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This week’s $40 shopping trip and menu

We did our weekly grocery shopping at Aldi and Dillons this week. Here's what we came home with:


I was so excited to find some mark-downs on bananas, steak, milk, and yogurt. Plus, with the sweet mix-and-match sale going on at Dillons, we were able to score some other great deals–including a number of free and more-than-free items.

The best deal was the Scotch-Brite nailsaver sponges which were on sale for $1 and part of the mix-and-match sale of Buy 10, Get $5 Back. I bought five and using five $1/1 coupons, I was paid $0.50 for each one I bought. And we just opened up the last package of sponges I'd purchased on a deal last year. I love it when sales work out like that!

Before sales and coupons, our total would have been right around $70. After coupons, we paid right around $14.50! Gotta love Kroger!

We picked up a few staple items at Aldi and spent right around $25.50. So it worked out to be almost to the penny $40 for groceries this week. It's amazing how only having cash and a calculator forces you to stick with the budget!

Here's our menu for this week:

Pancakes, yogurt, juice
Banana/milk/peanut butter smoothies (these are soo good!), whole-wheat toast
Oatmeal, fruit
Banana bread, yogurt, fruit
Scrambled eggs, toast, juice
Granola over yogurt with fruit
Cold cereal with fruit

Egg salad sandwiches, carrots
Baked potatoes with cheese, veggies
Beans and rice, veggies
PB&J, carrots
Rice cakes, yogurt, fruit
Grilled cheese sandwiches, fruit

Chicken noodle soup over mashed potatoes, homemade bread, grapefruit
Birthday dinner for my mom at my family's house–I'm bringing make-ahead mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and pumpkin rolls
Crockpot ragout, homemade bread
Meatballs, twice baked potatoes, veggies, homemade bread, pear crisp with whipping cream
Enchilada casserole, green rice, veggies
Hamburger mashed potato casserole, fruit
Dinner out
(Can anyone tell that I'm craving anything with potatoes right now?!)

Banana bread
Granola bites

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  • Ann Rogers says:

    I like looking at your $40 a week list. My only issue is – do you do your shopping at one store? I usually do WalMart because they match any ads from any store. It doesn’t make sense to use the time and gas in the vehicle going store to store to store. It really ends up being more than $40 a week.

    Money Saving Mom here: I usually shop at two stores which are within a few blocks of my home–so it’s not costing me extra in gas. And I can usually do all of my shopping in less than two hours–so it’s not really taking any extra time either. Plus, I usually save at least $30-$50/week by this strategy so it’s worth spending just a little bit of extra time to do so.

    Wal-Mart does not have mark-downs like Dillons does nor do they match many of the coupon/catalina deals that Dillons runs which is why I prefer to shop there and Aldi. I know that price-matching works for many but for me and in our area, I usually save quite a bit more money by shopping at two stores each week instead of Wal-Mart.

    I think each person has to weigh their unique situation and figure out what works best for them!

  • Rinnie says:

    Do you know of anyone who blogs about sales at Aldis? Aldis moved my city recently, but the closest one is about 15 minutes from my house (I have 3 other grocery stores with in 5 minutes of my house.) So I don’t plan to go to Aldis often, but would like to know when they have specials. Any tips or ideas for shopping there? Thanks, Rinnie

  • Frugalchick says:

    I love it when you get paid to take stuff home! Good job and as always, you’re an inspiration.

  • Josie says:

    Where is Aldis and Dillions? I am on the northside of San Antonio and all we have is Walmart and HEB.

  • Kim says:


    Kroger is running the deal on fleischmann’s yeast again. The price is $1.49 minus the current coupon .45 (doubled to .90). Then there is a catalina for .50. Nine cents for yeast, pretty good.

  • Dawn S says:

    Hi, Crystal! I have a question about your meal plan, shopping lists and recipes – how long does it take you to do this every week? I’m in desperate need of guidance in this area – we spend $300 – $500 dollars A WEEK on groceries and other household supplies, yet we never have anything to put together balanced meals! I’m looking for a place to start so any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated! I had even thought about asking if you’d send me your grocery list so I can see if I can do anything close to what you’re doing for your weekly grocery budget.

    Thanks for all of the great information you give us everyday!

  • Olathe mom says:

    Just wanted to note that I am pregnant now, also (18 weeks) and my husband has been laughing at my “evening snack”– a tiny baked potato (skin on, you know, for nutrition 🙂 ) with some cheese and sour cream. Ha! I took the kids to the store today and almost bought potato chips and french onion dip…the cravings have been severe, obviously…even though these are never part of the regular pantry around here! 🙂
    So clearly, there is something about pregnancy and potatoes 🙂 Bless you!

  • Jennifer S. says:

    Do you add up your price (net of coupons) on your calculator each time you add an item to your cart? I know I would forget something and never quite get my total right! How do you stay so perfectly within budget?


