What groceries $32 buys at Acme, Aldi, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods

  • Grocery total: $25.99
  • Number of items purchased: 23/23
  • Fully complete meals I could make: 21/21

If you’ve never shopped at Aldi, you’re missing out on some huge savings. The stores are a bit basic — no fancy hand-painted signs like Trader Joe’s — but I’m always impressed: It has quality products at great prices.

At the other grocery stores, in order to make my budget work, I generally had to forgo many of the dinner side dishes I’d planned, like green beans, and lunchtime extras like apples. But at Aldi, not only was I able to get all of the planned sides, I was able to go beyond just the basic can of green beans.

For the same money, I found I could buy whole bags of frozen peas and frozen green beans — which are healthier than canned and provide an extra serving of vegetables that could be used to bolster my pasta salad lunches. I also could afford to save by purchasing whole bags of onions and potatoes at Aldi, rather than having to buy produce piece by piece.

I snagged some organic products, like spaghetti noodles and canned tomatoes. And Aldi had several fresh chicken options that were all within my budget. I opted for a package of six boneless skinless chicken thighs, but I could’ve gone with the fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts and still stayed within bounds.

Best of all: I was able to get everything on my list at Aldi and even had money left over. I was actually $6 under budget! That made shopping here far less stressful and, dare I say it, enjoyable. Even after I wrap up the challenge, I’ll be shopping more at Aldi.

This chart breaks down the prices I found for all of the items in my recipes at the four different stores I tried.

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