A Grocery Store By Any Other Name

A few short weeks ago, I met up with a friend who I hadn’t seen in a while. As the conversation turned to our plans for later that day, I casually rattled off the rest of my to-do list. After leaving our meet up, I would swing by the hardware store and then stop at the grocery store. Totally typical, right? The problem is I called the grocery store by name: Aldi. That’s when the conversation took a turn for the awkward:

Friend: Wait, Aldi?
Me: Uh huh.
Friend: But you’re not poor.

Caught totally off guard and more than a little offended for a variety of reasons, my mind flashed back to the old Twix commercials. You know the ones. Someone has just done something totally awkward and they need to buy themselves time to think. Twix to the rescue. Just stuff your face full delicious chocolately, carmely goodness and chew. Finding myself sans Twix, I did what I do best.* I laughed it off and stammered something about how it was on my way home and the checkout lines always move really fast. Then, I casually redirected the conversation to the remainder of her day.

Every week, I stop at Aldi. Inevitably, that conversation replays in my mind. I love Aldi. I can get inexpensive organic produce (organic bananas for $0.69/pound), stock up on all natural or organic cooking staples (organic diced tomatoes for $1.49), and refill my cupboards with other healthy items ($1.49 for natural peanut butter). Even if my store is crowded, the cashiers are the most efficient scanners ever.** And I never have to worry about some dufus piling canned goods on top of eggs or bread.*** Seriously, I could wax poetic about the low prices on healthy items that fit within my budget and their energy-saving methods all day. But I still wasn’t sure what to say to my friend.

Then an idea came to me. The next time she came over, we shared a bottle of Riesling. She raved about it. I simply smiled as I refilled her glass and said, “It’s from Aldi.” I like to think that her mind opened a bit as her glass emptied. 

This conversation really stayed with me, because I find it is so fascinating that we, as a society, can be so quick to judge people who keep a budget or monitor their spending. As if only people who are in debt should spend strategically. As if we shouldn’t all be mindful of our money. You know what else? I’ll take my grocery budget and my cheap wine over extra debt and added stress any day.

My cheap wine in all its frugal glory.

My cheap wine in all its frugal glory.

*Besides eat chocolate. And memorize chocolate commercials.

**Seriously, is someone timing them? Do they get prizes?

***Unless that dufus is me.

So Tell Me…Are you an Aldi shopper? Have you ever met someone who was averse to discount grocery shopping? Or mindful spending?


  1. I LOVE Aldi. I have encountered quite a few people that have had the same reaction as your friend, and I actually remember a time where I thought like your friend did too. Aldi is so awesome though. Some of their stuff is hit or miss, but I find myself saving so much money on our essentials by shopping there.

    • You’re right about stocking up on essentials there. We are a big fan of their produce and their natural products, too. As Aldi becomes more well-known, I’ve noticed that they are stocking more things like brown chia seeds, quinoa, organic honey, and other things like that.

  2. You are SO funny, I giggled my way through that post! 😀 You are right on the mark on all points. Good for you for serving her something straight from the “poor man’s” store. Everyone needs a wake up call now and then! Cheers! 🙂

    • You’re sweet! I told her she should shop there with me one day – but part of me is kind of glad that some people are put off a bit by Aldi. More goodies for me!

  3. I’ve heard people criticize Aldi’s produce on the grounds that it’s not as high quality. I have experienced this a bit and don’t really disagree with them – it does go bad quicker. But with that being said, it’s such a great value if you actually eat your produce before it goes bad. We love Aldi and are not averse at all to going to discount grocery stores – why would you pay more??

    • Glad you chimed in! We are actually experiencing an Aldi “boom” of sorts here and now have three within about a 10-mile radius. They’re in three different cities somehow, and we’ve found that the products and quality can vary a bit. The newly-built Aldi in particular has tons of fresh produce and lots of all-natural, organic options. I’m hoping the other two catch up soon.

  4. Cindy

    I went into Aldis years ago and saw a woman from a club I belonged to. She worked very hard to make sure I didn’t see her. Anyone who shops elsewhere first, is paying more than necessary for some of their food..stupid in my mind.

  5. Shannon

    Last weekend while we were at Aldi my husband asked the checker about his speed at ringing us up- turns out they ARE timed! Our checker said that they get a print out at the end of their shift on how quickly they ring customers up and then they set goals to improve their time. Not sure on the prizes though… 🙂

  6. I saw the back room of an Aldi a few years ago, and yes, there is a scoreboard/leaderboard of who scans the most items/minute.
    Not sure what the winner gets but its definitely something they make their staff focus on.

  7. deni

    I love everything about Aldi! That they incentivize the cart returns. The limited selection of low priced staples. The new products to try, the organic, fair trade, vegan foods.
    I also have a number of their Kitchen Living gadgets which have worked great at far less than their name brand models

  8. I love ALDI! I live frugally in a town that has money. Serious money. But ALDI is always busy, and you should see the cars in the lot… from older cars to really fancy cars! It’s like a community in itself..we’re there to get quality foods (non-GMO! No high fructose corn syrup!) at a great price. I raved so much about the store when a friend moved here from Oregon that she had to check it out for herself.

    I now only go to my former (big!) grocery store once a month or so because ALDI tends to have most of what I need. I have a particular fondness for trying the “limited time” items – like a yummy salsa or organic white cheddar popcorn. I also stop by a couple times a month to feed a band during rehearsals….. and it’s easy to spend a little and get a lot of food for them.

    The kicker for me to switch to ALDI came when some friends grilled steaks for us one night and my ribeye steak was the best one I’d ever tasted. . I could not believe it was $10 from ALDI!

    The produce is something you have to look at carefully – and sometimes I go to the bigger stores for produce but I see how the bigger stores in the area are being affected by ALDI. The same romaine lettuce sold at both stores is now similar in price.

    My favorites to get at ALDI include spices (for $1 or so each), baking ingredients, frozen steamer veggies (95 cents a bag), jazmine rice (five pounds for $4), and all dairy products (milk, eggs, cheese – oh the variety of cheeses they have!) Little blocks of packaged cheese are $5 at the big store compared to $1.45 at my ALDI.

    The one bad thing is the tempation to stop by ALDI more often and spend more money – just because it’s cheap.

    ALDI is the ONE store I smile when I leave because I know how much my groceries would have cost at the bigger stores.

  9. The saddest day of my life was moving to Denver and realizing ALDI didn’t exist in Colorado… and the happiest was realizing there is one on my way home from work now in NC! Slight exaggeration, but not by much. Nowhere else can I get such great quality for a ridiculously low total cost. Sure $3 buck chuck is good, but ALDI has a $10 3L “House Red” boxed wine that will blow your mind.

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