Little Known Secret Weapon For Crushing Grocery Bills

by Alonzo on October 17, 2009

Its rough out there.

Plain and simple. In this economy its becoming increasingly hard to make ends meet.

Yet everyday I see people miss one of the best opportunities for saving some serious cash.

They spend way to much on food.

Think about this – Your food bill is typically your third largest expense, behind only housing and transportation.

While there’s little you can do to lower those other expenses, you can lower your grocery bill – often dramatically – even cutting it in half!

Control food costs and you’re well on your way to improving your finances.

The key is to save money AND provide your family with the high quality, delicious food they expect. Its not very difficult but sometimes you have to think outside the box.

My secret cost cutting, “outside the box” weapon – a grocery chain called Aldi.

I have to admit, for years I just drove right past these non-descript supermarkets. I mistook them for another grocery chain (which shall remain nameless) known for its dirty, dingy stores. My mistake.

Now a diehard Aldi shopper I want to kick myself for not saving all this money earlier.

How would I describe Aldi and why is it such an “outside the box” tool for slashing your grocery bill?

ALDI STORE FRONTThink of Aldi as the “Ikea of the Supermarket World.” Anyone that’s ever needed furniture for a dorm room, new apartment, or starter home will tell you IKEA is the place to go for good but relatively inexpensive furniture.

This Dutch company keeps costs down by locating large stores with unique layouts on the edges of major cities. Furniture is packaged in slim boxes and must be assembled at home. The furniture features a minimalist design to appeal to a broad audience. All these things keep costs low.

Similarly, German based Aldi implements many “outside the box” strategies to lower costs. The cost savings are passed on to you in the form of dramatically lower prices.

Some typical Aldi prices:

Milk (One Gallon) $1.49
Margarine (16 oz) $.69
Flour (1 lb) $1.89
Italian Salad Dressing $1.15
Ketchup (36 oz) $1.19
Grade A Large Eggs (One dozen) $.99
Can of Corn (15.25 oz) $.49

LET ME WARN YOU FIRST – You won’t have a fancy shopping experience when you stop by an Aldi store. In fact, when you first walk into an Aldi supermarket you may be surprised by the spartan interior – no flashy window displays, no large sales signs, no extras like photo processing or floral sections. According to Aldi, these things only serve to raise costs.

Some of the additional ways Aldi cuts costs to the bone:

Limited store hours: Store hours are limited. Typically stores are open from 9 am to 7 or 8 pm. This reduces labor, heating, and electricity expenses.

Limited staff: You won’t find butchers, bakers, or pharmacists at Aldi. Customers bag their own groceries. Want a shopping cart? You must insert a quarter into a lock on top of the cart. You get your quarter back when you return the cart. Aldi claims this eliminates the need for employees to roam the parking lot collecting stray shopping carts.

Cash and Debit Cards Only: Leave your credit cards at home. They’re not accepted at Aldi. Debit cards or cash only. This saves Aldi from paying credit card companies expensive merchant transaction fees.

More Limited Selection: Aldi carries far fewer products than most supermarkets – typically 1300 items compared to the 30,000 items carried by a typical supermarket. In addition, each product in the store usually comes in only one size. This reduces storage costs and allows Aldi to save money by purchasing larger bulk allotments of fewer products.

Smaller Stores: Aldi stores are small. This reduces heating and other utility costs. Smaller stores also benefit you in that you can be in out of an Aldi supermarket in a fraction of the time you’d spend in a regular supermarket.

High Quality Store Brands: Aldi’s carries few national brand products. Instead it offers its line of high quality store brands, from Millville cereal to Sweet Harvest fruit cocktail. I actually prefer their store brands to many national brand products. The Aldi line of lean turkey bacon, in my opinion, is the best on the market.

Aldi tests its store brand products on a regular basis to make sure that each product meets or exceeds the quality and taste of the national brand name alternatives.

So confident are they in the quality of their store brands that Aldi provides a double guarantee. If for any reason, you are not 100% satisfied with any product, Aldi will replace the product AND refund your money.

How much do all of these cost cutting measures save you?

It’s estimated that the typical customer will save 30-40% at Aldi compared to conventional grocery stores, and save 16-24% over big discount stores like Wal-Mart and Super Target.

Now that’s not chump change. Perhaps that’s why Aldi parking lots are always full.

Personally, I save BIG on a lot of my staple items like sugar, milk, butter, eggs. I also buy a lot of canned goods and snacks at Aldi. Typically, I’ll save $100 to $200 a month shopping at Aldi.

Understand this – because Aldi features fewer products you won’t be able to complete all of your shopping in this one store. To save money I make Aldi my first stop and then proceed to a chain supermarket to complete my shopping.

Give Aldi a try. For some, Aldi is not their cup of tea. They may not like shopping in such bland looking stores or the limited selections. But if you’re like me, you may just come out grinning from ear to ear thinking about all the money you’ve just saved.

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