So, I figure it’s high time I let you in on something that’s changed for us this past year. Some of you have probably already guessed this was the case. Some of you might be shocked and disappointed.
But regardless, I need to come clean about it. Because I don’t want you to assume something is the case when it isn’t.
So here’s the truth: I’ve basically not clipped or used any coupons on groceries this past year.
Nope. Nada. Zilch.
I had slowly been easing out of “extreme couponing” the past few years as life picked up its pace, we baby-stepped our way to fewer processed foods, and I fell madly in love with Aldi.
Then we moved to TN and lost our wonderful full-time assistant/babysitter. I had every intention of getting back into couponing, but with all of the transition and processing involved in moving + writing another book, Jesse ended up taking over most of the grocery shopping and cooking for us.
I would have never seen my husband as someone who would rock out as a chef (when we got married, I’m not even sure that he knew how to make toast!), but the guy has taken to the kitchen like white on rice.
In fact, he now runs circles around me when it comes to recipes. He loves experimenting with new ingredients and spices and he finds great delight in cooking things that require many pans and steps… which is the complete opposite of me!
As a result, we more than doubled our grocery budget and we eat much healthier. However, we’ve still found many ways to keep our grocery budget relatively low without using coupons and while eating a diet comprised of lots of quality, whole foods.
I’ve been surprised and excited that we’re able to eat very healthfully for our family of 5 and only spend an average of $100 to $120 per week.
Here’s what’s working for us:
1. Shop at Aldi
I know I’ve sung the praises of Aldi over and over again, but I cannot help but include them on this list. When Jesse first started doing the shopping, I encouraged him to try doing most of the shopping at Aldi and then just shopping at Kroger for anything he couldn’t get at Aldi.
It took a few weeks of suggesting it, but he finally tried it. And he came home all stoked exclaiming, “I saved SO much money by shopping at Aldi!”
He’s now a diehard Aldi fan. Which is just one more reason to love him all the more. 🙂
Aldi has introduced so many new features and products in the last few years, including gluten-free foods, organic foods, and more. If you have an Aldi nearby, I cannot stress enough how much you need to go check them out. Just do it and maybe soon you’ll be singing their praises along with us!
2. Keep It Simple
While Jesse continues to add in new recipes to our weekly rotation, we still keep a lot of things very simple.
Breakfast is usually oatmeal, bacon & eggs, or cereal. Lunch is often sandwiches or leftovers. Dinner is usually just a main dish and veggies of some sort. Sometimes, we’ll throw in a side of fruit or sweet potatoes, too, but we’re good with just having a few options at dinner time. It saves time and money — and makes for less food waste.
3. Eat Up Your Leftovers
Speaking of food waste, one thing we work hard to do is to use up leftovers or to re-use leftovers in a creative fashion. We’ll often have leftovers for lunch and, if there are quite a few different leftovers, we’ll serve a Leftover Smorgasbord for dinner one night.
Our philosophy: why make new food when you have food still in the fridge waiting to be used up? Save yourself cooking time and money and eat that instead. 🙂
4. Make Things From Scratch
We don’t buy many boxed or canned foods these days. We slowed weaned ourselves off of them over the past few years and now we not only love homemade so much more, it also saves us money.
Plus, since we keep our means simple and Jesse and I both help out with the kitchen/cooking, it really doesn’t take a lot of extra time to make things from scratch.
5. Cook With Inexpensive Ingredients
As I mentioned earlier, we keep food pretty simple. We do buy higher quality ingredients, but we stick to recipes that use (mostly!) inexpensive ingredients — and mostly ones that can be purchased from Aldi.
We eat a lot of eggs, sweet potatoes, oats, fruits and veggies that are in season, beans, chicken, and some beef and pork. Those are the basic staples that many of our meals include. Jesse does branch out and try new recipes, but he usually only buys a few new ingredients every week. The rest of the ingredients are things we may already have on hand or things that we routinely buy at Aldi.
6. Pay for Specialty Foods With Swagbucks
We do buy a few specialty ingredients — such as protein powder, Trim-Healthy-Mama approved sweeteners, and olive oil — and we get these with Amazon using gift cards earned through Swagbucks. It’s a great way to be able to afford a few of those high-quality ingredients we love to use in recipes.