Have you ever wondered what a large family buys each week and what their grocery budget is? This week on the Raising Arrows Podcast and YouTube channel I am sharing my ALDI grocery shopping budget and what we buy. This post is an elaboration of those, so you can get a good idea of what I am buying and how much I am spending each week at ALDI. I will also share what we never buy at ALDI and our system for putting groceries away.
Currently, we shop every week at ALDI. I used to shop less frequently, but with ALDI being very close to our home, it makes more sense to shop once a week, especially considering how many fresh fruits and veggies we buy.
As for the best day for a large family to go shopping – that’s an interesting dilemma. In the past couple of years, I have only taken my 16 year old daughter and maybe one other child with me. She and I have an understanding and a shopping relationship that allows us to work quickly and efficiently. She and I can shop successfully just about any day of the week, but I have a couple of tips for you that I’ve learned over the years as to which days DON’T work well.
Tip #1 – DON’T SHOP ON SATURDAY IF YOU CAN HELP IT! It’s the day the amateurs shop!
Tip #2 – DON’T SHOP ON SUNDAY IF YOU CAN HELP IT! There’s nothing left in the store!
Stores are naturally crowded on Saturdays (and the 1st and 15th of every month due to Pay Day). If you don’t mind crowds and you aren’t taking your big family with you, you should be fine.
Stores restock late Sunday night, so often on Sundays, the selection isn’t great. ALDI produce needs to be as fresh as possible to be good, and you want to have a good amount of selection, so I recommend shopping on Monday or Tuesday if you can. That said, I almost always find myself shopping closer to Thursday or Friday. Do what works for you, but be aware that the selection at ALDI goes downhill pretty fast toward the end of the weekend.
Grocery Budget for a Large Family
I used to keep a much tighter grocery budget, but now that I know approximately what we spend each week, and I know how to tighten the reins if we end up spending too much, I don’t keep myself on a super tight budget. ALDI used to only take cash, but they now take debit and credit cards, so that’s typically what I use. My expenditures at ALDI waffle between $180 and $260 every week. Yes, I know that’s a pretty big gap, but here’s why…
I can almost count on a small week following a big week for various reasons.
- I didn’t end up making all of the meals I had planned.
- Someone blessed us with food.
- I bought enough meat the week before to carry over to the next week.
- We ate less fresh produce.
- We have a trip planned and need less food.
It just seems to be the way it is. One week will be closer to the $260 mark, the next week, we are back down closer to $200 or less.
Now, I don’t buy everything at ALDI, and I do include paper goods and any special buys in that number. I could separate it all out, but frankly, it all comes from my grocery budget, so there’s no reason for me to do that.
What Our Large Family Buys at ALDI
You can get my Weekly Master Grocery List
(I’ll be talking more about it in a bit.)
Most ALDI stores are set up similarly, so I’ll give you a run down of what is typically on my list in that order…
Chips – I buy a few bags of chips to go with our sandwich lunches, as well as tortilla chips for nachos (a staple in our home). ALDI often carries Blue Corn chips, so I like to buy those as well. They have an organic salsa I really like near there too.
Snack items – I keep a few boxes of crackers on hand because they are easy snacks. I also love that ALDI carries large peanut butter containers! I get my maple syrup and often my honey there too. I don’t usually buy any of the prepackaged snacks they have for a couple of reasons – not super healthy and never enough in the box to make it work my while. It’s easier to whip up something from scratch at home, or buy a bag of apples.
Baking – I buy our cooking spray, organic sugar, and chocolate chips there, as well as brown sugar and powdered sugar. During the holidays there are more things I buy on a regular basis from that section, but these are the usuals.
Cereal – I buy 2-4 boxes of cereal, usually the Vitality cereal with the red berries. Sometimes we have cereal bars or oatmeal, but most of the time, my oatmeal is purchased in bulk. (You can read my post on what we buy in bulk.)
Condiments – yes. As in, if we need it, this is where we buy it. Ketchup, mustard, mayo, salad dressings, pickles, and even those packets of real bacon bits because I really like them on my salad.
Dairy – eggs, milk, butter, shredded cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, yogurt
We skip the soda and juice section. I rarely serve my kids either. We do keep lemon juice on hand for homemade lemonade.
Veggies – If it looks good and I think I can use it up that week, I buy anything that is a good price! They finally had zucchini this week, so I snagged some so I can try out my new spiralizer! (I have had a hard time finding zucchini so far this year, so I was excited!)
Canned goods – diced tomatoes, tomato paste, green chilis, beans for chili (I like to keep these on hand for an easy meal). I buy 4 large cans of soup for one of our lunches for the week, and I keep canned chicken and cream of chicken and mushroom on hand for the rare occasion I need it.
