There are just a few things I knew to be true as a child:
1.) Think before doing something crazy on the way to school. Your mom has eyes everywhere.
2.) Those black eyed peas are still going to be there whether you fall asleep in them or not so you might as well eat them while they are hot.
3.) NEVER let any of your well-to-do friends know you shopped at Aldi.
I was actually o.k. going to Aldi as long as no one knew I went. Certain things were cool like $.15 pop (sodas for all of my southern friends) and big bags of chips for dirt cheap. My grandmother shopped there. My mother REFUSED. The lines were LONG (you’d have to LITERALLY put someone in line when you got there and then have someone else run back and get your items while your place was being held) and there were NO brand names. It was just one of those places we didn’t go.
So, imagine my surprise when there was an Aldi built in what I call “bougie” Madison, Alabama (compared to where Aldi was in Chicago) and I found out all of my well to do engineering friends, students and clients were bragging about going there.Say what?
They were doing what I should have been doing; getting over myself, getting my grocery list together and getting myself in that store.
I had the opportunity to sit down with some representatives from Aldi when I attended FitBloggin in Denver over the summer. I was very candid with my story and my “hangups” about why I didn’t shop there (I know. Those childhood mental blocks are something else, aren’t they? I have one with the thrift store too but that’s another post). They shared with me some of the changes that Aldi had been taking over the years (true story: I had only been in there to buy a pineapple for a dollar and some sunflower seeds) and gave me a few products to try of which I got NONE because my family ate them. And enjoyed them. They didn’t believe they had come from Aldi. I didn’t believe they liked them. We were on to something.
I will admit that I am a certified food snob. However, with as much food as I buy I have determined that my snobbish self needs to be on more of a budget. And Aldi was worth checking out. So I invited a couple of my girls with me to “check out the scene” and see what Aldi was about for real.
Four friends and I went to Aldi yesterday. I didn’t shop. I just observed. These are four women with four specific needs:
- A single person
- A married person with young children
- A college student with a child
- A married person with no children living at home
And while they can afford to shop other places, I asked them to think about the needs of their households and be open-minded to the experience. Each of them was given fifty dollars to shop (courtesy of Aldi) and were told to buy what they would normally buy in any other grocery store. Two of them had NEVER stepped foot into an Aldi before.
We tried to stay together but after the first five minutes the “oooohs” and “aaaahhhhs” started and everybody went running in different directions. It was an EYE OPENING experience.
I think we were ALL shocked by the variety and products available at Aldi. Gluten free (Aldi has its own line) products, organic products, products with less than five ingredients in them and products we recognized. (Did you know Aldi has it’s own Fit and Active product line as well?) The single person was excited to see some ready made items that weren’t loaded with calories that she could prepare on the go. The college student was happy to find some dried fruit and nuts to have for snacks while she finishes up her last year of nursing school. The married mother scored with waffles and milk for her boys and our other married lady found excellent meat deals to cook just enough for her and her husband.
Everyone was super excited but feeling they had gotten too excited and was going to be way over their budget. As everyone looked through their cart, shuffling through the almond butter, olive oil, tuna, bread, cases of water, juice, green tea, apple sauce, granola, ground turkey, greek yogurt, cucumbers, almonds, oatmeal, brown rice spaghetti, we headed towards the checkout. I explained to the manager what we were doing (so he wouldn’t be weirded out that I was taking pictures) and he told me he totally understood what I was saying about how I felt about Aldi back in the day. He’s been with the company almost 30 years. He seemed very proud of the evolution. That made me feel even better.
We had one problem at checkout.
The gift certificates HAD to be used completely and NONE of the ladies hit the $50.00 mark. EVERYONE was shocked. We were adding items from each other’s carts to make the totals but even then, we had to go back and have people get more food.
Can I just say I’ve NEVER had that happen in a grocery store?
Here’s what I learned as an observer:
I, literally, got EXCITED when I saw all of the things I eat, on a normal basis, even on a plant-based diet, in Aldi at such a fantastic price. Quinoa, coconut oil spray, grape tomatoes ($.69?!?! Really?), salsa, the mustard I had just paid double the price for two days before, VEGAN veggie burgers that were soy free (what?!?!?!), frozen fruit at $2.00 a bag, hummus, tomato paste, olives, almond and soy milk….all available at Aldi. Sure, labels matter in some things for all of us but how do I know if I never take myself in there to try it?
As the ladies were packing up their groceries, do you know what I was doing? I was making a list. I, now, have a visual picture of where everything is in that store and I can’t wait until Thursday when I have the time to go in and walk around and do my own shopping in Aldi, by choice, and then have money left over to go across the street to Starbucks. (I am trying to break my habit but I haven’t broken it yet. :)) I do feel pretty silly about my lifelong stigma with caring about what other people think about where I shop. It just shows me how deep people’s opinions can affect us.
I hope what I am about to say affects you.
Eating healthy does NOT have to be expensive. It does NOT have to look like what you see on television and in magazines. This is our REAL LIFE. Live in a way that keeps you healthy, vibrant and feeling your best. And Aldi is prepared (and willing) to be a part of your healthy lifestyle.
I’ll see you there. I’m going to go ahead and say you’ll see us ALL there. We are all sold on Aldi.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Aldi and I have received compensation. However, as always, ALL opinions are truthful and are my own.