After decades of shopping at other stores that we don’t need to mention here, about 2 years ago my wife and I decided to shop at Aldi – exclusively – and we haven’t looked back! In this post, I’ll give you all the reasons why we chose Aldi in the first place, why we stick around, and what the few things are that we would change if we could.
But before that, a little background:
There I was for THIRTY WHOLE YEARS! A sucker. Mark. Pawn. Call me what you want, but I was definitely spending so much more money on groceries every month than what was necessary.
Do you want to know the worst part…?
I didn’t even know the difference!! Aldi hadn’t entered my mental space. I was gleefully oblivious and didn’t see the lead weight forming that would eventually drag our monthly budget down to the depths of normalcy.
Before deciding to shop at Aldi exclusively, we behaved like money-spending robots at the other box stores
Starting out, we’d stroll the aisles and casually throw things in the cart.
After a few years, we would cut coupons
A year or so after that we went bare bones and started throwing out all the stops– we made a menu and list, and we stuck to them. The article above will tell you that we cut our grocery bill by about 30%. And we did. We were soooo proud of ourselves, too.
The article won’t tell you, though, that we were still spending $150-175/week on grocery and toiletry items!!! – About $700/month for two adults and an infant (at the time).
Then, about a year ago something amazing happened. My mother-in-law (MIL) and I had a conversation…!!
The fact that we had the conversation wasn’t the amazing thing, c’mon now. No, it was what we discussed that was amazing.
She told me about this glorious place called … Aldi … and the fact that it existed with all of your necessary grocery items at half the cost of Giant Eagle. Better yet, she reported that Aldi was pushing to sell only organic and natural produce products.
Humm… I was intrigued, but skeptical.
My MIL was fired up, but could she be trusted? Monica and I were comfortable with Giant Eagle. We knew where our products were and exactly how much they would cost us. Besides, those generic, half-priced, goods couldn’t be as good as the real thing!
MIL and I have collaborated on a few things in the past, some of which even made the blog (breast pumps…). So I acted on the goodwill built up and asked her to prepare another article for the blog.
We had a trip scheduled to see her a few weeks after this initial conversation and the plan was for her to work on the article over that time then present it to us on the visit
We arrived, grandma got her hugs and kisses, then we sat down for an early dinner to eat and catch up. The day’s menu had meatloaf, greens, a scalloped potato dish, and some store-bought dessert. Now, I have had MIL’s meatloaf in the past but for this dinner,, it tasted different – better. So did the potatoes and greens. Desserts are all phenomenal, so I didn’t notice much of a difference there.
I remember telling MIL and Monica about how great the food was. I even joked that she should write an article about her new recipes. MIL chuckled with a different, kind of sly grin. I paid it no mind and proceeded to get up for seconds.
About 30 minutes had passed, we cleaned up the table and then sat down with printed paper in hand. Her new article.
MIL came through in a big way with this gem (Freedom from slavery to a brand), and while I was reading it over she said, “You mentioned that the food tasted different today.”
“Actually, yes. It was very good and… enhanced (my political word choice) compared with other times.”
She eyed me, smiled, and then said, “You want to know what I did differently?”
“Of course,” I responded.
“All of the food you ate today was from Aldi. Nothing else changed. Same prep, same dishes, just different ingredients.”
The woman had my attention now. “You mean to tell me that this store… (looked for the name on the paper) Aldi … sells food at half the price AND it tastes that good!?!?”
“Do you believe me now?”
MIL had set me up. Like an expert saleswoman, she recon’d her target, established a flawless plan, then executed to perfection
On that day, Monica and I vowed to give Aldi a shot and we went the next weekend.
This was in summer of 2017 and in the time from then to now, we have only set foot in Giant Eagle (or a like store) for ordered cakes (their bakery is still amazing) and turkey sausage – the only item for which we haven’t found an equal replacement at Aldi.
So why have we continued to shop at Aldi exclusively for the last couple of years?
Well, initially the prices were overwhelmingly amazing. Without changing quantity or any of our general grocery shopping procedure, our weekly grocery expenses now average $85/week!!! – $360/month… (That’s down about 50% by only changing stores!!)
And every week the same thing happens. I grab the receipt from the cashier before (s)he realizes that they must’ve missed half the items in the cart, scan the receipt with a CPA’s once-over, realize they didn’t miss an item, then turn to Monica and say, “What in the hell were we doing for T.H.I.R.T.Y. Y.E.A.R.S!?!?!?
And then I sob a tear for each one of the dollars we spent over those years as I put our environmentally sustainable bags into the trunk.
It’s a cathartic exaggeration of the joy we feel for our grocery budget now compared with the pain of looking back on years of irresponsible shopping. A true happy sad moment
It’s obvious that switching to Aldi has saved us thousands of dollars over this past calendar year, but as we’ve spent more trips to Aldi, we’ve come to know and love the store more each time. Additionally, we’ve picked up on a few things that would now keep us shopping at the store… even if the prices were equal to their name brand competitors.
Here are 4 reasons we would still shop at Aldi even if they raised their prices (but please don’t read this article and do that, Aldi… Thank you)
1) Shopping at Aldi is much faster
The stores are generally smaller and have a more efficient layout. On top of that, we never wait more than 5 minutes in line for a cashier. The Aldi staff uses a store-wide radio system and just as the larger lines begin to form, there’s always another associate arriving to help out. With similar great options, fewer aisles to walk down, and a more respectful and responsive staff – we’re normally in-and-out in about 20 minutes with the week’s worth of goods.
2) There is an organic or healthy option for every food item we buy
If we want to go healthy, we can do so without breaking the bank. They have a healthier substitute for nearly any item you would want – just like your larger store… The only difference is a much better price!
No worries if you’re looking for the regular items, though. Aldi has those too.
3) Aldi practices efficiency – and I respect that
They have found a way to get the most out of their associates, and that starts with the way that Aldi has designed your shopping experience.
Upon arrival, it will cost you $0.25 to rent your cart for the day. After perusing the aisles, buying your items, and either purchasing Aldi’s paper/reusable bags for a low fee or bringing your own, you’ll fill your own bags at a separate counter then return your cart to redeem the quarter used earlier.
By relying on the customer to handle their own groceries after purchase and return their carts, Aldi is helping you stay active and limiting the unnecessary tasks for their employees… Which eventually leads to much lower prices for you, the consumer.
If you’re willing to accept slightly more of the shopping responsibility, I’m sure you’ll love the tremendous returns in your grocery budget!
4) The staff is a friendly bunch
Whether it’s the higher than average pay or just the company culture, Aldi staff members are seemingly always happy and upbeat. If it’s been a stressful day or even if I’m riding high myself, it’s always nice to interact with a person that seems to be enjoying their time with you.
We haven’t always found this to be true at our larger stores…
Well there you have it
If you can fight back the tears yourself, you’ll love the savings and environment at your local Aldi store. What are you waiting for? Give it a shot.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Do you shop at Aldi? If so, do you agree with my points?
If not, are you thinking of giving Aldi a try? Keep the conversation going in the comments below and let us know! Thanks in advance!
Thanks for reading!
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