Sunday, January 12, 2014

# Food Challenges

Aldi"s Grocery Store Week- Day 1

Aldi Grocery Stores have finally opened up in the Houston area and I have to say I love them (and they aren't paying me to say that either).

Aldi started popping up in Wisconsin right about the time we moved down to Houston, so I never got a real feel for them. The few times I ventured into the ones close to my parents, I was so so about them when I would go in to get things. Mainly I didn't like that how you might go in and not find what you were looking for in there. Aldi's isn't a normal grocery store and once you get past that, well it does get better.

I was a big convert last summer when I went there and bought for what they had and fed about 50 people for about 150 bucks for my Mom's birthday. I loved that I was able to get a variety of things to make some good stuff. Something I have seen in every Aldi's stores is pre-made Spatzle which is a pre-made German egg noodle. I made an awesome pasta salad with it that won rave reviews. I also use it with smothered pork chops.

So I started noticing that the Houston area was finally getting them. First they were far away and I wasn't really willing to drive to one. Than one closer opened up and I was in heaven. The first trip there was under a hundred bucks and I got an amazing amount of things for that price.

Finally one opened about five minutes from the house and I was so excited. I admit I stalked it the weeks leading up to it and was there at about 9:10 the morning of the opening. The boy and I grabbed a bunch of stuff and tried tons of samples.

Here is what you need to know about Aldi's:

1. It is not a traditional huge grocery store. It has about 4-5 aisles and it is small. They call themselves markets which remind me of the old corner markets.

2. Aldi's doesn't stock shelves per say but more club store like. It helps to limit overhead costs.

3. Bring your own bags and a quarter. Aldi's doesn't offer free bags (you can buy them for about ten cents) and they don't bag your food- you have to but they have nice counters for it. So bring your own bags. I usually just bag as I put in the minivan. Also bring a quarter because that is how you get a cart by putting a quarter in and when you return it, you get it back. No cart corrals helps to limit overhead as well.

4. Don't expect to find everything on your grocery list. Aldi is great for deals but you need to shop the ads and buy the in store specials. It doesn't mean you can't plan meals, but be aware they might not have a critical ingredient so you might have to jump stores.

5. Prices are great and I have seen amazing prices. A grand opening store can offer deals on milk and eggs which I bought a lot of and it was great to have those when we had family in town. The good thing is the regular price isn't that much more. 12 dozen eggs were 79 cents for about a good month and than went up to 99 cents. Milk was 1.69 and regular price has been about 1.99-2.49 which is more than a dollar cheaper than regular grocery stores.

6. Aldi's has lots of healthy options and gourmet options. The parent company also owns Trader Joe's though the business are separate but you will see similarities like cheap and good wines as well as unique ethic foods. Mainly German and European at Aldi's.

Right before Christmas, I picked up a catalog/recipe book at the local store and was blown away by the recipes for the holidays. So I took a look on their website and saw they had a ton of wonderful recipes using their products. So I thought how hard would it be to use their recipes and shop at the stores for a whole week of meals. I also liked the variety of recipes they had.

There was amble variety of beef, pork, chicken, pasta and vegetarian options for main dishes as well as sides and breakfast. Looking at all of it and taking what I already had in the freezer and pantry, I thought I would build my week of meal planning off of the recipes and shop only at Aldi's.

I am curious to see if there is real savings and can I fit all of the yummy sounding meals with in my budget. We live in a 125 dollar a week grocery budget. Some weeks we are under and others over. I average right around 500 bucks a month on groceries. I also have a stock pile of stuff that I buy when things are on sale.

I plan with what I have and supplement in all week.

Up first for Sunday's meal are:

Dinner:  Flank Steak with Cheesy Cauliflower Soup

So I am going to make them and review them in tomorrow's post. I will also try to take pictures as well of the meals. 

So sit back and see if we can have some successful and good meals for the week!!


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