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Healthy Eating on a Budget.

Okay.  So… I’m by no means a personal trainer or a nutritionist but I workout regularly and healthy cooking/eating  is a topic I’ve researched thoroughly and feel fairly knowledgeable about.  When I’m interested in something (like health and fitness) I learn as much as possible about it.  I’ve had conversations with friends and coworkers throughout the years so… I thought every once in awhile I’d tackle a different challenge when it comes to health and fitness. (okay you may resume reading now)

These posts are by no means meant to be preachy, judgmental or rude.  Instead I’m going to tackle every excuse when it comes to health and fitness with reason, advice and help from personal experience.  (My weight fluctuates often, sometimes I lack motivation, I’ve had my own excuses and I struggle when a deep fried cheese curd is around.) Of course in the end… I’ll probably say “boom, lawyered.” 

Alright.  So when it comes to health and fitness one of the biggest excuses concerns is the fact eating healthy can be costly.  Considering the fact that Adam & I both work for nonprofits it’s safe to say we’re not living life like rap stars.

Bottom line unless you’re on a budget where you’re only eating Ramen noodles, mac & cheese and cutting all your other expenses (cable, clothing, alcohol, going out to dinner, social expenses etc.) and you can afford to eat healthy.

Just a tip:  you should try to spend about 10-15% of your monthly budget on groceries/food.

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There are a million different tips and tricks to keep in mind when it comes to spending less on groceries.  I’m just going to share one with you.  Because to be honest, extreme couponing gives me anxiety just thinking about it.

Growing up, my parents shopped at ALDI’s to save money.  While my parents weren’t on a tight budget, I grew up learning to save on the things you can, so you have have more on the rest.  When I was in middle school this used to embarrass me but now I have my own ALDI’s stand-bys I purchase before heading to additional stores.  (Truth is.. I shop at multiple stores to save even more money)

Here is my guide to shopping at ALDI’s for those who wish to eat healthy and do some inexpensively…

If you’ve never been to ALDI’s what you should know:  (if you have you can skip right on through this part)

1.  Always have your quarter handy.  If you’re going to use a cart you need to have a quarter to get your cart out of the carousel.  ALDI’s does this as a favor to all of us whose biggest pet peeve is people who don’t put their carts away.

If you check out the Web site, the company’s official Web site answer=

Why do I need a quarter to use a shopping cart at ALDI?

At ALDI, we cut costs every way we can to keep prices low. Our shopping cart deposit system is a good example. You insert a quarter to release a cart. When you return the cart, you get your quarter back. This system cuts down on the labor of collecting carts left in the parking lot, damage to cars, and we pass the savings on to you.

2.  Bring your own bags or grab boxes as you go.  I have a great carryall I received as a gift from Adam’s mom.  It fits about three-four bags worth of groceries and helps me eliminate having to take multiple trips

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3.  Have cash or a debit card.  ALDI’s does not take credit cards.  Be sure to have a debit card or cash handy to make your purchase.

4.  Get a cart to make it easier in the end.  When you go to the register to check out, they put all of your groceries in a cart which is sitting next to the clerk who checks you out.  If you don’t have a cart, then you have to leave the cart there and get all of your groceries out immediately after they check you out.  If you bring a cart, you take the cart they use and give them the cart you have for the next person.  (This always seems to confuse and stress out first time shoppers, so bottom line bring your bags and grab a cart)

What you can buy at ALDI’s:  (what I often buy)

-Jennie-O Ground Turkey or Italian Sausage $3.49, $3.69

-Frozen strawberries for smoothies $1.99

-Guacamole $2.99 (the spicy version is the best), it reminds me of Wholly Guacamole, it’s relatively clean

-Baby carrots .89

-Bag of Spinach $1.79

-Sandwich skinnies (like Sandwich thins) $1.99

-Fit & Active Flatbread (whole grain) $2.29

-Stevia $1.99

-Low calorie Gatorade $0.65 for a 32 oz

-Almond Milk ( it is sweetened though) $2.49

-Red Grapes, peaches, blueberries, sweet potatoes, yukon gold potatoes, green salad mix

-Low sodium chicken and beef broth

-Artichoke Salsa

-Plain yogurt for cooking

They also have:

-Low calorie ice cream sandwiches (comparable to skinny cow)

-Spreadable cheese wedges like Laughing Cow

-Sweet potato chips

-Baked chips

-Protein bars

-Fruit leathers

-Nuts

Things I wouldn’t buy from ALDI’S:

-Coffee creamer

-baggies, aluminum foil or many household products—there are certain things you just have to buy brand name

-non brand name meats (frozen chicken breasts, pork tenderloins and the shrimp I heard are okay but I’m particular about my meats)

*Granted there will always be deals at other grocery stores from time to time and we all view the idea of “healthy” foods differently.  I am just reintroducing complex carbs and I eat relatively clean.  If you watch calories but eat some processed foods lower in calories you might eat differently than I do.   However, this is just a quick guide for anyone curious about ALDI’s, getting into eating healthy or getting back on track.