Our menu writer of the month for March is Susan. She has been writing the Aldi menu for about 6 years. She is married to Roy and has three kids, Corey, Christie, and Kelly. Here’s what she has to say about the Aldi plan.
Q: How did you first hear about the company or start using the E-Mealz service?
A: When Jane & I lived life together in Ohio as neighbors and friends she had already started the wheels turning for E-Mealz. She already had the concept of coming up with meals and dividing the ingredients up into categories. She shared the concept with me and we would brainstorm and share recipes. Before we knew it, we had 6 weeks of meals planned out. We would use 3×5 note cards, write out recipes, list the stuff we needed to purchase and then slip these cards in a photo book with sheet protectors. Jane has always had a knack for making the most out of menus and the grocery store. When she moved to Alabama, she took this concept to a whole new level by basing each menu plan off weekly local grocery store sales. Thus, Emealz was launched! So I have watched her take a simple concept and turn it into a vehicle to help thousands of families gather around the dinner table with more ease….what an incredible concept.
Q: What made you decide to do the Aldi plan?
A: We were a very budget conscious, single income family and I kept hearing very positive things from my friends about it and what they bought there, they liked. So, one day I decided I would just go to Aldi and buy everything I typically would buy to see if I’d like it the same way. I remember leaving Aldi and thinking how much food I got for what I had spent. I couldn’t even get out of a grocery store using coupons for what I had spent. I got so much for the money. The initial shock of packaging, loading, and unloading my groceries was well outweighed by the savings I had made on my grocery bill. It pains me to go to a chain grocery store and pay more when I know that I can get it at Aldi and what it would cost me. I am one of the Aldi’s biggest proponents that I know, so it just made sense that I write this plan.
Q: What is your best advice for shopping at Aldi for readers who are new to the store?
A: A lot of people don’t realize that Aldi carries about 13,000 items weekly, so there’s not much you can’t get there. You may not have the selection of 10 different types of soups or jellies, but you can usually walk out of there finding the majority of your desired items. My advice to you is to just go and give it a try like I did. Buy your box of shredded wheat cereal or the taco seasoning mix for a week and see if you can tell the difference. Compare prices and if there’s something in particular you don’t like then know that for the next time and buy that one ingredient elsewhere. Meat and dairy prices fluctuate like any other store, but sliced cheese, deli meat, butter, vegetables and fruit are always substantially lower. I have been shopping there for years. Many people ask about the quality of the meat but the ground sirloin is incredible and I have pork chops from Aldi in the oven as we speak. From time to time you will see brand name items like Tyson, Dole and General Mills. You need to know that when you go to Aldi you will have to pack your own groceries. You can buy bags there for a nickel or bring your own bags. We are big recyclers and love that we are saving a tree or two by bringing in our own bags. You also will need a quarter to get your cart. Give it a try…I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Q: What do you like about shopping at Aldi that you may not have mentioned earlier? Is there other information on the company that would be surprising to E-Mealz members?
A: A lot of people don’t know that Aldi owns Trader Joe’s. It seems like both of these stores are starting to pop up everywhere. Also, part of the reason the prices are so low at Aldi is because the person ringing you up is the same person stocking the shelves and doing everything else at the store. It works out great for consumers. They also have what they call weekly special buys. I can never incorporate these deals into my menu plans because I’m 2 weeks ahead but those are great items to take advantage of. During holidays, they tend to carry more seasonal items such as deep dish pie crusts, cranberries and frozen yeast rolls to make your shopping more convenient. Also, they carry nonfood items such as paper goods, toiletries and weekly specials. They offer kids clothing to toasters to wrapping paper on any given week. Watch for your weekly ads to see what they have.
Q: What are some of your favorite meals you’ve put on your plan?
A: One of my favorite recipes is spaghetti pie. It’s super easy and my family loves it. My oldest daughter is a vegetarian and my husband and son are the meat & potatoes kind of guys, so it’s a great fix for me. I can make it with or without meat. Everyone always raves about it and it is easy to make. It is a great meal to take to a friend in need. Just add a salad and garlic bread and you are good to go. I also love our beef tips over noodles recipe. I just use the beef stew meat from Aldi as a crock pot meal and before I know it dinner’s done. Another favorite is Swiss chicken. I serve these dishes for company a lot. They’re easy dishes and more economical to make since I’m buying ingredients from Aldi.
Q: How can E-Mealz help people through the Aldi plan with saving money?
A: You always go to Aldi knowing you’re saving money, time, and getting a way better deal. The Aldi meal plan typically comes in under $65 for 7 meals. I just believe in it. You’re going to get quality food at rock bottom prices. You may put a little more labor into it, but to me, it’s worth it! You can even ask your husband or your kids to come and help. It makes your husband very happy to see how much you save. You just can’t beat it! I’m a huge Aldi advocate. Since the down turn of the economy, I’ve noticed more and more people are talking and shopping at Aldi. In fact, the other day I couldn’t find a spot to park because it was so busy.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Personally, I just love the concept of E-Mealz. I love being part of something that brings the family back around the table. Having 3 kids of my own whom have all been involved in sports and are running in different directions, I know how hard it is to get everyone around the table. I am thrilled to be a part of E-Mealz helping families connect and save money. It is purposeful, and I am blessed to be a part of it. On top of the fact that E-Mealz has a heart for families it is now reaching out to the people of Haiti and assisting them with nutrition and water. E-Mealz is an incredible concept and I consider it a privilege to work for this organization. For $1.25 a week you can’t beat it. Kudos to Jane on pursuing her vision for smart shopping, meal planning and helping families stay together.