Tag Archives: grocery shopping

Why I love shopping at Aldi grocery store

Aldi

This morning at 9am, a new Aldi grocery store opened in the Washington, DC area, and B and I were there.  I don’t know if you’ve ever shopped at an Aldi, or even heard of Aldi, but I love them!  They are 1/3 – 1/2 the size of your typical grocery store and do not carry everything that bigger grocery stores do.  But they still carry just about everything you need for your kitchen and for cleaning: produce, fresh & deli meats, spices, baking supplies, dairy, boxed and canned staples, international foods, convenience foods, frozen foods, snacks & candy, breads, pet food & supplies, paper goods, personal items, organic items, seasonal, etc.  And the best part?!  You get quality products you’d get at other grocery stores for much less!  How?  They save money by not offering some things that other stores do and then pass that savings onto you!

Let’s start outside the store; that is where they keep the shopping carts.  The carts are all connected to each and to get one out for shopping, you have to put a quarter into your cart.  Before you get upset about “paying” for a cart, let me finish.  After you’ve loaded your groceries in your car, you hook your cart back up to the rest and your quarter pops out so you can put it back in your pocket!  By using this system, Aldi does not have to purchase and maintain cart corrals in the parking lot nor hire employees to gather up the carts.  Savings passed onto customers #1.

You may see some national brands in Aldi (i.e. Charmin and Pringles) but they’re aren’t many.  Mostly you’ll see Aldi’s brand and other, less expensive brands.  Savings passed onto customers #2.

As I said in my opening paragraph, Aldi is smaller that your typical grocery store.  This means they may only have space for 4 different mustards (yellow, dijon, spicy brown and honey) instead of 20 different varieties and/or brands at other stores, but smaller spaces = lower overhead costs.  Savings passed onto customers #3.

At checkout, your groceries are not bagged for you and you are not given bags.  Your items are placed in another, empty cart (like what happens at Costco, BJs, Sams and the like) and you either bring your own bags or buy some from the cashier.  After checking out, there is a sturdy shelf lining the whole front of the store.  You pull your cart up to the shelf and bag your groceries or you roll your cart out to your car and load your purchases into boxes you have in your trunk (this is how my parents shop!).  Aldi not only saves money by not giving bags to customers, they are also helping save the environment by encouraging us to reuse bags we already have.  Savings passed onto customers #4.

When a store or business swipes your credit card as payment for your purchase, credit card vendors charges the business a percentage of that sale to process the transaction.  Once in a while, a check written for groceries isn’t honored by the bank it’s written on and returned to the business to which it was made out.  Then someone at that business needs to track down the check owner and get the money for the purchase or hire a collections firm to do it for them.  For these reasons, Aldi only takes 2 forms of payment: cash or debit card.  Savings passed onto customers #5.

Do you know what happens to a manufacturer’s coupon after you give it to grocery store cashier?  It and all the other coupons are sent to people whose job it is to sort coupons by manufacturer, tally them up and send them to the manufacturer for reimbursement.  Some of this is done with the help of machines and some by hand.  Aldi does not offer their own store coupons, nor do they accept manufacturers’ coupons.  Therefore, they don’t have to either take the loss on the product or hire people to process the coupons for reimbursement.  Savings passed onto customers #6.

I’ve taken the time to go through a couple of my Aldi receipts in the last 2 years and compare the total to buying the same or similar items at my other favorite grocery store, Wegmans.  I can do this because Wegmans’ website lists all the items in the store where I shop and their current price.  😀  At Aldi, my receipts have been 25 – 45% less than what I’d pay at Wegmans and Wegmans’ overall prices are less than Giant, Safeway and Harris Teeter, in my personal shopping experience.  For example, while there today, I bought a 20 lb bag of Audubon Wild Bird Food for $5.99.  The exact same bag (same brand, weight and ingredients) at Wegmans is currently $8.99 if you have a Wegmans Shopping Card.  I saved 33% on that bird food at Aldi!  That is a big deal to me since we go through a TON of bird food in our yard.

B loves to go to Aldi with me because they always have a selection of toys for him to oogle.  And at Christmas time, they have the best prices on NERF products, according to my 12 year old, and he looks at store and online prices of all things NERF, weekly.

OK, so let’s get back to the fact that this morning was an Aldi grand opening.  The store opened at 9am and we arrived at 8:25am.  There were friendly corporate employees outside with Dunkin Donuts and hot coffee.  One of the gentlemen was handing out numbers: the 1st 100 people (18 or older) to arrive would receive an Aldi gift card!  I was #47!  Quarters were put in all the grocery carts, just for the grand opening.  After the ribbon was cut at 9am, we headed into the store and received an Aldi, reusable shopping bag; even B got a bag!  I like their bags because they are bigger than most store’s bags.  At the back corner of the store, you could turn in your number to receive an envelope with a gift card in it.  The amounts varied and ranged from $10 – $100; we received a $10 GC.  😀  There were sample tables throughout the store, as well: I didn’t get to all of them, but what I did see had chips, granola bars, cookies and cheeses.

