The Aldi Experiment, part 2–an update

27 Apr

Two weeks ago, I boldly announced that my family would be embarking on part two of our Aldi experiment that was conducted earlier this year. I also boldly announced that I would be updating our progress every Monday. You may have noticed that I have not posted an update. Here’s why–we’re failing miserably.

When I say fail, I mean just that. We are failing. Not only have we not saved any money, we’ve actually gone over budget the last two weeks. And I can’t figure out why. I’m not buying anything different. I’m not even buying more of anything. I’m menu planning and shopping with a list. But for some reason, we have spent close to an extra $60 over the last 2 weeks on groceries.  

If you think about it, $60 is a lot of money. I can do many, many things with $60. So the fact that I’ve spent that much over my already generous grocery budget ($100/week) is a bit disheartening for me.  And when you look at how successful we were the first time around, it’s even more disheartening.

I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to figure out what’s going on. I’ve narrowed it down to three possibilities–a lack of committment to the project, a lack of proper and adequate planning or I’ve forgotten how to count. The other possibility is that our “roommate”, Willie, secretly sneaked into the supermarket/Aldi and, unbeknownst to me, put food in the shopping cart, causing the bill to rise. (I’ve never talked about him before, but Willie is the invisible tenant who lives in our house and eats all our food. He is a big, expensive pain.)

While the Willie explanation seems the most likely, my next guess is a lack of committment to the project. It seemed like a good idea at the beginning. After all, we had been really successful. While that success was encouraging, I think that we’ve just grown weary of doing everything on a budget and have allowed ourselves to let go just a bit. And it’s OK to loosen up every now and then; it’s when it becomes habit that it’s a problem.

I’ve accepted the fact that we’ve failed thus far in Part 2; after all, I can’t change what’s done. But it’s time to recommit. So, I resolve, here and now, that for the remaining 2-3 weeks of this experiment, we will come under budget. We will save more money. We will tell Willie he needs to get a job and buy his own food. We can do this.

How about you? Have any of you participated in the experiment? What are your results?

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5 Responses to “The Aldi Experiment, part 2–an update”

  1. Another Suburban Mom April 27, 2010 at 10:11 pm #

    I know that every time I go on that ultra healthy kick it seems to cost more. Organic meat, eggs, milk and appropriate produce and the like are not cheap.

    I am also going to get an invisible roommate. He can be the person who forgets to turn the lights off and does not pack the recycling correctly.

    • theemptykitchen April 28, 2010 at 9:46 am #

      i curse the day willie mceatsalot sneaked into my house. he’s so expensive!

  2. Sarah May 19, 2010 at 2:47 pm #

    Sorry I’m late to the party, but I love love love Aldi. Before moving to CA in January, it was my primary grocery store for most items. Aldi was great for my budget when BF was laid off. You just have to be smart about what you buy there.

    Here was my strategy:
    I went to Aldi for pantry staples (cereal, juices, rice, pasta, etc), dairy items (yogurt, milk, cheese, etc) and frozen/refrigerated lunch food (lunch meat, canned biscuit dough, occasional frozen pizza or prepared item) – basically the weekly staples outside of meat and produce. Actually, I would buy produce like in-season berries (strawberries, blackberries and blueberries for $1 each? I’m in!) or interesting cuts of meat if they were a good deal. Also, be sure to check out their personal care items like deodorant, lotion and moisturizer. Aldi store brand items like this are actually from their European stores and are very high quality.

    Once I got the “staples” out of the way, I would hit my local big grocer for produce and meats because they had a larger selection of higher quality items.

    Oh, one other thing – not all Aldi stores do this, but ours also sold beer and wine. I’m not a big drinker, but I bought some as an experiment for BF. He was pleasantly surprised with the taste and quality for the price and thought was a good sub every once in a while, but still doesn’t replace blue moon and heineken in his heart 🙂

    • theemptykitchen May 20, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

      Sarah, it’s never too late to join the Aldi party! Those are good strategies. Thank you so much for sharing them!

  3. Sarah May 20, 2010 at 7:25 pm #

    No problem! I’m having to totally re-evaluate my grocery strategy now that we live in the Bay Area so budgeting is on the brain. There is so much amazing local produce, meat and baked goods, but it can get PRICEY in a hurry. Luckily (and I think I’m different from most Midwesterners in this regard) I was used to shopping at multiple stores to find the best deal back home. When we first moved West, I tried to do the one-stop shopping but found that the produce and meat quality wasn’t that great considering where we were.

    Now, I visit 3 stores when I do my weekly grocery shopping – meat market, produce market and dollar store. Obviously, produce and meat markets for their respective items then the dollar store to round out shelf stable goods and paper products. By going to the dollar store for things like TP, cereal, dish soap, shampoo,etc I can allocate more of my budget to fresh items.

    oh, another tip? Make friends with your butcher (independent or chain store, doesn’t matter. just meet the guy and ask some questions!). After going in a few times and talking the folks behind the counter, I can go in, tell the guys “I have $15 to make main courses with enough left over for some lunches for 2 people for this week. Give me the best combination of meats that will fit the bill. GO!” This week I told Kevin (my awesome butcher!) that I still had beef left from last week, so let’s do something different this week. Now my freezer is a cornucopia of quick weekday meats (parceled out into packs of 2 for easy defrosting) and slow cooking weekend meats (big hunks for the slow cooker that will last for the first few days of the week).

    Breaking things out this way helps me keep a better handle on my budget as well b/c I know I have a specific amount to spend at each store. Spent too much at the butcher? No chips from the dollar store this week. Got a great deal at the fruit market? Steaks for dinner tonight, baby!

    Wow, I didn’t mean to write a novel, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE talking about budget strategies, bargain shopping and cooking. This whole blog hits the trifecta!!

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