Thursday, August 9, 2012

Aldi: How we Cut 33 Percent off our Grocery Bills

I’m typically not one to tout various stores or brands, but we recently found a store – Aldi – that allows us to cut our grocery bills by almost a third. And amazingly, in most cases, we’re not finding ourselves having to scrimp on product quality or quantity. In fact, we’re eating healthier now than we were when we were spending twice the amount on our groceries.

It’s kind of an odd story regarding how we stumbled onto Aldi. We actually used to shop there about eight years ago, and while we like their prices, we weren’t really happy with the quality of the goods. Therefore, we moved on to other shopping options that were more expensive, but that we felt fit our personal needs and quality expectations better.

Just recently though, we decided to give Aldi another shot. We had heard that quality there had improved, and we thought it was worth checking out; and boy were we surprised! Prices were great, quality was significantly improved, and they even offered great values on fresh fruit and produce. Therefore, we’ve made Aldi our new stop for most of the food options on our list and are realizing significant savings in the process.

Little Quirks
Besides Aldi, I’ve never been to a store where you have to insert a quarter into a slot on a shopping cart to free it for use. However, Aldi does this because they don’t have parking lot cart returns that would require paid labor to clear. They also don’t accept credit cards, and shoppers must supply their own bags (or buy them at the store for a few cents a piece) and bag their own groceries.

Sound like a royal pain in the rear end? Well, it’s not that bad to us – at least once we got used to it – and it’s worth it for the savings that such small sacrifices provide, since much of the savings that Aldi recognizes on such labor and cost reductions gets passed along to shoppers by way of lower product prices.

Pricing Examples
Here are a few pricing examples from summer 2012:

Frozen pizzas – $1.99. The frozen pizzas we were buying at other stores ran closer to $3.25 and weren’t as good in our opinion. Aldi even has 16-inch pizzas for $4.99 to $5.99, which we tried and really liked, especially considering that a similar sized pizza ordered out in our area would run around $25.

Fresh fruit – Blueberries for $1.49 a pint, whole strawberries for $1.29 a pound.

Pretzels – $1.29 for the best stick pretzels I’ve had in a long time, but then again, I’m kind of a pretzel nut. This compares to over $2 a bag for what we were buying before.

Milk – One gallon of 2% or whole milk for $1.68. Compares to over $2 where we were shopping previously.

Cheese – 16 oz. of shredded mozzarella cheese for $2.99 compare to around $5 elsewhere.

Bag of 3-lb frozen Boneless Chicken Breasts – $5.99 compared to between $7.99 and $8.99 elsewhere.

The list could go on and on.

We Don’t Buy Everything There Though
We don’t however but everything at Aldi though. We’ve found that when it comes to most of our necessary food items, the savings are typically great. However, on things like toiletries, cleaning supplies and similar items, we tend to look elsewhere for better selection and pricing.

What We’re Saving Now
Compared to what we were spending just several months ago elsewhere, we are now recognizing savings in the area of $100 a month, and that’s on a monthly food budget of just $300!

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