A breathe of fresh air when it comes to grocery shopping

Jersey introduced us to ALDI. Well, not literally. A state did not verbally introduce us to a grocery store chain. Just the same, it was our stay in the Garden State which led us to discover one of the simplest grocery shopping experiences of all time.


Wife and I were armed with a tight budget and a ridiculous drive to be debt-free. Specifically, we were doing our best to punch old Sallie Mae in the face. Well, not literally. Debt is not a physical entity which can be attacked with one’s fist.

Still, it meant cutting our lifestyle down to a minimum in order to throw every last penny at student loans. And that meant attacking every budget category with a scalpel — if not an axe!

Again, not literally.

And that meant cutting back the cost of groceries.

[ALDI enters heroically from stage left]

We tried several common grocery stores before we realized:

  1. None of the common ones are particularly great. (Except Publix, which apparently avoids Jersey.)
  2. Their prices are okay, but getting their sale prices requires jumping through silly hoops.
  3. There are way too many options for every food item.
  4. A crazy cheap simple alternative exists, and its name is ALDI.

We were — and still are — blown away at how simple shopping can be.

Want chips? The only decision is how many bags of the house brand you should get. It’s fantastic.

There are very few options, if any, for everything in the store. And the carts are always organized right out front. Why? Customers are motivated to return them, since they require a quarter deposit.

And everything is cheap. As in, they-must-have-mislabeled-everything low prices.

We started doing as much shopping as possible there, only going to our backup everyday grocery store to get the items ALDI didn’t carry.

I still enjoy shopping there. The lack of choices conserves my mental energy. And trips are so quick, especially with the organized list wife made noting the items we like on each row.

Maximum effectiveness; minimum hassle. That’s the Team Ralon way. Is it any surprise we shop there?

Plus, it’s surprisingly fun to earn quarters by returning carts people were too rushed or lethargic or important to return themselves.

Author’s Note: This strikes me as a potential symptom of the Jersey culture. We have not experienced the same quantity of fun returning carts in Florida.

Are your expensive preferences keeping you broke?

  • beth weaver

    I shop at Trader Joe’s for the lack of choices. It’s wonderful to not feel the need to read every label and choose between organic or not. the time and stress it saves is totally worth any more I might spend. but it also encourages me to only buy what I need. when things are on sale I tend to over buy and then not use have things go bad.

    • Lucky! I just checked and our nearest Trader Joe’s is 45 minutes away.

      I totally see your point about saving time and stress debating your options for either health or cost priority. It’s so refreshing to have a “lighter” shopping experience.