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6 Ways We’re Keeping Our Grocery Budget Low — Without Using Coupons

6 Ways We're Keeping Our Grocery Budget Low Without Using Coupons

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!

6 Ways We're Keeping Our Grocery Budget Low

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. 🙂

6 Ways We're Saving Money on Groceries Without Using Coupons

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.

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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.

6 Ways We Keep Our Grocery Budget Low

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 Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill

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.

6 Ways We're Keeping Our Grocery Budget Low Without Using Coupons

 

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137 Comments

  • Great tips! One thing that helps me a lot is freezing the leftovers, so I can use them some other day. Additionally, I now give my 4-year-old son small portions of food. Once he finishes and wants some more, I will give him extra. But before I used to put big portions and what happened is he never finished, so unfortunately the food waste was too big.

  • lynn m. says:

    When it’s farmer’s market season here I go once or twice a month. I can get freshly picked organic produce for 24 bucks for almost 25 pounds of veggies. It lasts longer too bc it was picked that morning instead of up to a week before like in grocery stores.

    • Jessica says:

      Wow, I wish the markets here in Columbus, OH were that cheap! Our farmer’s markets are more expensive than Whole (Paycheck) Foods!!!

  • mary says:

    We don’t have an Aldi’s here at all, the farmers markets are opening up but I don’t drive and taking them by bus in counterintuitive for me..Instead I shop at this place called Chucks now and then and get my fresh stuff everyother day, I have always cooked fresh and from scratch I do use coupons for t.p. and for cat food and kitty litter I buy in huge buckets and keep in the house easily in smaller containers, just one cat uses the litter now..Strawberries are coming into the area I get them picked and freeze and can most of them, we eat squash from a neighbor who grows tons of veggies, I take care of the house for the two weeks they are at the shore and believe you me the veggies and fruits are enough for just the hubs and me I freeze and can most of the stuff..wow whee..your blog helps a lot of us out with good suggestions!

  • Amity Decker says:

    Crystal,

    I have done a lot of the same things that you have done! I began to notice that a lot of the coupons I would clip were for canned or processed foods and I prefer fresh fruits and veggies and meals cooked from scratch as well! I am a full time working mom of five children so I do purchase cookies- but that is about all on the processed items.

    Where I live we have Wegmans- which is an amazing grocery store that people are actually encouraged to visit when they are visiting from out of town! They sell “family size” items which includes frozen fruits and veggies, fresh fruits and veggies and bottled water. They are as cheap or cheaper than Sam’s or BJ’s prices so there is no need for a membership!
    I also shop at the Public Market when I can. The public market here has been voted one of the best in the nation so again we are very blessed.

    I am so glad you mentioned that you do not clip coupons because I rarely do anymore either unless it is for toiletries, paper products, condiments, etc.

    • Amy says:

      So funny you mentioned Wegmans. I was in PA for work and a coworker said I needed to check it out. Agree it was an awesome store!!

    • Kristine says:

      I agree with you on this. ALOT of coupons are for processed foods. I have done a lot of research over the past year, calculated price per serving, and determined that buying fresh ingredients, or the least processed, and cooking from scratch is the cheapest and healthiest way to go. Our grocery bill for 3 people is $125 a week. But that includes toiletries, personal care, etc. But of course I am frugal on those too! You CAN eat healthy on a budget. It only takes planning and effort to cook.

  • Jaime says:

    I’m with you on Aldi! I’m not sure I could buy as much produce as I do without their low prices. We always do a leftover night once a week because there’s just 3 of us and I always make too much food. =) Just doing that saves us so much money!

  • SashaK says:

    Would love to see some of your meal plans!

    • Shauna says:

      I second that. I would love to see what Jesse is cooking up in the kitchen.

      • I had planned to start doing a Feeding Our Family for $125 Per Week weekly column a few weeks ago showing the groceries we bought and the meals we’re making, but then some really unexpected things came up in our schedule that sucked up a bunch of extra blogging time, so I’ve not had a chance to start it yet… but look for it — hopefully soon!

  • We shop at Aldi all the time. We are pedestrians (in Scotland) and thankfully Aldi is just down the road from us so we can get cheap food easily. I could not afford to feed our family of 7 without it!

  • Rebekah Marks says:

    Aldi costs us about 2/3 what our grocery bill is at Kroger or Meijer. I get everything I can at Aldi, and that’s almost all our food and household goods, then supplement with one of the other stores.

    Another way to keep grocery costs down is to carry cash. (Hello, Dave Ramsey fans!) I ALWAYS go over budget when I use a debit card. To keep track of what I’m adding into the cart during shopping, I add up each item to the nearest 50 cents. The total on my paper (or in my head) is always within a dollar or two of the amount I owe at the counter, and I’m never surprised anymore.

  • Betsy says:

    My biggest money saver is to buy produce at international markets. I’m lucky that I live in a city with many, many of these markets, so I just go to whichever is closest that week. But I routinely get much fresher produce at half the price of somewhere like Publix or Kroger. (I still like Aldi’s specials). We budget $125 for 6 people, and I’d estimate that half of that is on produce. My kids eat a lot of fruit, and I love vegetables. It’s not unusual for us to finish 10 lbs of apples, 10 lbs of oranges, 5 lb of bananas, and 4 lbs of berries in a week. The international stores make that possible.

    • lisa says:

      We are also a family of 6 & I can’t seem to get our grocery budget under 200 a week. That’s shopping Aldi and then Sams Club and Meijer for anything else. I’d love to see some of your meal plans/grocery list for keeping it at 125 a week

  • annie says:

    We participate in a 6 month community supported agriculture program through our local garden center. For only a few hundred dollars per year we feast on organic produce, plus its very convenient to just pick up a box once a week. We’ve tried so many new vegetables too. Win-win.

  • Melissa says:

    Thanks for your honesty in this matter…I really appreciate you being truthful about your grocery budget. Last summer, my husband was unexpectedly diagnosed with autoimmune type 1/2 diabetes without any of the warning signs or risk factors. Immediately, we had to make changes and tweaks to the way I was cooking at home. We were already trying to avoid processed foods and eat organic and whole grain foods but now that was no longer a choice, it was a necessity. It became a decision between saving money and saving his health and obviously, health won. It has been hard for me to let that go and there have been weeks I wanted to cry at the grocery check out line, but he is doing so well and it is so worth it in the long run! I just really appreciate knowing I’m not “failing” as a money saver because I quit cutting coupons and exclusively shopping sales : )

    • Tracy S. says:

      Oh, Melissa! I can only imagine. We went gluten free for my then 6-year-old and it was a quick change. Fortunately it’s not a physical reaction we deal with but an emotional/behavioral one. It was really hard at first and, like you, I was already trying to cut processed foods out. 3 ½ years later it’s old hat and we’ve figured out what to watch for. The fewer ingredients the better. 😉 I’ll say a prayer for you and your hubby right now. You’re most definitely not a “failure”! You’re a loving wife doing what’s best for your love!

