As I’ve said before, desperate times call for desperate measures -- in a word, Aldi.
Due to circumstances that would take way, way, WAY too long to explain, both Michael and I have prepared Aldi’s food, but have never been to an Aldi’s store before today.
So, for all you Aldi’s virgins out there, first things first:
1)You need to “rent” your grocery cart for a quarter. If you return your cart, you get your quarter back. In some amazing understanding of inner-city microeconomics, Aldi’s figured out that a person looking to steal a grocery cart places higher value on their quarter than on the cart they wish to steal. Maybe those “Freakonomics” guys should look into this phenomenon.
2) Aldi’s does not accept checks or credit cards. They do accept debit cards and, of course, cash.
3) The cashier puts your groceries straight into an empty cart – no bags. If you want to take your groceries home in a bag, you have to buy it – there is a really heavy plastic bag with sturdy handles for .99 cents, and standard plastic grocery bags (but don’t buy these, they always end up in the trees on our block) and paper bags for .10 cents. There are boxes sitting around, but those are a hot commodity and you may have to fight a fellow shopper for one.
And just an FYI, you can buy underpants at Aldi’s. Also wheelbarrows and raspberry bushes. And jogging shorts.
Aldi’s is not the place to look for healthy or low-fat foods. Aldi’s does have a “Fit N Active” line of “health-conscious” products, but it is limited, predominately mango-flavored and weird. Overall, most of their foods are chock full of hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. No wonder their fig bars taste so fucking good.
Another thing -- you need to be a little scrappy to shop at Aldi’s -- this is not your typical Pick N Save crowd. I had to protect our place in line from a guy loaded up with Aldi’s brand energy drinks (I think it’s called “Red Thunder” or "Wild Thunder") and something called “GT Cola.” Despite this line-cutter's caffeine high, I managed to hold my own, thank you very much.
Bargains did abound. We bought a full week’s worth of groceries, plus some extras, for $143. We probably would have spent at least $200 on the same items at Pick N Save. For example, a gallon of skim milk is a dollar cheaper per gallon vs. PNS.
We bought little processed or prepared food – and tried to stick with meat, breads, vegetables and dairy products. The $143 also included household goods such as a large jug of laundry detergent (Tandil brand; “New Improved Fragrance!”) hand-soap refill, toilet paper and paper cups and plates.Here's a 'lil sampler of what we purchased at Aldi:
But wait, you say – what if this stuff tastes horrible, or has cutworms in it (true story), or doesn’t work well -- then it’s not so much of a bargain, now, is it?
This is where we’re taking one for the team – we’re going to use all of our Aldi products over the next week and report back to you, the consumer, on the good, the bad, and the possibly infectious.