Jan 29 2011

aldi vs. walmart: a shopping comparison [day 248]

You asked for it.  Here it is.  The price shopping comparison between Aldi and Walmart.  After my post on day 241, many people asked for a price comparison with Walmart, some because they love shopping there, others because they believe Walmart to have the lowest prices.  So what’s your guess on the savings?

Aldi is still a lot cheaper in comparison t0 both of the other stores.  On similar size off brand and generic items, Kroger was 52% more and Walmart was 47% more.  The savings at Walmart for these brands is not much less than a regular grocery store, neither coming close to the savings at Aldi.  On the name brands, Kroger was 113% more and Walmart was 67% more.  Here’s where the Walmart savings come in.  Name brands you’re familiar with, for much less than other places.  This whole process has made me think about my previous grocery shopping habits and has encouraged me to make some changes.  I’m going to label these a little differently.  Let’s call these stores by type.

conventional grocery storediscount grocery storesuperstore – convenience store

All of the store types have pros and cons, however making educated shopping choices for your money and well being isn’t the easiest thing to do sometimes.  Here are a few of my observations and answers to questions I had before doing this comparison: Continue reading


Jan 22 2011

a 25¢ lesson cost me hundreds [day 241]

Yes, I made a judgement call based on 25¢, a quarter I thought I would loose.  Listening to some bad advice, I decided not to try a new grocery store in my area, a store that opened over a year ago.  Some person (I don’t remember who) told me that the new Aldi grocery store charges 25¢ for the use of their carts.  What this yo-yo neglected to tell me is that you get your quarter back when you return the cart.  So instead of checking this out, like I normally would, I decided not to.  My 25¢ lesson?  Make my decisions based on my own research, not something someone says. Of course I will always take advice and opinions into consideration, but I should always see things for myself.  I do this with people, I should do it with everything.  Lesson learned, but not just one.  There were many great lessons from this experience that I would love to share.

What is Aldi? “ALDI is a discount grocery chain that operates over 1,000 stores in 31 states. Through a select assortment and convenient grocery shopping approach, we’re able to offer our customers the highest quality everyday items at the lowest possible prices—honest to goodness savings.” Read more about them and why they’re different at aldi.us.

So why the quarter for the cart? “At ALDI, we cut costs every way we can to keep prices low. Our shopping cart deposit system is a good example. You insert a quarter to release a cart. When you return the cart, you get your quarter back. This system cuts down on the labor of collecting carts left in the parking lot, damage to cars, and we pass the savings on to you.” I like this.  In addition, it keeps the carts from hitting the cars in the parking lot and the carts seem to be in better condition.

I decided to shop there a few days ago.  It was the closest store and I just needed 2 items.  After the great experience, I decided to go back.  This time was to shop in efforts to try some of the different brands, buying one or two of each thing we normally purchase.  After seeing first hand, the incredible savings, I decided to do a cost analysis.

Last night, my kids and I went to our local grocery store to compare prices.  It was nice to get out of the house and I forgot my phone, which was nice, as my kids and I had fun doing this.  Who would have thought?  Here’s the results.

Aldi price: $65.40

This is pre-tax.  There was only one thing that was a name brand I usually buy, Amy’s vegetarian meals.  All of the other things were Aldi or generic brands.

Name brand price: $139.51

I priced the name brand items that were comparable in size and type to get this number.  The name brands cost 113% more than the Aldi brands.  Whoa!  that got my attention!

Off brand price: $99.33

To get this number, I used the same criteria as above, but with generic  or off brand items.  There were a few things that didn’t have generic brands, so the brand name item price was inserted.  Shopping at the major grocery store for off brands cost 52% more than Aldi.  Again, wow!

I’m sure you have some of the same questions I did before going in here, so I will address them now.  I had some very unexpected shopping results, that were much more than just saving money.  I also got me thinking about my shopping habits and how I have some room for growth.  Continue reading


Dec 11 2010

AWESOME dumpster diving video! [day 199]

This video was created for a school project by a student at the Clarion University of Pennsylvania for a Physics of Energy and the Environment class.  It’s a wonderful video on the how-to’s of dumpster diving with some alarming statistics.  Check it out.  It’s well worth 8 minutes of your time.


Sep 3 2010

is saffron a drug? [day 99]

Grocery shopping is retail shopping, and even though it’s allowed in my challenge, I still feel like I’m shopping.  I suppose the challenge here is to find new ways to grocery shop.

I decided to actually use one of my cookbooks and some cooking magazines that my awesome neighbor Diane passed on to me.  Recipe?  Paella.  I’ve eaten a lot of it but never tried to make it.

