Admin note: At the end of 2009, I started my very first blog, The Empty Kitchen. The purpose of that blog was to disseminate information on feeding a family on a small budget. It was a pretty decent website, especially for my first foray into blogging. However, I quickly realized that I was not cut out to be a food blogger and that site was abandoned. I’ve decided to incorporate some of the information that I wrote for that site on Jana Says.
The biggest project that I completed while working on that site was the Aldi Experiment. I spent 6 weeks at the beginning of 2010 shopping almost exclusively at Aldi. The information that I learned transformed my grocery shopping, and many of the tips I gathered I still use. I’ve opted to make the Aldi Experiment archives available on Jana Says for several reasons, the biggest ones being it’s relevance to finance and eating well on a fairly small budget.
It is necessary to note that all of the information in this series was documented in January-February 2010.
I hope you enjoy it.
When a family, or an individual, is looking to trim expenses, one of the first budget items that gets the ax is groceries. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to trim the grocery budget and still eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. One of those ways is by shopping at Aldi.
I first heard of Aldi from watching TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting. The Duggars would shop there and basically brag about how much money they were saving (which is really important when you have an army to feed). Then, on the message board that I frequent, shopping at Aldi was always a suggestion when someone came looking for advice on how to trim grocery costs. I was curious about it but could never have my curiousity satisfied since there was no Aldi anywhere near my house. But this past summer, that all changed. Aldi moved in. And my grocery shopping experience became vastly different (in the spirit of full disclosure, I loathe grocery shopping. Everything about it, to me, is unpleasant).
So what is Aldi? Well, Aldi is a discount grocery store that looks a little different from a traditional supermarket. You’ll find very few name brands; almost the entire inventory is their private label brand. Rather than the 20,000 or so items at a regular grocery store, there’s only about 1,400 at Aldi. There are no baggers, no one in the parking lot gathering up shopping cart, no grocery bags and no shelves. You bag your own groceries in bags brought from home, return your carts yourself (you must put a quarter in to get your cart and when you return it, you get your quarter back), and the products are aligned in self-displaying cases. It’s all a bit overwhelming at first, but you get used to it. And the savings are ridiculous.
Armed with all of this information, and a desire to save money, my family has decided to embark on a 6 week experiment. The experiment? Shop primarily at Aldi and see how much money we can save.
Here’s what happened: