After a couple months of reducing our grocery shopping, simplifying our meals, and making meals from the pantry as much as I could, it was time to take the plunge – grocery shopping in a new town after a move.
With a fair amount of our pantry items spread out across many (yet to be unpacked) boxes, we were not starving by any means, but we also were inconvenienced by the lack of a bit of this here and a bit of that there.
The first week we were in our new state, I did meal planning based off what we had plus a small quick trip to Kroger. The second week, we were gone all week for Thanksgiving. The third week, I realized, and my husband requested, the need to have a ‘real’ shopping trip accomplished.
My husband offered to take the kids and let me go on my own. Even though it was a Sunday, a time when I would otherwise avoid the stores at all costs, I agreed. (It helped that Acts of Service are my love language, something my husband knows but is not always in the position to accomplish.)
Not having a fully put together plan, though I did have a list of needed items, I went with the tried and true – Aldi. Followed by a store I hoped would offer some good markdowns with little prep – Kroger. I was not disappointed.
In the upcoming weeks I plan to shop at other stores, not only to use some coupons we received, but also to get a feel for what they may have to offer.
I spent way more time in Aldi than I had planned. With their simplified selection, it was not due to being overwhelmed by choice. Well, not exactly. I was enjoying getting to look at the back of packages and actually consider options outside of what I might normally purchase. For example, I was going to pick up some trail mix, then thought to check the sugar content on the back. When I did not like what I found, I moved on to dried fruit. Same result. I did pick up a packet of dried gogi berries (the vitamin C helps with iron absorption) but the rest stayed on the shelves.
This particular store also had one extra aisle than the one I had been used to frequenting. While this was a nice change to the flow of shopping, it meant some things, like the dairy, were shifted out of order. They made up for it in their holiday cheese selections though. I love their seasonal holiday cheese selections and try to stock up while I can. A lesson I learned a few years back, when I first started shopping at Aldi: When it comes to Seasonal Selections, they really are a limited time offer. It is not a sales tactic, it is a warning – Once they are out, there is no guarantee they will get more.
My total after my kid free trek through the wonderful world of Aldi? More than I had spent the whole previous month on groceries. Before you think too harshly, though, the previous month contained mostly bananas, milk, bread, and apples. Not exactly substantial shopping. I took a deep breath and moved on to Kroger.
I was greeted in the store by open, florescent light filled, colorful produce section. There were banners telling about sales, helium balloons for every occasion for which you may wish to purchase them, cooler cases of produce with lights and mirror … very different from the store I had come from. (Aldi was not dark, but it was for sure not as much of an overload as larger chain stores tend to be.) Knowing what I know now, I can see why kids are easily sensory overloaded in such stores. Even I get overload in such stores after not visiting them often over the years.
I found what I was looking for, as well as a few marked down produce items. Then I saw this pile, looked twice, clarified with a worker, then grabbed two bags and filled them. Being able to find sweet potatoes for $0.25/lb made me feel better for not having planted them this past year.
I ended up with 27 pounds, just under $7. These should last us a few weeks.
Moving on to the bakery section, I picked up more marked down breads, as well as some croissants my husband requested. I left the marked down, yummy looking, sugar filled, large cupcake alone. I knew we had brownie mix at home which was not only unpacked, but also already paid for.
The rest of the store resulted in marked down tea, a selection of curry sauces, cheese that matched a coupon I pre-loaded onto my store card*, and egg nog. My receipt showed a savings of $30, but it was much more, at least double. The registers do not add in the difference between a product’s original price and the new marked down price.
Something I did on this trip, which I have never done in the past, was to purchase two items at full price – egg nog and chocolate covered cherries. These are two seasonal items for me, things I love yet which I often deprive myself of until they go on sale.
This year, I decided to spend the extra $2-$3 and enjoy them instead of pining the whole month. Our budget could handle it, and if it could not I would go take some more surveys on Swagbucks and redeem for a PayPal card. But it could, so I did not need too, instead spending the evening sharing my chocolaty delights with the kids … and finishing off the rest of the box myself. No worries, this is not going to be a month long habit, as I satisfied my desire and can move on to the half gallon of egg nog. 😉