For the past maybe two or three months, my family has had a rough time financially. Times have been tough, but I try to see the good in things. It has really taught me to budget. I'm not ashamed to say its something I've always had some trouble with. And groceries have always given me problems. It always seems like I go to the store, spend a lot of money...get home and realize that I didn't get much for my money. And it always seemed like I got a ton when I was shopping!
I've figured out different ways to save money. Since I've been the only one to do the grocery shopping in the past 7 years...I've pretty much memorized the prices of things. I have a little list of all the things my family eats frequently (which I'm always adding to). Every weekend, I sit down with the list and pick out a week's worth of food. I write the price next to it usually rounding up, then I'll add it all up. If it ends up being more than I'd like, I cross things off that are unnecessary. I take away things...and add things until I have the right price. Going once a week alone has saved a lot of money.
Then I go to the store. I usually try to keep the kids at home because they almost always talk me into getting something. I get only what's on my list (except when I have a little extra money, then I might get a few more things). If I stick to the list, the price is usually right around what I came up with at home, give or take a couple of dollars. I also rarely buy brand names. I think that is obvious for saving money. There are only a couple of things I will buy that are brand names. For example the Kraft individually wrapped cheese is actually a bit cheaper than the store brand. Crazy!
This week is going to be tough, I knew I had to squeeze in as many groceries as I could for my tiny budget this week. So I sat down with the list, and tried to get the price down as much as I could. There comes a point where you can't get it any lower no matter what you do. So I was set. I decided to take my daughter with me. At the last minute I thought about Aldi. The town I live in has four grocery stores. There's Price Chopper, which is a pretty big but kind of local store...It's kind of expensive when I go there, but I prefer to get meat there. There's John's Super which is a very small family owned store...it's also pretty expensive. I've gone there once or twice. There's Walmart...this is the one I usually go to. It's not my favorite place, but its cheap so that's where I do my shopping. And last, there's Aldi.
My dad went to Aldi all the time when I was younger. I just hated it. I know a lot of people love Aldi, but I really don't. The Aldi here is very small, its in a tiny stip of stores. There's a smell when you walk in...its hard to describe. But today, after doing my list...I thought I might be able to get more food for my money so I went to that's where I went. I forgot that Aldi doesn't have bags...and you needed a quarter for the cart, so my daughter and I went home to get that stuff and came back. I was surprised when I actually started looking around. Maybe disappointed is the better word here. The prices were the same as Walmart, some things were more expensive. If things were cheaper, it was only by a couple of cents. I left with only a couple of things and continued on to Walmart to finish my list. The savings were definitely not enough to exclusively shop there. I do have to say though, I got some waffle fries there that were actually pretty good...they were also the same price as Walmart. I also took a look at the produce, it didn't look too bad, honestly.
Maybe it was my already biased opinion of Aldi, perhaps it was because the store setup is just a mess and I couldn't find anything. The fact that they have a whole one cashier to check out everybody in the store, or that this particular Aldi is so small. I just know I won't be going back.
Walmart may not have the greatest food, but for being the cheapest place in my town, it gets the job done.