ANTI-PINTEREST HOSTING: Throwing a party AND actually enjoying it

Hosting is a skill that does not come innately to me. Some elements do: I love making and sharing food, and I love making our friends and family feel welcome and comfortable. But:

Big groups of people (even those people I love) can make me anxious. I have a tendency to overdo it and stress myself out. And I hate cleaning.

Towards the end of a pretty perfect night.

In past years, I have driven myself crazy worrying about portion sizes and decorations and perfecting every element of the night. I barely remember some parties, not because I had too much to drink, but because my mind didn’t stop racing the entire time we had guests.

Hard lessons I have learned while guests are in my house: recipes can’t always be doubled, turning all four burners on is a good way to make the kitchen feel like a sauna, the fire alarm will go off if the oven is at a temp above 375, and I don’t love cooking in front of a bunch of people.

After a lot of trial and error, I think that I’ve cracked my personal code to a party that feels fun to me and also special for guests:

1. Prep ahead as much as possible. 2. Decorations are nice, but not necessary. 3. KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID. 4. Do the dishes in the morning.

Prep everything ahead of time.

I once was in line at one of those omelette stations at a hotel breakfast buffet, and I heard a woman say that she wanted to do this at her next “breakfast party.” I took “this” to mean: she wants to make made-to-order omelettes for her family and guests.

THIS IS INSANE. Omelettes have to be made individually. Omelettes are finicky. Omelettes have to be eaten at a very specific temperature.

When guests are coming into your home, and those guests aren’t your very closest friends, do not do this to yourself. Don’t make something that has to be customized to each guest.

Don’t make EGGS, a food that lots of people are picky about and that need to be served at a very specific temperature. Scrambled eggs, for example, are SUPER easy to make, even in a big batch. But I love my eggs soft-scrambled (like this), which many people interpret as underdone. Unless you know that your guests like eggs this way, do not do it!!!! I have had a guest ask to put the eggs I made her in the microwave because they were too underdone to her liking. 😂

A better recipe for a successful gathering: make as much as you can ahead of time. This is extra-important in the summer. Unless I want to be a sweaty mess and heat up our entire family room-kitchen-dining room, the oven needs to be off when guests are over.

If you’ve prepped ahead of time, all you need to do as guests are arriving is freshen your cocktail and fix your lipstick.


The best prep-ahead summer menu: chicken sausages with romesco sauce and grilled peppers on buns, pasta salad, and green bean salad. Cookies for dessert. I made the pasta salad, green bean salad, romesco, and cookies earlier in the day, grilled the peppers when I knew our guests were on the way, and threw the sausages on once they arrived and we were chatting. Perfect, summery, and literally zero stress.

When you prep the meal ahead of time, and pick dishes that work well when prepped ahead of time, you save yourself so much stress. Picking a time-sensitive dish means that you’ll be anxious and cooking at the last minute. Summer is an awesome time to practice this, as so many summer dishes taste great room-temp or chilled.

And, in the winter, just make chili. Everyone loves it, you can prep lots of toppings to make it feel fun, and it can be (and maybe even should be) made the day before.

Decorations are nice, but not necessary

I will never be a Pinterest host. I  love making the house look nice, but I will never voluntarily do a craft. Never. Things I will do: clean the bathroom and light a candle. Make sure dirty laundry isn’t strewn about the house. Sweep the hardwood floors. Um… that’s it? Maybe, if I remember, I’ll get some flowers from the grocery store. But usually not.



No one cares! People just want to chat with you! If people are annoyed that you didn’t use a calligraphy pen to make individual seating cards, you don’t need those people!

If crafting feels fun to you, more power to ya! But I would rather spend time on the food, something that I’m good at. I hate crafts — always have, always will — and I don’t need to pretend otherwise.

If there is decor at one of my parties, it is likely 1.) recycled from another party, 2.) purchased from the Dollar Spot at Target, 3.) made by someone else.

Being a Pinterest wife isn’t necessary. It’ll drive you nuts, so just don’t DO IT! It’s all a conspiracy by the owners of Michael’s, anyway. 😜

Keep it siiiiiiiiimple.

Parties are not the time to try a dish you’ve never made before. If you’ve never roasted a whole chicken before, save that for a lazy day at home with your family. If you’ve never made mac and cheese from scratch, don’t try to make your first bechamel sauce while guests are walking in the door.

Make something tried-and-true, something that you can make without a recipe, or at least something where the recipe card is faded and spattered. Make something homey and simple, food that everyone loves.