      • Jenni says:

        That is interesting because we took out wheat for our son as well because of the behavioral changes. He rarely complained of stomach issues, so I never thought he had a problem until I read that food allergies/sensitivities can cause behavioral problems. I have been so grateful to find some good recipes for gluten-free foods like bread machine bread that even our wheat-eating sons ask to have!

        • Tracy S. says:

          After a while it’s gotten much easier to make regular recipes gf. I’m incredibly grateful for some of the gf mixes I’ve found. And that Aldi is now carrying their gf line full time. It’s wonderful to be able to get a full pound of decent pasta for just a quarter more than I’d normally pay for regular pasta! I had a friend tell me at the beginning of this change not to try to replace everything with the gf alternative. We’d go crazy and broke trying to do that. Instead we’ve started eating more fruit and veggies. Not a bad change to make anyway. 😉

    • Tamara says:

      Thank you for your comment! Our adult daughter is awaiting test results for which type of diabetes she has. Same as your husband – no symptoms, no warning – and she seems too old for type 1 but too fit for type 2. She is one of the healthiest eaters I know ( and very active ) but is still having to make adjustments, along with meds, of course.

    • Oh Melissa I know exactly how you feel! My hubby and our three boys all have autoimmune issues and I want to cry some months at our grocery budget, but it’s so worth it for their health. We’ve seen dramatic improvements with the autoimmune protocol. Let me know if you ever need to chat or just want some encouragement from someone who’s right there with you!

    • Sarah says:

      Hang in there, I understand what you are going through, and it will get better.
      I have T2 Diabetes and have had digestive issues for years. I recently found out that I have several food intolerances (dairy, eggs, bananas, etc.), so I have to avoid those ingredients, on top of keeping my meals low-carb. 🙁

      I feel like I’m spending way too much in food, but I am grateful to God that I can afford to purchase healthier foods now. A couple of years ago, that was not the case.

      I heard a saying somewhere that you either pay the farmer or the doctor. One day soon, I hope to only pay the farmer.

  • I still use coupons at the drug stores to save on beauty products/household items, but I rarely use coupons at the supermarket any more. We are so lucky to have a Aldi right next to a Meijer. I shop at Aldi and then get what I couldn’t find at Meijer.

  • Kelly Cox says:

    I’m with Crystal and sing Aldi’s praises! The prices are fantastic. I recently bought graham crackers for $1.29 and the house brand at a nearby was $3.99. Ouch! Love Aldi! A homemade graham cracker pie crust doesn’t have to be name brand is what I sa!y! And the pie turned out great, btw! 😉

    I have a long list of staples that I buy from Aldi. The produce has great prices too!

  • Wendy Lee says:

    We often have a Leftover Smorgasbord as well. We call that night “Alaskan Buffet.” We take everything left over out of the fridge and make a buffet line. When you give something a fancy name it just taste better!

  • Couponing takes a lot of work and time and as such I don’t have the time to do the couponing I once did. And, like you, I don’t eat processed for so my use of coupons is limited. I do use them for laundry detergent, toothpaste, etc. They just put an Aldi in our area and honestly I love them too. So I do a lot of shopping there. I love their organics too.

  • Meg says:

    We live about an hour away from an Aldi and 30 from a Kroger. Would it be worth the drive to go to Aldi monthly/bi-monthly? Or would I be spending my savings in gas? I have always wanted to go just never knew if it was actually worth the trip. We have a Walmart locally and a fully garden in the summer to help. However, I would love to lower our grocery bill. We are a family of 5 also, including 1 teenage boy!

    • Busy Mama says:

      My nearest Aldi is 1-3/4 hours away, and Kroger is 1-1/4 hours away. My solution? Ad match at Walmart! (My usual Walmart puts me within the standard distance of Kroger, and the Walmart heading the other direction has a generous store policy of matching anything in the state IF I bring the ad – tablet to the rescue!)

      The only thing I am able to ad match from Aldi is produce, and it is so well worth it.

      Every time we drive through the community where Aldi is located, we take the time to stop and stock up on certain staples.

      An hour away is probably not worth a special trip, but I would suggest making it a planned stop whenever you are in that community.

      • Meg says:

        Thanks! Great idea to price match 🙂 I know our Walmart does price matching, I will try that!

      • Tonya says:

        Our Walmart won’t match prices from Aldi or Save-A-Lot. I go to Aldi once a week, my shopping order is: Dollar store, Aldi, Walmart, Price Chopper. When I need something quick, we try Save-A-lot 1st. We are lucky that our stores are close to each other. (Save-A-lot has prices similar to Aldi)

    • Melissa H says:

      You could price match aldi produce, etc at walmart.

      • Meg says:

        I tried price-matching at Walmart with Aldi/Kroger and had no problem. I had all the prices/stores written on post-its before going that way I could just stick the to the products as I went through. (I had read somewhere online that someone had done that to help keep things straight) Also the cashier could just look at the post-it for the price. We got our milk price matched from Aldi at 1.69 per gallon. I even price matched a movie from Amazon. Maybe I just got lucky…or the post-its helped??

  • Great post! I still use coupons heavily for my weekly shopping at the grocery store and Target. On the weeks I shop at Aldi I’m always amazed at how much food I get for the same amount of money. I’m glad you’re able to do what works for your family.

  • chelsea says:

    My story is much like yours- we have slowly transitioned as a family these past few years to a diet with very few processed foods. Our grocery budget is higher, but the foods are better quality and our eating-out budget is lower. Completely worth it to me!

  • Jennifer says:

    I really love saving money with coupons but truth be told, I’ve used maybe three in the past 12 months. I’ve been feeling bad about this but there are some valid reasons.
    1. I work full time and am trying to devote spare time to my website. And cook for three and keep my house from being a disgusting pit and exercise and… There’s only so many hours.
    2. I’m not seeing coupons for the food I usually buy. I’m not buying something I wouldn’t normally just to use a coupon and/or get it for free.
    3. I hit the weekly 3-day sale at Shaw’s (Albertson’s) pretty hard most weeks. I stock up when they have rock-bottom prices on things we use.

    Having said all that, I did this winter sign up for Ibotta, Checkout 51 and Snap by Groupon. I really love Checkout and Snap. I get .25 cents or .50 cents back every week on food we do buy always, like fruits and vegetables, tortillas, bread and milk. Those apps are a lot easier to use than I thought they would be.

