Aldi-Only Challenge: Week 1: $27.83

In an effort to keep my grocery bills down and simplify things, I am challenging myself to doing all of my grocery shopping exclusively at Aldi for three months. I am allowing myself up to $100/week for our family of four: Mom, Dad, Kindergartner, and 1 year old. This includes any diapers, household supplies, and anything else that ends up in my cart.

One major trick I use for keeping our bill down is meal planning. Here are my steps:

1. List out the nights of the week, then look at your calendar for the week. I allow myself one take-out dinner and one dinner out per week and I try to plug those in on nights that are packed with activities or when I know I will be too tired to put much effort into cooking. I also make sure I plan for special events, treats at school, etc. so they don't sneak up on me.

2. Take a look in your fridge, freezer, and pantry and see what needs used up - for me this week it was tomatoes, yellow squash, and red cabbage- so Yellow Squash Casserole, Caprese Salads, and cabbage with apples (German thing) are on my menu. Here's  the dinner menu I ended up with this week:

    Saturday: Friend's Birthday Party (dinner provided)
    Sunday: Grandma's Birthday Lunch (bring Yellow Squash Casserole) Sausages with Red Cabbage and Apples
    Monday: Farmer's Market Quesadillas (yellow squash) 
    Tuesday: Mac and Cheese and Peas 
    Wednesday: Frozen Pizza w/ Caprese Salads (working late)
    Thursday: Fish Tacos 
    Friday: Take Out (packing for road trip)

3. Take a look at the Aldi ad to see what is on sale. If certain veggies or meats are on sale, then I will probably plan a menu item around them. As I fill in my menu I write down any items I am missing for recipes.

4. Next I think through weekend breakfasts and packed lunches for the week. I am less structured with these but I like to pin my list to the fridge so that my husband is aware what is available. (He's not a very thorough looker when it comes to finding things in the fridge and freezer.) I had overripe bananas and stale bread to use up as well = banana pancakes and french toast

     Weekend Breakfasts: Banana Pancakes and French Toast
     Weekday Breakfast Options: muffins, waffles, or pancakes (homemade in freezer) cereal, bagels, and oatmeal
     Weekend Lunches: Leftover Hodgepodge
     Kid Weekday Lunch Options: Ham and Cheese slices with crackers (DIY lunchable), Cheesy Roll-Ups, PBJ, or Turkey and Cheese Wrap, Fruit, Cookies, and Water (freezer)
     
So here is what I needed to purchase to make that happen plus a few extras:

-Paper Towels $.69
-Bananas $1.40
-Colby Jack Cheese Block $1.99
-Premium Coffee $4.99
-Whole Wheat Crackers $1.25
-Rising Crust Pizza $3.29
-Bagels $1.69
-2 Nuby Sippie Cups $3.78
-Organic Applesauce Cups $1.49
-Eggs $1.69
-Avocado $.33
-Gala Apples $2.99
-Tax $2.25
Total: $27.83

I was way under budget this week, but I have a pretty large stockpile to work from and I was trying to keep it down because next week's trip will be larger with food for a road trip included. What was your total this week?

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