Because here’s the secret: any woman who eats dinner at your house is just SO thankful that she didn’t have to make dinner. She doesn’t really care what you made.

Another secret, courtesy of the best-ever Julia Child: NEVER APOLOGIZE. If the chicken is a little dry, or the sauce turned out under-seasoned, do not apologize. Throw some BBQ sauce on the table or pass the salt. It’s not a big deal.

The simplest, most delicious dinner: a cheese and meat board, with salad on the side plus dessert. Add hummus and nuts for those vegans. Maybe slice some summer tomatoes and drizzle them with balsamic. People LOVE this, and it couldn’t be easier. Just a lot of slicing.

Do the dishes in the morning.

Enjoy your guests. Don’t fret about interrupting conversation to get the dishes done. My typical go-to: put the food away, and sneak another bite of dessert. AND THEN GO TO BED. Maybe I’ll rinse some dishes that will be super-annoying and crusty in the morning, but maybe I won’t.

Maybe you like winding down after guests leave by cleaning. I don’t. I want to take my makeup off and go to bed. This is permission for you to do the same!


At Grant’s birthday party last weekend, I implemented all of these strategies. The menu: two dips, chips and salsa, cupcakes, sangria. The decor: nothing.

Prep ahead of time: I made the dips early in the day (the romesco I’ll be making all summer from this cookbook and our favorite buffalo dip), sliced celery, and made these AMAZING vegan lemon cupcakes. About two hours before guests were due to arrive, I made the sangria: three bottles sauvignon blanc (from Aldi! $10/bottle), 20 ounces of brandy, two pounds sliced strawberries, three sliced and seeded lemons. All of those elements soaked together until guests were almost to our house, and then I added five cans of La Croix. The sauv blanc I used had passionfruit flavors, so I added passionfruit La Croix! This is totally flexible, obviously.

Forgive the screenshot from my Insta story, but I was too busy having fun to take a single photo.

Take it easy on the decor: I didn’t decorate at all. G and his friends worked overtime on Friday evening to cut the grass and do a bunch of other cool yard stuff. I picked this playlist from Spotify and pressed PLAY. I also lit a couple citronella candles. G set up yard games and our outdoor movie screen.

Keep it simple: Grant initially wanted to do a full BBQ dinner. But I didn’t want to. It’s way more work, way more expensive, and I just wasn’t feeling it. Yes, potlucking can keep the costs down, but that is way less feasible when food allergies are involved. So I did snacks and sangria and birthday cake, and people brought their own drinks if they wanted something different. It was super-easy and perfect.

Do the dishes in the morning: This is the best part. My dear Lindsey and her boyfriend were the last guests, and she loves to do dishes when she’s been drinking. So she washed everything, like a true saint!  

What are your best party tips for low-stress entertaining?

MEAL PLAN June 1-7

Hi everyone! I hope you had a lovely week full of healthy food (in moderation, of course). Here’s a recap of what we ate.

Friday + Saturday

I was in St. Joe for a solo writer’s retreat (full post on that experience coming soon), and I didn’t want to cook one BIT! I ate sandwiches (sandwich thin, deli turkey, mayo, pickles, salt and pepper kettle chips (yes, ON the sandwich)), fruit, and eggs with tomatoes and spinach (veggies that didn’t need to be chopped 🙏). It was AWESOME. I have no idea what G really ate while I was gone, and that’s fine. I needed a break from the dinnertime responsibility, and I came back REFRESHED.

Sunday

When I got home from my retreat, I decided that I wasn’t going to go grocery shopping. We had a full pantry and saving money is always a good idea (it’s one of my 2018 intentions, after all).

We had burrito bowls with white rice, frozen corn, sauteed bell peppers and onions, and seasoned ground turkey (turkey from the deep freeze). My father-in-law and brother-in-law ended up eating with us while they helped G fix his car, so this was perfect, quick and delicious.

Monday

We had the MOST BEIGE AND UGLY dinner. I unearthed frozen cauliflower, and I sauteed that with paprika and garlic until it was defrosted and a little brown (hit it with enough salt, and it is really delicious). We had frozen chicken apple sausages from Aldi, and I sauteed them with onions until everything was browned. We ate them on buns with BBQ sauce (G) and yellow mustard (me).

In the interest of having leftovers for G’s upcoming lunches, I also made a pot of basmati rice. Lunches: sausage, frozen green beans, cauliflower, rice. Simple, filling, CHEAP AF.