  • kariane says:

    We also keep our food budget low by buying non-processed foods, cooking from scratch, and trying not to waste any food. Food waste is actually a huge financial, environmental, and social issue. You can read more about it here: http://everydaymindfulliving.com/the-problem-of-food-waste/

  • Lana says:

    I find that for the most part coupons are just not available for the items that I buy on a regular basis. Couponing has certainly changed over the last 12-18 months since many manufacturers are not making them available anymore. I do not buy the Sunday paper because we do not purchase many processed foods, we don’t use cleaners that are not ‘green’, and we do not use any OTC drugs. That does not leave many coupons. Aldi and Sam’s are go to stores along with a few deals at other stores. I has really made life so much easier and our grocery budget has not changed at all.

  • Our food budget is kind of crazy right now because my husband and all three boys have autoimmune issues and are on a very special diet, which pretty much excludes all the cheap food (no gluten or any grains and no potatoes, rice, beans, corn, etc.). I buy meat, fozen fruit, and veggies in bulk at Costco, we keep things really simple (mostly out of neccesity), and get very, very creative! I’ve thought about writing a post up on it along with sharing my grocery budgeting spreadsheet I use.

  • Amber says:

    Thanks for the transparency! Hopefully it will reduce some of the comparison pressure people might feel. Keep on being awesome!

  • sona says:

    Transparency is important. I pretty much guessed coupons had gone by the wayside. When salaries increase and hubby’s in the kitchen and less processed food being used… it pretty much happens 🙂 We do what needs doing and when that changes so will our routine.

  • Tiffany Bell says:

    This has pretty much been my transition too! I found you back in 2011 when we were working really hard to reign in our spending and cut our grocery bill. While it was fun to see my grocery budget so low, what I discovered over time is that my desire to feed my family healthy wholesome options was compromised by a low budget. Thankfully, we had cleaned up other areas of our finances as well and in the nexst years intentionally increased our budget to allow for more whole foods, organic when it makes sense, and a freedom to not feel guilty that our budget has now almost tripled from the one we used in 2011. The good news, it is still much less than it was prior to setting out on the coupon journey and I feel great about it because we are eating and feeling great. Aldis is great for so many of our foods and I love our Trader Joes too. Thanks for always keeping it real! Such and inspiration!

    • annie says:

      Tiffany-

      Thank you for sharing that your guilt free grocery budget has tripled since 2011, and yet it is still lower than it was prior to that time. I needed that perspective.

      🙂

  • Suzanne says:

    Are you still using the meal planning service?

  • Christine says:

    I don’t care for the Aldi in my area. The produce is extremely small so I would need to buy double the amount canceling out any savings. They do not carry enough organic items to make it worth the trip for me. I prefer to charge our groceries and Aldi is cash only. I shop at Wegmans. Their milk, meat and produce is from local farmers, when possible. That’s important to me.

    • Lisa says:

      Oh, I’m glad I’m not the only one. Honestly, I would never consider Aldi’s food to be ‘high quality’. Yuck! The produce is awful and lasts maybe two days, if I’m lucky and their other food . . . well, it’s just not that great at all. I found a salad dressing that we like, but besides that everything else is about on par with the generic brand at our locally owned grocery. (Not necessarily saying anything against generic brands, but they’re not by any stretch of the imagination ‘high quality.’) I tried a few times and finally just gave up.

      But so many people love them, that I do wonder if it might be a regional thing?

      • Lisa says:

        *Not the only one who doesn’t care for Aldi’s. 🙂

      • I’ve heard that it is a regional thing… One of my friends went to an Aldi in another state recently and was appalled with how bad it was. I think that I’ve been spoiled to have Aldi stores that are in nice areas and therefore have nice produce and products. I’m so sorry it’s not the same for you. 🙁

      • Melissa says:

        I am so glad that a few other people feel the same way I do about Aldi. The produce is small and goes bad so quickly in my area. I always think I should give it a chance, but in the end, it’s not even close to worth my time or gas money to drive the extra 5 minutes. I am looking forward to the farmers market opening up again next month! I have a family of 4 and we budget about $500 a month for food… Again avoiding most processed food and eating real food.

        When I use coupons it’s because I use a coupon clipping service to get the exact coupons I need for my family or to send a packaged food item for my kids school snack that they share monthly. No shame in not clipping coupons!!!

        Love this site – thanks for being real too!

    • Me three!

      The produce at our local Aldi grocery stores (all three that are reasonable distance to me) is not good at all – moldy in 2-3 days at the longest, sometimes even the next morning! I do stop there occasionally to buy crackers since we like those and they are far cheaper than the “regular” store.

      I also found that the prices at our Aldi (all three of them) are actually roughly the same or higher than many of the prices on the things that I buy at our grocery store. I’m not going to buy inferior produce for the same price I can get good produce elsewhere! The milk was actually a whole dollar more per gallon than at the grocery and the meat and cheese prices were more expensive too.

      I’m glad to know I’m not the only one. 🙂
      Lea

  • Hey sweet lady! Aldi is one of our favorite places to shop too. But we are gluten free by requirement here, so we also shop for our gf oats and flour at Big Lots of all places. They have a great little section with discounted Bob’s Red Mill products and that helps us save a bit on things that can make our budget more challenging. We also make everything from scratch. I found a yummy granola recipe that uses quick oats instead of steel cut and that’s actually helped keep our prices down too. And of course, your yummy chocolate no bake refrigerator bars are a staple in our weekly diet. If we don’t make them, people have panic attacks…myself included! xoxo 🙂

  • Kari says:

    Thank you for this post! I haven’t clipped a paper coupon since Christmas. I usually stare at the stack of inserts feeling guilty that I gave up & promise myself I’ll get back in the game tomorrow. Never happens. When I couponed I did get twice as many groceries for the same price as I pay now, but my pantry was filled with junk & I noticed my family gaining weight. People say there are coupons for healthy stuff, but even with a coupon those items still end up more expensive than the common brand stuff. We have a Meijers in our town now, and they offers awesome digital coupons & perks (plus major produce deals) so I do save money by that method. And I use my rebate apps too. But, I’m just not sure I’m cut out to clip another coupon again!

  • Bobbi says:

    Don’t forget discount grocers!! We have a fantastic one that opened up recently. It was open for months before I even knew it was there. These places don’t advertise much, so you need to seek them out! I never know what I am going to find, but I have founds some incredibly cheap gluten free items, lots of organic or natural items and other items at stock up prices. These places do not take coupons, but occasionally you can do certain rebates with them. I try to stop by every week.

  • Miriam B says:

    I really should go to Aldi’s more often. I really like how much money I save when I shop there. However, it’s been a challenge because our local Kroger is barely 5 minutes away while Aldi’s is all the way on the other side of town (20-25 minutes away).

  • Love this, Crystal! I kind of felt bad telling you I don’t clip coupons, but it looks like we are totally on the same page!! I LOVE ALDI!!!

  • MH says:

    Pretty much the only coupons we use are the ones from Kroger – they send coupons for the things I buy there regularly, and I do tend to go online once a week and download any coupons of interest to my Plus card.

