Becoming Jill: Adventures in Adulthood

Chapter 3: In Which I Get Over Being A Snob and Shop at Aldi’s. It’s Amazing!
March 13, 2010, 9:30 am
Filed under: Food, frugality | Tags: ,

Due to the cancellation of my food support, I hadn’t purchased groceries since mid-January, and other than the occasional bottle of milk, I was getting by with increasingly odd meals from my pantry. Last week, the pantry began to fail me, and I was seriously wondering how I was going to feed myself until my food support is (hopefully) re-established.

Luckily, my wonderful grandma swooped in and saved the day! She sent me fifty dollars to buy food, which is amazing beyond all belief. Now that I had the cash, I had to figure out how to get the most bang for my buck. Since I don’t know if or when I am getting foodstamps again, it was key to get as much nutritious food as possible, and to get things that I could use in lots of different ways.

I recalled the advice of my excellent friend of Candace, an inveterate Aldi’s shopper. She’s been trying to get me to shop at Aldi’s for years, but I had severe middle-class hang-ups about it. I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that had never needed to shop somewhere like that, and in my snobbish opinion, I wasn’t the kind of person who shopped at Aldi’s.

Luckily, in the past year or so, I have been forced to confront all kinds of my middle-class hypocrisies, and it hasn’t hurt me a bit! Is riding an inner-city bus a thrilling experience? No. It’s been a wonderful growing experience, however. Yes, some of the stereotypes are true—some of the people are clearly homeless and just looking for a warm place to spend the day; it’s very crowded, and often uncomfortable for me, as I tend to be a bit claustrophobic; sometimes there’s a crazy person holding forth at top volume about the impending demise of the human race. On the plus side, if I take the 50 cent bus and walk, it’s crazy-cheap; the people-watching is unbelievable; my carbon footprint is smaller; I get to learn all kinds of interesting things. For example, I learned from the above crazy person that a gigantic “tuhsumi” is going to wipe out half the population! Good thing I live in the middle of the continent.

Anyway, back to the point at hand. As it turns out, I am the kind of person who shops at Aldi’s! One trip was all it took to make me an enthusiastic Aldi’s shopper. I was afraid that the lack of choices would be depressing, but I actually found it quite soothing! No need to try to figure out which of 8 brands of canned corn I wanted to buy—there’s only 1 or 2! I often find grocery shopping to be overwhelming, but this was the easiest, most stress-free shopping experience I have had in years!

Despite arriving at 4:45m, the store was not a complete zoo. Of course, there were other people there, but nothing like the chaos that you would find at the SuperTarget a few blocks down the street. The store was clean, and although all the items are arranged in their shipping boxes on the shelves, everything was neat and well-organized. I was initially disoriented by the lack of signage I am used to, but since the store itself is so small, it was pretty easy to find everything I wanted.

I went into the store with the idea that I would look around for the items I wanted, and if (as I assumed) they didn’t meet my standards, I would just go on to Target. I was especially apprehensive about the produce and dairy stuff, as I am the first to admit to being a huge food snob.

To my amazement, the produce was the freshest and cheapest I had seen outside of the Hmong farmer’s market! I got 2 lbs of carrots for 49 cents! 2 crowns of broccoli for $1.50! 4 lbs of oranges for 2 bucks! I could go on, but really you should just hop on over to your nearest Aldi’s and see for yourself! All the fresh stuff I bought is high-quality, and tastes delicious.

Look at this haul!

At the end of the trip, I had spent nearly 43 dollars, and got a huge amount of food, almost all of it healthy! I was disappointed that I couldn’t find steel-cut oats, but decided to stop at the fancy co-op on the way home to see if they sold them in their bulk bins. To my amazement, in the store where oranges cost a buck each, I can get steel-cut oats for 99 cents a pound! I bought 3.5 pounds, which will last me quite a long time.

Even if my foodstamps get approved, I am going to keep shopping at Aldi’s. In a lot of ways, I feel like my experiences in poverty are making me a better, less-judgmental person, and that can never be a bad thing!


6 Comments so far
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To make you feel even better….Aldi’s and Trader Joes are owned by the same company and have many of the same profucts (Aldi’s just has them for less moola!). 🙂

Comment by Julie

And by profucts…I mean products. lol

Comment by Julie

Ha! I think I prefer profucts 😉

Yes, I think someone told me that recently, but I have never been to Trader Joe’s 😦 We have one here, but I figured it was just best not to tempt myself!

Comment by becomingjill

I hope I didn’t give you your middle-class snobby ideas! But I could have contributed to the food snob stuff for sure! I learned eating fresh food straight from Mom’s garden! Your grandma used to be the best cook ever!

Comment by jan

You should have gone to school in Kirksville, Aldi’s was the rage! We shopped there all through college and ate like queens on our poor college budget.

Comment by Kendra

I don’t think I could have survived 4 years in Kirksville… 😉 Glad to hear you also had a good experience with Aldi’s, tho! 🙂

Comment by becomingjill

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