So many people have told me about the life changing magic that is shopping at Aldi. I have read forum posts in praise of the grocery store chain. I see Pins about the magical budget solution Aldi is. Friends have been aghast that I have never stepped foot inside the place. So, I finally took the plunge. With so many various people telling me about the glory of the store, it was time.
Imogene and I grabbed a quarter and headed to our local Aldi. First, they told me I needed a quarter for the buggy. They told me I would get it back. They did not tell me how to use this magic buggy. It took us a minute or two to figure out where to put the quarter. But we finally figured it out. No thanks to the 3 people than angrily huffed around us getting their own buggies and not letting us in on the secret quarter spot.
We walk toward the door, which is laid out completely backwards. The entrance is on the left, the exit on the right. That isn’t how this works. That is just anarchy. It was maddening to walk through the WRONG right way in. (Have I mentioned I have been diagnosed with mild OCD? I took my therapist’s advice and just made myself do it, despite my discomfort. “Live with the discomfort,” she tells me. And I did. Very much discomfort.)
Entering, it appears they are trying to have an IKEA type system here. All traffic flow moving one direction. No going back. Only this first section looks like a walk through a typical convenience store. Off brand chips and pretzels. Not at all what I am there for. And none are a seemingly good deal.
We get to the dairy case where people have raved about milk and egg prices. I was not at all impressed. $0.10 a gallon cheaper for milk than my beloved Kroger. The doors lead to some abyss that is their dairy cooler. I’m pretty sure the way things are just thrown and stacked around isn’t up to code. I wonder if grocery stores have health inspectors. I worked at a grocery store, you’d think I would know this information. My giant pregnant self has to try to move a cardboard pallet that has a couple squashed and leaking gallons of milk left on it to try to get to the new pallet underneath. The milk on the full pallet barely looks better. But I am squatting and leaning into a grocery cooler and am starting to loose feeling in my toes, so I grab a couple of smashed up gallons and hope for the best. I go to check the eggs. They are the same price as Kroger, but I am here, so I might as well buy these. All smashed. Like someone dropped a milk pallet on top of the eggs this morning smashed. No eggs it is.
We move on to the produce. We’ve heard about the wonderful prices. I supposed paying $0.11 per pound of bananas sounds fabulous, but very few of the bananas appear edible. Every single bag of clementines contains at least one molded clementine. Every single bag of potatoes contains at least one very rotten potato. (Super pregnant nose knows.) The prices are actually higher than Sprouts, but the food is almost inedible. Why pay ANY money for mushy onions?
We scan the canned goods. Dented cans. Prices the same or higher than Kroger. At this point, we decide to just pay for our milk and leave. The store is dirty, poorly organized, and I’m pretty sure I’ll get tetanus from the shelving. We escape before the zombies break out of the back room.
Aldi’s was straight up terrible. It reminded me of the tiny grocery store we had in rural Mississippi, only, if everyone had left the store unattended for a week. The Dollar Store is a better shopping experience, guys. I was told to expect Trader Joe’s. It was nothing like Trader Joe’s. It was like shopping at Mud Tavern grocery, which was located in a single wide trailer. It was super depressing. I asked Imogene her thoughts after. She said she felt like everything was falling in on her and she was sure this was the place of her burial.
So, there. I tried it. I hated it. I won’t be going back. But let me know, is your Aldi this terrible? And if so, how do they even stay in business? But hey, we did return our cart and get that quarter back.
We barely have a large family. We are like a small, large family. But most people cannot fathom having a few more kids than they have. And they are curious! Boy are people curious about my family. And that is really fine. We don’t mind curiosity. It is interesting. We know. I’d be curious. I’m sometimes curious about families larger than mine. One question we get a lot is about groceries. Most people see six kids all they can think is, “How on earth do you feed them all?” I feel like Costco was built for me! And when you are buying multiple Costco sized packages of things, well, you are aware that you are an anomaly. Most people see a Costco sized butter pack (4 lbs.) and think, how long will it take me to use that? It isn’t Christmas right now! I see it and think, I sure hope 2 packs lasts me through the month!
Here are our usual food purchases for a month. A couple notes before I list all this. (1) I have no teenagers yet! The six lovely children range from 8 months to 9 years. I imagine I will have to double this in a few years and then triple it a few years after that. (2) This isn’t everything. These are just our base staples. I meal plan and we buy what is needed for those meals. I usually go with whatever meat is on sale. And we eat vegetarian half the time, so I buy a lot of bulk beans and use my Bean by Bean Cookbook. This also doesn’t include any canned goods. (3) This is just an average month. Some months my kids will get on a yogurt kick and we’ll go through more yogurts and less bananas. It happens. This is just an average month when they are spreading their likes around. (4) These are per month totals. And some are a combination of bulk and regular grocery store purchasing. (5) I also buy household items each month like toilet paper and paper towels, those things aren’t included. This is just food.
Bananas – 4 dozen
Apples – 6 lbs.
Gogurt – 72 pouches
String Cheese – 96
Mozarella Snack Cheese – 36
Granola Bars – 96
Popcorn – 2 lbs. unpopped kernels
Lemons – 3 lbs.
Onions – 10 lbs.
Garlic – 2 lbs.
Sweet Tea – 45 gallons
Bread – 12 loaves
Tortillas – 88
Applesauce – 48 pouches
Oatmeal – 2 lbs.
Peanut Butter – 80 oz.
Raisins – 24 snack size boxes
Milk – 8 gallons
Almond Milk – 8 gallons
Eggs – 4 dozen
Butter – 8 lbs.
Sour Cream – 4 lbs.
Cottage Cheese – 3 lbs.
Heavy Cream – 3 quarts
Shredded Mexican Cheese – 3 lbs.
Pretzels – 3.5 lbs.
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I’ll start by saying that I am very cautious about my food. If I have the slightlest hint that anything has gone bad or is on its way to bad, I will not eat it. I am not one for leftovers or potluck. So, today, I take the lettuce out of the fridge to make salads for lunch. The lettuce is less than a week old, but it is a wee bit droopy. Normally, I would throw the lettuce away. I really wanted a salad for lunch, though. I thought I remembered Rachel Ray once saying that a bath of ice water would perk saggy lettuce up. I figured it was worth a try! I placed my saggy, sad lettuce into an ice cold water bath. Viola! Perky lettuce fit to eat! I was very surprised it worked. It is a neat little trick to know.