Monday, August 23, 2010

ALDI: German-Engineered Recession Solution

Milk, $1.89, Eggs, $0.49, saving up to $100 on my grocery bill every month during a recession, priceless.

Did you know that "Trader Joe's Thrifty Cousin" lives just down the street from West Nashvillians on Charlotte Avenue? As one blogger at the Nashville Scene cleverly observed, German owned discount grocery store chain, Aldi, is owned by a subsidiary related to Trader Joe's and shares many of the same qualities, except for the cool, hip factor, that is.

But hey, who cares about cool and hip when we're supposedly in the worst recession since the Great Depression?

Even if you don't live on an irregular single income like our family does, almost everyone has felt the pinch of the recession in one's grocery bill. We have found the best solution for about 85-90% of our grocery needs at discount grocery store Aldi.

Aldi is like a bare-bones mini-warehouse (a la Costco or Sam's), except that you have to deposit a quarter to use a shopping cart (which is returned when you return your cart), and it primarily carries private label products.

Remember to have a quarter in your pocket and bring your own grocery bags (or buy one for 5 cents). Aldi doesn't accept coupons, and at checkout, they only accept cash, debit cards or food stamps.

Once you get past the austere self-serve process, you will thank the Germans for engineering every penny out of grocery store operations, right back into your own pocket.

In general, we have found that basic staples at Aldi cost less than Wal-Mart, or Kroger, Publix, etc., with coupons.

Some of our favorite staple buys are listed below, which taste quite good for private labels. And if you try something you don't like, there is a double guarantee, meaning a full refund and a replacement product, no questions asked:

*85% Cacao European Dark Chocolate $1.69
*Beaumont French Vanilla Coffee $3.99
*Cheese Sharks $1.29 (better tasting than Goldfish in my opinion)
*Quesadilla Cheese $2.99
*Fit N Active Neufchatel Cheese $0.99
*Fit N Active Turkey Bacon $1.99 & Ground Turkey $2.49 for 1.25 lbs (great tasting in both categories)
*Extra Virgin Olive Oil $3.99
*Stoplight (Red/Yellow/Green) Peppers $2.49
*Light Sour Cream $0.89
*Hummus $1.69
*Black Beans $0.59
*Animal Crackers $1.29
*German Sunflower Whole Grain Bread $1.49
*Bananas (usually Del Monte) $0.39 lb
*Half Dozen Roses $3.99

Finally, Aldi carries some items you would not expect.

*Award-winning and acclaimed European skincare? Yes, according to Aldi's own press, and other publications: Marie Claire UK, British newspaper The Mirror and Woman's Day magazine. All I can say is, my 30-something skin is looking much more luminous since I started using the following:
- Lacura Q-10 Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream $3.99 (I emailed the manufacturer and found out this product contains "1% in liposomes encapsulated retinol", which I believe is the highest concentration of retinol you can get without a prescription. A similar product might be Skinceuticals Retinol 1.0 which is listed at $51.50).
- Lacura Q-10 Anti-Wrinkle Day Cream $3.99

*Special Weekly Buys: Every week, there are special buys on non-grocery items. Here are some we have taken advantage of:
- KingCraft Generator $199.00 (normally $400)
- Step 2 Sand & Water Table $59.99 and later marked down to $39.99 (can be up to $79 at Toys-R-Us and Lowe's)
- Cheetah print rain boots $9.99 (similar style from Ballard Designs $65)

Aldi has a great slogan right now, "One Week Challenge. Try Aldi just once. Save money like never before."

We took that challenge about a year ago, and we haven't looked back.

Aldi is definitely a Charlotte Avenue Gem to check out for your discount grocery needs.