Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More Cash to "Romaine" in your Bank Account

For a year or so, since the last Rapidly Inflating Gas Prices Scare - or was it the Worldwide Economic Implosion of 2008 - I've become a fan of buying staple grocery items at Aldi, where they are cheaper than anywhere else I've looked. Aldi's model is to reduce overhead as much as possible to sell you a limited number of grocery items efficiently and inexpensively.

It takes a couple of trips to Aldi to get into the mindset. The first time you go, it's so different from an ordinary grocery store trip as to bit a little off-putting. You have to make a quarter deposit to get a cart (which you get back when you click the cart back into the cart return). Most of the products available are store-brand, and the selection is limited. You join your fellow customers, all following a specific route through the store, and then checkout with factory efficiency. Trying to make friendly small talk with the cashier usually doesn't work out. But the fact is, part of bringing you low prices is limiting staff to a bare minimum, meaning this checker has to get you through as fast as possible to keep the line moving. In part, you earn the discount you get by shopping at Aldi by virtue of the fact that while you're there, you work there too.

Every week, milk is definitely on my Aldi list, as they are always the lowest price in the area. Eggs, too, are a good price if you aren't picky about getting organic or free-range. Aldi will only sell you one kind of egg. We've often had good luck with their romaine lettuce. Aldi now has boxed pasta in whole grain varieties, which my wife and I love. And, of course, basic baking supplies like flour, sugar and chocolate chips are a great deal.

If you have an Aldi in your area, I recommend giving it a try to see if it works for you to make part of your weekly shopping list an Aldi List. I've discovered that the blog Cincinnati Cents has a weekly post about Aldi specials, which is very helpful. Aldi has a weekly ad, but not all of these specials are in it.


Ross said...

Aldi's is a great store if you're looking for deals. However, if you're near a Kwik Trip gas station (that's the correct spelling, not Quik Trip), they sell bagged milk for 74 cents a half gallon. It's simply an amazing deal. You also get the pitcher free. They also sell a dozen eggs for a buck, loafs of white bread for like 79 cents (grains are around $1.19).

Don't be afraid of bagged milk. It's amazing, especially when others buy it at the grocery store for twice the price.

Kwik Trip...that's where I go for my staples.

Ross said...

One more thing about Aldi: don't forget to bring your own grocery bags, or utilize empty cardboard boxes in the store to carry your items to your car.

clake said...

Around here, Kwik Trip is called Kwik Star, but I have heard they have the same awesome deals on staple groceries (including very cheap bananas). Unfortunately, I don't have one nearly close enough to where I live to take advantage of these deals.

On behalf of other readers who do have Kwik Trip/Star stores nearby, thanks for the useful tip!

Kristine said...

There is a Save-A-Lot near our house. They have a decent produce selection at good prices. I've found that the avocados there are consistently riper and better than what is in the regular grocery store.

On a slightly related note, I was picking up some apples at the grocery store the other week. I went for the conventionally-grown ones at first assuming they would be the best deal, but then decided to check out the organic isle, just out of curiosity. It turned out the price was exactly the same for organic or regular pink lady apples. And, the organic ones were juicier than previous purchases, probably because they had come from somewhere in the US, as opposed to Chile. Lesson: don't always write off organic as more expensive.