Your College Student’s $20 per week Aldi Meal Plan


     My oldest ventured off to her freshman year of college a couple years ago. Lets call her O. O’s a responsible girl having never gotten herself into any serious trouble while in high school. Her worst crime was forgetting to check in with her father or me after arriving at a destination. O has been working after school and on weekends part time since she was fifteen. So, all and all, she’s a pretty good kid that has made responsible choices throughout her high school career.

     The college O is attending offers on-campus apartment housing in lieu of traditional dorms. A full kitchen is standard in these apartments as they would be in any off-campus apartment. This allows kids to cook for themselves, making meal plans optional. I did the math. The price per meal with the college-offered meal plan is $7. Call me crazy but that seems a little high. We decided it would be better for O to take advantage of her full kitchen and cook for herself.

     Because of O’s history, her father and I chose to give her an allowance. She would receive a deposit into her account bi-weekly during the first semester. She was under no pressure to find part time employment during this time. The money we deposited was to cover gas, groceries, and fun. She quickly learned she would like to have as much money as possible for fun and spend as little as possible for food. That’s when she asked me to create some super low cost meal plans for her.

     I quickly obliged her request. Some people knit or scrapbook as a hobby. I make meal plans with price goals in mind. You can add weirdo to the list of appropriate words to describe me.

     Here’s the first meal plan I sent her. It’s a two week meal plan that leaves one dinner out each week. We figured she would eat out at least once per week. We would soon learn she would be eating out for free more often. Many of the local churches offer bible study groups for college age students during the evening. Dinner is included. O enjoys bible studies so this was a win-win for her. The Baptist Student Union also provides free lunches accompanied with a Christian musical performance on Wednesdays.

     Of course, this is an Aldi meal plan because I have a love of Aldi. Prices vary by store and season.

Breakfast is either yogurt or an English muffin

Lunch is leftovers or ramen noodles


Grilled chicken and veg over rice with soy sauce x3

Grilled cheese and tomato soup x3

Spaghetti with ground turkey x3

Shredded chicken with taco seasoning and cheese quesadillas

Cheese and veg quesadillas

Ground turkey, veg, and rice with soy sauce

Ramen noodles $2

Bag of rice 1

Chicken breasts (3 lb bag-divide into 4 meals) 6

Bag of frozen veg (2 bags-divide into 5 meals ) 4

Soy sauce 1

American cheese slices .99

Loaf of bread .89

Tomato soup (3 cans x .59) 1.77

Yogurt 3.12 (8 yogurts @ .39) 3.12

English muffins .99

Jelly .89

Spaghetti noodles 2.97

Spaghetti sauce 2.97

Ground turkey (2 lbs. Use 1/2lb per meal) (1.89 x 2) 3.78

Taco seasoning packets (.35 x 2) .70

Cheddar cheese block 1.89

Tortillas 1.99

Bag of apples or other fruit for snacking 2

Microwave popcorn for snacking 1

Total $39.95




     I received one of the best compliments I have ever been given a few days ago. The gentleman didn’t even realize he was complimenting me when he said it. He said, “You’re comfortable in the chaos.” I know you’re thinking, “How is that a compliment?” Oh it IS in so many ways:

1) Being comfortable in the chaos means you realize you can’t control everything.

      It’s an understanding that you are not God. People, adults and children, will do things that defy your well tuned sensibilities. Random acts of nature will occur: tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, a two year old discovering a long lost Sharpie. At the end of the day life still goes on.


2) Being comfortable in the chaos means you understand kids need to play more than you need quiet.

      Children need to be able to be kids. They need to run, jump, squeal, and scream to their heart’s content. Preferable this is done outside but there are times when it rains every day for a week. Their boundless energy needs a place to go. So build a blanket fort in the dining room or bring the mini-bouncy house inside, they’re only children for such a short time. And that need for quiet you have, you gave that up when you had kids. You can take short reprieves with slow walks around Target sipping on Starbucks or you can just buy some earplugs. I suggest both.

3) Being comfortable in the chaos means you accept your house will never be spotless as long as there are little people in it.

      Those cute little blobs of cooing you bring home from the hospital quickly turn into mobile forces of destruction and stickiness. That’s just life. You can spend every moment at home cleaning up after them or settle into a cleaning routine that keeps the mess at a level that is acceptable to you. I choose the second option.

