I like Aldi also but it’s just one store in my arsenal for staying within budget. Shopping at multiple stores also helps but those are mostly for loss leader deals, other types of rewards or BOGO’s. And yes, although it does not seem to be popular nowadays, I shop at Wal-Mart for a lot of basics. Not too fond of doing so for various reasons, but I will set those aside to get what I want at the price I want. I use coupons too but not as much as in previous years.
One strategy that will be a money saver for everyone is to buy in bulk when possible. By that I mean from sale to sale. A price book and usage book will come in handy for this. How long does that container of coffee last?..three months ago I purchased three 30.5 oz. Folgers Medium roast coffees on special. That was the limit I could buy, but I already knew that each one would last us about a month because I have learned by keeping a usage book.
Plus I also got all three for free because I had reward points at Winn Dixie. That freed up a bit of extra monthly monies that I could apply to other good deals. And that in turn freed up…you can begin to see how this works.
I buy boneless chicken breast when it goes on sale for $1.69 a lb. at Aldi and buy enough to keep me supplied to the next sale. Some of it is cooked, then chopped for casseroles/soups. (2 cups/1 lb.) Some I cut into ‘fingers’ to grill or for recipes that call for larger pieces. We almost exclusively eat ground turkey. This is also purchased in bulk. I brown it and put 2 cups per freezer bag to use in place of recipes that call for 1 lb. ground beef. It saves time and money. When my children were growing up and we were doing soccer, dance, etc., one of my fastest meals was angel hair pasta, pre-cooked beef/turkey, pre-made sauce (bought on sale!), premade salad and French bread purchased from the clearance rack. I literally could have a good dinner on the table in less time and far less money than it took for a fast food trip.
We do not exclusively eat ground turkey/chicken breast/thighs though. Our menus also include different cuts of pork. But we rarely, rarely eat red meat. Not only because it usually cost less but because of our physician’s advice.
I’ve also made my own F.E.E.D. cookbook. In order to make the cut a recipe must meet four criteria: FAST, EASY, ECONOMICAL and DELICIOUS. If I had to pick one item that helps me most to stay within a budget, then this personalized cookbook would be my choice.
I do a few things to prepare for grocery shopping: First, how much is left in the budget! Then what is my week going to be like (what is my family up to for the week). You do not want complicated meals on those weeks when you are out every night. Trust me on this. Look at the week’s sale papers, make up my menu plan (refer to FEED) using sale items as much as possible (*Do I have coupons to use?) and make my grocery list and errand order (so as to not backtrack). I also use colored pens to highlight what I’m going to buy at each store. Aldi is purple, Publix is green and so forth.
I have a coupon notebook and I’ve made up my own forms personalized to our needs.(i.e. grocery list, menu plan, errand order, etc.). Pinterest probably has some forms but I like my own as they are geared specifically to ‘my’ family’s needs.
There are so many ways to save money on everything not just groceries but it does take time and there is a learning curve. I’ve actually only touched the tip of the iceberg. You may not be able to shop at different stores but most of the above strategies can be applied to any one store.
My husband I are recent empty nesters and our budget (for groceries, cleaning items, personal care/OTC meds and pet care, etc.) is $350 to $400 a month. Not too shabby considering we pay about $20 for specialized eye drops and $35/$40 for cat (2) care each month. And our meals are reasonably healthy with a lot of variety. We save eating out for special occasions so I cook dinner most nights. We eat leftovers the next day for lunch. Make good use of a crockpot and freezer meals. We have regular breakfast during weekdays and “Big Breakfast” (special on Saturdays). We grill out on Fridays and Saturdays all thru the year.
I also have a place within this budget for entertaining, potlucks, to make dinner for someone who has a new baby or are experiencing something unforeseen. These meals are a little more ‘fancy’ than our regular meals.
I’ve taught frugal glasses over the years and these ideas are just a ‘few’ of the things I do to stay in budget in all areas of our lives.
Is it worth it? Yes, yes, yes! And for some can actually be fun. I’m always challenging myself to get the best goods for the best price. And I’m always trying to learn ways to be better at being frugal so I can put those monies toward things that are important to us in this season of life…ahem, visiting grandchildren!
“An investment in knowledge always pays the biggest dividend.” --Benjamin Franklin