Grocery Shopping: You're Doing it Wrong

When I moved from my college home of Utah back home to Virginia, grocery shopping was a bit of a slap in the face. I didn't realize how much less expensive food was in Utah! I went from knowing a good deal when I saw it to not knowing the first thing about pricing out east. I didn't know which "expensive" item was the "least of the expensive items".

There are a number of grocery stores to choose from here in my area:
  • Bloom - hello expensive. Their selection is usually pretty limited brand-wise as well. 
  • Shoppers - something about this store gives me the willies... and expensive. 
  • Safeway - the clerks are always crabby patties and the sales never ring up properly. Expensive.
  • Harris Teeter - expensive and far away.
  • Bottom Dollar - I'm too afraid to go into one of those.
  • Wal*Mart - um, Wal*Marts are different here. Let's leave it at that.
  • Wegmans - ah, Wegmans. It's more like an experience than a grocery store. Their store brand food is amazing. If I have to go anywhere, I go here.
Occasionally my mom would take me to the military base commisary where despite everything being name brands, I could do really well on my shopping trips. However, I couldn't go without her (you need a military ID to shop there) and I hated being a hassle and not being able to run to the store when I needed to.

That's when I learned of the beauty, awesomeness and the amazing store - ALDI. If you're not shopping at ALDI, you're missing out. See, I don't have 30 hours a week to clip coupons. I didn't even have 30 minutes to watch the show on people who do clip coupons (how long it will take me to write this blog post is irrelevant!) At ALDI I feel like I am getting the rush of couponing without the work. It's genius I tell you.

What is ALDI? Essentially it is a grocery store built solely around generic brands. Occasionally I will see name brand items, but ALDI has their own brand of just about anything - and everything.

First thing's first - don't forget your quarter! In order to keep track of their carts, you must push a quarter into your cart for it to be released from the barrage of carts. Don't worry - you get it back when you return the cart. Also - don't forget your bags! In an effort to keep costs low, ALDI does not provide bags. You can take boxes to carry your groceries or if you are like me, you can buy a few ALDI bags to reuse for each visit.

The very first time I ever went to ALDI it was to buy chips for my mom. For months it was "the chip store". Once we were back in our own house and I was buying our own groceries again I realized why. Do you have any idea how expensive chips are?! How much are ALDI chips?

$1.39. Yep. You read that right. They have every chip you can imagine - Tortilla, Cool Ranch, Nacho Cheese, Cheese Puffs, Crunchy Cheese Puffs, Fritos, Pita Chips... they even have Chex Mix varieties. They all taste just like the originals - with the exception of the Cheese puffs. I wasn't sold on those.

The other night I had to run out to buy milk when we returned home from Utah, as ours had spoiled while visiting the in-laws. I didn't want to run all the way to ALDI so I went to the Bloom (Food Lion) right around the corner. Do you know how expensive milk is?! It was $4 something a gallon. I just couldn't stomach that, so I bought a 1/2 gallon to tide us over until I could do my regular shopping. What did I pay at ALDI?

Vitamin D milk, $2.39. ALDI has lots of frozen and cold items. Milk, eggs, juice, creams, yogurts - everything you'd find in a regular grocery store. It's amazing because it is less than half the size of most grocery stores, but I find everything I need here. I think to myself, "Oh, I need unsalted butter. They probably won't have that here." I turn around and BAM. There it is.

The store is only about 4 isles wide. This particular ALDI is a bit larger than the one technically closer to my home, but I prefer this location for the size and the neighborhood. It's also less crowded which is a plus when I am shopping with Autumn in tow.

I went from shopping for just odds and ends to shopping exclusively at ALDI. I just can't beat the deals! Though the store is smaller, it has everything I need and more. I am always surprised at the things I find. ALDI takes all the fuss out of shopping with just one option for everything you need - no comparing brands. I have even grown to prefer many ALDI brand items to big names. Their microwave popcorn? Yummy. Oh - and they have the yummiest honey battered chicken fingers... I may share those with Autumn during her lunches! Their produce, meats, and breads are fresh because the turn-over is so high with a small offering. 

How much would you guess my shopping trip was? That cart is almost entirely full. I've got big items like 2 gallons of milk, bread, paper towels, a big bag of chicken tenders, a gallon of apple cider, bacon and 3 12-packs of soda.

$71.32. That's a little bit higher than I spend for 2 weeks worth of groceries (normally I spend about $60 every 2 weeks) - but I had a few indulgences this week including a $5.99 cheesecake and a few frozen goodies Autumn insisted we buy... Have you any idea how much this would have run me at the stores I mentioned earlier? I always leave ALDI feeling like I got a steal!

Here are just a few of my great deals:

10lb bag of Potatoes - $2.49
3 Pack of Paper Towels - $1.89
"Bisquick" Baking Mix - $1.99
White Bread - $.89
4 Cans of Tomato Sauce - $1.16 (.29 cents each)
Large Eggs - $1.45
Gallon of Apple Cider - $2.99
Sliced Bacon - $2.79
12 Pack of Soda - $2.29

I highly, highly endorse ALDI. So much so that I was willing to get weird looks from people wondering why on earth I was taking pictures during my shopping trip, just so I could share with you how awesome it is. If you have one nearby and you've never been, check it out! You will NOT be disappointed.


  1. I love Aldi too! Such great deals. When I was in Ireland, earlier this year they have Aldi stores too :) Apparently, they're a german company and a lot of their items are name-brand in Germany, but appear generic in the US. I prefer a lot of their items over name brand too. I'm so glad there are other Aldi fans out there. Food here in NC is pretty pricey, so I always look for a deal where I can get it.

  2. We have Aldi here in Belgium too and we do almost all our groceries in that store. Crazy cheap!

  3. I'm not quite to the point where I shop for everything at Aldi, but it's definitely in my rotation for stocking up on certain things.

  4. I had heard that ALDI was a European concept/brand. That's really cool to know that the items are name brand in Germany. No wonder they are so yummy!

  5. OK, I think I'll try it out :) Where is the one you normally go? The one by Lowe's has always looked a little sketchy to me, so I've been wussy about trying it out...

  6. April - I prefer the one off Liberia in Manassas. I drive past the church on Hoadly, make a left at the Parkway and then it's right at Liberia. It's not a bad drive.

    Avoid the one by Lowes at night - it's crazy packed! During the day it's not so bad! That parking lot is just a nightmare though!

  7. We are ALDI fans as well! Just admit it, you heard about it from my blog first :) jk. But we go weekly for all the same reasons you do. Love almost everything we try there and the seasonal household items they get are usually great too. But especially, the milk, meat, and produce! Yum yum.

  8. We are also a fan Aldi in Germany. Typical German business!