Everyone is feeling the squeeze of increased grocery prices and the world of blogging as been abuzz with talk of budgets, meal planning and … Aldi. I have to admit, Aldi has always freaked me out a bit. There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to some of the product placement and the fact that there is a mini department store running through the middle of it selling a different random theme every week is just weird. I can safely say I have never walked into a shop hoping to buy my milk, bread and an air compressor in one transaction. For many years I have stayed in my Woolworths and Coles comfort zone. I know where things are, I can get all my meat, fruit and veg and baby stuff in one trip and the quality of generic brand products has improved dramatically.
Despite all the positives, the costs have soared and its not unusual for this family of 3 plus dog to spend an average of $200 each week just to feed ourselves. Hearing so many stories on the virtues of Aldi including this one recently from Muddled Up Mumma convinced me that I should at least give it a try.
I knew I would have to go in with a detailed list, preferably without my pint-sized assistant or I would never make it. Once I had written my list and dropped Skye at Day Care, off I went ready to tackle the speedy check outs, pallet shelving and foreign brands. I hadn’t even parked the car yet and I was beginning to feel frazzled, parking was tight and since I had the genius to go in the middle of School Holidays, on a Thursday when the crazy random theme sales start I was lucky to find a space.
Things started off well, I was most pleased to find that I could purchase imitation Tiny Teddies in honey flavour only multi-packs for much less than the originals. Unfortunately, they contain eggs so they aren’t an option for Day Care snacks. Pasta Sauce and soft drinks were well priced and the Toothpaste was an absolute bargain. Enter crazy random sale section which just happened to be all about kids toys and I wasted about 20 minutes looking at all sorts of wooden toy sets before settling on a cute little Tea Set (which Skye is totally in love with).
I continued through managing to find most items I needed until I reached the fresh produce section and I have to say that the quality of most things was seriously lacking. Most people I have spoken to can’t speak highly enough of the fruit and vegetables at Aldi, but obviously none of them shop at this particular store. I could not find a single potato that wasn’t green and I wasn’t keen on buying large bags of things I couldn’t see clearly through the packaging.
I had been so engrossed in trying to work out where things were and being one of those annoying against the flow people every time I realised I had already past something I needed, that I hadn’t noticed just how loud it was in there. It was great to not hear the store jingle on repeat or worse still the announcement of 1/2 price BBQ chickens at the Deli, but as I swanned around in my child-free smugness I looked around to seek out the source of the ruckus. In the absence of overhead shelving and subliminal store jingle brain-washing I could hear every other person in there! I know that no mother voluntarily takes her whole tribe to do the groceries if she can avoid it, but I swear if I heard Jimmy get told to get out the freezer one more time I was going to throw a packet of frozen peas at him!
Satisfied I had everything I could get, I went through the checkout relatively unscathed and paid my total. It was about half my normal grocery bill, but honestly there was only about half the groceries I usually buy. I did not get any meat, nappies, cleaning or beauty products and due to the poor selection, minimal fruit and vegetables. I had such high hopes of becoming an Aldi fan, but I just didn’t feel the love. It looks like I will be a Woolworths snob for a little while yet.
For those who are Aldi converts, how long did it take you to come around? Was it love at first sight or did it take a few weeks of getting to know each other before you were willing to make a commitment?