Tuesday

I was the MOST SAD on Tuesday when the news of Kate Spade’s death broke. I wrote about it in detail on my Instagram, but in summary: it breaks my heart that someone who brought me such joy could be hurting so deeply.

My sweet husband knew that I was struggling, so he surprised me with wine, peanut M&Ms, and La Croix (he really knows me, huh?). We enjoyed that wine (and some more we found in the fridge 😜) with my ultimate comfort food: mac and cheese! I made this recipe minus the pumpkin and roasted garlic and added garlic powder instead. It was creamy and delicious, and splashes of pasta water added the body the pumpkin usually does to the sauce. We also had sauteed chickpeas and frozen green beans. Truly comforting and all from the pantry.

It’s true that I don’t advocate for emotional eating, but sometimes food can be the hug that you need at the end of a long day. As long as it’s occasional, I think it’s just part of being human.

Wednesday

I had dinner at a girlfriend’s house, and she made the easiest and most delicious dinner: ground chicken lettuce wraps with frozen egg rolls and gyoza from Trader Joe’s. 👍 Thanks, Taylor!

Thursday

Leftovers! While I prep for dinner guests Friday after work. Come back next week to hear what I fed Grant’s buddies who came over to help him with yard work. ♥

June Isn’t Too Late: Recommitting to your best year ever

Hi! It’s JUNE! Which means that we’re entering the latter half of 2018. Isn’t it still 2001? Wasn’t I just sitting in my inflatable chair, listening to N*SYNC and reading a Dear America book (please tell me you read those, too)?

Nope. It’s SUMMER 2018. We’re halfway through the year that we promised would be the best ever

How ya doing? How are those intentions that you set with me back in December? I’m going to be real honest and say that I am doing MEDIUM. A solid C+. I may be doing well, in general, but I am not killing it when it comes to the intentions that I set.

But I’m not going to feel bad about that. Not even for one minute. Can you imagine how much work you and I would get done if we didn’t waste a single second wallowing? Life is hard enough. We should be our own best cheerleaders, not the jerk that won’t shut up about our failures. And “failure”? Failing isn’t a negative thing. It’s a learning opportunity. If you fail at something, it means that you were trying to grow. Without failure, growth isn’t possible. Mistakes are mandatory.

This year has been full of mistakes for me. I’ve overslept, skipped workouts, chosen T.V. over writing, snapped at my husband, left dishes all over the kitchen (and living room).

But it’s also been full of triumphs, ones that make my eyes tear up as I type this: we’ve hosted friends and family in our home, regardless of its imperfections. We celebrated a perfect anniversary weekend. I pushed myself to do Facebook Live, something that made my heart jump out of my chest. I ran four miles without stopping.

Life is to be LIVED, not obsessed over. There is such a fine line between living with intention and living with restriction. Finding the balance is incredibly personal. I know that I will always struggle with this — I do so well with schedule and routine, that I immediately give up if even one thing goes awry.

If I injure my foot and can’t exercise, I might as well eat like crap all week, too. If I oversleep and miss a morning of writing, I might as well skip tomorrow as well.

This is bullshit. It’s holding me back. It’s making me believe that I can’t do hard things when I know that I can. I can do hard things. I can get back on track.

And the first step to get back on track is giving myself credit where it’s due. Even though I haven’t been perfect, I have done a lot this year.

So, here it is, a mid-year check-in on my Fruitful Intentions for 2018:

GROW THE FRUITFUL BLOG

This is going pretty well! I’m making changes, working hard, and I’m currently typing this from a writing retreat that I booked myself to get AHEAD on this goal.

View from my retreat AirBNB ♥️

 

But here’s the reality of growing a presence online: It is a LOT of work. A lot of work that has nothing at all to do with writing. A lot of research and online classes and scheduling Facebook posts to publish at peak times.

There’s a lot of stuff that goes into making sure that the words I write are being read. Stuff that I’d rather not do. I let that bog me down a lot in the earlier part of the year, but NO MORE. I’m moving forward because I know that I have a message to share. I know that my words will help women, and that means I should keep moving, even if that means doing the parts I’m less interested in.

One of my intentions was to take a class monthly, and I have NOT been keeping up with that. I am, however, taking a class today (Sunday), and I took one last week. I share that example to say: if you haven’t been meeting your monthly intentions all year, SO WHAT. Start now. Don’t wait until January so you can have a “perfect year.” That’s not how it works, and you know it. The only way real change can happen is NOW, today. So just start.

