We have been following what’s called the Paleo diet for almost a year. Basically, we try not to eat many processed or pre-packed foods. We don’t eat any grains, very few potatoes or other starches, and use mostly honey and maple syrup for sweeteners. This means I buy primarily produce and meat for groceries each week. The days of five pound hunks of hamburger meat and five varieties of $1 Hamburger Helper are long gone. If there is one thing that I feel good about spending more money than the bare minimum on, it is food. I’ve couponed. I’ve tried Wal-Mart. I’ve played Winn Dixie’s little games. Sure, my bill was half what it is now but we were eating crap, feeling sick, and looking bad. I usually spend between $75 and $100 per week on groceries. My absolute favorite place to shop is ALDI. If you have an ALDI store near you, go there. Here’s why:
1. It’s cheaper. Much cheaper. $4 grade A maple syrup. $1 frozen broccoli. $0.69 eggs. $2.99 milk. You get the picture.
2. It’s quicker. Generally, ALDI carries their own brands. Or at least brands I don’t see anywhere else. If you’re looking for ketchup, there’s one kind. You put it in your buggy and move on to the next item. No decision-making process needed.
3. The cashiers get to sit down. Having worked in retail for many years, I really appreciate this about ALDI. Not only have they created an entire buggy system to facilitate this, it makes their employees happy. When I’m paying $100 to eat for a week, I want a nice, smiling face to chit-chat with as I hand over the cash.
4. Their produce section is amazing. It’s doesn’t have the mini-outdoor market vibe, but it’s got everything you need for about half the price. ALDI is great at carrying seasonal produce, too.
5. Seasonal items abound. Today, my ALDI was in a transition from pumpkin central to holiday buffet spectacular. Large pumpkins were $0.25 and pumpkin-flavored baking kits were one sale for $1. Butterball turkeys, fresh cranberries, gourmet Christmas candies, and all types of artisanal cheeses lined the shelves (actually, ALDI doesn’t have shelves) just waiting to be served at a holiday party.
6. Everybody’s so stinkin’ nice in there. Not only are the employees happy, it seems that the un-Wal-Mart atmosphere of ALDI makes everybody happier to shop. The SUV driving, kid-yelling, soccer-mom group usually skips ALDI for fear of looking like they don’t have enough money to cram a buggy full of junk at a super center. People hand over carts without taking a quarter in the parking lot, help pack each other’s groceries, chat while waiting in line, etc.
This Thanksgiving, I’ll be serving ALDI-bought food while being thankful for my go-to grocery store. Do any of you hold the wonders of ALDI dear to your hearts (and bellies), too?