  • Nancy says:

    As a single girl- who hates eating leftovers more than once, I’ve found that I actually save a lot of money by shopping at Whole Foods (or Trader Joe’s) and buying pre-made food. I’ll get a package of sushi, a premade sandwich, 2 salads and some different items off of their buffet bar and pay about $30-$40 and have enough food for lunches and 2-3 dinners for the week.

    I’m not a huge breakfast eater, but I keep oatmeal, cereal and eggs in the house, plus I’m usually out for a meal 1-4 times per week and I bring leftovers home for another meal whenever possible.

  • Jen says:

    If you have a Costco nearby and can check it out with a friend with a membership, you totally should! For families who eat a lot of produce, you’ll love the prices. We eat a lot of organic, and I know which prices are best for the things we eat between Costco, Trader Joe’s, and Aldi, and I rotate mostly between those stores. Trader Joe’s has the best organic dairy prices, Aldi’s has the best prices for things I don’t mind having non-organic, etc. We bought a quarter grass fed cow last fall and only have a little bit left, although we’ve been eating it a lot more frequently lately as we are anticipating being gone for the summer. The quality of the meat and variety of cuts has made it such a great investment, and we will definitely do it again this fall.

  • T1 says:

    The Aldi by me is AWFUL! I would not go there if it was the only store open!

  • Heidi says:

    Thank you for these tips! We pretty much do the same as you all and are now in the phasing out period of processed foods. I have shopped at Aldi for years and absolutely love it! Not only for their food choices but also some of their household items. I got new outdoor pillows for my front porch for $3.99 each! A steal compared to other stores.

    I found that coupons caused me to spend more money too often. I now do a quick search through the coupons to cut out only what we already use. Thanks again for posting!

  • Julie says:

    We use Aldi for the bulk of our shopping, too. I pretty much only use coupons at CVS/Walgreens to purchase diapers and toiletry items. I also purchase some of our staples in bulk at the Amish community near my in-laws, which is 6 hours from our home. I buy flour, oats, rice, baking powder, etc there. It saves us a lot since we also make most of our food from scratch. It is more cost effective and healthier at the same time!

    Our lives go through seasons. When I first found your website I began scouring your it for coupons and deals and compared ads…everything! I was saving $400/month once I became aware of shopping at multiple stores, including Aldi. Now, I have 7 children, a part-time job, and homeschool so my time is needed elsewhere. Couponing for food items has taken the back-burner and Aldi is my go-to store. 🙂 Every family has to do what works for them and not feel guilty.

  • I also LOVE Aldi also, it save us so much money!

    I started mystery shopping because a friend & I saw your post last year about it, and she started doing and talked me into it…lol! NOW i LOVE IT!

    I save s ton of money mystery shopping! I made $276 (reimbursement + payment) in two weeks of mystery shopping! I love it! We got so many things we needed for the month: food, toothpaste, toilet paper, shampoo, baby wipes, razors, dish detergent, laundry detergent, toiletries, clothes, toys and list goes on and on!

    That was the best mystery shopping week I have done so far! Love it! And I can also buy things other than food toget birthday gifts (we had 2 this month), buying ahead for Christmas, and clothes for Spring!! And I paid $0 for all of it + paid extra for my time!

    Crystal, Thanks for all you do!!

  • susie says:

    we use bountifulbaskets.com – its a food co-op that we order and pick up every week! its all volunteer so it usually a pretty good deal and they meal plan for us… what we get is what we eat and it’s usually all good!

  • Monica says:

    I, too, have virtually stopped extreme couponing. There were many reasons that contributed to this: time, changes in our lives, health, and just wanting to eat less processed foods. I WISH we had an Aldi here. Why don’t they branch out west? I do shop at Sprouts, Kroger, costco, watch clearance deals, purchase through zayconfoods. It is am AMAZING program that allows you to buy healthy food in bulk. Right now they have $1.69 chicken breasts. So, if you have freezer space it’s great. I also go in on a local grass fed cow yearly with some friends. I love having my freezer stocked! That is one thing I have missed about couponing—- sometimes I run out of things or I don’t have unusual things that I used to get for FREE. Overall despite the increase in our grocery bill our health is better and I attribute it to this. I don’t knock your decision. I think you made the right one for your family, don’t be ashamed to admit it!

  • Vickie says:

    The coupons I use the most now are digital ones that you download to a shoppers card. Then we only get the specials.
    Like you most of our shopping is done at Aldi’s.

    The deals there just can’t be beat! We always look for the vegetable deal of the week. We stock up seven we see a deal on canned goods also. They might not be there the next time you stop at Aldi’s.

  • Jessica says:

    The Aldi location nearest to me is terrible. The last few times I got produce there, it was either rotted inside or moldy on the bottom, where I couldn’t see it through the packaging. The store is also dirty with long lines and armed police inside!!

    I still use a lot of coupons. I use them on toiletries and household products as well as foods. I find plenty of coupons on frozen vegetables, bacon, butter, almond milk, cheese, yogurt, and yes, some “junk” food also. This morning I used coupons on tampons, maxipads, bacon, animal crackers and a pack of Oreos (special treat). That allows me wiggle room to buy the $1/pint blueberries at Meijer!

    My family goes through a lot of dairy products. My three kids and husband can eat a half pound of cheese in a day. I don’t even eat cheese or drink milk (I’m lactose intolerant)! And, we go through 6 to 7 gallons of dairy milk in a week! Again, I don’t even drink it! I use cashew, almond or coconut milk over my granola and in my coffee.

    For my family of 5 people and 1 senior cat, we are averaging $163 per week right now. That includes people food, cat food, toiletries, detergent/cleaning items, cat litter, vitamins (I have a severe vitamin D deficiency) and over the counter meds (we all use generic Zyrtec for allergies). Prices in my area have really gone up on the dairy products, which stinks, because it accounts for about 1/3 of our weekly expenses. I have a Sam’s Club membership and I order some items through Amazon’s subscribe & save. I also have an autoimmune disease – Hashimoto’s, and I am trying to cut down on gluten in my diet (the problem is, I really like bread. And cookies!).

    We do eat seasonal produce, we get a 1/4 beef annually as a gift from my parents (it’s our family Christmas gift) and we don’t make fancy meals.

    On the other hand, we rarely eat out. We go out to eat about 5 times per year, usually for our birthdays or a special event such as Mother’s Day. When we do eat out, we like to go to a Thai or Vietnamese place for pho or pad thai or something like that. So our eating out budget is really low! My DH would rather have those organic, grassfed T-bones at home than go out for a mediocre hamburger!

    • Yikes! Armed police?!? I would definitely not be shopping there if that were the case for me!

      • Jessica says:

        I know, right?! There are two other Aldi’s in my city but they’re not anywhere near where I live, so it would be out of my way to see if those are any better. Although, there are also armed police in the Giant Eagle closest to my house! 🙁 I mostly shop at Kroger, Meijer and Target (I love how you can stack Cartwheel, Target printable / mobile coupons, manufacturer’s coupons and then sometimes there’s even a gift card deal!). Those stores are all close to me and in safe neighborhoods!

