Grocery Diaries

I’m a Registered Dietitian and My Husband’s an Engineer — We Shop Mostly at Aldi and Just Spent $70 on a Week’s Worth of Groceries

published Apr 14, 2022
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Credit: People: Courtesy of Nicole; Food: Shutterstock; Design: Kitchn

Name: Nicole
Location: White Bear Lake, MN
Age: 30
Household: 4; husband, 3- and 5-year-old kids, and me
Occupation: I’m a registered dietitian; my husband is an engineer
Budget: $69.81

Credit: Courtesy of Nicole

Where did you shop?

We shop at Aldi for most of our groceries. The store’s prices are great and it’s really close to our home. We occasionally supplement with trips to Hy-Vee or Festival Foods. This week, for example, there were a few items at Hy-Vee that were discounted (more than $8 in savings on just five items!) and I was in the area, so I stopped in mid-week. We also froze produce from our garden last summer; we’ll use that in some of our meals as well.

Credit: Courtesy of Nicole

What’s your grocery strategy?

I always make a list; it helps me be more efficient and come up with a plan for the week. Because Aldi has very few aisles, it’s easy to organize my list by sections of the store. Plus, it makes for an even quicker trip.

We try to keep the grocery budget around $300 per month or $75 per week. I’ve learned that it’s worth spending a bit more one week if there is a sale on non-perishable items or other foods that can be frozen. In those instances, we typically end up with a lighter grocery bill the following week. To further help with saving money and reducing waste, we only buy produce if there is a specific plan for it. 

How do you meal plan?

I keep a log with everything in our freezer, fridge, and pantry, so I start there for inspiration. Then I usually check what’s on sale for the week to help me decide what recipes to make.  I typically plan four meals — at least one is meatless — for the week. At least half of these recipes will make great leftovers for lunches, too. If our leftovers don’t last through the end of the week, we can rely on previously made meals that we have in the freezer. I also make a loaf of homemade sourdough bread every Sunday, so breakfast typically consists of bread with eggs and fruit, oatmeal and yogurt, or homemade baked goods, such as muffins or quick breads. 

What did you buy? 


  • Flour, $1.55
  • Milk, $3.29
  • Carrots, $1.59
  • Broccoli, $2.91
  • Feta cheese, $2.19
  • Yogurt, $3.29
  • Sour cream, $1.49
  • Pinto beans, $1.19
  • Frozen mixed veggies, $0.99
  • Cantaloupe, $1.69
  • Pineapple, $1.89
  • Pretzels, $1.97
  • Basmati rice, $2.95
  • Mini cucumbers, $2.19
  • Kalamata olives, $1.99
  • Bananas, $0.92
  • Cilantro, $0.75
  • String cheese, $2.79
  • Olive oil, $2.49
  • Egg noodles, $1.12
  • Jelly, $2.15
  • Mushrooms, $1.59
  • Apples, $3.49
  • Grape tomatoes, $1.69
  • Croutons $0.89
  • 3 bell peppers, $2.99
  • Green onions, $0.65
  • Spinach, $1.69
  • Romaine hearts, $2.49

Total: $56.87


  • Orange juice, $0.98
  • Cottage cheese, $1.99
  • Starbucks coffee, $5.98
  • Bacon, $2.99
  • 2 mangoes, $1.00

Total: $12.94

Grand Total: $69.81

Credit: Courtesy of Nicole

Sunday: Sourdough, Tex-Mex Bean and Rice Soup, and Homemade Frozen Yogurt

Breakfast and lunch were leftovers we had on hand to finish off the week before I went to the store in the afternoon. Because it’s early spring in Minnesota, there are still plenty of chilly days left, and today is a perfect day to try a new soup recipe. I bake a loaf of sourdough bread on Sunday mornings (thanks to the pandemic hobby that many picked up). Often we like to have soup to go with it on Sunday evenings. This soup allows me to use up some frozen tomatoes from our garden from last summer. We also serve it with some carrots and cucumbers on the side. 

Credit: Courtesy of Nicole

One tactic that allows us to keep our food waste very low is to find different uses for foods before they spoil. I peel bananas that are past their prime and place them in freezer bags to use later. We love blending up a banana, frozen berries, and a little yogurt for a delicious and refreshing dessert. We top it with coconut shreds.

