How low do you think you could go with your grocery budget? What if you only had $10 to feed yourself for the whole week? What would you buy?
I’ve already done this once in my How to Eat for $10 at the Dollar Tree video. Now I’m back to do it again but at Aldi. Aldi is known for it’s low, competitive prices, so I was excited to see how it would compare against the Dollar Tree. This week also happens to be a vegetarian $10 challenge.
For those who may not be super familiar with Aldi I wanted to give a very brief overview. Aldi is a small grocery store chain that employs a variety of methods to cut costs as much as possible, and those savings are passed on to the consumer. These are things like requiring a quarter to use a shopping cart which you get back when you return the cart (not a common practice in the United States) which cuts down on personnel needed to corral carts. Also having customers provide their own grocery bags and bag their own groceries. And finally, most items that Aldi sells are in house brands made by exclusively for Aldi. You won’t have a choice of different brands for most products.
The result of these cost saving tactics is that Aldi frequently has the lowest prices on many food items in the locations they operate.
What about pantry items and groceries already bought?
For the purposes of this demonstration, I didn’t use any pantry items or ingredients that I already owned with the exception of a small handful of spices and cooking oil. I wanted to show that you could transform simple foods into delicious meals with a very basic and affordable array of spices.
This challenge is ultimately just for fun and for demonstrative purposes. No one should realistically subsist on only $10 of food per week. If you are struggling, please reach out to the resources around you.
If you are in the United States, the United Way runs a confidential helpline that can be accessed simply by dialing 211 from any phone, and they can help connect you with community resources (this includes assistance needs outside of food access too).
Additionally, I make no claims about the nutritional value of this meal plan and recognize that different bodies have different needs, allergies, preferences, etc. I am not a registered dietician or a medical professional, so please defer to them for decisions when it comes to your diet.
So what did I buy from Aldi?
- 3lb Bag of Rice
- 2 Cans of Black Beans
- 1 Large Can Pinto Beans
- 3lb Sweet Potatoes
- 1 Can Tomato Paste
- 1 Loaf of Bread (not pictured)
- 2 Dozen Large Eggs
- 2lb Carrots
- 1lb Cabbage
- 2 Cans Diced Tomatoes
- 1 Can Corn
Similar to my Dollar Tree meal plan, the first night was a big meal prep night. I made Spanish rice, refried beans, and egg muffins. Besides being dinner that night, these also allowed me to make 4 breakfasts and 3 lunches for work. I used 1 cup of rice, a half a can of tomatoes, 1 can of black beans, carrot, and half a can of tomato paste. I used the pinto beans to make my refried beans. And the egg muffins were made with eggs, the other half of the can of tomatoes, and half a can of corn.
For breakfast and lunch I had my pre-prepared breakfast and lunch, but I needed to make something for dinner. I used 2 cans of my black beans, some bread crumbs which I dried out in the oven, some grated carrot, the other half of my can of tomato paste, and plenty of spices to make 5 black bean burgers to eat throughout the rest of the week. I also made enough sweet potato fries to accompany 3 of the burger meals.
The next time I cooked again was Saturday. I had a slice of delicious avocado toast with scrambled egg for breakfast (saving half my avocado for later), an eggs in purgatory dish for lunch featuring sautéed sweet potatoes (if you haven’t tried it, sweet potatoes are an amazing addition to your eggs in purgatory). I saved half of this pan for Sunday’s lunch.
Breakfast Sunday was a simple meal of eggs in a basket. For dinner that night, I sautéed the entire head of cabbage along with some carrots. I cooked rice in my rice cooker and reheated and crumbled one of my black bean burgers. I combined this all into a delicious bowl. I made 2 more bowls to eat for other meals.
The final unique meal I made was Tuesday night dinner. I used many of the remaining odds and ends I had (some corn, some carrots, some pinto beans, and some rice) and made a sweet potato stir fry.
So How Did it Go?
I found a lot of the meals I made to be very similar to how I eat on my regular budget, just a bit more repetitive since I was using fewer overall ingredients for the week and only feeding myself. I’ll certainly be making black bean burgers again (this was my first time making them!) and I think they’d be amazing with some mustard and pickles, or even some avocado slices.
Eating for $10 at Aldi was certainly a different experience that my weekly menu from the Dollar Tree. I had enough calories each day as well as extra food that I could have eaten had I needed more. The variety of fresh produce made a huge difference in both the variety of meals I was able to make, as well as the vitamins and nutrients available to my body.
The prices at Aldi do change both weekly and regionally, so while the Dollar Tree menu I ate could be replicated week to week, it’s possible that $10 at Aldi could be much more challenging on any given week or in a geographic location that has higher pricing than my local Aldi had.
Below you’ll find a couple links to other (less extreme) food budgeting posts I’ve done!