We took our bird seed and 4 really cool Star Wars Hot Wheels cars to the checkout.  After paying for our items, B went to the front counter to bag, and I entered a drawing for a year’s worth of free produce.  *fingers crossed*  There were two corporate employees at the cart return and I wanted to tell someone how much I like their stores and give them an example of why.  I let him know that every Thanksgiving, our church members buy and distribute holiday meal baskets to families in DC.  One of the required items in the baskets is either a canned, fresh or smoked ham, 4-6 lbs.  Other than a Honey Baked Ham store, I cannot find hams that small in the grocery stores in my area, except at Aldi.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m buying for my own family and others during the holiday season, I can’t afford Honey Baked Ham.  But at Aldi, I can get a larger ham at a good price for my family and I can also buy 4-6 lb hams for other families.

This nice Aldi gentleman told me that this Thanksgiving, he would like me to come into the store, speak with the store manager about the size and number of hams we needed so that Aldi could provide us with those hams.  I thought that was going above and beyond!  He didn’t say he was offering us free hams or anything.  I think he was just saying, if you let us know what you need, we’ll make sure we order it and have it here for you, so no one’s running all over the place searching for hams.

I’m so glad there is an Aldi closer to my house and they will be seeing a lot of us.

***UPDATE!  I meant to include this info yesterday but forgot!  Right inside the entrance doors at Aldi, you’ll find that week’s sales ad.  Right before you walk out the exit door, you’ll find next week’s ad.  I love that I get to preview next week’s sales and can start meal and errand planning already.  You can sign up to receive their sales ad via weekly email or view them on their website, Aldi.com.  I don’t know if they mail their weekly ad to locals because I’ve never lived close enough to receive one.  However, it would not surprise me if they did not mail ads in order to pass savings #7 onto customers.  😀

I was not invited to the grand opening by Aldi.  I just found out last night from a blog I follow that the opening was today and decided to go.  Although I received a GC from Aldi, so did 99 other shoppers, and it was not given to me to express my opinion.  These are solely my opinions and I am in no way associated with Aldi, nor any other grocery store.  I merely like to share my good experiences with others so y’all can experience them, too.

 

I just scored $64 worth of meat for $25!

I love getting a great deal and I have to share with y’all my trip to Harris Teeter just now.  The hubs wanted lottery tickets for tonight’s $400M jackpot and asked me to run out for them.  He is already out but is unable to stop.  *sigh*  I was not happy about going to the ATM for cash and then hitting a grocery store at evening rush hour, but out I went.

As I’m walking in the door, I glance at the front page of the sales ad that ends today and see B2G3 free of shrimp.  Shrimp is B’s favorite food in the world, so I headed back to the seafood department after getting the lottery tickets.  Turns out it was buy two 2 lb bags of shrimp and get three 2 lb bags free.  Ten pounds of shrimp is a bit much ;o) so I passed.

But while I was in the back of the store, I perused the meat section.  I only shop at the Teeter if I need one or two things (and I don’t want to go farther to Wegmans) or I’m getting Teeter’s Friday night fried chicken special.  But if I need to be in the back of the store, I check the meat department for markdowns.  I hit the mother load today!

  1. Ready to Cook chicken breast stuffed with Bleu cheese and wrapped in bacon, 9oz.  Regularly $4.99, got it for $1.99.
  2. Ready to Cook Chicken Cordon Bleu, 10oz.  Regularly $4.99, got it for $1.99.  Both this one and the one above have a sell by date of 3/19/14, so dinner for tomorrow is done!
  3. Three Ribeye steaks, totaling 2.63 lbs.  Regularly $36.79, got them for $12.86.
  4. Trimmed and tied pork loin roast, 2.32 lbs.  Regularly $9.95, got it for $4.71.  That works out to $2.03/lb and I know I can buy a whole pork loin on sale for $1.99/lb.  But I’d have to wait for a sale, unwrap it, break it down into small roasts and chops and rewrap for freezing.  This roast is already trimmed and tied and a perfect size to feed my family for a week or to serve the next time we have guests.
  5. Fresh Johnsonville Irish O’Garlic sausage.  Now, this one wasn’t as big of a savings as the other items.  The 1 lb 3 oz package is regularly $5.49 and had a store coupon of  $1.50 on it since St. Patrick’s Day is over.  This is for the hubs who will literally do a jig when he comes home and sees it.  Since I got such good deals on the other meats, and I want to see his jig, I “splurged” on this for him.

With tax the original price of all this would have been $63.77 but I got it all for $25.18.  It was meant to be and my freezer and I are very happy (we were down to just chicken breasts and ground beef before I went to the store).

Reviews-day Tuesday: Cozi Online Family Organizer

I don’t think there are enough products in my life to do a review every Tuesday.  However it’s Tuesday, I’ve decided to share something with you that has helped our family and the blog title sounded appropriate and cute.  The next time I decide to share an item I’ve tried, I’ll try to remember to do so on a Tuesday.

