I have been hearing for what seems like forever from a few friends that I really need to start shopping at Aldi for groceries.  I’ll be honest, the idea has never really enticed me much.  I am a creature of habit; I know the stores I like to shop at, and I have been in the same routine for literally over 8 years.  Why change up things now?

Well, I have honestly grown tired of my usual grocery routine.

Living in the Chicago suburbs, there are numerous grocery stores and I seem to frequent about three of them on a regular basis.  I have one favorite for produce, one store I honestly cannot stand for my “go to items,” and my quarterly splurge at the local Whole Foods.  (I always forget to shop there on a full stomach!)  It’s all really exhausting when you think of it.  So many trips, so much money.

I decided today was the day to officially give Aldi a chance.

I didn’t really need anything from the grocery store; like there were no lists I had to fulfill, or any items we were in dire need of.  I could just go into the store, (solo while the kids were both at school), look around and shop.  It was the perfect scenario, so I just went with it.

First of all, did I mention our Aldi is literally less than 2 miles from our house?  Did I also mention it basically shares a parking lot with my Starbucks?  So far, all good signs!

Aldi tip #1:  Bring a quarter.

I did know in advance I would need a quarter to get my cart, so there is that little tidbit for anyone considering taking a chance on Aldi.  The little contraption was easy to use, thank goodness.  (Anyone who knows me knows I overthink everything and the thought of looking crazy trying to remove my cart was in the back of my mind!!)

When entering the store, I did think to myself “what am I doing?”  It was just different and to be honest, and there might have been a bit of smell.  I made it partway down the first aisle and my excitement started building.  They had organic items at half the price of Whole Foods.  My kids are obsessed with fruit snacks and I honestly don’t buy them often.  They had individual packs of organic fruit snacks without artificial anything, in the shape of woodland creatures, for under $5.  What?!  Trail mix in travel size packets were next, followed by organic instant oatmeal at a fraction of the price I usually buy it at.  Okay, Aldi was starting to impress me a bit.

The next aisle intrigued me too.  There were organic canned vegetables and beans all under a dollar each…. some even under fifty cents.  What?  Did I find organic tomato paste for $0.25?  Basically, I discovered most of my ingredients for the chili I make, all organic, all under a dollar each.  I can’t even make this up.

Now, to be honest here, there were a few negatives I am not going to overlook.

Remember that smell I mentioned?  It never really went away and it got a little stronger in random parts of the store.  Not sure what it was, and I didn’t hang around long enough to investigate.  There also weren’t the same “name brands” I know and love, but with that said, their brands seemed just as great, and at way cheaper prices.  I also couldn’t just buy one yellow onion; I had to buy 5.  But guess what?  My 5 yellow onions cost me $1.49 which lately would be the price of 2 yellow onions at the big box store I dread going to just down the street.

Aldi tip #2:  Grocery Bags

I also forgot my grocery bags at home and turns out you have to pay for bags at Aldi.  I actually agree with this philosophy (my sister in law banned plastic bags in Vail so I’m supportive of this movement).  It wasn’t hard to just wheel my items out to the car and loading them into my trunk.  I also was able to overlook the cashier randomly throwing the items back into my cart all haphazardly, since she was super friendly and nice.  Seriously, who am I?  Usually this would have driven me crazy; but she was efficient and great!  (Clearly this did something positive for my Type A personality!)

To sum the shopping trip up, I discovered a lot of great deals and items at Aldi today.  I’ll be back.  The problem for me is I don’t think I can get everything I need for a week’s worth of groceries there, but every once in awhile I can stock up on items we need and can save a ton of money in the process.  If you’re on the fence about giving this little store a shot, I say go for it!

Take a look at my bill if you need some extra motivation!  Mostly organic items, thirty items in total and all for under $60 with Illinois tax.  Not too bad!