4) Being comfortable in the chaos means you know this chaos will end some day.

      You know how people say, “The days are long but the years are fast?” It is true. It is amazing how some days can feel like eternity but you wake up one morning and your baby is off to college. Trust me, it will sneak up on you when you’re looking.

      So yeah, I take being comfortable in the chaos as a compliment. It means I can see the big picture and I don’t sweat the small stuff. I think it might mean, after 40 years on this planet, I just may have some small part of life figured out.


      Every parent has moments where her love for her children is not the most apparent emotion at the time. We’ve all been there. That moment when you just want your child to stop doing that really annoying/frustrating/pain in the butt thing he’s doing. We still love our children we just don’t love action. Every age has it’s own unique…let’s call them challenges. Every age also has those special things that makes your heart melt. Here’s my top love and loathe moments for each age.



     Is there anything better than the smell of a newborn? Their gurgles and coos are so precious. They’re little balls of love that mothers are genetically programmed to think are the most wonderful little creatures ever to exist on the planet. They may look like the cross between a plucked chicken and a naked mole rat but moms don’t see it. They see perfection because they are. They are perfect little creatures.


     Why is it they have to be fed so freaking often? Wouldn’t it have been nice if God had made newborn humans so they only need to be fed every six hours. And then there’s the diapers, the poop-up-the-back, sticky, muddy diapers that need to be changed two seconds. If you do not attend to those needs immediately they scream so loud you wonder how in the world a sound so insidious could possibly come from a child so small.



      That tiny little helpless creature is now doing more. He’s crawling, expressing happiness, and developing food preferences. He babbles. Its just so darn cute.


     Around three to four months is when I start to crack. The long term sleep deprivation coupled with this kid needing to be near me every freaking moment of every freaking day leads to a Mt Everest level explosion. Then I feel better.



     Now he’s super active and mobile. He entertains himself for longer stretches of time. His personality is really developing. He expresses himself so much better. He’s sleeping through the night, meaning I get to sleep through the night. That little baby isn’t so much a baby anymore.


     They learn how to go boneless at this age. Really, you’re walking along holding his hand one second and the next second he’s transformed into a puddle of hissy-fit throwing, screaming tantrum.



     He’s learning so much now. He loves singing the alphabet and “reading” books to you. Everything in the world is fascinating and new.


     “I want. I want. I want. I want.” Need I say more?

Elementary School


     They develop friends on their own. They have little social lives that no longer require you to be standing over them all the time. They’re busy little people, growing up.


     There is just too much they want to put on their schedule. No, it’s not okay to do gymnastics, baseball, swimming, and chess club at the same time. What happened to just being a kid? Go outside and play – unstructured play.

Middle School


     I love my children when they’re in middle school because a mother’s love is unconditional.


     Middle school aged girls are walking explosives. You have no idea when that little bomb is going to blow but you know it will soon and repetitively. It will also be entirely your fault because you are ruining her life. How dare you not let her spend the night at a boy/girl sleepover party? Who cares you haven’t even met the friend’s parents? Who cares you think there will be some shenanigans inappropriate for a pre-teen going on there? You are ruining her social life for-ev-er.

High School


     They’re almost grown. You can have intelligent conversations about history, politics, literature, religion, art, life, love, or just about anything. They have their own views of the world and can articulately defend them. The morals and values you have tried to embed in them have hopefully stuck and now you can see them begin to live out those values when challenged by their less moral peers. And they can can drive themselves places. It’s so nice to not have to drive them everywhere.


     You have so much more to worry about with a high-schooler. You don’t know what they’re doing every moment of every day. You have to trust they are making the right choices. If you’ve successfully raised them they’re mistakes won’t be catastrophic. Outside of their own choices, there’s the fear of actions beyond their control. She’s driving now so she will be on the road with other drives-bad drivers. If she doesn’t answer her phone she must be in an overturned car in a ravine. The water is rising and she’s about drown. Or, she’s been kidnapped and is being held in the trunk of a car. There may be a slim chance her phone’s battery died or she forgot to turn the volume back up after church.



     Your child is an adult now, heading out on his own to begin his life as an adult.


     Your child is an adult now, heading out on his own to begin his life as an adult.