I’ve talked to y’all in the past about my favorite family planner/calendar,  the More Times Mom Family Organizer. I’ve even given one of these away because I wanted to share it with others.  However, due to recent health issues and stress, my memory has gone kaput! Most days over the last year and a half, I didn’t remember to look at my calendar. My aunt had invited 2 of my cousins and me to a wonderful event last year and I forgot all about it because I didn’t even remember I had a calendar to look at. Everytime I think of that, I am still embarrassed!  It’s been really rough living inside this body and the stress I piled on myself when things like this happened just made the memory issues worse.  Even when I looked at my calendar and repeated an appointment on there over and over in my head, as soon as I turned away from the calendar, it was forgotten.

Since last Fall, I’ve been going to doctors appointments a lot.  At the end of each one I would be asked when I could come back for this or that test and then when can I come back to discuss the test results.  I had no idea when I was or was not free!  I would have to call them back when I got home after checking my calendar, but that also posed problems.  1) I could have obligations that I just forgot to write on my calendar, and 2) I have a terrible fear of phones.  I would put off calling a doctor for weeks because I simply could not make myself pick up the phone and call.  I needed something else to keep track of my life because my way of life no longer worked with my beloved MTM Family Organizer (oh, how I truly grieved over that loss!).

Then one day at the beginning of the year I was on The Fly Lady’s website looking for a Contol Journal for B. I had decided that he needed something to keep him on top of his household obligations and school lessons.  He was old enough and I was tired of having to remind him all the time.  (Well, it’s kind of hard for a child to be organized and remember everything when he has such a poor example in his Mom!)

While The Student Control Journal  was printing, I looked around Fly Lady.  I hadn’t been there in a while, but she has helped me organize parts of my life before – for example, Cruising through Christmas & doing Christmas cards – so I wanted to see what’s new. I was clicking on all the headings at the top and bottom of her homepage and one was “Cozi”. I had no idea what that meant so I went to the page to find out.  According to The Fly Lady’s website:

FlyLady.net and Cozi have teamed up to bring to you the FlyLady Online Organizer. This is a web-based calendar and organizer program that will allow you to schedule, plan, have time-zone-specific reminders, shopping lists, to-do lists, a family journal section that you can even opt in to post to  Facebook, and more! Oh yes, and we did mention it’s free?

I was curious, so I went to Cozi’s website and read more about it.  It sounded good and, since it was free, I decided to sign up. I really liked what was included!  I was quite overwhelmed in the calendar, however, because it was full of Fly Lady reminders on each day. I am not currently “flying” with her system and would not need those, but soon figured out how to hide them all.  I immediately added a couple of items to the calendar, looked at the list options and perused the recipe bank.  It was quite
easy to maneuver through.

We’ve now been using The Fly Lady Online Organizer from Cozi for almost 2 months and are loving it! Did you notice I said “we”?  Yup, the hubs is all in.  He was constantly feeling out of the loop with what B and I were doing, either because I didn’t remember myself or he never looked at the wall calendar. But now I keep Cozi up on the family computer all day long. He checks it in the morning before leaving for work and knows exactly what we’ll be up to that day.  And if he forgets, he just
pulls up the Cozi app on his phone.  That’s right, is has a matching, free app.

Each one of us has our own color assigned in the calendar so we can tell which appointments are for which family member or if they are for all of us.  We can set recurring appointments and receive reminders on our phone.  On the day I signed up, I entered all the important birthdays into the Calendar and set reminders. This has already paid off – the hubs called his parents on their anniversary and he
wished his SIL a happy birthday.

I don’t have to suffer the dreaded “Whats for dinner?” question all the time because the hubs checks the Meals page before he asks.  I’m trying really hard to update that with dinner plans as soon as I have one.

I really like the Shopping section. It already came with separate lists for the grocery store and wholesale club and I can create other lists, as well. The hubs and I have been really good about entering into the organizer any items we need from the store.  Then, we just pull up the app in the store!  No more forgetting something because I forgot to write it down or left the list at home (I did that frequently). When I put an item in my grocery cart, I check it off in the app. I can either remove the checked items from the list or leave them in the list, but checked off.  I leave regularly purchased items in the list and the next time I need them, I merely tap them, which unchecks them in the list. Now I know I need to buy it and I didn’t have to retype it.

There are other features we have not used yet – To Do Lists, Family Journal and a Messages page where you can write notes to each other.  Although I use the free app with ads at the bottom, you can purchase the Gold version for $29.99/year. In the Gold version, you not only are ad free but you get added features – Contacts (Cozi says that feature is great for doing Holiday cards), and a Birthday Tracker.  The ads don’t bother me or impede what I need to get done in the app and I’ve already added birthdays into the Calendar.

This online family organizer has made a great difference in our life. I’ve drastically cut down on the number of trips I’m making to the grocery store for forgotten items. If the hubs decides to stop at the store on his way home from work, he’s got what I need in his phone. When I’m at a doctor’s office or meeting up with friends and I get asked when I’ll be able to see them again, I can look at the calendar in my phone and make plans with confidence. It’s amazing that when I remove a stressor from my
life, I don’t just lose the stress caused by that one problem. Relieving this big stress has allowed me to relax more about other problems and take them in stride. Another added benefit of less stress on me is a happier hubs and a happier B. 😊

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