand” food. Well, that mindset quickly changed when I discovered how much I was saving, combined with the fact that they have everything we needed from organic foods to killer prices on produce, and even occasionally those “name-brand” foods that everyone seems to love so much. When we saw that $100+ grocery bill get slashed in half, we were shocked. To this day, I am still so surprised when I can get an abundance of food for two people that will last at least a week, for around $40, if that. And I’m always shocked to see how much further your dollar goes there.
Now, let me change gears and tell you a little bit about our specific diet and what we’ve been eating. (We will make a post in the future about our grocery list, and a breakdown of prices, along with some quick, easy, healthy and cheap recipes) Admittedly, some months vary based on fitness or health goals or if we have a competition coming up. I also want to preface the next part by saying, before we changed our diet at all, we were eating a really good, conventional American diet on around $40 a week, and now, we are typically spending even less than that every week. A few months ago, we decided to try our hand at going vegan (I promise we aren’t going to pressure you into converting, even though it’s much easier than we expected). And while we are still making progress, we aren’t 100% vegan. We still have the occasional eggs, cheese, or ice cream, but it’s not often at all. We’ve cut out the main animal staples we used to get weekly: Greek yogurt, milk, eggs, cheese, chicken, and ground turkey. Now my grocery items include some of the following: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, lettuce (mixed spring greens or romaine lettuce, whichever is a better price), olives, zucchini, squash, rice, tomato paste and tomato sauce (seriously, you can get these for less than $1 from Aldi and make your own pasta or pizza sauce that’s better than store bought. We will share the recipe in the next post), cucumbers, hummus, tofu and soy milk. Some things that we don’t need to buy weekly, but are still a large part of our diet, include: pasta, cashews, almonds, peanuts, peanut butter, rice, quinoa, barley, salad dressing, sauce (soy, teriyaki, BBQ, etc.), oatmeal, chia seeds and flax seeds, lentils, black beans, northern beans, kidney beans, olive oil and flour.
Side note: we still get ground turkey and eggs because we make our own dog food. And little RRjr (our Rat Race Jack Russell, named Cookie) loves it. We will go into that in a later post. We’ll typically eat the left over eggs because preventing food waste is one of our big goals.
What has really helped me is shopping with the season. There are some items I would love to buy consistently, but I don’t unless they’re on sale. For example: mushrooms are usually about $2 and it’s not typically something I plan to buy, but sometimes they’ll be on sale for $0.69 so I will get those and make a solid meal with the mushrooms. Or mini cucumbers, they were on sale this past week for $1, normally I wouldn’t get them because I’m the only who eats them (Mr. RRR is still coming around to cucumbers but pretty much only eats them in tzatziki sauce), but since they were on sale, I got them. You just have to be smart about what you’re buying when it’s on sale and if it makes sense. Sometimes Aldi will have their “special buys” and it doesn’t always make sense to get that item. Even though it looks like a good deal, I ask myself, “what is the likelihood of us using it?” Or inversely, you treat yourself a little and get one of the special buys because you know they’re probably not going to be there next week, it’s a case-by-case basis.
I’d also like to point out that while I wish I could say that I’m in a committed relationship to Aldi, I do go behind its back and shop at other stores. Hey, you never know where and when you’re going to find a good deal! I’m in a polygamous relationship with the grocery stores so I can get the best deals because I’m in a monogamous relationship with my money. We are that jealous girlfriend that wont let our money go hang out at other places without us. I also shop at Ruler foods, which is basically Kroger’s version of Aldi. While they have comparable prices, I don’t purchase all my food there, but little stuff that Aldi doesn’t normally carry like tofu, lentils, whole wheat flour, and barley. These places may have their own brands, but you would be surprised about the quality of the foods. They have a large selection of organic food and good quality eats.
So now that I’ve told you about what we’ve done to cut our grocery bills down and what we’ve been eating, I want to give you a challenge. I want you to skip the big box grocery store (Kroger, Walmart, Publix, Target, etc.) and take yourself to Aldi for an eye-opening experience. Just try it for a month. Surely you aren’t such a weak person that you can’t handle doing something nominally different, like buying your groceries somewhere else, for 4 weeks. I guarantee you, if you are smart about what you get (don’t go crazy buying everything because that’s how good the prices are), then you’ll be shocked at how much food you can get out of there with, and still have plenty of money in your pocket compared to your typical grocery runs.