Credit: Courtesy of Nicole

Monday: Pancakes with Homemade Maple Syrup and Yogurt, Leftover Soup, and Stuffed Chicken

For breakfast, we have some Kodiak Cakes mix in the cupboard, which pairs nicely with the homemade maple syrup that we made this past weekend. It’s our first year making maple syrup; we tried it as a fun family project in the backyard and it yields delicious results! My kids, in particular, like full-fat plain yogurt on their pancakes along with fruit. For the first time, I make the yogurt myself; it’s simple and tastes just like the store-bought kind. (I’ve been meaning to learn how to make my own yogurt for a while and I told myself as soon as the store-bought kind went over $3 I’d give it a try. Well, this week it hit $3.29, so the time had come!) I’m hoping to incorporate this into our routine every week.

Credit: Courtesy of Nicole

I am home with the kids on Mondays and, for lunch, we have leftover soup with sourdough and veggies on the side. My husband has the same, but he brings his to work. I make feta and tomato stuffed chicken with roasted potatoes and a side salad for dinner. This is a nice meal to have once in a while and it’s easy to make. (The fresh cherry tomatoes are getting me excited about the upcoming gardening season!) I use up the remaining potatoes, and save the excess feta and Kalamata olives to add to the salads for the rest of the week.

Credit: Courtesy of Nicole

Tuesday: Fried Eggs, Leftover Soup, and Beef Stroganoff

This morning we have fried eggs with sourdough and cantaloupe — a balanced and basic breakfast that allows for us to all get out of the house for work and daycare. Eggs have also gotten really expensive, but last week there was a sale so I bought three dozen and I didn’t need to buy any for this week. My husband and I have leftover soup with bread and cottage cheese for lunch (the kids are at daycare; they eat lunch there).

For dinner, we have homemade beef stroganoff, which is always a crowd pleaser in our house. I add in more veggies to the recipe: some chopped green peppers from the freezer, which originally came from our garden, along with mushrooms and onions. We pair it with a side salad and steamed veggies.

Credit: Courtesy of Nicole

Wednesday: Scrambled Eggs, Leftover Chicken, and Teriyaki Stuffed Peppers

We have eggs again for breakfast, this time scrambled with spinach and peppers and sourdough bread. For lunch, my husband and I have leftover stuffed chicken breast, potatoes, and side salads from Monday night’s dinner. My oldest is at preschool and the youngest is with grandma for the day; they each have packed lunches: peanut butter and jelly roll ups with pretzels, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and an apple.

For dinner, I make one of my favorite stuffed pepper recipes: teriyaki stuffed peppers. I work from home, so it’s easy to chop up the veggies during lunch and cook the meat ahead of time. It makes assembling the whole recipe at the end of the day very simple. I use the ground pork that we have in the freezer along with broccoli, carrots, and green onions, and served it with some rice. 

Credit: Courtesy of Nicole

Thursday: Zucchini Bread and Leftovers

This past summer, I froze shredded zucchini from our garden in muffin tins to get half cup servings, then removed them and stored them in a freezer bag. These come in handy and add a little extra nutrition to breads, muffins, or even meatballs and soups. On Wednesday night, I made some homemade zucchini bread for everyone to have for today’s breakfast with yogurt and pineapple.

Credit: Courtesy of Nicole

For lunch, my husband and I have leftover teriyaki stuffed peppers and rice; the kids were back at daycare, where they have lunch. We eat leftover beef stroganoff with a salad and fresh mango and pineapple for dinner.

Credit: Courtesy of Nicole

Friday: More Zucchini Bread, Leftovers, and a Quick Shrimp Alfredo

We eat zucchini bread, for breakfast again, with fried eggs and pineapple and mango and have leftover teriyaki stuffed peppers, rice, and a scoop of cottage cheese for lunch. We have shrimp in the freezer and plenty of butter, flour, and milk on hand to make a sauce, so I make an easy shrimp Alfredo with spaghetti. We pair it with a salad; it disappeared from everyone’s plate rather quickly!

Credit: Courtesy of Nicole

Saturday: Homemade Bagels, Fridge Clean Out, and Steak Frites

I make some homemade everything bagels Friday evening to turn into bacon and egg breakfast sandwiches the next morning. The bagels are really easy to make and taste great! We plan to cook our second batch of maple syrup today, so I wanted everyone to be filled up for the long day ahead. 

We clean out the remaining leftovers in the fridge for lunch, which is a combination of teriyaki stuffed peppers and shrimp Alfredo. We eat outside by the fire where the syrup is cooking! 

Credit: Courtesy of Nicole

For dinner we have bacon-wrapped steak with seasoned fries and mixed vegetables. A few weeks back Hy-Vee had a one-day sale on five-ounce steaks (they were less than half the regular price!) so I bought a few to freeze and save for another time. It is a delicious end to the week.

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