31 Days of Aldi: The Basics

If you haven’t read my post on the 31 Days Writing Challenge, no worries, you can catch up. I’ll be writing about Aldi every day in October.

Find out if you have an Aldi near you before we get started.

Shopping at Aldi

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Aldi isn’t like every other grocery store. They are special in so many ways. But first, let’s discuss Aldi basics, shall we?

The Carts <—–

Get your quarters ready! The carts are located outside the store. You put your quarter in and it “releases” the cart for you. Then after you shop you have to put the cart back and voila! You get your quarter back. Does that seem weird? Maybe at first. But it’s actually awesome. Because unlike every other store parking lot there are not random grocery carts haphazardly blocking you from getting the spot you want (that’s happened to you too, right?). Another nifty thing that this brings about is friendliness. Yes! Someone who needs a cart will often give you their quarter and take your empty cart from you when you’re done so you don’t have to walk to take it back. Then you say “thank you so much” with a smile and you realize you’ve just had a positive human interaction! Amazing!

The Aisles <—–

Let’s get this out of the way now, mkay? Aldi is not a fancy schmancy store. Each store seems to be set up a little bit different but none of the Aldi stores I have been to have advanced shelving. A lot of times, the items are still stacked in cardboard boxes. I bend down a lot more and pick up boxes to get what I want underneath. But it’s the simplicity of the store that helps keep costs so low. It is still organized and clean. You can always expect that.

Aldi-rocks

The Choices <—–

Aldi stocks its own brand of foods. They sometimes carry name brands but it is never the same. For instance, I have been able to get name brand Cheerios and Kraft Mac&Cheese. But I never count on them being available. Instead, after shopping there a few times, I familiarized myself with THEIR labels. And after a bit of research (I was a journalist major, afterall) I have uncovered that many of the labels stocked in the stores are actually exactly the same thing as name brands. They are even manufactured in the same factories but have different branding and packaging. One rumor is that the chicken is Tyson, the ketchup is Heinz and the bread is Sara Lee. I can only validate it with my tastebuds. But I can’t tell the difference.

The Hours <—–

Another way Aldi keeps its costs so low is by being open less hours. They aren’t a 24-hour grocery store (although I totally wish they were!). So you need to plan accordingly. At my Aldi, they open at 9 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Their weekend hours are even less. How does that save me money? Well, they don’t have to pay to employ as much staff and pay the electricty/AC bills if the store is closed and that helps my food costs stay low. This also allows Aldi to pay their staff well during the hours that they open. For the past four years I have been going to the same Aldi and there are STILL the same employees there. That tells me that they actually like their jobs and are being treated well.

The Bags <—–

Aldi doesn’t provide free bags for your groceries. And they don’t have baggers either. Wait, what? HOW DARE THEY!!! I know, right? How dare they not provide a million plastic bags that are one of the WORST offenders of trash and pollution in the world. Here’s an idea – bring your own. Save the earth. Reuse. Recycle. Yep, I’m one of those dreaded tree huggers. But apparently, so is Aldi. ((((tree hugs))))

The Check Out <—–

Aldi does not accept credit cards. Why? Well, because credit cards charge the store a fee with every swipe. Aldi says – heck no! We’re not going to pay your fee! Instead we’re going to ask our customers to use cash or a debit card and their groceries won’t cost them an arm and a leg.

Something else to note – the employees checking you out are lightning fast! The first time you see them do it you will watch in awe. Then any time you go to another grocery store you will be totally annoyed that it takes the checker ten minutes to swipe your twelve items.

Also, secret Aldi-etiquette says that if you have a full cart and someone behind you has only a few items you let them go ahead of you in line. So nice, right? Pay it forward. I bet you didn’t know that shopping at Aldi teaches you to be kind to other people, did you?

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So what did I miss? If you have any Aldi basics that you feel I didn’t cover please put them in the comments!

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Filed Under: 31 Days, AldiLeave a Comment

31 Days to Shop Like a Pro at Aldi

You guys I’m having a love affair . . . with a grocery store. I know, right? Who even am I?! Well, I’ll tell you who I am. I’m a 35-year-old mom of three children who is trying to save money for her family. Because these people I live with? They eat a lot of food. I mean, they are stealing it off my plate!

Way back in 2011 my husband and I decided to admit that our finances were a mess. We were desperate to make things better and nervously but hopefully began Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. One of the first things you have to do is create a budget (cue the scary music). It’s daunting but you’ve got to clearly see where all your money is going. I was SHOCKED to find out how much money we were spending on groceries and fast food. It was bad. Really bad. Like I think I could be a millionaire if I hadn’t bought so many McDonald’s happy meals and invested it all instead. But we won’t talk about that anymore, okay?

