I am a budget shopper. I’m not cheap, but I do like a good deal, and I don’t want to overpay. I’m a typical American shopper, that’s all. I also appreciate good quality food, which is why I happily shop at Aldi. I’m always surprised when friends act like shopping at the discount grocer is weird or they’re too embarrassed to go there. So here are my counter-arguments to them and why I say, “Get over not shopping at Aldi.”
Look people, it’s a grocery store, not a thrift store. It’s not like the food is used or like I’m suggesting you shop at The Gleaners Kitchen. Aldi just doesn’t have fancy packaging. Other than that, for the most part, it’s the exact same food as any other grocery store. In fact, in a blind taste test, done by my friend when she was in school for some sort of food science degree, her class found that the generic brand of canned green beans were way better quality than name brand ones. I don’t have any official proof to back this up, but trust me; my friend wouldn’t lie about this. A can of tomatoes is a can of tomatoes. Is it really worth spending $.40 more for them just so you can make the Hunts family richer?
Sure there are some, shall we say borderline personalities, that shop at Aldi. Who cares? Maybe they think YOU’RE weird. Besides, it’s not like you have to talk to anyone. I mean, you should be polite, don’t be a dick, but you’re not REQUIRED to interact with anyone outside of the cashier if you don’t want to. If you don’t want to interact with “those people” (weirdos… not like “those people” as in the Jews or black people, don’t be racist) then don’t. You’d probably find out they’re just normal people, but whatever.
I know you don’t have a ton of choices at Aldi, but honestly, how many choices of the same crackers do you need? I know that in some cases, brands make a difference. I’m not asking you to compromise your values here. I eat Twizzlers, not Twazzlers, OK? Foods like popcorn and pretzels are all the same. By the way, Aldi often carries name brand items, too. I’ve gotten M&M’s, gourmet chocolates, Jenny O’ Turkey and even a Martha Stewart brand heating blanket there.
Heating blanket? That’s right, they have fun, weird, and random shit at this grocery store. It’s actually kind of fun, like a game you get to play every time you shop. Will you come home with bread and eggs, or will you come home with bread, eggs and a fondue pot? I’ve gotten cookware, bedding and even cute little purses that come with fabric-safe markers to stylize it yourself. They were for my nieces, but hey, I could get one for myself if I wanted. I’m good at staying in the lines. I’m not embarrassed that I did some of my Christmas shopping at Aldi. The giftees don’t know where I got them, and why would anyone care anyway? With the money I saved, I could buy them two presents! I didn’t, but I could’ve.
And yes, you have to put a quarter in the cart to use it. Again, I say, “Boo fucking-hoo.” Sure, it’s kind of annoying, but is it so annoying that you’d rather spend more money so that you can get your precious rent-free cart from another store? Aldi saves us that money by making sure their carts don’t get stolen. That means you have to take a quarter out of your pocket for like an hour, tops, and then you get it right back. Hear that? You. Get. It. Right. Back. Calm down.
“Eww, but not produce, right?” OK, I’ll admit, the produce isn’t always the best. It’s not all bad, though, and it is getting better. I’ve had really great strawberries from Aldi, and Cuties are hard to mess up. Plus, when it comes down to it, an onion is an onion. A potato is a… patato (sorry).
Point is, you can get most of your basics at Aldi. Maybe you don’t want to go to multiple stores. I get that, but for me I think it’s worth it. I can’t expect any one grocery store to be perfect. That’d be like expecting a restaurant to be good at making Mexican, Italian AND Chinese food. Usually, places specialize in one or two things. Grocery stores like Mariano’s are cool with their huge assortment, salad bar, pizza, sushi and all sorts of freebie samples, which I admit, carries a lot of weight. But I want to do my grocery shopping and be done. I’m not looking for an event just because I need some chicken. Plus, these big fancy stores are usually a huge pain in the ass in terms of parking. You can’t just run in quickly, and even if they’re having a good sale, it’s not going to be as inexpensive as the no-frills Aldi. Besides, who do you think pays for that sushi bar and cupcake corner?
Also, did you know that Trader Joe’s owns Aldi? That’s right, it’s the same company. It’s not always the same products, but specialty items do occasionally make it to Aldi’s shelves. They even have a decent selection of wine and beer, including Goose Island’s 312. If you really want to be a cool hipster, forget Trader Joe’s, Aldi is where it’s at. Because who cares what others think about your grocery shopping habits? Get over it.
Now, can I borrow a quarter? I need to go pick up some items for dinner tonight.