Cutting grocery bills: Aldi and bulk-food stores

No matter what I do, we're still spending more on food each month than I want to be spending. Two of my weapons in the battle to lower my food bill that I haven't talked about yet are Aldi and bulk-food stores.

One thing I don't like to do is stop at several different stores, so I don't shop at all stores every week, or even every two weeks. Both these stores are small, and I prefer to shop at these stores instead of Walmart or other huge stores. (Does anyone else get exhausted by the sheer number of decisions, people, and products in the huge stores?)

Positives about Aldi

Aldi and I go way back, but it wasn't a pleasant start. As a college student, I shopped there because it was cheap, but I didn't always like the food. I think they have really improved their products since then, however, plus I like several things about the store. But first you have to find one. Aldi stores are found in 32 different states in the US. There are two within driving distance from my house.

Once inside, it looks different than your normal grocery store. Everything about the store has a streamlined approach. First, you "rent" a shopping cart. You must put in a quarter in the shopping cart, and you get your deposit back when you return the cart to the corral. No runaway carts to ding your car in the parking lot, and no employees needed to drive the carts back to the store. Second, you're charged for shopping bags, so most people bring their own. If you forget your own bags and don't feel like buying theirs, you can grab empty boxes from the shelves.

The stores have a small footprint, which cuts down on their utility and construction costs. The smaller store has another benefit too: It doesn't overwhelm me. Still, it's large enough to have a wide variety of products. Most of their items are Aldi-specific brands that may taste different than the brands you're used to; however, as I mentioned, I think their products have improved. If you don't like a product, they offer a double guarantee on most items. In other words, they replace the product for you AND they refund your money.