I tried to get the ingredients at Sprouts.  I was disappointed there for the last time.  The store is small, which I like, as I only buy a few things there, mostly from the meat and fish counter.  This was my third time to be ignored by workers that actually made eye contact with me and kept working on whatever they were doing.  No “I’ll be with you in a minute” or stopping to help.  A few other people walked off as well.  I decided to go to Market Street.  I like Market Street, but this is the ultimate in retail shopping for groceries, maybe like the Neiman Marcus for food.  Honestly, it felt a little weird shopping there.  The service was good, actually better than good, as I had to ask questions and I was stunned that they knew where everything was and could even make recommendations.  The employees seemed happy to be working there.  They have my support when I need a specialty grocery store.

The other thing I learned is that buy saffron is what I would assume it would be like to buy drugs.  The first one I picked up was about a teaspoon of saffron in an oversized jar for $16.99.  Ouch!  I did find a cheaper one or the recipe would have been without.

All that to just say that I would like to support stores where the employees are happy and helpful.  That’s supporting good businesses if I have to shop at a retail place.  The shopping challenge is about making small changes and good choices to help economically and to be a better steward of our resources.  :)


Aug 21 2010

paper vs. plastic paper [day 85]

Paper plates.  Can you call them that anymore?  Most of them are made from paper with plastic coatings, foam or plastic.  I choose not to use them most of the time, but going camping, I figured that’s not a bad idea.  I thought back to my girl scout days and remembered a camping trip where I had a canteen and some little metal dishes in a nylon mesh bag.  We didn’t use a bunch of disposable stuff, we ate and washed our dishes.  I don’t remember it being much of a hassle.

So off to the grocery store for food.  Just for the record, I did not buy the paper plates, as that’s not on my challenge list of acceptable things to buy.   I know they make environmentally friendly paper plates, but I didn’t see any.  I thought I would just select a small pack of paper plates with no plastic coating, lining, prints or any other special features.  My thoughts?  Simple paper shouldn’t be too bad for landfills.

So here are my choices, well, I can’t call it that, it was one choice.  A 300 count pack of paper plates.  No small packs, just the jumbo size.  We got it, figuring I could bring the extras to work or use them for art projects or something.

Paper plates are not evil. I’m blogging this for a couple of reasons, not because I have disposable plate issues.  So what are the reasons?  This is shopping in general, not just paper plates.  😉

  • The paradox of choice: we have a selection of many types, but do we have a good selection?  Is there another place to shop that might have better choices?
  • Is there an alternative to what we are buying? This might not be necessary in many cases, but it’s a good thought process.  My choice is not to use paper plates because I want to minimize my use of disposable paper, plastic and foam products.  At home, I have all mismatched dishes.  I have a lot so I can entertain and still have many plates and bowls, and if one breaks, I simply buy more at the thrift store.
  • Am I willing to go without? Sometimes no, but sometimes yes.  By thinking about it, I can make better use of my money and find creative ways to not need as much stuff.

Want to know the kicker here?  A raccoon, probably the one that ate our loaf of bread, got into the paper plates and approximately 150 of them were all over the camp site.  Raccoons are evil.  😉


Jul 14 2010

feedback and cool stuff from others [day 48]

No shopping yesterday AND I managed to avoid the grocery store.  :)  My kids and I went to see the Sno-cone Lady, then went to the library, and they actually wanted to sit there and read for a long time.  Wow, that was nice.  Much better than being in a store hearing, “Mom, can we get this?”  I guess I should mention that during prayer time last night, after my kids prayed for all of the needy people to have what they need, Joe did also pray for the new iPad he wants.  Oh well, at least he prayed for the important stuff before wedging in the electronics.

I received some good info from some friends yesterday, so that’s what I would like to highlight today.

Thrift store gift cards

Maria facebooked me that The Colony’s reSale shop has gift cards.  I shop (treasure hunt) there regularly and I had no idea they had those.  Here’s the link on their website, and they have a 20% off coupon!  If you are not in the north Texas area, check your local thrift stores.  What a great gift idea!  These could also be a good thing to carry around with your fast food gift cards to give out to homeless people.

Recycle your bras

Yes, that’s what I said.  Here’s the message Brenda sent…

Just heard about a company that recycles used bras! very cool. maybe you can include in your trash society blog. they area for profit company that also donates to women’s shelters, etc but theyare for profit….but still it’s cool, I normally throw mine away but they take the fabric and wire and remake them. the name of the company is bossom buddies or something like that …i believe they said they were from arizona.

Here’s the website… http://brarecycling.org/ I usually send mine to the thrift store, but I plan to send some here.  I suppose, that is, when I can actually part with the 7- year old tattered things.

Thanks you guys for sending this info!