The Dynamic duo of Grocery stores – How we reduced our grocery bills in half

Food always has been a large part of our monthly expense. We enjoy cooking and eating food as a family. Cutting down on our weekly groceries seemed like a very hard task. We shop mostly at a local large chain supermarket which is very close to home. On an average our monthly expense on groceries were around $800-$1000. Which is not too bad for a family of four, who mostly eat at home and also try to stick to quality food products. But I still wanted to see if there is way to reduce the grocery expense without affecting the quality of food we ate. We tend to eat mostly “real food” instead of prepackaged processed food. We also choose mostly organic produce. That’s when I started using the 2 grocery store combination and saw that I was able to significantly reduce our grocery bills and at the same time eat quality home made food. These two are None other than Costco and Aldi

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So here is what I do, at the beginning of the month I go to Costco and buy a set list of freezable produce and pantry staples. My average bill at Costco comes to around $280.  I avoid buying non freezable produce at Costco, as buying these in bulk will only lead to food wastage. So , I do weekly shopping at Aldi for these “non freezable” produce. My weekly bill at Aldi ranges around $25-$30. So in effect my monthly grocery expense has come down to about $400-$450. And interestingly with this method somehow our eating out has reduced significantly. We do occasionally eat out when we want to enjoy an evening like a date night,  but not because there is nothing to cook or too tired to figure out dinner.

I also want to add that we do cook Indian food often – so we get our Indian spices and grains in bulk at a local Indian grocery store . This is usually once in 4-6 months and the bill comes to around $50-$60 each time.  When you buy in bulk from an ethnic store it is a lot cheaper .

I rely on my oven and instant pot a lot to make cooking dinner an easy task. And in general I plan dinner in the morning before I leave the house for work. So I am not struggling with decision fatigue in the evening. I will make another post about my dearest Instant Pot and some of my go to recipes.

I will list a sample of my grocery list so you get an Idea.

COSTCO:

As you know you get every thing in bulk. So a lot of the items that I have on this list,  don’t need to be purchased every month. Items like butter, olive oil, coconut oil , the big jars of the cheeses lasts several months. I also learnt that a lot of items I thought cannot be put in freezer can be frozen- for e.g. Butter, Bread. To shop at Costco you have to be a member which is $60 annual membership fee but is well worth it.

When visiting Costco avoid “browsing” around the aisles as you can easily end up with a lot unnecessary impulse buys. They have a lot of items which are so tempting to buy . So I generally stick to whats on this list and buy what I am running low on.

Freezables:

  1. Chicken- Thighs boneless skin less
  2. Chicken- Thighs with bone and skin on
  3. Chicken breast
  4. Chicken wings
  5. Organic grass fed ground beef
  6. Wild caught Salmon
  7. Bacon – Kirkland brand that comes in 4 big packs
  8. Guacamole – I buy the one with small snack packs instead of one large tub – so I can put few out of the freezer at a time
  9. Kirkland Butter
  10. Kerrygold Dubliner cheese- My favorite snack
  11. Grated cheese- I usually get the Mexican blend
  12. String cheese
  13. Grated Parmesan cheese
  14. Feta cheese
  15. Frozen avocado chunks
  16.  Frozen spinach
  17. Asparagus
  18. Beans
  19. Wantons
  20. Chicken meatballs
  21. Bread (usually buy 4 packs and put the in freezer)
  22. Burger rolls

Pantry staples:

  1. Taco seasoning
  2. Olives
  3. Canned black beans
  4. Salsa
  5. Canned tomato
  6. Organic bone broth
  7. Olive oil
  8. Coconut oil
  9. Pasta sauce – I buy Rao’s – It is lower carb
  10. Ketchup
  11. Raw nuts – Almonds, walnuts
  12. Kids snacks – Popcorn,  Cookies, Pringles snack packs,
  13. Gold fish

Aldi:

I was amazed at the quality of products sold at Aldi and at such cheap prices. They have  good selection of organic produce.

My weekly list at Aldi varies week to week. But in general consists of variety of fruits and vegetables, salad greens, herbs, milk. yogurt, eggs. I’ve never had my grocery bill go above $50. Usually stays around $25-$30.

Three things to keep in mind if you go to Aldi:

  1. Their fresh  produce do not last a long time so plan to use them up within the week. This makes me think maybe they are not using a ton of chemicals to preserve the freshness for a long time  which is a good thing
  2. Make sure you have quarter with you. You need this to get the cart and once you return the cart you get it back. This is such a neat idea – they don’t need to hire a person to bring back all the carts and you never see carts laying around the parking lot.
  3. Both Costco and Aldi also don’t give out grocery bags so either bring your own reusable plastic bag or you can get one of the cardboard boxes, which they pile on the sides, and use this to keep your food organized in the trunk.. Between Aldi and Costco I have limited the influx of plastic grocery bags into our home..

So there you have the dynamic duo! I am so happy at how much money we are saving on food costs , and how we are able to eat healthy homemade food at a lower cost.

Please share your ideas of healthy eating at lower cost in comments.

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