Freedom from slavery… to a brand (guest blogger – Barb (Mother-in-law))

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Hi, Team!

Yes, you read this correctly – my Mother-in-law (of early morning cleaning, breast pump preparing, and now freedom from slavery advocating fame) is here with her eye-opening take on how to step outside of your comfort zone and cut your grocery spending by a third!! I’ll be honest, this article blew me away. It’s on point with a great message, well written, and entertaining… And I’m not just saying that because she’s my mother-in-law. Let me get out of her way…

Take it away Barb…


Hi, friends! I want to thank Mike for allowing me to be a guest blogger on “MikedUp Blog” to share with so many my journey from slavery to freedom.


The journey began unexpectedly on a visit to my youngest daughter’s home.


She and her husband and 8-month-old son had just moved into a new apartment. I visited her for a few days to help finish unpacking boxes, cleaning, and organizing her new living space. Because we were working so fervently, my daughter, Regina, had planned ahead for us to have meals and snacks in the apartment so that we would not need to break to go out and eat.


Everything she prepared was delicious!


For snacks, we had healthy blue tortilla chips, salsa, yogurt, string cheese, as well as red and green peppers. Hummus was also on the menu. For meals, we enjoyed turkey sausage, chicken breasts, broccoli, salad, and of course macaroni and cheese to reward our hard work! I kept telling Regina how delicious everything was and asking her where she had purchased her food, as I was unfamiliar with some of the labels. Her reply was always the same – Aldi! I could not believe it! The food was all delicious and I could not tell the difference between the food I was purchasing at a local competing large scale grocery store and the Aldi’s brands.


I have to admit, I have been somewhat of a brand name snob!


If I have a choice between two items, and one is a brand name that is a little more expensive, I typically purchase the more expensive item. Well, I began to realize that what I had once heard a long time ago on the radio was true of myself – if you are brand loyal you are a slave. Think about what has been traditionally “branded” throughout history; various kinds of animals such as sheep and cattle, and even shamefully, slaves. A brand means that you are the property of someone else. I was owned by these companies that kept me coming back and buying their products, even though they were no better quality than much more affordable products!


I could see that this was a bad move financially. Hence, the adventure began!


I asked my daughter if I could go with her to Aldi to shop for a week’s worth of groceries.  She replied that she shops for herself, her 6’2” husband (she packs all of his lunches), and their baby for about $70.00 to $100.00 every 7 – 10 days! So,  some months she only shops three times. I thought this sounded very reasonable when I looked at it in comparison to my $600.00 budget for two people for a month! I do purchase toiletries and laundry detergent within my food budget – but still, I could definitely see some hope for decreasing the amount of money I was spending at the grocery store.


I was ready to head to Aldi at around 7:00 a.m. – my preferred time for grocery shopping. However, my daughter stated that Aldi does not open until around 9:00 a.m. That was a little disconcerting, but I thought for the cost savings, I could probably adjust my schedule a little. We pulled into the parking lot around 10:00 a.m. and there were plenty of cars there. She had her quarter ready to get a cart! At Aldi, you must put a quarter in a slot on the cart to unchain it from the next cart. This is the way they avoid having damaged carts, stolen carts, or any other cart issues. Wow! Nice money saving idea! You get your quarter back when you return the cart. I thought this to be very clever.


As we entered the store, it was somewhat crowded in the first aisle.


In this store, the chips and other snack foods were right as you entered. I would say the average entrance into more expensive chain stores is larger. However, we easily made our way down the aisle. Everyone in the store is patient. If it is difficult to get to a particular area or food item (for example eggs), people wait and take a turn. I assume because the customers know they are saving money and getting such good deals, they are generally a happy bunch of shoppers. Also, would Aldi be this busy if the food were not good? I observed Regina as she deftly made her way to items she needed. Just .39 for a yogurt cup! I pay around .60 to .70 a cup for my brand name yogurt. I already had tasted the yogurt and knew it was delicious. Whole wheat brown bread cost just $1.49! I was paying more than $3.50 a loaf. Regina also explained to me that Aldi’s has a “Simply Fit” line of healthy foods and are going all organic on fruits and vegetables. All of the produce I had tasted was excellent.


Regina loaded her cart to the top with the food on her list.


As we neared the cashier, Regina explained that you must either bring your own bags (which she had) or you can buy brown bags for .10 each. I thought this was very eco-friendly. Most of the customers had their own reusable bags with them. The cashier worked very quickly, as the store was busy. However, all of the lines were moving efficiently. The cashier put the food straight into a cart, and the customer then pushes the cart to an open counter (plenty of space) where he or she bags his or her own food. So, exercise is built into the shopping trip! Regina paid around $70.00 for her full cart of food. I was astounded and so proud of her!


I realized that the gig was up!


I was wasting hundreds, probably thousands, of dollars per year because I was a slave to certain brands, or even to a certain type of shopping experience. I recently began shopping at Aldi’s and I have been pleased with the results. I recently bought food for a weekend in which I would have three additional adults at my house and two children, as well as cooking a birthday dinner for my brother-in-law. I went to Aldi to purchase the food I needed. I paid around $70.00 Similar previous weekends had cost around $150.00 when I shopped at my usual large chain grocery store. The best part was that I received many compliments about the food that I had made, and I happily explained that it had all been purchased at Aldi. The Simply Fit marinated pork roast was a big hit. I also learned from the cashier that the brown bread is made locally by a somewhat famous bakery in our area, and Aldi puts its own label on it! I was purchasing delicious bread at a fraction of the cost.


So, my entire grocery shopping mindset has been turned completely around.


I think it basically means I need to use more sense, pay fewer dollars and head to Aldi for my weekly grocery shopping. The cost savings is definitely worth a time adjustment. I can shop after 9:00 a.m.  Check! I can allow a little more time until I have mastered the store organization. Check! I can do that. I will need to remember to take a quarter with me. I can do that, too. I need to take reusable bags with me. I have those already. Check! I am ready to banish brand slavery and break free of shopping snobbery! It’s like a whole new world out there – with more money in my pocket!



Thanks for reading!


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I’m glad you’re here. Thanks again and talk soon!


– Mike


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