I ventured onto the program forums and a lot of people were recommending shopping at Aldi. Wait a minute. Stop the presses. Aldi? Isn’t that like, where poor people shop for food? I know, what a terrible prejudice I had hidden back there in my brain. Because it simply isn’t true.

I didn’t know quite what to expect but I decided to give Aldi a chance. I very reluctantly went there for the first time. Although I realized I had a lot to learn after my first visit I knew I would be going back. Mostly because I walked out of there with two weeks worth of meals for under $100. Whoa! Here was me, the girl who could never make it out of a grocery store without spending $200. I felt like spreading all my extra dollar bills on the bed and rolling in them a la Indecent Proposal. I’m RICH! I’m RICH! Not really. But that’s what it felt like when I made it out of there with money to spare.

Little did I know that this grocery store would save us hundreds of dollars AND my sanity. I’m not even joking.

I’ve posted here and there on Instagram about some amazing finds from Aldi. I got some great feedback from the community there that they’d like to hear more about it.

So for the next 31 Days I will be linking up with The Nester to tell you about shopping at Aldi. I feel like this is one of the best kept secrets. If you’re sitting there like, no. I will never be shopping at Aldi – just give it a chance, people. No, it’s not fancy. No, it doesn’t carry name brands. No, it doesn’t have plastic bags. No, it doesn’t have a gourmet coffee bar inside. But I promise you there’s probably a Starbucks right down the street so stop whining like I did in the beginning and just try it for goodness sake!

If you do, you may find yourself having a love affair with Aldi just like me. See you back here tomorrow!

Shopping at Aldi

 

p.s. I’m not being paid for this at all. Aldi doesn’t even know who I am (although I wish they did!). I just really love Aldi and want everyone else to know about it too!

Filed Under: 31 Days, Aldi, Finances8 Comments

It’s Time For Better Self-Care and Better Snacking

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Congratulations, friends! We made it to the end of the week! TGIF!

It may not seem like a huge deal to get through five days. But sometimes when it’s Monday, you look at the week you have in front of you and all that’s still left to do – then yes – five days seems like a Herculean task!

I’ve got three kids – one in kindergarten, one in pre-kindergarten and one who still requires my body to be a food source.

To top it off, I’ve added a few things to my plate such as a new (amazing!) job working in social media, two new freelance writing jobs, peewee football practices for my middle child and managing the PTA website. It’s a little tough these days to create a balanced lifestyle.

::wipes sweat from my brow::

So, yes, by the time I make it in the door on Friday night I am sooooo ready for a break. Who has two thumbs and needs some me-time?

Skinny-Girl-Popcorn #shop

THIS GIRL!

This is pretty much what happens when I walk in the door on Friday night. I kick my heels off, throw my purse down and cuddle up on the couch with my family after I’ve thrown some type of dinner together.

Skinny-Girl-Popcorn #shop

But my favorite, favorite, favorite time is when I’ve put my sleepy heads to bed and it’s time for me to unwind. It’s called self-care and I’m definitely trying to put more of an emphasis on this for my mental and physical health.

And here’s what my self-care routine looks like on Friday night.

Self-Care-With-Skinnygirl-Popcorn #shop

That’s right – while the kids slumber away mommy’s gonna play!

My self-care routine includes an at-home pedicure with some new cute colors on my toes. Gotta have the “mommy juice” while I do my nails, amiright? And then I settle in with a good book (chick lit if I’m being honest) and my absolute must-have . . . POPCORN! I’m gonna just admit this right now. I eat popcorn almost every night. I can’t help it. It really is the perfect snack.

Although lately I have been noticing that I might want to cool it on the kind of popcorn that is dripping in greasy butter. Because calories, people. Calories. I desperately needed a low calorie popcorn but don’t want to lose all the flavor.

So I was super pumped when #CollectiveBias let me in on a brand new option with Skinnygirl popcorn. It has 20% less calories than the other brands I was eating. Plus, no artificial flavors or colors. The mini bags are the perfect size and so convenient. I even take them to work for an easy and delicious afternoon snack (yep, popcorn is an addiction for me). Love my #SkinnyGirlSnacks so much! You can find them at your neighborhood Walmart.

They have butter and sea salt and lime and salt flavors. Although the butter blend will always have my heart. Seriously, do you see that? 25 calories per cup! I am sold. And it’s not overly salty or buttery. Just the perfect combo of both.

skinnygirl-popcorn #shop

I am seriously so excited that I found a better more sensible snacking option for my Friday night self-care routine. And every other night too, of course. I can’t be the only one addicted to popcorn right? Cheers to the weekend!

skinny-girl-popcorn #shop

Filed Under: health, Mommy Moments, Stuff I Love5 Comments