So you are trying to be healthy, but at the same time you are balancing a budget and need to make every dollar stretch, especially in the grocery department. Coupons are great, but sometimes I feel like a lot of coupons are for the overly processed and junk food—rarely do a see a coupon for plain oatmeal or spinach.
Enter Aldi. Aldi has a ton of great, healthy staples for really, really good prices. I always save when I shop there! Aldi has also recently upped their game in the healthy food department know offering more products with lower calories and fat counts (in their Fit & Active line) and rolling out a new line of organic products (Simply Nature line). Go Aldi!
The Aldi Process
First, if you’ve never been to an Aldi before the process is a little different than your typical grocery store. Here’s some tips to get you through until you’re an Aldi pro!
- You need a quarter for a cart. The carts are all hooked together and you need to insert a quarter to get a cart. At the end of your trip, you place your cart back in the rack and get your quarter back. I have a specific “Aldi quarter” in a special spot in my car and there is hell to pay if anyone touches it!
- The path is laid out for you. Aldi’s arrangement may make you feel like you’re being herded, but it also makes shopping go quicker. Just follow the path and only moo if absolutely necessary.
- You need to bring your own bags. Now, if you are already on the reusable bag train—great! If not, Aldi will force you on it! lol! Aldi charges 5 cents for paper bags and 10 cents for plastic. I always have a ton of both old Aldi bags and reusable ones in my car, but if you forget it’s only a few cents or you can use empty boxes in the store.
- Load your groceries quickly, because the cashiers are FAST. I swear they time them and give them bonuses based on how quickly they can scan $50 worth of groceries.
Healthy Food I Buy at Aldi
- Off brand “Kashi” cereal
- Almond milk
- Frozen fruit and vegetables—their frozen berries are a steal!
- Spices and other pantry staples
- Olive oil
- Lean ground turkey (non-organic)
- Lean ground beef (non-organic)
- Cheddar and mozzarella cheese
- Dark chocolate (You don’t want to fight me about dark chocolate being a healthy food)
- Greek yogurt (organic available)
- 100% whole wheat bread
- Not from concentrate Orange Juice
- Canned tomatoes and tomato sauce which I use to make my own spaghetti and pizza sauce.
- Nitrate-free lunch meat
- Whole wheat pasta
Other Healthy Options I Don’t Buy
- Organic milk and cheese
- Granola, granola bars
- Veggie chips
- Fresh Produce; I get all my fresh produce at Meijer because I like the quality better. They do have a lot of options and more organic produce coming out as well, but that’s just my preference.
Other Basics I Get at Aldi
Of course not everything I get I would consider “healthy”…and there are some other household products I get there as well.
- Tortilla shells (white)
- Mac and cheese
- Condensed soup
- Cheese slices (Yes, processed american cheese product—I know, it’s shameful)
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Plastic wrap, tin foil, and sandwich bags (but NOT freezer bags)
- Chips (mostly tortilla and the kind I get are MSG-free so maybe these belong in the “healthy” category…)
So basically I try to get the bulk of my groceries at Aldis and then I fill in the gaps at Meijer with the stuff I am more picky about—produce; organic, free-range meat when the budget allows; loss leaders and other killer sales; the breakfast shakes Nate likes; laundry and cleaning products; toiletries; kind bars, etc. (I also use Meijer’s Mperks coupons to save there when I can.) I find that the lower amount of selection at Aldis helps me stick better to my shopping list—I don’t have as much grocery store ADHD!
The Grocery Budget
I generally spend $35-$40 on groceries a week at Aldis. I don’t buy everything on my above lists when I go obviously, but that’s what it averages out to for me. In the spirit of transparency Nate and I budget $75 a week for groceries and household supplies. (The “thrifty” family of 2 spends $87 a week for just food according to national averages.) I always try to “beat our budget” and normally spend closer to $50-$60 and pocket the difference for other household items that wear out (like replacing our soup bowls) or for extra eating out money or for mama to get some new lipstick. (P.S. This is pre-baby numbers, we are currently spending a little more.)
Also, I make a meal plan and use that to build a grocery list. Then at the store I use my list and phone calculator to track how much I’m spending as I go—I can’t just put things in the cart without adding it all up—that’s how I end up with a $120 cart of groceries! Then at the end I know when I get up to the counter approximately where I’m at with the budget.
I hope this helps you get some perspective that healthy eating doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg! It is truly doable and shopping for healthy food at Aldi is one way I make it work for our family.
Do you like to shop at Aldi? What’s your favorite healthy purchase there?