You can see what’s on my Master Weekly Grocery List HERE!
Pasta – I buy rice and some pasta, but we don’t eat a lot of pasta. I buy parmesan and pepperonis and sometimes spaghetti sauce if I’m needing some convenience in my life.
Baby – I buy diapers and wipes and baby food. I don’t buy Mercy’s specialty formula from ALDI because I get it in a bigger size at WalMart.
Paper goods – I buy sponges, dishwasher detergent and dishwashing soap, trash bags, storage bags, aluminum foil, etc. I also buy 3 things of paper plates because that’s the season I’m in. We also buy a big thing of paper towels as needed.
Specialty Buys – I always look over them, but only buy something once a month or so. This last week it was water balloons and sidewalk chalk.
Fruit – I buy whatever looks good and is a good price. It varies greatly from week to week. Some weeks there isn’t anything decent there. Some weeks there is an abundance.
Other refrigerator items – I will buy sausage on occasion, bacon, hot dogs, and butter salad mix (because it makes an easy lunch for me).
I rarely buy meat from the fresh case. And I never buy anything from the special freezer case unless it’s time for ham or turkey.
Deli case – I buy hummus…lots and lots of hummus…cheese, deli meat, and sometimes some specialty cheeses or fresh salsa for something special. Oh, and cheese sticks – easy snack!
Freezer case – I buy the 85/15 ground beef, the fajita chicken (for my salads and our fajita nachos). I buy frozen chicken breast and sometimes shrimp for special occasions. I also keep on hand a couple of bags of chicken nuggets and 3 frozen pizzas for nights when I need the kids to cook something quick or when a grandparent is watching them. I buy our frozen veggies here and our frozen berries for smoothies as well.
Bread – I usually only buy 4 loaves of bread and nothing else. Sometimes bagels if we are having bagel sandwiches.
And sometimes I buy myself some flowers…because sometimes I NEED flowers.
What I Do Not Buy at ALDI
I do not buy our tea or coffee from ALDI. I don’t buy bananas from ALDI because they never ripen. I don’t buy any pet products from ALDI, and I don’t buy our toilet paper from there because a certain someone in our household is particular about the toilet paper.
Our ALDI Shopping Routine
Prior to shopping, I have gone over my Master Grocery List to see if there is anything on the list that needs to be replenished. This list contains all of the things I like to keep on hand at all times. I like to have a well-stocked pantry that can be pulled from in a moment’s notice to make a meal on the fly. (You can download a copy HERE. It’s not going to be the same as your list, but it’s a start!)
From there, I look at my calendar and decide what special meals I want to make, and what I need to buy for any events we are going to. I make my list on Google Keep based off of my menu for the week (that I put together on Evernote – you can read more about how I do this in this post.)
As I said earlier, I usually take my 16 year old daughter with me to shop. She grabs the ALDI bags from their place in the laundry room closet. We take the smaller car, and drive the few blocks to ALDI and try to find shade. (good luck with that one!) We keep a quarter in the vehicle, so we can easily grab a cart. My daughter gets the cart and throws the bags in the bottom of the cart while I head into the store and pull up the Google Keep on my phone. It syncs with my computer, my husband’s phone, my son’s phone – I love it!
Megan and I shop through the store with me directing and both us grabbing from shelves. If I forget something, she’s my runner. It takes about 30-45 minutes to shop the store. We get in line, stun the clerk with how much we’ve managed to put in ONE cart, and pay. Then, we take the cart to the ledge and dump out all of our bags and bag up all the groceries. We know which bags work best for what food, and we work quickly, loading it back up in the cart, loading it up in the vehicle and heading home.
I text my son that we are almost there, and several of the kids gather to help unload. My 12 year old daughter typically orchestrates the putting away of the groceries. Everything has a place, and she knows how to get it all stacked and put away efficiently. I do have to keep check on it all because just this past week, my 11 year old son tried to put yogurt in the pantry!
By the way…little tidbit…
IF the ALDI clerk asks for your zip code, give it! Especially if you are from out of town! They are asking in order to determine where to build the next ALDI. If you would like one nearer to you, give your zip code!
OK, that’s about it! I’d love to hear your thoughts, how much you spend and the size of your family, as well as what you do and do not buy at ALDI!
One final note…I have heard some people suggest there is a “stigma” attached to shopping at ALDI. Well, the other day, I pulled up next to a Jag. It was an older gentleman driving, and I figure if HE can drive a jag and shop at ALDI, there isn’t any stigma attached to it…or at least, there shouldn’t be.