If you don't know, Aldi is a grocery store that aims to save customers money in some interesting ways: they don't arrange products on shelves (they leave them in the packaging they arrive in, sort of like Costco), they charge for shopping carts and bags, they don't accept credit cards or checks or coupons, and they sell mainly generic products - not big names.
Here's what I bought, and a note on how I feel about it:
- Sweet corn, 4 ears: $1.49 Con: $0.12 MORE EXPENSIVE per ear than my grocery store. Ears came wrapped in plastic, so I couldn't pick out my own, plus, ugh, plastic.
- Sharp cheddar: $1.79/block Same price as my grocery store brand when it's on sale (which is frequently).
- Saltines $0.89/box Pro: WAY cheaper than either my grocery store ($3.26/box) or Target ($2.54/box). Con: I forgot that Saltines are one of the things Peanut is brand-sensitive about. If he doesn't like these, there is no savings.
- Gala apples: $3.99/bag. Pro: slightly cheaper than my grocery store (hard to calculate, as I don't buy them by the bag normally, and the bags at Aldi were filled by number of apples, not weight - weird.) Con: Had to buy a plastic bag of apples.
- Beefsteak tomatoes: $1.39 for two in a plastic box. Pro: about 75% of the normal price at my grocery store, and slightly cheaper than my store's sale price. Con: Tomatoes in a plastic box.
- Artisan lettuce: $1.99 for four small heads in a plastic box. Pro: Cheaper. Con: Not the kind of lettuce I would normally buy, plus a plastic box.
- Skim milk: $1.99/gallon Same price as my grocery store.
- Frozen lasagna: $1.19 for a single-serve box. Pro: Definitely cheaper than frozen dinners from either Target or my usual store! Potential Con: Will it taste good? Definite con: Only one vegetarian option available.
- Hot dog buns: $0.39 for eight Pro: SUPER CHEAP!!!! Con: No selection - that was the only type of bun available, and I really wanted hoagie buns, not hot dog buns.
So will I start shopping at Aldi regularly?
I'm undecided. The location is .8 miles farther from my house than my normal grocery store, but more importantly, it's in the opposite direction - a direction I very rarely travel. Combined with that, the savings doesn't really outweigh the downsides to almost every single product I purchased. (In addition to the produce all being wrapped in plastic, it was decidedly inferior to the produce available at my usual grocery store and Target - mold, for example, or just beat up or wrinkly produce.) However, this was a mid-week stock up, and probably not the best trip to take to give Aldi a shot.
I think for certain types of shopping trips - stocking up on cereal, canned goods, boxed products, desserts (including baked goods, ice cream, and cake mixes) and possibly some frozen stuff - Aldi would save me a lot of money. They also have some unexpected products, like mesh camp chairs and clothes drying racks, both for $10, which seem like good deals. If I were getting a bunch of things like chips, soda, and popsicles for a party or oatmeal, trail mix, and granola bars for a camping trip - well, now. Aldi would indeed save me a bundle of money. But will I make a special trip for my usual shopping needs, or just chalk up the higher cost of Target or my usual store as a convenience fee?
I know the best way to stretch your grocery dollar is to shop at multiple stores for different things, but I'm not going to do that as a matter of course, at least not when it involves driving out of my way. I can pop into Target and a grocery store within the same shopping complex, and that's about as much as I have time for. (And as they say, time is money!)
Have you ever shopped at Aldi? Do you shop at multiple grocery stores or stick with the most convenient one?