INVEST IN OUR MARRIAGE

This is also going medium! Haha. We’ve had a lot of fun dates this year, and even a couple trips. We’ve also had weeks where we’ve barely seen each other and plenty of weeks with no purposeful date night. I’ll make sure this changes.

We also haven’t even picked up one marriage or relationship book, so, um… I’ll work on that as well. It seems like just another thing to add to the to-do list, if I’m being honest. But I think it will be useful, so we’ll make it happen.

COZY OUR HOME

This is going really, really well. Projects are moving along, furniture is being purchased, and we’re using our home to entertain like we never have before.

Decluttering is going very, very slowly. It basically only happens if I have a free Saturday, and that hasn’t happened in a good while. G and I have joined forces, though, to rid our house of junk. Slowly but surely.

GET EVEN STRONGER

I’ve had some major fitness wins this year: running the hilliest 5K I could imagine in the Ozarks, running a four-mile race at my personal best mile time, beating my best distance in spin class.

But I’m also in the middle of an exercise-free spell. And not to rest from running a marathon or anything. I’m just not exercising.

I do the best when I exercise every day. I feel more mentally clear, I’m less tempted to eat the junk food that wrecks my skin and my focus, and it keeps me emotionally stable. Sundays are my day of rest, but I should be sweating every other day.

Knowing that this is true about myself doesn’t mean that I stick to it well or easily. An extra hour of sleep or some time with my current novel often sounds more appealing than an hour on the spin bike (plus the time in the car and the extra time getting ready). But that doesn’t matter. Exercise is good for my heart and my body and my relationships. It should be a high-priority task.

SAVE MONEY

This is perhaps going the worst of all. I have no excuses, just the reality: I bought a lot of stuff in the beginning of the year. And I used the excuse that we’ve had lots of people over for dinner to totally bust my grocery budget.

So here I am, recommitting to my spending goals. Starting this week, I will get back on my budget, back on my thriftiness, and back to saving as much money as I can.

I started by NOT going grocery shopping this week at all. We’ve got plenty of food in the house, and we’re going to eat it all before I by more, goshdarnit!!!!!

Pantry meal ⤵⤵⤵


Say it with me: LIFE IS TOUGH, BUT SO AM I. We can do this. We can recommit to our goals (or continue to SMASH them). We can revise as necessary, but never quit. We can make 2018 awesome, even though it’s halfway gone.

Perfection isn’t a real goal. It’s totally unattainable. Life is constantly changing around you. People change, circumstances change, and you change, too. Those changes mean that every day is a new challenge. Under those conditions, I think a C+ is just fine. As long as I’m constantly striving to do a little better tomorrow, my average will always be improving.

MEAL PLAN May 26-31, 2018

I’ve gotten lots of requests to share our weekly meal plans, so HERE YOU GO! I’m going to share what I planned on us eating for the week, what we actually ate, and any lessons I learned in that week of FOOD.

My meal planning basics are HERE. If you’re not planning your meals for the week, you absolutely should be. It’s a great way to save a ton of money (especially if you shop for that meal plan at Aldi!) and eat with intention (you know, not buying a random sandwich at 1:45 PM since you didn’t think about lunch).

I know how it is, at least for me! I get home late after sitting in traffic for an hour and being awake for 14 hours, and it’s super easy to grab Chinese food from Hy-Vee. And sometimes I totally do that! But if I’ve planned a delicious meal and all of the ingredients are waiting for me, I’m way more likely to make dinner.

In our two-person household, I usually make four meals each week, and we have leftovers or sandwiches on the other nights. This feels like the perfect middle-ground for me: we eat plenty of delicious, homemade meals, but I also get several nights off from cooking.

I never plan anything for Friday. I know that I will be WAY too tired come Friday evening to make a meal, so I just plan to not do it. An exception: if we have company! Last Friday, our friends came over for dinner after work, and it was a great way to kick off the long weekend. 💜

MEAL PLAN May 26-31, 2018

Breakfasts and lunches:

Unless we have something special going on, these are almost always the same. I have a green smoothie (recipe in the highlights here), eggs with vegetables, or toast and nut butter. G will have toast or cereal. For lunches, G eats leftovers, and I eat a combination of leftovers, salads, and deli meat roll-ups.

DINNER PLAN:

Friday:

grilled, marinated chicken thighs, summer succotash, basmati rice, cilantro vinaigrette, salad, lemon cake and raspberry sorbet for dessert

I knew that hosting on a Friday meant that I needed to prep some food in advance and pick easy dishes. I chose the chicken, succotash, and vinaigrette from my current fave cookbook, What’s Gaby Cooking, and I chose the rice because it was easy.