      • Heather says:

        Ah, well, it gives you a feeling of security in a way! When I lived in Europe, I usually shopped at Aldi or Lidl (similar to Aldi). Most had armed security guards because that was the kind of neighborhoods we lived in! He would stand at the front by the registers keeping a stern eye on everyone.

  • JenS says:

    I am a big fan of the Chartwheel from Target. There are many discounts for fresh produce, milk eggs and many other options. No need to remember coupons, just your smart phone that is already with you. It also allows you to scan the UPC/barcode to check if any deals are avaliable. Very easy way to save if you shop at Target or SuperTarget

  • Cathy says:

    Thanks for this “real” post. I have felt discouraged at times because I can no longer seem to consistently get our food budget below $600 for seven of us while eating the healthier foods we prefer (I can get it lower for a month or so, artificially, by using up onhand stuff, but not long-term). I’ve mostly come to grips with that being okay, and am also very thankful for Aldi. 🙂

  • Joleen says:

    We moved about 2 years ago to a community that the local papers don’t print coupons – so overnight I stopped coupon shopping and had to find alternative ways to save the budget. I do “clip” the coupons to my grocery store savings card (Safeway Just-for-you) and price shop between the family owned grocery stores. I also found out about Bountiful Baskets. It isn’t always the rock bottom prices but I find their produce lasts for a long time in the fridge. My family eats a LOT of apples so I love when I can get a case of apples for around 25 cents a pound – they stay good in the fridge for over a month! Last week I spent $56 with bountiful baskets and it is enough produce to last our family of 3 for about 3+ weeks (and we eat a lot of fruit and veggies).

  • Brandy says:

    Our military move brought us to a bigger city where we were fortunate enough to have a Sprouts nearby. We love, love, love it! The produce is amazing and amazingly priced. We buy what’s on sale and we are eating more vegetables than ever. We also buy the meat that’s on sale, including the made in-store sausage. I now cook from whatever is on sale, instead of making a definite meal plan. I throw some sausage on, the veggies on hand, add some potatoes or brown rice and it’s dinner! When we lived in southern Alabama we took advantage of farmers markets for eggs and great produce. Still miss it!

  • Katie L says:

    I don’t clip coupons, but I do click the e-coupons through my grocery store’s loyalty card program. It doesn’t take long at all, and I just spend a couple of minutes each week when I meal plan and click everything I might buy (this week or in the future). My store is part of Krogers.

    We limit choice– only one type of cold cereal, only one type of mustard, etc. We used to throw out lots of extras that were never used because we had so much choice.

    When we buy treats, we have a policy that when they’re gone, they’re gone. I used to try to buy enough to last the week, but with growing kids, there’s no such thing! So I buy one box of capri suns, and that’s it. Or one box of sugar cereal, and that’s it. We’re on more of a feast/famine cycle now (except the famine isn’t really famine– it’s canned fruit instead of fresh and oatmeal instead of cheerios by the end of the week). This cycle is good for my kids. It helps us appreciate the treats as extras instead of necessities and it helps my kids look forward to grocery day!

    We have breakfast for dinner about once a week. Sometimes there’s sausage or bacon, but usually it’s just eggs or eggs & pancakes or waffles. We often do this on nights when my husband cooks. He’s the best!

    Oh, and we LOVE Sprouts, too.

    I’ve also been trying, the last week of the month, to eat from the pantry as much as possible and not buy extras. This frees up extra grocery money for the endless supply of diapers and wipes we still need, or goes toward our “family date” budget, which includes restaurants & activities.

  • Jennifer says:

    The only coupons I have been using are the downloadable ones from Kroger and Meijer (only for things I was buying anyway). Meijer has a great mperks program that lets you earn rewards. I stock up when there is a great sale on products we use alot of.
    I also shop Aldi. Our local one is very clean and the quality of most things are comparable to the other stores. I love their meat, dairy, produce, and baking supplies/spices. My Aldi carries quite a bit of organic and the meat is high quality.
    We use Costco for paper products, meat (if we didn’t buy at Aldi) and a few other items. We can buy a case of TP and paper towels that will last us well over 3 months (family of 4), for $15 each.

  • Mary says:

    I wanted to chime in with my love for Sprouts. If you shop on Wednesdays they honor both the current week and previous week’s ads. This makes most of the produce 99 cents a pound or less. I will fill up my cart with fruits and veggies for two weeks doing this. Then I make sure we eat the softer fruits and veggies first and save the hardier ones for later in the two week period. We are almost grain free and my husband needs about 200 grams of protein a day while weight training. I have been so frustrated with out grocery budget because I kept going over the last week of the month but I think this will be the first month in a while I will have actually stuck to our budget.

    If anyone buys almond flour my Costco carries the Honeyville Blanched Almond flour for $7.66/ pound. They stopped carrying it for a while but I was excited to see it on the shelves again today.

  • lyss says:

    Good for you! It’s not a competition to spend the least amount on groceries!!! Prices vary a lot by region and store, and so do personal dietary restrictions/preferences. And of course, budgets. We all need to do what works for us. 🙂

    I save in many of these same ways. I don’t have Aldi or Kroger, but I shop where there’s the best deals in my city, which are HEB and Sprouts.

    I don’t use coupons much, either. I haven’t set foot in a CVS or Walgreens in ages. They used to save me a ton, but then it got to where I’d be losing more than I was saving. HEB has store coupons which I use. They save me a lot, but I don’t have to clip them. They are just hanging on the shelf with the item that it is for.

    I shop the sale ads and also look for clearance/marked down foods. Often they are just discontinued items, or foods that can go straight to the freezer.

    • kim says:

      i’ts great to see someone else who shops at HEB to save money, no disrespect but I don’t like Aldi for me I really love HEB especially the many ways to save extra money each week without clipping coupons.

      • Mara says:

        I don’t like Aldi either, though there is one just a couple blocks away. I shop mostly at Kroger, buy just what I need after making a menu for the week that includes snacks and my grandchild’s school lunches. I check the grocery ad, plan my menu, coupons for what is on my list only, usually for dairy, personal care, and paper goods. My son is having a tough time right now so I share my groceries/meals with him. I do this on approximately 50 bux a week. We use a lot of left overs and make casseroles and soups from scratch. Very few processed foods. We eat healthy meals.

  • Cate R. says:

    My my how times have changed! I remember a post from you a few years ago stating that people have no excuse to not use coupons, LOL.

    • 😉 I should clarify that I still use coupons — just not on groceries! I use them for online purchases/restaurants, etc. But since we’ve changed the way we grocery shop, it’s really simplified things to mostly stick with Aldi.

