Photos courtesy of Kristen Cervantes

What Does A Family Of 3 Spend On Groceries? We Make Bank At Aldi

Raising a child supposedly costs you a quarter of a million dollars, but it can honestly be more daunting to face the idea of spending $80 on bottle nipples in a single month. Expense Report gives us a look into the spending, scrimping, and wishing that defines parenthood, from what moms spend on birthdays, to childcare, to sleep, to self-care (we wish!), and beyond.

Spending an hour or so endlessly wondering around a cold area full of tempting snacks and carts in the way is not my idea of fun or a "break." I hate grocery shopping. It is not my escape from my family or work, it is an obnoxious task that has to be completed. I push it off until my family really *needs* a full shop. To push this off as long as possible, I will grab items here and there while I'm out. But, it has to be done.

My family includes me, my husband, and our 5-year-old daughter. My husband and I both work full-time but we have to budget what we spend as a family of three, especially on groceries. It's tough keeping healthy options on the table without going broke.

Family: A mom and dad in their thirties

Location: California

Annual family income: Approximately $70,000

Number of children: One, aged 5

I will be the first to admit that I don't cook and by chance if I do, I don't enjoy it. I like to eat simple and quick meals since my husband and I work the majority of the day and are busy with an active 5-year-old.

Last year, my husband and I learned about Aldi, the discount supermarket. Our friends showed us what they bought and how much they saved. And I was sold on the cheap wine. When my husband and I decided to venture out of our comfort zone of Target shopping, we were surprised by the variety of options and how inexpensive it all was.

For this particular grocery trip, we loaded up our reusable bags (otherwise you pay 10 cents for a bag) and found a few hours to spare to make the thrilling (/sarcasm) journey to Aldi.

Once inside, any type of list my husband and I created went out the window. My daughter instantly sees junk food the store conveniently puts right in front and of course she wants it. We spend about five minutes negotiating until I cave in and throw a Kinder Joy Egg, some sort of chocolate mixed with a toy, in the cart to stop her from having a meltdown.

Kinder Joy egg: $1.29

And then of course this is next to the alcohol section where I grab a few bottles of $3 wine. It's actually pretty good.

Winking Owl wine (x2): $2.39

After contemplating buying another bottle of cheap wine, we move along to the fruit and vegetable section of the aisle. Unfortunately, we do not spend as much time as we should here. And it's mainly for my daughter. She loves fruit so we normally get blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, basically anything ending in -berry.

The problem with buying fruit is that my daughter forgets she has it and a week later when she decides she wants it, it's already growing mold. Then our money is thrown in the trash.

Despite this possibility, I get some raspberries and green apples because at least the green apples my husband and I will eat.

Raspberries: $2.89

Bag of Granny Smith apples: $2.49

When we don't go grocery shopping in a while, we forgo a shopping list. We have a pretty good system down of knowing what we normally eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and just get the essentials. Sometimes we go home and find we already have five of the same thing, but with most items under $4, it's not a huge deal to us.

This particular trip was a doozy. We needed a lot. Our daughter decided to branch out of her normal morning bowl of cereal and wanted maple pop tarts instead. She wants to eat something? It goes in the cart.

Fortunately, Aldi has off brands of our favorite items so what we would normally spend at Target for the name brand is a few bucks less. There are times when we want the name brand product because it's tastes better (for example Kraft Parmesean Cheese), but otherwise, most of the items Aldi sells tastes the same.

We eventually add a box of cereal, oatmeal, frozen waffles and coffee, and call it a day with breakfast for us all.

Toaster Tarts: $1.89

Flavored instant oats: $1.69

Nitro-brew coffee (one bottle): $3.99

Homestyle waffles: $1.69

Honey Wheat Puffs (cereal): $2.19

Raisin Bran: $1.99

Cocoa Rice cereal: $0.99

The problem with grocery shopping is my daughter and I have a shopping problem. For me, it's an addiction, for her, well, she's still young and learning (from me). Aldi has what they call "Aldi Finds"; items (food, kitchen essentials, kid items, etc.) that are only sold that week, maybe more, but once it's gone it's gone. This particular week, the store was selling exercise equipment. I was excited to find an inexpensive ab roller and a foot roller. I reason with my husband by saying it's for the days when I can't make it to the gym. And in the cart they go.

Toner: $4.99

Foot Roller: $4.99

In order to not spend the entire evening in the grocery store, we speed it up and try to focus on items we need.

Corndogs: $2.49

Cooking spray: $1.49

Yogurt: $0.39 (each)

Box of penne pasta: $0.89

Case of bottled water: $2.29 (plus $1.20 deposit)

Ketchup: $0.89 (a must if you have a kid)

I actually love grocery shopping at Aldi. It is not as large as the more well-known grocery stores and its "Aldi Finds" makes you feel like you hit the lottery and found an awesome item for cheap that you can brag about to your friends.

I'm sure a lot of people don't wait as long as we do to go to the grocery store and may buy a lot more healthy items, but we know what works with our family and we buy a good enough of mix where we can eat sensibly and have an occasional cheat day, or two, or three.

It's a lot to wheel out to the car, and incredible that we'll be back next week to do it all again. Here's how it breaks down.

The Subtotals

Snacks: $38.49

Perishable: $32.35

Fresh Produce: $5.38

Pantry Staples: $30.98

Clothing: $8.99

Household: $4.99

Frozen: $17.33

Meat: $6.38

Alcohol: $4.78

Beauty: $4.99

Total: $154.55

All in all, we were able to get 70 items total for $154.55. For groceries along with some ~unnecessary~ items, I think that's pretty good.

Courtesy of Kristen Cervantes

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