Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why Aldi Can Cut Your Grocery Costs

First of all - this is my first Frugal Fairy post in a long time. Pretty much since before Christmas. Which is sad.

However it is probably because I am pregnant! So I've had other things on my mind besides writing blogs.

But don't worry - with being a mom comes more opportunities for me to blog about things. And I promise I won't ONLY blog about mommy things.

So, onto my post....

The other day while I was shopping at Aldi, I thought to myself "gee, why don't more people shop here?". Then I also thought "gee, why don't more grocery stores adopt the Aldi model?"

So here is a user's guide to Aldi, for those of you who have never been:

  1. Bring a quarter: The first thing you'll notice when you arrive at Aldi is that you have to lend a quarter to get your shopping cart. Actually, because of this one of the first things you may notice at Aldi is that there are no rogue buggies roaming the parking lot searching for cars to dent. In order to get a cart, you must deposit a quarter into a little contraption. But don't worry, when you return your cart you will get a quarter back...not your same quarter, but a quarter still.
  2. BYOB (Bring your own bags): Aldi was green before green was trendy. To keep costs down for you, Aldi does not provide you or supply you with any bags. Whatever you put into your cart will ultimately end back up in your cart, just like that. It is up to you, the customer, to provide bags and bag your own groceries. Yes, you are cutting out the "luxury" of a bag boy/girl - but then you can package your groceries any way you want to! I bring my own bags from home. However Aldi does have paper bags (for 5 cents I believe) and sturdy, reusable plastic bags (for 10 cents). You can also often find leftover packing boxes up front that are there for your use as well.
  3. No fancy shelves: Just to properly forewarn you, Aldi has no frills once inside. Most of the products are placed on a few shelves or are merely in boxes on pallets on the floor. You may get more of a discount/warehouse vibe from Aldi - but that's fine for me!
  4. Limited selection: Let me also forewarn you that you probably will not be able to buy all of your groceries at Aldi. Aldi has a limited selection of items. Mostly what I would consider staples. You can purchase things like flour, sugar, cooking oil, milk, eggs, etc. at Aldi. Most products tend to be of an off brand (Aldi brand) but are of good quality. Every once in a while they will have "special purchase" items that might be of a brand (lately I saw Easter candy, including Cadbury and Nestle, just to name some brands). But I wouldn't count on it every time.
  5. Bonus Perk 1: Since Aldi is a Europeon based company, some of the foods they carry are actually imported. Aldi has some AWESOME chocolate there. Some of the stuff is ridiculously cheap but comporable to many imported chocolates I've found for much more money!
  6. Bonus Perk 2: I tend to think that people (shoppers and staff) are actually a lot more friendly at Aldi. Almost every time that I have been to Aldi, someone in the parking lot has offered to trade me a quarter for my buggy so I didn't have to return it and they didn't have to "check one out". Other shoppers pretty much always slide down/provide/place the courtesy bar/divider between groceries. At other stores I generally have to ask. But at Aldi, most of the time someone will pass it down. I also think most Aldi's allow their check out clerks to sit on stools instead of standing on their feet all day. I personally know that would make me a happier employee - so I'm assuming that's why I encounter so many happy ones!
  7. Best Perk: The prices are incredible. I went the other day and bought and entire cart filled to the top with staples such as cereal, crackers, peanut butter, jelly, milk, eggs, bread, english muffins, fresh veggies, canned veggies, juice, cheese, cream cheese, biscuits, hamburger patties, roasting meat, frozen pizzas, sherbert, microwave meals, soups, and more and spent a total of $93! No coupons necessary either. I know for a fact that had I shopped for these items, even at a discount place like Walmart, I would have paid at least $140 for the same items.

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