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Yesterday’s Shopping Trips: Aldi, Dillon’s and the health food store

Health Food Store (purchased only the mark-downs): spent $11.71

I gave myself the last four weeks “off” from bargain shopping and using coupons because I was feeling uninspired and motivated to bargain shop and use coupons and because I wanted to spend that time focusing on other Christmas-related things and activities.

It was so nice to have an almost complete break where I didn’t clip a coupon, look at a sales flier or open my coupon box up. We just shopped mostly at Aldi, used up stuff from our pantry and freezer and ate lots of super simple meals.

Dillon’s trip (most purchased mark-downs, including a 10-pound bag of potatoes marked down to $1.59!): spent $13.66

The break very much re-energized me and brought back my bargain-shopping motivation and my cooking and baking inspiration. In fact, I’ve been whipping up a lot of new recipes and stepping outside my comfort zone in the kitchen.

I even bought fresh cilantro yesterday (something I’ve never purchased before!) in order to make fresh Pico de Gallo. For those who know me well, you’ll know that this is very out-of-character from the way I’ve been the last year or so. Hmm, maybe I’ll even start making my own homemade tortillas at this rate? 🙂

I’m so excited to have rediscovered my long lost love of cooking and baking and how cathartic it can be to putter around in the kitchen and make delicious food for my family! Expect quite a few new recipe posts here in the near future.

In the mean time, I’m going to go eat some of the delicious Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal I made for breakfast! I’ll share this week’s menu this evening.

Aldi Shopping Trip: spent $28.31

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64 Comments

  • Bethany says:

    Is your cilantro fresh? I saw a recall on that on this mornings news…

  • Rachel says:

    I gave myself the month of December off too. I will pick up where I left off this coming Sunday. I needed the break. I was suffering from big time “burn out”. I’m glad to know that I am not alone. 🙂 Happy New Year.

  • Lynn says:

    I love cilantro, it adds so much flavor to things especially Mexican food. And once you make your own Pico de Gallo it is hard to go back to the jars of salsa. The fresh is so much better. If you are looking for an easy meal to use up some potatoes and sausage it can’t get much more simple than just cooking them together in the oven. Just those two ingredients. They don’t need much else besides salt and pepper. The sausage flavors the potatoes as they cook. It is so easy and so good. http://www.lynnskitchenadventures.com/2010/11/potatoes-and-sausage.html

  • Becca says:

    Homemade Pico de Gallo is the BEST! (Especially in the summer with garden fresh tomatoes and peppers, but in the winter, nice romas will suffice.) It also encourages your kids to discover how flavorful healthy foods can be! Lynn-Thanks for the recipe…I have TONS of potatoes, and can usually find sausage on clearance at the store!

  • Kelly says:

    On a completely unrelated note, those are BEAUTIFUL flowers on your table in the last photo : )

  • Jen says:

    Oooh, I LOVE cilantro! It is so yummy in guacamole and I found a recipe for cilantro lime rice that is so delicious. It’s great with your favorite Mexican dish. And, it tastes even better the next day as flavors have had time to meld together. Yum…I foresee a trip to the grocery store in my future. 🙂

  • Dawn says:

    Please don’t eat that cilantro until you verify that it has not been recalled:

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/12/28/salmonella.produce/index.html?hpt=T2

  • I know what you mean about being unmotivated to clip coupons. I will actually be taking an extra long break the next few months as we do missions training with Youth With A Mission. I will only have to cook on weekends!

  • I’m glad you’re getting some creative cooking energy back! I know I go through seasons where convenience and basics have to rule over creativity. I make it my goal to enjoy and appreciate each season, but sometimes it’s hard!

  • Courtney says:

    Yay, looking forward to more recipes! Cilantro is a staple in our house – it’s great in Thai dishes as well as Mexican.

  • Amanda says:

    I took a long break from coupons as well. Thanks for the inspiration to get back to it! My family will appreciate it.

  • Leigh says:

    I’ve learned a lot from your site, but one of the best things I’ve learned is that it’s okay to take a break from the bargains. I’ve had most of December off and will start back for the new year!

    • Heather says:

      @Leigh, One of the things I’ve learned from this site above all others is that it’s okay to time time off from bargain hunting. I actually took the entire summer off and survived! LOL! Thanks, Crystal, for being “real.” Wishing you a very prosperous New Year!

