When we first moved to our current home and scoped out the local supermarket scene, ALDI wasn’t even on our radar. We were happily shopping at Genuardi’s for a few months, which was the nearest geographically, and also quite a nice sort of place. It has a Starbucks. Ah, those were the days. Then as we looked at our budget and the amount we were spending on food, we decided to try Giant. This was a tough downgrade for me. Giant felt less clean, I didn’t like the lay-out, and we weren’t really saving enough to make it worth it for me. I confess I would sneak to Genuardi’s sometimes for between-shopping-trip necessities.
Then, a few months ago, we saw the light. I don’t know how Trevor got it into his head that we should try ALDI. Maybe it was my friend Laura’s insistence that we should try it. Maybe we just thought if it’s good enough for the Duggars and their seventeen kiddoes, it’s probably good enough for us and our three. Whatever the reason, it was love at first shop.
As soon as we got there, I started to see tangible ways that they were saving me money. A quarter deposit on shopping carts so they don’t have to pay someone to round them all up. Ka-ching. Boxes of products stacked just as they are so there’s no need for anyone to stock shelves. Ka-ching, ka-ching! Generic brand *everything*, and you have to bring your own bags. I have dollar signs in my eyes now, like something from an old cartoon. When we got to the check-out, I had to pinch myself. I reckoned after our first few trips there that we were saving a full third off our former grocery bill. I can even go without a list and get whatever catches my eye and *still* not overspend. Amazing!
So tonight I did semi-major shopping (by myself, which was quite a euphoric experience in itself). Here’s what I got, just so you can be amazed, too:
one bag of apples, one bunch of bananas, and a large packages of red grapes
five cans of fruit (of which three large)and a can of baked beans
two frozen pizzas, some frozen curly fries, and two bags of frozen veggies
a large thing of instant coffee
three boxes of cereal
four cans of dog food
one box of pasta
two hamburger-helper-y type things
two boxes of nutri-grainy bars
two cartons of “premium” OJ (this is good stuff, and I’m a total Tropicana snob, normally)
two gallons of milk
a box of sandwich baggies
and a six-pack of microwave popcorn (extra butter – this was my impulse item.)
Are you ready to hear how much I spent on all that? Hmm… should I make you guess and post again tomorrow with the answer? No, I can’t wait.
$50.24! Isn’t that nuts?
And here’s the icing: now that I’m a regular there, I get to feel like part of a little club (ironically, since they seem to be the only grocery store that doesn’t have a little club for its patrons to join, complete with membership card.) The first time we shopped there, I was a little overwhlemed, and didn’t quite know how everything worked. Now, I know stuff. I know that the courteous ALDI shopper always swings her empty cart up to the register to catch the next person’s groceries before she leaves. I know that one always keeps one’s eyes peeled for an empty box while shopping and stashes it under one’s cart to help carry the groceries home. And I know now that extending a quarter to a fellow shopper who is about to leave in exchange for their cart is the official secret handshake of ALDI shoppers, although I almost certainly met the first person who did this to me with a totally baffled stare. I am in with the in-crowd now.