      • Stacy Cooper says:

        Is Aldi Grocery Outlet equivalent for California if you know? I live in a town without Aldi, HEB and many others. We have Safeway, SaveMart and Grocery Outlet which I think may be comparable only because they do have a large Gluten Free section.

  • Leigh says:

    I live in the Nashville area as well but I do most of my shopping at Publix or Super Target. I rarely have coupons but I do use Target’s cartwheel app and Publix BOGO. We have young kids and lots of dietary restrictions and sometimes it’s a struggle to keep our grocery budget under $200 a week. I used to beat myself up and work myself to death for a lower grocery bill but nothing really saved me enough money to warrant the work I was putting into it. I finally just accepted it as our phase in life and things are so much easier. We don’t eat out but maybe once a month so that money gets put into our grocery budget. I say whatever works for your family is the best option there is. I’m glad you guys have found what works for you.

  • I was never an extreme couponer, but I certainly used to do it a lot more than I do now. I still love using coupon apps, though, as I find they’re much more efficient, plus they generally have coupons for produce.

    I’ve heard so many great things about Aldi, I really need to get to one to try it. (It’s definitely not the closest grocery store to me.) In fact trying it out is one of my 12 goals for 2015, so I better get going on it!

    • Liz says:

      The nearest Aldi supermarket is about 500 miles away, across the state from my town. HEB does not exist here. The regional supermarket, however, is less than a mile. Guess where I shop.
      All summer, the supermarket ran at least one meat item on BOGO. You can bet that those items went into my shopping cart.

  • Travina says:

    We just came back from our weekly Aldi trip. We usually spend around $60 there and what we cannot find there, we get from Wegmans. It brings our bill to around $110-125 if I am feeling motivated to try new recipes. Today we shopped only at Aldi and spent $104. I am vegetarian and eat clean and we don’t eat a lot of processed food. Only around 20% so it is very doable to eat healthy at Aldi. I juice every day. My favorite things are the red pesto and their delicious chocolate. Every good quality German chocolate. My grandfather is German so I love all the german foods that they have there. Only sad thing about the last few trips there was that the kids’ organic snacks aren’t there right now. I hope they bring them back, but if not, they have plenty of fruits and veg my daughter loves.

  • Vickie says:

    I shop at Aldi regularly but I don’t always find their produce to be very fresh. I do have certain items I buy there. I do use coupons for store items through their apps and find I save quite a bit that way. I usually buy only sale items and buy in bulk, which saves a lot on staples. We also buy most our meat direct from a local farmer and have it processed locally. We also buy chicken breast from Zaycon Fresh twice a year.

  • My family has been on a similar journey. We started eating healthier a few years ago and I slowly stopped using coupons. One way I save money is by carefully looking at each week’s ad for Kroger and Sprouts. When non-perishable items go on sale (like pasta, peanut butter, crackers, etc.) I stock up. It’s not uncommon for me to come home with 10 jars of our favorite peanut butter when it goes on sale. And that will last us until the next sale. When specific fruits and veggies are on sale, we eat those that week. I use the bulk bins for spices and things such as rice, oats, nuts, beans, etc. I also shop at Costco for things that are cheaper there.

  • Lerin says:

    We live in a small town. We keep our budget low by growing and preserving as much of our own food as possible. We have a small backyard flock of chickens for eggs, and meat, and have added rabbits to our flock also for meat. We get the rest of our meat, if we eat it, from local farmers. We’re learning about wild edibles, and aim to try a new one each week. I do shop at Aldi for some things- like ingredient for something for an event. One of our kids is allergic to gluten and dairy, and another is vegetarian. We order alot of staple foods online in bulk and that saves alot of money, rather than having to go the health food store or drive to a larger city to have more variety. We don’t do boxed or canned food, and I make everything from scratch. The kids either eat oatmeal, grits or leftovers for breakfast, leftovers or sandwiches for lunch (I also make our own bread, grinding organic wheat). We also eat alot of beans and rice. I believe you are what you eat, and diet plays a big role in health, so food is actually a large part of our budget. We do without alot of other conveniences so we can eat organic, GMO free food.

  • Ann says:

    I am also an Aldi fan. We don’t have one close to our house, but there is one near our church. We get the majority there, then supplement with the loss leaders (and occasional coupons, especially ecoupons) at Kroger. It is easier to spend less at Aldi because there is less stuff, and it makes the shopping trip shorter and easier too. Now to get them to build one in my town!!

  • Jenni says:

    For those who have dietary restrictions (gluten-free, etc.) we have really found Azure Standard to be helpful in purchasing gluten-free flours in bulk, or Natural Grocers if you have one. I routinely can make my son’s gluten-free bread for about $2/loaf thanks to their prices. I find that their prices on chickpea flour, oat flour, buckwheat flour and potato and tapioca starches are some of the best around, but Natural Grocers has better prices on rice flours.

  • Miranda says:

    I save money by purchasing most of our produce through Bountiful Baskets. It’s a food co-op that was started in Arizona and has been expanding throughout the country. The produce I get costs about half the price of what it would cost me to purchase in a grocery store. You can also get organic bread and a variety of other things as an add on to your order. It’s a volunteer run organization. Definitely something worth checking into!

  • “I love Alid” is a pretty constant refrain at my house. 🙂 Last week it was because they now carry nitrate-free bacon! Any time I have to shop elsewhere, it seems the total adds up twice as fast!

  • Jen says:

    I love Aldi for some things like canned goods, baked goods (I love their marshmallows), cheese.

    I’m not a fan of their gluten free foods because many of them are from other countries that don’t have the same food standards as the U.S.

    I stay away from the meat. At one point they admitted their meat has pink slime. I’ve also heard at one point they admitted to horse meat in their ground beef.

    I agree with some of the comments above about the fruits and vegetables… many of Aldi’s fruits and vegetables are from other countries… but then again some countries have banned chemicals we use. I usually stick to buying only fruits and vegetables that are from the U.S.

    I get frustrated with Aldi because they advertise a fruit or vegetable of the week in their ad and they rarely have them in the store near me. Usually there isn’t even a spot which makes me think they never had it. I don’t like when things are advertised and not in stock especially when I go in the day the flyers comes out.

    Overall, Aldi has good prices… but I pick and choose what I would buy from there.

  • Jen says:

    I spend about the same as you for 4 people, and don’t use many coupons either. I had to transition to organic flour, bread and pasta because of stomach issues, which is double the price of regular. We are in the process of buying a 1/4 grass fed cow from a farm, which will save us a lot of money on meats and be a healthy option for us. My husband also cooks, and it is awesome! I’m glad to see my local SAMs club selling more and more organic foods, and this has become one way to eat healthier, cheaper.

