Monday, July 6, 2015

Shopping at Aldi (With Children)

Aldi is a grocery chain that keeps it's overhead low so it can provide food and a variety of household items at as much as 50% less than other stores. As our family has been doing about 90% of our weekly shopping at Aldi for over a decade, I can verify that 50% number. Thanks to Aldi's cost saving measures I can provide my family with a varied, healthy diet consisting mostly unprocessed foods for less than $400 a month.

I could go on and on, extolling the virtues of shopping at Aldi, but to keep this shortish I'll just say: Aldi is awesome, it can save you much money, and if you aren't already an Aldi shopper I hope you try it out some day!

Aldi operates a little differently than most American grocery stores (read their FAQs here), which can scare off some potential new shoppers. Well never fear, with me as your guide you will be shopping like an Aldi pro in no time.

Here is a look at how I manage shopping at Aldi:
(** designates advanced steps, which involve including three young children, two of whom still poop their pants)

Step #1: Prep work
a. Write a menu for the coming week.

b. Make a shopping list that you have every intention of sticking to.

c. Throw some bags or boxes in the vehicle, as you will be responsible for packing up your own groceries. I prefer boxes (specifically banana boxes from Aldi), which fit quite nicely in the cargo area of the van.

 Step #2: Arrive at Aldi; Get a cart

**a. Insert baby into Ye Olde Boba Carrier so she isn't taking up valuable real estate in the shopping cart.

**b. Hold a hand next to ya, walk to cart corral.   

c. To get a rent cart (another cost-saving measure), insert a quarter into pictured slot. This will disengage the chain that connects to it the other carts, allowing you to take it into the store. Don't worry, you'll get the quarter back once you return the cart.

**d. Get a quick workout in by lifting your 40-lb toddlers into the cart. Some stores have the double seat in the front of the carts, but not all. Remind the toddlers that if they pinch each other, eat the groceries, or act up in any way, they will not get to watch "Cars" in the van on the way home.

Step #3: Do your shopping

First stop: Wine. I do recommend the Winking Owl Pinot Grigio. Totally doesn't taste like a $2.89 bottle of wine.

Pro tip: You might want to "steal" a couple of these banana boxes for future shopping trips! Seriously, just take the bananas out of one box and pile them up on top of one of the other boxes, then take the empty one. The employees won't mind; in fact, it saves them some work!

Step #4: Check out
**a. Enlist toddlers to help unload groceries onto the conveyor belt.

b. After the clerk scans and item they are just going to place it in an empty cart at the end of the conveyor belt, which leaves you with this jumble:

But the inconvenience is worth the low, low bill.

Step #5: Pack up your groceries

There are counters in the back of the store that exist for shoppers to pack up their groceries. I don't typically use them because there isn't an adjoining toddler jail. Old ladies tend to scold if your toddlers are attempting to do back flips off the counter while you're occupied bagging up a week's worth of groceries.

Instead, after checking out I wheel the cart **(the displaced toddlers walking or riding on the back of the cart) back to the van, instruct the big kids to get in their car seats and work on the buckles, then I transfer all the groceries from the cart into the boxes that I threw into the cargo area in Step #1.
This part kinda sucks when the weather's bad, but after a decade of Aldi shopping, this is honestly the most hassle-free way (for me).

I try to sort the groceries so that one box contains items destined for the fridge or freezer, while the other contains pantry items. 

Step #6: Get your quarter back.
All the carts have a chain dangling off of the quarter-eating device on the handle. All you have to do is push your cart against the others already in the corral (just like in a regular supermarket) then insert the chain belonging to the cart directly in front of yours into the BACK of the quarter-eating device on your cart..

And out pops the quarter.

Step #7 - Unpack groceries

Once home, I get another work out in my carrying my two boxes loaded with groceries into the house. Then I again bribe the toddlers so they will keep things to a dull roar while I get everything put away.

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