  • Sharon says:

    Giving yourself a break is an extremely good idea – especially when you haven an infant. I think even the most organized and experienced moms need to back off from the intense stuff (like couponing) that first year. The first year is just exhausting, even if you have a very amiable and easy baby.

  • LOVE fresh cilantro! My husband made the best fajitas last week by marinating the chicken with fresh cilantro and other spices for an hour.

    Mary Ellen

  • Amy says:

    My husband and I both love fresh cilantro. I put it right in my quesadillas.

  • Tiffany says:

    I am a cilantro freak! Try it in your Spanish Rice, too. Fresh Pico and guacamole = the best! I also add cilantro to a giant pot of red beans (at the end of the cooking process.)

    I’m not ever a big coupon clipper…hoping your site will inspire me to do better. I tend to shop sales and know my prices…so that’s a start.

    Happy New Year.

  • Jessica says:

    Cilantro is also a main herb in many curry/thai dishes. I buy a bunch of cilantro each week and make one mexican flavored dish (beans and rice with fresh salsa) and one curried dish (curried salmon, lentils, chicken, ground beef…).

    My cilantro never gets old!

  • Kristina says:

    I LOVE CILANTRO!! One of my favorite winter ways to use it is stir it into a bowl of chicken tortilla soup. Sprinkle on some shredded Monterey Jack and baked corn torilla strips and enjoy! That’s a family favorite around here!

    • @Kristina, Kristina, I am also interested in the recipe! I had a friend make a knock off of Chipole’s rice with cilantro and it was amazing!

      • Kristina says:

        @Dana @ Budget Dietitian, Hi! Did you mean to ask Jen for her rice recipe, because she posted a link in reply to Crystal. If you were asking for my soup recipe I can give you a general idea of what I do: First I start the same as I would for making chicken soup- I boil a whole chicken with onions so I have my chicken and broth. I remove the chicken and take off the meat and set aside. To the broth I then add chopped carrots and celery. Also a can of diced tomatoes, cumin, and maybe some chili powder. Salt to taste. When the veg’s are tender I add diced zucchini and summer squash, then the cooked chicken, heating just until squash is cooked (3-5 minutes). That’s it! Taste and adjust seasonings! I like to chop up corn tortillas and bake them in the oven for topping. And as I said I also top off with Monterey Jack and cilantro. Maybe a squeeze of lime. Try it- it’s one on my top winter meals!

  • Julie says:

    A new aldi just opened in my area and I have never been there before. Do they have good quality inexpensive produce? My local grocery store is expensive plus the quality is poor. I was just curious because I might try it.

    • Emily says:

      @Julie, Try Aldi – it’s wonderful!

      Just remember a quarter for your cart plus your own bags!

    • Lori F. says:

      @Julie,
      The Aldi in our area has fairly nice produce at great prices. I bought a whole fresh pineapple before Christmas for 99¢. The other stores in my area were charging $4.99 for the same pineapple. I usually just carry a couple of reusable grocery bags into the store to avoid the cart rental. Then I just reload my groceries after they have been scanned.

    • Shelah says:

      We LOVE Aldi. Be prepared that it is not a “normal” shopping trip. But after awhile you will find your Aldi-groove…..and know what you like from there.

      I have kept an Aldi-only price book in the past. The grocery sales+coupons can still beat Aldi at times. But it is still the simplest, frugal-est (a word?) place to shop in general.

  • Mmmm, cilantro! You should give my cilantro pesto recipe a try… it’s great over pasta!

    http://www.frugalfollies.com/2010/04/cilantro-pesto.html

    @Julie – My ALDI can have some great deals – once I found celery for 25¢ per bunch, and bananas are pretty much always 39¢ per pound. Other veggies can be about the same price as the grocery store. The quality has been good so far for me.

  • SHELLEY says:

    I love cilantro! After I used what I needed after buying it I chop it up real fine and freeze the leftovers. The smell of the cilantro is hard to get off of your hands though!

  • Crystal, we love chopping cilantro and adding it fresh to our tacos… watch out, you might get addicted. lol 🙂

  • Charity says:

    Love seeing all your fresh produce deals. What a blessing for your family! I get the most excited over those deals. Isn’t is just great how God provides us even in those “small” ways? He is so good! 🙂

  • JRFrugalMom says:

    I love cilantro, and I love cooking with it. Unfortunately the recent cold in South Florida has killed all of it in the garden. Once we get to January, I’ll have to start planting again.

