Saturday, August 18, 2012

I Love Aldi!

In my quest to lower my grocery bills, I visited Aldi today.  Aldi is a discount grocery chain.  If you don't have an Aldi near you, I would like to express my deepest sympathy.  If you do and you've never been, I highly recommend you schedule an afternoon to go visit!  No, I'm not getting paid to say any of this (who would pay a blogger that hardly anyone reads?).  I just really love Aldi!

I try to make a trip to our nearest Aldi every couple of months at least.  I stock up on canned goods and boxed items.  I also get some snacks and cereal.  I save a ton of money when I do that.  But, today I actually bought some produce and some bread.  Everything I bought was cheaper than at Kroger's.  I know this thanks to my handy price book that I've been working on.  As a part of my effort to save money, I'm going to start going to Aldi more often.  At least every month.  Hopefully every two weeks.  It is a longer drive and time isn't always available.

If you do decide to visit your Aldi, there are a few things you will need to know.

1) Take a quarter.  Yep, a quarter.  One of the ways Aldi keeps their prices so low is they are a bit protective of their carts.  You will need a quarter to get one.  Unless a very nice person who just finished shopping offers you theirs for free.  This happens to me pretty often.  I believe it has something to do with feeling so great about all the money you've saved causing you to want to give to others.  Of course, I always pass along my free cart when I am done.  If you aren't a link in the "pay-it-forward" cart blessing, don't worry.  You'll get your quarter back when you return your cart.  This saves them from having to pay someone to gather up all the carts from the lot. 

Shopping at Aldi reusable bags groceries cheap
A really bad pic of sis helping bag groceries
2) Speaking of carts, the people who generally wrangle the carts at your average grocery store are the baggers.  Aldi doesn't have baggers.  Once again this saves them money and they pass the savings along to you.  After the cashier rings your items up, they get put straight into another cart.  Then, after you pay, you take your cart over to the long counter they have available and bag your own groceries.  I actually like this because things never get bagged the way I want at Kroger.  Some bags will be practically empty while others are almost impossible for me to lift and I always end up with cleaning supplies in with my raw meat if I'm not careful to watch the bagger.

3) Along with bagging your own groceries, you will also need to bring your own bags.  Once again, this is a money saver for you.  All those bags cost a pretty penny!  They do have bags you can buy if you need to, though.   They have paper bags and canvas ones.  I have a slew of canvas bags that I use when I go to Kroger, too.  They are easier for me to carry since I can sling them on my shoulder, and they don't tear from box corners.  They cost me about $1 each, but they have lasted me several years.

4)  They don't accept credit cards.  I know this is a hard one for some people.  But, every time a store accepts a credit card, they are charged a fee.  That fee is then passed on to the customers through higher prices.  Aldi's goal is to keep things as affordable as possible while still offering quality.  So, you can use a debit card, EBT card, or cash.

5) Aldi's isn't very pretty.  No, it isn't dirty.  I'd never send you to a dirty grocery store!  But, the one by me is pretty outdated, the shelves are piled high with groceries and there aren't any flashy displays.  This saves money on floor space and costly store makeovers.

6) You won't find many name-brands.  Other than a handful of weekly specials, Aldi only carries their brand.  So, you will be buying generics.  But, I promise, I have never been unhappy with anything I bought at Aldi!  In fact, many of the things we buy there we prefer over Kroger's brand or even the name-brand.  Plus, Aldi has a double satisfaction guarantee.  If you aren't happy with an item, they will replace the item and refund your money.  Seems to me it is worth a try!

Now that you know what to expect, let me show you why I love Aldi so much:

Shopping at Aldi full cart groceries cheap
Cart full of groceries at Aldi
Shopping at Aldi reciept groceries
Bub (who refused to be in the picture) holding up our Aldi receipt
See that cart filled to overflowing with groceries?  That whole cart cost me $150. Here is what I got for my money:
  • 2 boxes of ice cream treats
  • 3 loaves of white bread
  • 5 boxes of Jambalaya mix (we love Jambalaya, but I just don't have time to make it from scratch!)
  • 1 bag of jumbo marshmallows
  • 1 bag of baby carrots (the kids eat these like candy!)
  • 3 tubes of Crest toothpaste
  • 3 cans of tuna
  • 1 pack of American cheese slices (we aren't picky about our cheese on grilled cheese)
  • 2 boxes of stuffing mix
  • 2 lbs of bacon
  • 1 pack of English muffins
  • 2 packs of hot dog buns
  • 24 cans of green beans
  • 12 cans of peas
  • 12 cans of mixed veggies
  • 12 boxes of shells & cheese
  • 1 multi-pack of Ramen noodles
  • 2 packs of fruit cups
  • 4 boxes of hamburger skillet meals (aka. generic Hamburger Helper)
  • 3 jars of spaghetti sauce
  • 2 jars of alfredo sauce
  • 2 rolls of paper towels
  • 1 jar of garlic powder
  • 1 bottle of olive oil
  • 12 boxes of breakfast fiber bars
  • 1 box of brownie mix
  • 2 boxes of cereal
  • 1 jar of cinnamon
  • 1 head of lettuce
  • 1 bag of dishwashing tablets
  • 3 bunches of broccoli
  • 4 cans of pasta (ravioli and spaghetti o's)
  • 1 tub of cat litter
  • 6 cans of cream of chicken
You can see from my list that a lot of these things are convenience foods.  I mentioned that I am slowly trying to cut these out and make more from scratch.  Convenience foods are generally more expensive.   But, their staples, produce, dairy, and meat prices are also really great!  A cart full of groceries at Kroger generally costs me about $250.

Now, I know that someone out there must be wondering why I would buy 24 cans of green beans.  Well, like I said, I'm used to only going every couple of months.  I would go and stock up on non-perishables like canned and boxed goods.  They would last a long time and I wouldn't have to risk buying them at a higher price when I couldn't make it to Aldi for a while.  I keep it on shelves in my garage and won't have to buy more for a few months at least. 

I wanted to go ahead and stock up now while I am still working on my price book and menu plans.  Sort of a back up just in case.  But, I definitely plan to visit Aldi more often so I can also buy perishable items there.

If you visit your local Aldi, I'd love to hear about it!

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