Like most of you, I am interested in anything that could save me precious time. I am the first to admit that my plate is full. I can barely remember what my kids’ names are some mornings, much less what day my daughter needs to wear all red clothing, or what snack I need to bring for my son’s class.
After the new Aldi’s grocery store opened, I decided to do an experiment. I wanted to know how much a week’s worth of dinners would cost my family if I shopped at Aldi and used its brands. Last week I signed up for Emeals, an online meal planning service that gives you a week’s worth of menus and a corresponding shopping list. After purchasing my Aldi family plan, I received my week’s menu and shopping list.
As I looked at the shopping list, I made a note of the things I already had in my fridge or had previously bought with coupons. I did not buy those items but wrote down prices for comparison. Remember, Aldi does not accept manufacturer coupons.
My first meal was beef and ranch chimichangas. Since Aldi did not have flour tortillas, I substituted corn tortillas and made a Mexican lasagna, using the rest of the ingredients as listed and adding half a pound of soy crumbles and sour cream that I had previously purchased through couponing. The total cost for the meal was $9.82. I had two servings left over that we were able to use for lunches later.
My second meal was ranch chicken with baked potatoes and asparagus. We cooked the meat as instructed and put away 2 cups of cooked chicken for a pizza to be made later. I added one can of crescent rolls and one package of cookies bought through couponing. This meal cost $11.17, but it provided meat for another meal and one leftover.
My third dinner was beef marinara soup and cornbread. This meal was a great one for couponing. I already had the broth, pasta, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. This meal only cost me $6.08 after using the supplies I had in my pantry. We were able to make a slightly larger batch, using up the remaining pasta, soy crumbles and veggies and were able to have two leftover portions plus another full batch for freezing.
My fourth meal was roasted pork loin with couscous, green beans and baked apples. I already had all the needed staples and I added nuts to the apples. I already had the couscous from couponing and was able to make the meal for $8.95, not including staples. We made two leftover portions.
The fifth meal was supposed to be three-cheese baked penne, garden caesar salad and garlic bread. However, we amended this to include a half pound of leftover hamburger and half pound of soy crumbles and added a jar of spaghetti sauce. I already had the garlic bread, spaghetti sauce and pasta from couponing. This meal made a large 10-by-13 pan; we saved half for another meal and still had two servings leftover. This meal cost $10.65.
The sixth meal was barbecue chicken pizza with celery sticks and ranch dressing. I already had pizza dough, barbecue sauce and Italian seasoning in my pantry. We defrosted the extra chicken from the second meal to make the pizza. We were able to make this meal for $2.41 using ingredients left over from other meals and had one serving leftover. It was my father’s birthday, so we also had cake (not in the total).
The final meal was a brunch of pumpkin pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon. I already had canned pumpkin, baking mix and the other staple items, but we added whipped cream and walnuts and substituted turkey bacon for regular bacon. This meal cost $4.18 and had two leftovers.
In the end, I spent $65.99 for seven meals and got 12 leftover serving-size portions to freeze for lunches or hectic nights and two full-size family portions to freeze.
If I would have had to purchase everything on my list, it would have cost $83.46 after taxes.
My family has really enjoyed this experiment. We haven’t been tempted to eat out, and even my pickiest eater has cleaned her plate a few times. In the end, I think that you can’t beat Aldi’s prices on produce, meats, dairy and the things you need, but couponing for the staples will still save you money in the end.