7 Meals for $75.00 for our family of eight.
In one of the FIRE groups I am in (if you don’t know what FIRE means – it stands for Financial Independence/Retire Early and it really is “a thing.”) everyone was RAVING about this store called ALDI for really great prices on groceries. Always looking to tame my grocery budget, I’m like, “what’s an ALDI and where do I get one?” I learned they are mostly on the East Coast. Extreme Sadness.
To maximize our grocery budget, I generally have a plan of action. Loosely it is this. 2 large shopping hauls a month and maybe one small one a week if we forgot something or produce has gone bad. On the big shopping days, I hit four stores, typically in this order. The 99 Cent Store, Costco, then Sprouts for produce and lastly Walmart for whatever else I could not get at the other store and because they (usually) have the best prices on household goods like laundry soap, deodorant, dryer sheets…etc. The stores are all within a few miles of each other, so even though it is a pain to get in and out of my car 4 times, the savings I get by doing it this way saves us hundreds throughout the year.
Well, to my surprise I did a search on the interwebs for ALDI and was pleased as a peach to learn one was opening 5 miles away! SCORE! My daughter and I were so excited to go try it out. For those who don’t know about ALDI, it is a very “bare-bones” store; it will not have everything you need – but it will have most of it. There will not be name brands, but off brands, but still excellent quality. You will need a quarter to release your shopping cart from the other shopping carts (but don’t fret – you will get it back) and you will also need to bag your own groceries at a counter adjacent to the cash registers. Tip: Don’t try to take the cart sitting there with the cashier without giving her an empty. She might not like that very much. (You’ll understand when you go there.) I am happy to report, it really was worth all the hype! They have an excellent selection. The only thing that it was lacking was vegan options. It had a few, but not a whole lot. Over-all two thumbs up!
After finding Grocery Heaven (I “heard” that’s what ALDI’s goes by) – I stumbled upon several Pinterest ALDI food challenges. I am ALWAYS down for a challenge. But even more, I am ALWAYS down to see how I can trim this food budget for our family of 8!
All of the challenges were for smaller families. So, I am here to fill that void. I know many of you have large families like us and are always looking for ways to optimize your budget.
SO….the next four weeks I will be posting our challenge. My daughter and I will be creating a seven day/seven dinner meal-plan for our family of eight for under $75.00.
DISCLAIMER: I am going to rat on myself here….initially, this was going to be a $50.00 challenge; however, that proved really difficult – especially for a family of eight. But also, we do not eat meat – only seafood and shellfish which is, by far, more expensive by the pound then chicken, pork or beef. HOWEVER, I will be attempting to get it as far under as I can. I am also confident that if your family is smaller than ours and you either eat meat or use 100% vegan protein alternatives, you should be able to get this to around $50.00.
WEEK ONE DINNERS:
DAY ONE: Shrimp seasoned with lime and spices, pineapple/avocado salsa, refried beans, cilantro/lime rice, corn tortillas. (If you wanted this to be Vegan, you could sub out the shrimp for roasted peppers and/or grilled squash cut lengthwise.)
DAY TWO: Grilled tilapia, with roasted red potatoes and yellow/green squash.
DAY THREE: Crock-pot chili with “meatless” crumbles over baked potatoes. Shredded cheese and sour cream as optional toppings. (you can sub in ground turkey or beef to the chili. See my recipe here.)
DAY FOUR: Shrimp and noodle chow mien with stir fry vegetables over Basmati rice. (You could sub in chicken)
DAY FIVE: Personal Pizzas
DAY SIX: Veggie Burgers with green salad.
DAY SEVEN: “Garbage” Stew (I will explain below!)
Note: Normally, I do not include in the budget, rice, spices or oils. Also, there were a couple of items that were not at ALDI’s so I had to get them at Walmart. For Next week’s challenge, I will modify the menu if ALDI does not have the item. (I also happened to be out of rice, this week, so it is on this receipt, but normally would not be and accounts for the items purchased at Walmart.)
Also, if you have a well-stocked pantry (see what I suggest here) many of the items on this receipt are unnecessary.
The items purchased at Wal-Mart were:
- Pita bread $2.00
- Chow-mien noodle $2.00
Below is a picture of the receipt:
Now, about that stew….
One of the best soups we make in this house we call “Garbage Stew” – don’t let the name scare you away. It got its name because it is made with the left-overs for the week that did not get eaten. If they don’t get eaten they find their way to the garbage. Trust me when I tell you, there is just something about putting all of these foods together – it doesn’t matter what it is – that comes out delicious! To make it, follow these simple directions:
Empty your left-overs into the crock pot. (If you don’t think something would be appetizing in your soup – just leave it out – easy peasy). If you have meat, chop it up into bite sized pieces and put them in. Then add a few canned, dry or frozen goods to it (you should already have these in your pantry/fridge…still don’t know what I mean? – Well, here it is again.) I usually add a can or two of diced tomatoes, maybe some vegetable broth, corn and/or beans, frozen mixed veggies….just be creative. Then several spices. If you are going to add dry noodles, add them during the last 30 minutes., otherwise they will get super soggy. For rice, I typically will cook the rice separately and simply serve the stew over rice. That way it does not get over done.
So, even though, adding ALDI into the mix will mean a trip to a fifth store on shopping days, I am hoping to see an even bigger dent in my grocery budget. More savings means more money invested, which all means Momma gets her beach house sooner!
I look forward to updating out challenge next week! See you there.
Love and Prosperity,