Steps I took to prep ahead of time: trimmed and marinated the chicken, chopped the veggies (bell pepper, red onion, cherry tomatoes) for the succotash, made the vinaigrette, made the salad (romaine, green onions, yellow bell pepper)

Things I made after work: Mixed and dressed the succotash, made the lemon cake (obviously could have made that ahead of time, but I didn’t), grilled the chicken, made the rice in my rice cooker, made salad dressing

It was perfect, summery, EASY, and felt relaxed. It also didn’t all need to be piping hot, which is perfect for greeting guests and enjoying a cocktail or two while the meat rests. (My friend made awesome sangria with La Croix in it, so the fruit got carbonated. It was amazing.)

Saturday:

WEDDING RECEPTION, so no cooking

Sunday:

grilled Italian chicken sausages, grilled bell peppers, romesco sauce, buns, balsamic pasta salad, lemon-dressed green beans, fruit, and vegan chocolate chip cookies for dessert

Another meal with company! I really wanted to make the romesco sauce from What’s Gaby Cooking (basically roasted red pepper pesto), so I planned a meal around that. We layered Italian sausages, grilled peppers, and the romesco sauce on buns, and it was SO delicious.

Prep steps: made romesco, made pasta salad (boiled orecchiette, sliced cherry tomatoes, made balsamic vinaigrette, folded together with salt and pepper), made green beans (marinated diced red onion and minced garlic in lemon juice, lemon zest, and olive oil, then tossed with two pounds of defrosted frozen green beans), made cookies

In the half-hour or so before our friends arrived, I grilled the peppers, let the sides come to room temp, and grilled the sausages after they showed up (with champagne AND flowers 🎆).

Monday:

leftovers

Tuesday: I planned to make this sesame chicken fried rice from Iowa Girl Eats. I ended up making an invented cabbage and chickpea stir fry. It was delicious and super-quick.

Made jasmine rice. Sauteed two cans chickpeas with green onions and ginger, and removed from pan when browned. Added a bag of coleslaw cabbage, sauteed until wilted. Added frozen peas. Added the chickpeas back in, and stirred in sauce: equal parts mirin and soy sauce, splashes of maple syrup and sesame oil, and a big dash of white pepper. Serve stir fry on top of rice.

Very ugly and really satisfying.

Wednesday:

leftovers

Thursday:

book club night, leftovers or a sandwich for G

OK, that’s it! Let me know how I could make this more helpful. If you’d like to see more of a food journal, let me know. xoxo!

Why I Love Aldi, or: How to Save $100s Each Month on Groceries

I’ve been an Aldi-exclusive shopper since grad school. There’s nothing like being broke AF to teach you about bargain shopping.

My mom shopped at Aldi for much of my childhood, so some of the more intimidating aspects (bringing a quarter, few name brands, bringing your own bags) weren’t an issue. BUT, I still remember going to Aldi for the first time on my own while I was in college. I forgot a quarter AND my reusable totes. So I just left and went to Walmart. Don’t be me!!!!

In case you are an Aldi novice, let me explain: Aldi is an incredible discount grocery store. They cut corners in ways that don’t matter to save you money on the things that DO MATTER. There are no shelves, just stacked pallets. The carts are all locked up, and you use a quarter to get one. You get your quarter back when you return it, which means they don’t have to pay cart wranglers. (If you put your cart back but leave the quarter so someone else can use it, you’re a Quarter Angel ™!) Bags aren’t provided, and groceries aren’t bagged. You bag your own stuff on the countertops beyond the checkout. Most people bring reusable totes, but you can buy paper and plastic bags for like $.05 each.

And here’s the real shit. I took two weeks of Aldi grocery hauls and price compared those items at my local grocery store. Week One, the total at Aldi was $104.60. At the Hy-Vee near my house, the same groceries would have cost $169.92. Week Two: $97.24 vs $162.02.

You may have an impression that Aldi is full of gross discount food. Since all of the food is store brand, it’s not as good as the name brands you can get at Target, Hy-Vee, or Price Chopper. This is so wrong! With every passing month, the food gets better and the selection gets more expansive. Just like any store brand, there are things I wouldn’t buy. Off-brand Oreos are just NOT WORTH IT. But the Aldi-brand caramel coconut cookies taste literally IDENTICAL to Girl Scout Samoas. They are a go-to potluck item for me when I don’t have time to make anything. Other Aldi misses: the Cheerios taste like the Trader Joe’s Cheerios, which means that they’re less crunchy and kind of dry…? I also don’t love the big jars of Casa Mamita salsa that are by the tortilla chips. The refrigerated salsa is GREAT, though, especially the varieties that come around summertime.