    Happy New Year!

    JR from
    Frugality Is Free

  • Jennifer says:

    We LOVE cilantro in our house. I have one suggestion before you put it in anything for your family though. As strange as it may sound, there is a percentage of the population (10%, I think) that thinks it tastes like soap. You may want to make sure everyone likes it first. Don’t tell them to see if it tastes like soap. lol. Just have them check it out on it’s own. If everyone has had it and you know they like it, ENJOY!!

  • Beth says:

    Cilantro is usually a staple in my kitchen as well, though I was just told I pronounce it totally wrong! 🙂

    One of my favorite dishes to make is Mexican Lasagna that uses Cilantro. It calls for fresh but I usually just use the canned stuff due to cost and I can keep it on hand. Would be more than willing to share the recipe if interested. It is very yummy and pretty simple to make.

  • Jeanine says:

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂 That Pumpkin Spice Silk is sooooooooooooooo good!

  • Carol says:

    Thank you, thank you for posting this!! I have been having the hardest time motivating myself to clips coupons and do drugstore deals. All I’ve been wanting is a break…….and now, instead of wondering what my problem is (it’s so bad that I’m actually at the point where I could care less if I throw away a few ECBs, RRs, and UPs {{gasp! LOL}}}, I’m going to take a badly need break to get re-inspired too! Thanks 🙂

  • Crystal,
    So glad you took a break! Sometimes the things I love most become a chore if I don’t take an occasional break.

    You might like this easy (cheap) recipe for salmon cakes
    http://fromchapelhilltochickenville.blogspot.com/2010/07/salmon-cakes.html

    My kids love it and you make it with canned salmon. You could even sprinkle some of that fresh cilantro over the top!

  • Debbie says:

    Crystal,
    After I read your post I went to Walmart to use coupons that would’ve expired 12/31. I get very lazy sometimes, but I was inspired by the deals you were able to get. I’m proud to say that I saved $24.98 and I have Barilla Plus Wheat Pasta to last me for quite sometime!

    • Crystal says:

      Woohoo! Way to go! I have an envelope of coupons which are expiring 12/31 that I’m planning to use at Walmart on Thursday. Excited to get some more free deals!

      • Debbie says:

        @Crystal, I know that you’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve received many coupon deals through vocalpoint.com. All the pasta coupons (one free box and buy one get one free) were sent to me by vocal point. I just received a bunch of Kashi GoLean Crisp Cereal coupons and a sample in the mail from vocal point.

  • jan says:

    I always grow a pot of cilantro in the summer. Just an FYI note about 1/4 to 1/3 of people don’t like the taste of cilantro and think it tastes like soap. This is a genetic trait and not an acquired taste. So if you don’t like it you probably never will.

  • Marlene says:

    I am so glad you bought the cilantro; you’ll thank youself 🙂 SO delicious. Perhaps consider growing an herb garden next summer (in all your spare time, right?! lol) ; it doesn’t have to be big or anything. We had basil absolutely coming out of our ears one year – always a good thing! We recenly moved and bought a house after renting for almost four years, and our new home has a little garden in the backyard, and cilantro (and basil too, for that matter) is definitely on the top of my list of things to grow. You can actually store many herbs by freezing them; google that on how to do it exactly – I can’t totally remember, it’s been awhile.
    Anyway, enjoy your cilantro! I believe God created herbs for us to enjoy as well – not only fruits and veggies 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      My last two herb gardens have been total duds, but they were container gardens, so part of me wonders if that was the problem. I have visions of someday walking out my back patio and cutting herbs to use for making dinner. 🙂

  • Stacy says:

    Can’t wait for some new recipes. Definitely getting bored with the diet in this house!!

  • Hum…..not baking much, simple meals, taking some tome off of couponing. Almost sounds like you have a little blessing on the way! 🙂 ?!?!?!

    • Crystal says:

      Nope, just was burned out from a busy year. 🙂 I’ve slowed way down in the last six months, said “no” to a bunch of things and am so grateful to be getting my inspiration back after a season of burn-out and exhaustion near the beginning of this year.

  • Bethany says:

    Have you ever considered printable versions of your recipes?

  • Kelley says:

    you will NEVER want to buy prepared salsa or pico again, after you’ve made your own…both are easy and taste soooooo much better. I use cilantro on probably half the stuff I make!

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