This time I was much more at ease because I knew what to expect. I had a small panic in the car because I couldn’t find a quarter. Again, we were the youngest people there, which is amusing to me.
This time I had a mental list of things we wanted to buy. The kids liked the LiveGfree bread and wraps. The LiveGfree rosemary crackers are also tasty and much less expensive than gluten-free crackers from other stores. Finally, the chocolate bars were a hit so we wanted more of those.
We also needed some staple items like coffee, salt, and cooking oil. I got some cucumbers for salad, cashews for making cheesecakes and vegan cheeses, shredded cheese and gluten-free chicken nuggets for the non-vegans, fruits, and toilet paper.
Then there were the impulse buys… popcorn, coffee concentrate (future popsicles) and gluten-free cookies. I’m glad that Aldi is small because it limits my impulse items. The most expensive thing I bought were the cashews, which I think were about the same price as at Trader Joe’s. And now I don’t have to go to TJ’s, which will save me money.
To be honest, I’m getting kind of antsy about the economy lately. Back in the early 2000s I didn’t cook much. We ate a lot of Lean Cuisine, frozen pizzas and Hot Pockets. We went to one store, once a week. In 2007 I had my first child and we kept eating as we had. In 2009 I had my second child, my oldest was a toddler and I knew we couldn’t keep eating like we had been. I did a lot of couponing and the occasional trip to Trader Joe’s or Earth Fare for treats. It was a time of learning and lots of failing because I had no idea what I was doing.
Maybe it sounds nuts but I’ve spent the years while the economy has been better preparing for another recession. We didn’t lose our house or anything but money was tight and I was ill-prepared for cooking healthy meals for four on a budget. I now have a small collection of cookbooks, many from Paperbackswap.com and used book stores. I have collected cooking tools that I didn’t have before the last recession. I have an Instant Pot, a Dutch oven, mixing bowls, spatulas, sheet pans, and a decent knife. In addition, I have learned how to cook. Nothing fancy, but I’m not limited to nuking Hot Pockets. I’m also teaching my kids how to cook so they aren’t as clueless as I was.
Fast forward to now and I have food allergies and have gone vegan. My kids and partner still eat meat, but not nearly as much since I’m the one that does the shopping and the cooking. My youngest has some food intolerances to wheat, dairy, and eggs, among other things. I’ve learned how to cook around our allergies and preferences. My partner and I have both lost quite a bit of weight, which helps, I hope, with medical costs.
Lastly, I don’t rely on one store for our food shopping. Before the Recession, I only shopped at Harris Teeter. I’ve since learned which stores have what we need. But lately I’ve been re-examining what we can live without if and when there’s another economic downturn. I like that I can get a lot of the basics at Aldi.