I don’t know about you, but I find that our larder goes empty a day or two earlier these days. It took me a couple of weeks to figure out why this is so, when it dawned on me that everything is getting more expensive.
Therefore, when I head to the grocery store with cash, I’m getting a little less food than before.
Not good. I don’t want to spend more on groceries.
My grocery shopping strategy has changed over the years depending on how much 1) time 2) energy and 3) money I have available at any given time.
Right now, I’m getting most of my groceries at ALDI.
I began shopping there in earnest again several weeks ago and have been pleasantly surprised at how low my tab is at the end. I still have to get some items elsewhere. ALDI doesn’t have coconut oil (yet), a staple in our home. I buy non-bromated flour (ALDI flour doesn’t say it’s non-bromated so I leave it alone). I get our milk, eggs and meat from a local farmer and our bread here.
But the bulk of our produce, canned/dried goods and other household stuff (TP) comes from ALDI.
The prices are just insanely low. And I LIKE the fact that the store has less selection. Making decisions is one of the most fatiguing things we do. Making choices reduces willpower. My kids say that I’m in a better mood when we shop there. (I’m not making this stuff up.) I find it a relief not to have to choose amongst 13 kinds of salsa. Who needs 13 kinds of salsa when 2 will do? (Mild, medium. I keep jalapenos in the freezer for hubby who likes hot.) I have better things to do with my time and my brainpower than have to make that decision, hundreds of times over, in the span of a shopping trip. That kind of nonsense just leads to my sniping at my kids later.
I do what I can, people.
I have nothing against coupons, but even when I was doing coupons, I rarely beat ALDI prices… and couponing is stressful (at least, for me) and very time consuming. Besides, as so many people have pointed out, using coupons makes it uber tempting to buy crappy processed food.
Shopping at ALDI makes it possible for me to pay $7.50 for a gallon of raw milk and $5 for a dozen farm eggs from happy hens. (I also get real honey, sausage, chicken and beef from the farm.)
I understand the desire to shop at a froufrou highbrow grocery store as much as the next gal. Heck, I go to Trader Joe’s every couple of weeks to get fancy stuff I love. Like those chocolate buttercream cupcakes. Coconut oil. Organic fair trade coffee (I never buy cheap coffee!).
ALDI ain’t froufrou. It’s very utilitarian, bare bones basic. But hey, even hipsters need to save money nowadays. Especially young hipsters. The last time I went to ALDI, on a Sunday night, it was twentysomething hipster night or something, because the place was crawling with ‘em. (ALDI might be a great place to hang out if you’re single. If you meet someone there, you know they’re frugal and sensible and not high maintenance.)
Even if you don’t want to shop at ALDI regularly, consider going there just once a month to stock up on staples.
Here are a few more pointers.
A few tips for making the most of your ALDI shopping experience:
1) If you don’t like the ALDI near you, try another. There are 2 locations close by me. One is great, the other has nasty produce. Guess which one I shop at? I see people online sometimes complaining about ALDI produce and if I were to judge all locations based on the crappier one, I would come to that same conclusion. Try another location.
2) Bring your bags. I usually put mine right back into the car after I unload the groceries so I don’t forget.
3) Keep your receipts and make a list of things you will buy at ALDI. I’m particular about food so there are certain things I won’t buy at ALDI. Ketchup, for instance. It has HFCS. (But really we have to read labels no matter what store we shop at, yes?)
The mustard, however, is a go. And there are certain items that I ONLY buy at ALDI because the price is so good. I’ve found that the quality of some items is inferior. Dishwashing liquid and powder, for example. They’re no good. The razors cut my legs up too. But I love the ALDI brand leave-in conditioner for my curly hair and the facial cleanser is nice too. My husband prefers their hummus over Trader Joe’s. They offer pure maple syrup (we go through 2 bottles a week) cheaper than anywhere.
4) If you buy a product and it’s poor quality, bring it back. They will replace it AND give you your money back. I’ve taken them up on this offer more than once and it’s always granted cheerfully.
This is by no means a list of everything you could buy and love at ALDI. It’s simply my weird little list.
Before anyone asks, why do I buy Bugles? They’re the only “snack” food I buy, because they’re made with coconut oil instead of cheap nasty vegetable oils. A compromise food that the hubs and kids love.
4) Keep a sharp eye open for organic products. Yes, ALDI has a few. I buy organic potatoes and apples there, organic blueberries and strawberries, as well as organic blue corn tortilla chips. A few weeks ago ALDI experimented with offering raw cheese. I bought as many as I could to send a signal to management, but sadly they disappeared. They do offer KerryGold Irish cheese sometimes though, as well as other fancy cheeses that we like.
ALDI sells wild caught salmon, y’all. I would not be able to afford to feed my family wild caught salmon otherwise, because we eat 2 pounds at a sitting.
One last thing. I like shopping at ALDI because there is no toddler eye-level rack of candy and gum that the 2 year old can bite/grab/knock to the floor before you notice and then have to pay for.
Also, there are no magazines at the checkout. You know those magazines? The ones with the mildly pornographic photos? Those magazines embarrass my sons. They call them “gross”, and what they mean is “inappropriate and immodest” and I don’t like those images being thrust into their faces in a place as innocent and ubiquitous as the grocery store for goodness sakes. It’s a real benefit not to have to see their embarrassed faces when we go to ALDI!
Do you shop at ALDI? What do you love or hate about it?
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