Thursday, February 4, 2016

Ways to Save: Shop at Aldi

One of my favorite ways we save money is by doing (most) of our grocery shopping at Aldi. Honestly, if I could put an Aldi within driving distance of everyone, I would. It's that awesome.

We have a ridiculous grocery budget. In the sense that it is very tight. When I saw the USDA average food plan cost sheet I noticed that we spend under what's listed as "thrifty". And let me tell you, sometimes, it's hard. And the ONLY way we are able to do this is because of Aldi. And Sam's Club (but that's another post).

When we first got married, it was a literal struggle with the food budget every two weeks, and we pretty much ALWAYS went over. We were trying to coupon and price match and, well, do all those "normal" things you're told to do if you want to save money. We were trying to pay off my husband's student debt, so we REALLY had no room for going over our grocery budget.

After being married a few months, I realized that I drove by an Aldi almost every day. It had been FOREVER since I had been to an Aldi, or really even thought about one, but I remembered that I'd heard they had good prices. I convinced my husband to go with me one time, and if we didn't like it we never had to go again.

That was a red-letter day.

We went from scraping by and basically living off rice and beans to being able to eat well under our grocery budget. When we walked out of the store when our cart of groceries, my husband said three words: I'm a fan!

Now, Aldi does not have everything you might find at a normal grocery store, but I find the times I need to go somewhere else for groceries that Aldi doesn't have are rare. Most of what they sell is their own brand - you won't see many name brands around the store. Here's the thing, though, I don't care! With few exceptions, Aldi brand is just as good or better than the name brands. True story. (& it's basically what you'd buy at Trader Joe's but repackaged for Aldi. They're owned by the same parent company)

EVEN BETTER is that most of their food has a double guarantee on it. This means that if you try it and don't like it, you not only get your money back, but you get your choice of a comparably priced replacement item from that department at no cost. This really makes me feel free to try new things. And, quite honestly, I've only used that double guarantee a couple times, and I've been shopping there for years. Full disclosure: I make most of what we eat from scratch (aka I rarely use prefrozen or meals from boxes) so I have less experience there. But with the double guarantee you can't really go wrong!

If you have an Aldi, I really highly recommend you give it a try because here's the thing: with almost no exception, everything at Aldi is cheaper than if you used coupons. And if you're price matching, you're doing it to Aldi's prices. There are a few things that are priced on par with your regular grocery store, but most things are noticeably cheaper.

A few things you should know before you go:
1) Bring a quarter. You'll need this for your shopping cart - don't worry, you'll get it back - but it's one way they help you save money. You insert your quarter and you return your cart when you're done. Mean they don't have to hire extra people to bring in the carts
2) Bring your own reuseable bags (or be prepared to buy some from them for a small fee). Again, one way they are able to save you money is buy not including the price of disposable bags in every item.
3) Bring cash or your debit card (EBT also accepted). They do not accept credit cards or checks. Credit cards charge a fee to the vendors everytime its used, so they pass that savings on to you by having you pay with money, and checks take longer to process. The line may be long at checkout, but they are very, very fast about it.
4) They do not accept coupons. This doesn't bother me, because I'm saving more by shopping there than if I used coupons elsewhere. Plus, it saves me time in not having to clip them!

There you have it! Happy shopping and bon appetit!

original image of Aldi store

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