A Trip To The Grocery Store
Spent the afternoon running errands, went at least a half-dozen places, including the grocery store, where I bought (I have the receipt in front of me):
2 11-ounce cans of decaf coffee @ $2.79
2 pints whipping cream @ $1.89
Automatic dishwasher detergent @$2.49
About 3.5 pounds of fresh chicken wings @1.89/pound
2 12-packs lime sparkling water @$2.29
4 7-ounce cans of tuna @ 55c
2 pounds regular pork sausage @ $2.29
2 pounds hot pork sausage @ $2.29
4 quarts half-and-half @ $1.79
4 8-ounce blocks cheddar @ $1.99
2 8-ounce blocks Monterey Jack @ $1.99
4 cans diced tomatoes with green chilies @ 59c
4 cans plain diced tomatoes @ 55c
1 can crushed tomatoes @ 89c
6 cans tomato sauce @ 29c
1 can mixed nuts, the less-than-half peanuts kind @ $2.69
2 bottles of dry red wine -- Tempranillo @ $4.99
1 cantaloupe @ $1.49
1 shaker grated Parmesan cheese @ $2.39
1 bottle pure vanilla extract @ $1.99
2 cans sardines (TNBIM likes to take these for lunch) @ 89c
1 bunch bananas (ditto) @ 44c/lb
8 ounces fresh mushrooms @ 99c
2 avocados @ $1.49
1 jar baby dill pickles @ $1.29
1 jar onion powder @ .99
1 jar paprika @ 99c
3 pounds bacon @ $3.29
1 pound butter @ $2.79
Total? $104.07. That's including three nice heavy plastic shopping bags, too.
Not bad, huh? Where'd I shop? Aldi. If you haven't been, it's a restricted-selection store, everything's stacked in pallets, and 90% of it is the house brands. However, it is my experience that their house brands are indistinguishable from the name brands; the quality is excellent.
Unsurprisingly, there are more products I won't buy at Aldi than there are products I will buy, but then that's true of the regular grocery stores, too. There are also more things I will happily buy at Aldi that I just didn't happen to need this trip. I have purchased at Aldi:
Havarti, gorgonzola, feta, and other cheeses
Sliced deli meats
Extra virgin olive oil
Baking soda and powder
Other basic spices - pepper, oregano, that sort of thing
Tea, both regular and instant
Pecan halves, sliced almonds
Fruit-flavored water, like Fruit 2-O (which I should have bought today, damn it; I forgot.)
Artichoke hearts, both plain and marinated
Marinated mushrooms (also plain canned mushrooms)
Frozen fish fillets
Frozen spinach, green beans, broccoli
Frozen unsweetened grape juice for TNBIM to brew into wine
Laundry detergent -- I swear their Tandil laundry detergent is really Tide in a different bottle. Best cheap detergent I've ever used.
Hand dish washing liquid
Skin care stuff -- their LaCura line is European made, really quite good, and dirt cheap.
Cabbage, lettuce (they had mixed baby greens today; haven't seen that before), onions, carrots, other basic produce
No-sugar-added pasta sauce (read the labels, they have both the kind with corn syrup and the kind without)
Salsa (They do have one with no added sugar)
My point being that even though there's lots of inexpensive snack cakes, cold cereal, candy, chips, sodas, and pasta, there's also plenty of good, real food at Aldi, and at very advantageous prices.
You may notice I didn't mention meat. Aldi does have fresh meat -- pork chops, hamburger, stuff like that -- and the quality is fine, though it's a little closely trimmed for my taste. (Most people prefer it that way, of course, but I like the fat.) However, mostly I find I can get meat cheaper by following the loss-leader sales at my local big grocery stores. Still, worth checking out -- the price on wings today was $1.89/pound.
You do have to bag your own groceries at Aldi, and pay for bags if you don't bring your own. Too, you have to deposit a quarter to get a grocery cart; you get the quarter back when you return it. This is all part of keeping the prices down; they don't pay baggers, or for people to round up carts around the parking lot. They also do not take credit cards or checks -- debit or cash only.
Aldi is actually the largest grocery chain in the world; they're German, and apparently popular all over Europe. Interestingly, the same company owns Trader Joe's, which could explain why most Aldi's now have a modest selection of decent wines for cheap.
I just know that a fair number of people have never set foot in an Aldi, because it seems a little foreign to them, or they figure the low prices mean poor quality. This has not been my experience. If, like so many of us, you're on a tight budget, Aldi is definitely worth a trip.