  • Dawn says:

    I also LOVE Aldi! We probably get 80% of our groceries there. I am fortunate to have 2 within 5 miles and a 3rd within 8 miles from home. (I am in the Pittsburgh area). I supplement with Giant Eagle but not much. Now we have a Trader Joe’s so I am finding some favorites there. In the summer we have a small garden and I also shop farmer’s markets for produce. We do some canning and freezing. We save money on meat by buying splitting a pig and 1/2 cow once a year. I grew up a little north of here and we had a huge garden. I learned to can and freeze veggies from a young age. Yes it takes time but it is so worth it.
    There are a few comments about the freshness of Aldi produce. I think it really depends on how much business your store has and when the trucks come in. Most in my area get a truck daily, but I would ask them and do your shopping accordingly.

  • nikki says:

    Great list! I try to focus on the same things. I shop at Fresh Thyme in Columbus. It’s basically the same as Sprouts in OKlahoma. They have great produce sales and decent sales on natural or organic meats. There are a few items I still buy at Walmart like almond milk and kerrygold butter.

    Lately I’ve been stretching meals further by offering three items on the plate : meat, veggie, and something filling like rice or potatoes. This will get us one or two extra leftover meals.

    We may be moving soon so I’ve also been trying to use up what’s in the pantry: condamients, sauces, flours and such. This has dramatically lowered my grocery bills. Doing this more often would save a ton.

  • Kimberly in NC says:

    You may have mentioned it before, but would you mind sharing which protein powder you prefer from Amazon and why you like it? Thanks.

    • I use Swanson Whey Protein. It was recommended by the Trim Healthy Mama folks, so that’s why I bought it and I’ve liked it so just stuck with it.

      • Linda Hopkins says:

        Swanson products in general are super cheap! You can get Organic Coconut Shortening and all sorts of supplements and essential oils from Swanson, many are organic too.

        They have food products too, many gluten free foods. I have Celiac Disease so I need to be strictly gluten free.

        They have amazing sales, regular by one get one free options and deals of the day, etc.

        They have a option for recurring order of items. I used it at first but found that it did not give me the best price but the regular price only. So, I leave on auto-delivery for items I must have regularly and I try to go in and place my own order before the auto delivery and then cancel the auto-delivery to get a better deal

  • I was doing the extreme coupon thing for awhile. I saved a bunch of money, but mostly on things I probably wouldn’t have bought regularly.
    Now we buy a side of beef or pork from our local meat locker, and Bountiful Baskets for our fruits, breads, and veggies.
    I just fill in at the grocery store for milk, oatmeal, beans, and maybe a treat every now and then.
    Having the basics at home, in bulk, saves me more than any coupons could. And we eat much healthier now, too.

  • Cate D says:

    Thank you so much for all this info. I have been couponing for a a few years now but I think this can help me too. Thank you!

  • Christina H says:

    Great piece! Question…
    Since moving a few hours from the town I call home, I am now about a 45 minute drive from Aldi. I drive a fairly gas efficient vehicle, do you think it’s worth making the trip once per month for the savings? We are currently on a strict budget of $220 per month for a family of three (due to a job loss) and I keep going back and forth on whether I think it’s worth the drive.

    Maybe if I carpool with a friend?

  • We do use coupons sometimes, but not as much as I would like to. So many coupons are for (processed) foods we just don’t eat.

    We use them more for toiletries, personal items, and some cleaning products.

    We shop mainly at Publix and I LOVE their BOGO’s. That’s where we save most of our budget.

    Extreme couponing takes too much time for me. I would rather be spending more time with my family than clipping away! Just my opinion.

  • Heather says:

    We have a family of 6 and some have milk allergies and some can’t eat gluten. Alot of our food is homemade and we have started to make anything we can from scratch. My husband hunts every year so we usually have lots of game meat and we try to buy organic meat when it is cheap. Making yogurt and other dairy items saves us alot of money also. There are not many coupons for the ingredients we buy so I quit using them. Many of my friends have said they are getting away from coupons so your admission does not surprise me at all. Besides I would rather invest my money in whole foods than at the doctors office. It is amazing how much more healthy my kids are since we have changed their food.

  • Ranchmom1 says:

    When we had four girls at home, we spent about $100/week on groceries. Now it’s just my husband and I, and we spend maybe $30/week on groceries.

    I agree 100% with making things from scratch. He has had to eat gluten free since 2003, and I only buy the staples pre-made, such as corn noodles from Aldis to make spaghetti, etc. and make everything else from scratch.

    We are blessed to have a discount grocery store in our area, so I stock up on things there as well and they sometimes have GF flour mixes, GF pizza crusts, etc. for a dollar or two.

    My biggest challenge is meat. I buy ground turkey from Aldi’s and he likes it well enough but really prefers hamburger. What do all of you do if you want to buy beef? It is SO expensive these days.

    • Cindy says:

      We order a quarter of a cow every 2 years. When that ground beef runs I out, I shop the sales and stock up. For instance 80/20 ground beef is normally over $4.50/# at the grocery store. It was on sale for the Fourth of July for Less than $3/#. I happened to shop first thing in the morning and all of meat from the day before was marked down 20% off the sale prices, so I was able to buy 15 pounds for just over $30. I portion it into my Food Saver bags, vacuum seal and freeze.

      I also save by using less. My family likes homemade chili with beef, but I only use a half pound of ground beef for a big pot and no one notices there is only a little beef in there!

  • shininglight71 says:

    We shop at Aldi regularly. I’m thankful we have 2 nearby. I also shop at the Dollar Tree for condiments and other packaged and canned goods.

    • faith shook says:

      I as well shop at aldi’s. I have been shopping there for many years and have saved a ton on money. I live in florida and love having there stores here. Have never had ay problems with any of there products.

  • South Africa doesn’t use coupons much, and we also keep strictly kosher, trying to get my budget down was hard work, I now buy from a place called food lovers market, there fruit and veg are not the greatest quality but are very cheap and since I am buying once a week the vegetables don’t have to last long and when they run their bulk specials I buy and cut and freeze.

  • Teresa says:

    I think it really varies by area you live in. But here in California I have found Trader Joes to be the cheapest and freshest on veggies, dairy and many other items as well. I fill my cupboards with cheap back up items by visiting Grocery Outlet a couple times a month. No coupons needed there! Have found some great bargains there! Rarely have to go to regular grocery store any more.

  • Carole Edminson says:

    Ranch mom 1, try mixing 1/3 ground turkey with 2/3 ground beef after a few months go to 1/2 and 1/2. What I do to save money is never go to the store without a list. I make up a weekly menu and stick to it. I don’t use very many coupons because I make most things from scratch due to gluten issues.

  • rks says:

    buy on sale
    buy in season
    buy local produce from local people when you can
    do finish leftovers….soup in winter, salad in summer
    be creative
    make from scratch
    try new things, but be careful that your family will not balk completely.