  • momof4inbaltimore says:

    Ok…spill your recipe for peanut butter smoothies. I bet my kids would love them!

  • glenda says:

    Great job on keeping the grocery budget low. Love your blog. Keep up the good work.

  • Kimberly says:

    Wow…another week with great deals. I am just in awe of how well you do. Thanks for sharing your pics and posts and inspiring us all to find great deals.

    I have a question about the meal plan for the week. What is crockpot ragout? Could you share a description or recipe? I love using the crockpot.

  • jill a. says:

    LOL! I was wondering what was up with all the potatoes. Cravings explains it all. Enjoy them! 🙂

  • Michelle says:

    I, too, shop at Kroger but have difficulty finding any reduced items. Is there a time of day or particular day of the week that you find the items marked down? Thanks!

  • Aisha W. says:

    I LOVE looking at your site. My son (13 month old) and I just went to Fry’s here in Tucson, AZ. Before Sales and Coupons, our total was $174.xx and after the Store Sales and Coupons, we spent…drum roll…..$42.34!!!!!!!! OH MY! God is Good!! Stay Blessed.

  • Ryan says:

    do you have a recipe site? i have wanted 2 of your dishes now…enchilada casserole and another taco dish you made. please share!

  • Sadie says:

    Hi Crystal,
    I see potatoes and enchiladas are both on your menu plan…. but have you tried POTATO ENCHILADAS? This was one of my DH’s and my favorites when we were on a vegan diet, but I’ve since modified it to reflect our no-longer Vegan eating habits. Just roll up leftover mashed potatoes in flour tortillas, with green onions and corn, then place in a baking dish with red enchilada sauce and cheese. Pop in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes. They are sooooo good – creamy and smooth, yet with the sweetness of the corn and the crunch of the green onions. I love them with a little dollop of sour cream and some refried beans.

  • Karen says:

    Love seeing all the bargains you find. We don’t seem to have *any* stores that double coupons or offer good catalinas. Frustrating!! The best I can ever do is scour all the sale adds marking best prices and price match at W-mt. Anyone have any tips for shopping Super-Saver, Sunmart, Russ’s Market or Hy-Vee that I’m not aware of? I’m in Lincoln, NE.

  • Becky says:

    Know of any California savers? I don’t have stores such as Dillon’s & Aldi’s. I want to know how to cut down on our spending. I get the ads in the mail and am so confused because each one has the best deal on a different item, but don’t want to go to all of them! I do have a big selection of stores nearby:
    -Fresh & Easy
    I think there is also a Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, Ralph’s, and Stater Bros nearby, but these are all the ones i can picture the location of, Albertson’s being the closest.

  • Daina says:

    Hah, green rice! I had not heard of it, so I just looked it up — looks healthy and tasty both!

    As for those asking about how to get the totals close to budget, I’ve just learned a new trick — if you’re not sure of your total, keep a few items in your cart and only add them at the end if they fit your budget. I don’t want to bother with a calculator, and my mental arithmetic is only accurate to within a few dollars (since I don’t add up every penny), so this helps me if I’m aiming for a specific price range.

  • Jennifer Kaiser says:

    Ah those pregnancy cravings, I know them well. CARBS, CARBS, CARBS! Why is it that when you need to and you’re supposed to be eating the healthiest is when you want to the least?! I’m so glad you’re feeling better these days!

    ~Jennifer K.

  • Lisa says:

    I really enjoy your $40 posts! Would you consider doing a post about your ENTIRE budget? I would love to see a real world example of a real family’s entire budget. I don’t seem to be able to get mine balanced, and I wonder if there are categories in mine that are just way off. I know many people that make it on less money than we do, and I would like to know where we go wrong.

  • Lacey says:


    We also do our shopping at several stores. Because we are a military family we have the option at shopping at the commissary on base. However, we rarely do that because we’ve found that we don’t save much money. We have been shopping at Aldi for almost a year now and we get most of our groceries there. We buy what we cannot find at aldi at walmart, usually their off brand. I make a menu plan, make the grocery list for both walmart and aldi and we go and get what we need, it usually takes us less than two hours. WE LOVE ALDI!!! As a military family we’ve joked that we won’t put a base on our list as a place we’d like to move to unless they have an aldi in that town.

    Thanks for your encouraging blog!

  • Taleyna Morris says:

    The sponge was not on sale here. Bummer for me!

  • Amy says:

    I also shop at 3 differnt stores each week, but they are all within 3 miles of my home. I find it more than worthwhile, instead of price matching at Walmart. I have found that some of their regular prices on things ARE higher than other stores AND they do not double coupons!
    I also find that they do not have the variety that Meijer Kroger or Giant Eagle have..
    I am definitely NOT a Walmart fan, for groceries, anyway..

  • Shane says:

    Hey, you say you used 5 1/1 coupons for the sponges, but I can’t figure out where you get 5 coupons. Do you buy 5 newspapers?


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