Just in case the giant sucking sound coming from your wallet hadn't yet clued you in, groceries are just a bit expensive right now.
For years, I've shopped occasionally at Aldi's, a chain discount grocery which appears, unfortunately for some of you, not to be available in every state. Every time I shopped at Aldi's, I had a vague sense that I was saving money on staples (which is, for the most part, the only things they stock, except for occasional special items). But I'd never done an item-by-item comparison to get a real sense. Was it worth the trouble? Because shopping at Aldi's isn't exactly easy--you have to take your own bags, bag your own groceries, even pay a 25-cent deposit to use a grocery cart (refunded when you leave), and they only accept cash or debit cards.
As grocery prices have continued to go up (and, as it turns out, so have the appetites of my growing boys), I decided it was time to get serious about comparing if Aldi's shopping was worth the effort. I took a list of grocery staples to both Aldi's and then Wal Mart, where I normally do my grocery buying. I did an item-by-item comparison, comparing Aldi's price with the cheapest available brand at Wal Mart. This spreadsheet was the result (click on it to view):
(And? I don't want any lip from anyone that we list cheese puffs and popsicles as grocery staples. Thank you.)
The few items in red are the ones actually more expensive at Aldi's. All the others are either even or cheaper. (And let us pause for a moment of silence in memory of the brain cells I overwhelmed in building a color-coded spreadsheet).
I was blown away by the results, actually. I knew I was saving something by shopping at Aldi's, but I had no idea it was adding up so quickly. I can see how going to a little extra trouble will easily save substantial money each month. Most of the items listed are generic, which is the way I generally shop (except for a few items, paper towels--you'll have to pry my Bounty from my cold, dead fingers). I have never had any quality issues buying generic at Aldi's.
If you don't have one of these stores where you live, I extend my full sympathy, but I suggest you look around. Most cities have some sort of warehouse-type grocery facilities available. If you're willing to shop around, you might be surprised what you find.
Any other's Aldi's lovers out there? What have you learned shopping there? Have you ever had any issue shopping their generic brands? I'm curious to hear...
(P.S. Of course, if you use this list, take into account differences regionally in grocery prices. GOD BLESS the great state of Oklahoma for having a crazy-low cost of living, and things might be priced differently where you are. But it's a good place to start, and maybe it will inspire you to draw up your own comparisons, spreadsheet-inducing anxiety notwithstanding.)