  • Jen says:

    Nice article! I have shopped at Aldi for at least the past 3 decades. I am fortunate enough to live in an area where there are 3 of them within short driving distance from either work or home. I do like to support my local farmers during the summer, however, so I don’t buy a lot of produce from them in summer. I also go into a meat co-op with a friend and get meat for less money than I would pay at Aldi, so I don’t get a lot of meat there either. BUT, for everything else…YES! They even have extra-virgin olive oil now (I noticed in your article that you guy that elsewhere).

  • Janie says:

    Do you know the East Coast(VA) equaliant of Aldi’s? We have a Martin’s (giant) and Kroger one town over and a Shopper’s Value in town along with Food Lion and Walmart. Thanks!

  • Barbara says:

    Thanks for the nice post! I had never heard of Aldi, but it sounds like they are not in the SE/Mid-Atlantic region. I have a pretty big garden for some fruits such as figs and apples, and veggies such as peppers/garlic/eggplants, along with industrial quantities of tomatoes. We are able to have a year-round supply of all the above except eggplant for freezing/canning/dehydrating to prevent those high prices for peppers in the winter, for example. These also require very little work in the garden after they are planted, except occasional weeding and regular watering. We also grow some green beans, okra, peas, and winter greens, in particular chard, which grows all year long and remains productive even in heat and cold in our zone 8a weather. We also avoid meat and dairy for various reasons, so that trims our food budget quite a bit. Home cooking, as you mentioned, and avoiding processed foods (which limits couponing as you note) also make a huge difference. We buy cases of fruits in season and can/ preserve as jams or whole/cut up fruits, along with our figs. Have done the same with strawberries, but in our area, they require replanting every three years which adds to the workload, so doesn’t get done anymore. We also have raspberries, which come back year after year so are very easy. Sweet potatoes started in spring from a cut sweet potato can yield quite a lot in the fall as well and is fun to watch them grow! Agree with many of you about buying from local farmers in bulk and using up leftovers. That alone saves several meals per week that do not need to be made! Thanks again!

  • Amanda says:

    These are all great ideas, although I’m not giving up my couponing. Lol I just started in February and it’s become more part time job, less hobby. It’s paying for my college tuition. I’ve always made things from scratch more, rather than less, and that is a huge money saver. If I could garden on my patio (upstairs apartment dweller), that would be fantastic, but I can’t seem to get produce, just a lot of foliage, and not of the lettuce variety. I just learned of Swagbucks and so far, it’s great. Another to use is Shopkick. Keeping meals simple is very important. Simplicity is also usually cleaner, thus better for you. But do not forgo variety. Your body requires it. As I’ve learned the hard way via broken bones as a result of malnourishment.

  • Deb says:

    Aldi is great! I love everything about it from the specials to bagging your stuff to the quarter for the grocery cart!! Saves me lots of money.

  • Susan says:

    I have been to Aldi once and was a little turned off by the off-brand items. How are they compared to name brand canned items, etc?

    • Jen says:

      Hi Susan,

      I know you asked this question months ago, but I am willing to reply. I have shopped at Aldi for a couple of DECADES now. Don’t be turned off by off-brand items. Most of the items in the cans from Aldi are either the same quality, or even superior quality, from the name brand stuff! I once bought a can of mandarin oranges from another store, because I just happen to be there. I was disappointed because they contained seeds. I have yet to find the same thing at Aldi…Aldi mandarin oranges are superior.

      A few caveats though: I stay away from the liquid milk. I bought one once and it spoiled way too quickly. I also stay away from their nuts of any kind. I made cookies once with nuts in it. I bit down and literally cracked a tooth in half, because there was a partial nut shell in there. I also stay away from most of the frozen foods, as they (like frozen foods from ANY store) are loaded with salt, which my hubby can’t have much of. Their fresh fruits and veggies are hit and miss. Just look for good-looking freshness and you should be OK. But their canned goods, their fresh meats, cheeses, etc. are really decent. I encourage you to give it another try. I have saved probably thousands of dollars over the years by buying from them.

  • Jeannie Willis says:

    So Jealous! I LOVE Aldi but don’t have one near us. I remember my mom shopping at Aldi when I was a kid. When one opened up near us a few years ago I was so excited and wound up there almost every week. Then…. we moved- to a suburb of Austin, TX. And there is not one to be found within 3 hrs of us! Yep; the nearest one is in Waco, TX- nearly 3 hrs away (needless to say everytime we pass through on a road trip- we make a special trip) I have written the company several times to request them looking at the growth and demographics of this area- but I am still dreaming. Anyway- it is sometimes hard to read your posts singing their praises. I want to sing their praises too! I KNOW you are getting great deals and I miss that feeling!

  • Kandy says:

    I also shop at Aldi for everything except Milk (my son and I drink raw from farmer) and eggs we get from a friend. I also like shopping at Sprouts Market (Franklin TN and Murfreesboro TN). Farmers markets too. Some items at Publix and Kroger. IF you go to Papa Murphys Pizza 30 min before they close, they have great deals. And save on nights out with Groupon. Haven’t used Amazon for shipped household stuff yet as I use Dollar General. Switched to pods for clothes and dishes, we don’t use too much this way. Love your blog

  • Amy says:

    I wonder if Aldi is different, depending on where you live? Based on different recommendations, I tried shopping at Aldi near me, but hated it! First, I spent about the same amount I would’ve spent at Publix. Granted, I am a big BOGO shopper, and base my menus around the Publix sales flyers, but I only bought things at Aldi that I regularly buy at Publix, and for which I know the prices pretty well. The only things I found to be cheaper were milk, eggs, and vanilla extract. (and my husband was not happy with me for buying cheap eggs!) I even double checked the receipts against Publix receipts from the week before.

    Also, the store smelled TERRIBLE! Like a bad mix of chemicals. I left with a terrible headache, and remembered that smell from the last time I’d been in an Aldi, on the other side of town.

    So all this leaves me curious as to whether I’m just in a bad area for Aldi, or if smart shopping is the great equalizer. For me, I think I’ll just go in when I’m looking for cheap spices.

  • Caroline Wade says:

    I absolutely love ALDI, I’ve been shopping there for almost 17 years. I do kind of miss when ALDI was a secret though. It can get really crowded now a days. We also try to buy everything possible from ALDI and use other grocery stores for what ALDI doesn’t carry. Just an FYI ALDI has a money back guarantee, no questions ask. It use to be money back and replace the product. I’m not sure if they still do both.

    Lidl has also opened some stores in our city but I haven’t shopped there yet although I’ve heard great things about it.

  • Sabrina says:

    Ha, that’s weirdly encouraging to see how you wrote a post based on how I mainly shop, I do all the things except Swagbucks.

    The only thing I’d add is to shop international grocery stores, great savings on olive oil, jam, ethnic food items.

    I was also ticked to see the pic is of a (probably) international grocery store of an area where I used to live, and likely a store I maybe even shopped at!

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