Another thing to note about Aldi and the way that I shop there: Since I buy mainly whole ingredients (veggies, meats, beans, grains), and not a ton of prepared foods, those are the things I know best at Aldi. Canned beans are canned beans, so you best believe I’m going to buy the cheaper, off-brand ones.

I’ve learned to make my menus based around what is available at my local Aldi. I live in a smaller suburb, so my Aldi doesn’t have as much variety as Aldis in bigger areas. My friend lives in a bigger, higher-income suburb and her Aldi IS BOMB! If my Aldi is a 7, hers is an 11.

NUTS ARE SO INEXPENSIVE HERE!

Aldi carries the same products year-round in 85% of the store. But other than the regular products, there is a center aisle with SPECIALS that are seasonal and discounted. This can include kitchenwares, patio furniture, all sorts of random stuff. Before you knock it, a shelf in our living room that we receive a TON of compliments on is from Aldi. Two fave seasonal items that I literally hold my breath waiting for: HORSERADISH FRIDGE PICKLES and various refrigerated salsas.

There are also tons of seasonal cheeses that you KNOW I bring to any holiday potluck.

Shopping at Aldi is a learning curve, and you will likely need to pick up a few things at another store. My Aldi doesn’t carry cashew milk or nutritional yeast, so I often swing by Hy-Vee on the way home and grab those couple items.

But once you’re familiar with your local Aldi and what they carry consistently, you will save SO MUCH MONEY. Seriously. When I was doing the price comparison at Hy-Vee, my eyes were bugging out of my head. I literally couldn’t believe how expensive some of the stuff was. A three-pound bag of apples at Aldi is $2.69. The same weight of apples at Hy-Vee? $5.94!!

Aldi introduced a TON of natural and health food products in the past year, like this cultured apple cider vinegar.

A few notes on price comparison: I chose the store brand at Hy-Vee when it was available. I made sure that I was matching organic to organic and conventional to conventional. I couldn’t find two items at Hy-Vee, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt and said they sold the product for the same price as Aldi. In the spreadsheet linked here, cells marked in yellow account for that adjustment. If a price at Aldi varied between weeks, I used the higher price in the comparison. All comparisons are based on weight. Things like cereal and crackers came in a same or very similarly sized box, but there was a HUGE difference for things like nuts. In this case, you would have to buy two bags of almonds at Hy-Vee to come home with the same weight. This is reflected in the spreadsheet.

WEEK ONE  BREAKDOWN

For that week, I purchased food for our regular breakfast, lunches, and dinners, plus a brunch with three girlfriends and a meal for friends with a new baby. You can view my whole receipt here

Price comparison standouts: Three multicolored bell peppers for $1.89 would have been $4.88 at Hy-Vee. Strawberries were also $1.89 and would have been $3.99 at Hy-Vee. Mother’s Day cards are what really saved my bacon, though. You know the beautiful cards at grocery stores with the cutouts and the sparkles, the ones that are like $6? Cards just like that were $0.99 at Aldi.

WEEK TWO BREAKDOWN

This was a week that went totally haywire, but when I went shopping, I planned on two meals for company and our regular breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. The receipt is here.

Big savers this week: Basmati rice ($2.99 at Aldi) was $7.88 (!!!!!!) at Hy-Vee. One pound of asparagus was $2.69 but would have been $4.99 at Hy-Vee.

A note on produce at Aldi: if you get the bag of onions home and notice that the two in the center are totally moldy, bring them back. Aldi replaces the item AND gives you your money back.

ALDI MUST-BUYS

I love these items, in the order that they appear at my Aldi: Outlander red wine, Savoritz 6 Cracker Assortment, tortilla chips strip-style, almonds, whole coffee beans, ground flax seeds, La Croix 12-packs, corn tortillas, the CHEESE selection, the supremely spicy hummus, and the basmati white rice.

Aldi also has DELICIOUS refrigerated pizzas that I’ll sometimes get when G is out of town, and I just saw on Saturday that they have Halo Top-style protein ice cream now. I haven’t tried it, but I’m telling you they carry it to show: Aldi is ALWAYS introducing new, trendy products, and they also keep up with the awesome stand-bys that keep us Wallaces fed.

$3.99 for a 12-pack!

Do you shop at Aldi? What fave products am I missing? If you’re not an Aldi shopper, what would you still like to know?