Where do you do your grocery shopping?
When I was a child, my family lived a very short walk away from a typical (for the seventies) suburban shopping centre. We had a supermarket, butcher, green grocer, and baker; as well as a news agent, chemist, and various other specialty shops. The ballet studio that I attended was there, as well as our family dentist.
During my childhood, Mum and/or Dad would do a big shop at the supermarket on a Saturday morning, walk the trolley home to unpack it all and then walk the trolley back to the shops. (Or send one of us kids with it!) Dad walked over every morning before work for fresh bread, and Mum made daily trips for bits and pieces that she needed. We always joked that we had enough in our pantry and freezer to withstand a siege, because once food went in it very rarely came out; Mum preferred to get meat for dinner, cakes for afternoon tea and cold meats for sandwiches fresh each day!
I’m a very different animal to my mother. I prefer to shop for groceries as little as possible. Once a week I’ll go to Coles and get everything that I’m going to need for the week. It all goes into the pantry, fridge and freezer and then gets used up over the course of the week. If we run out before the next shop, it’s pretty much bad luck for all concerned. If you look in my fridge the day before shopping day, it definitely looks a bit bare! (I do make an exception for fresh fruit and veggies; I’ll buy some at Coles and then top up during the week at my local fruit shop.)
Anyway, today I tried shopping at Aldi.
I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get everything that I needed and that I’d have to go to Coles as well. I knew that the brands wouldn’t be the same ones that I am used to. I also knew that I would save money.
Hitting Aldi for the first time, it was surprisingly small, with very few aisles. As I entered, I felt sure that I’d hardly get anything on my list. But as I walked around, I was pleasantly surprised. Most things on my list were there! And my shopping took less time, because there was a lot less choice than I’m used to.
However, I do wish someone had told me what to expect at the checkout! The conveyor belt is very, very long; long enough to fit every single thing from your trolley on it. You need to empty your whole trolley before the checkout operator can start scanning items because he/she needs your trolley to dump everything into after scanning. If you’re a regular Aldi shopper, you’re probably laughing at me right now, but I was horrified! There is not bagging at Aldi, rather the checkout operator simply scans like a speed demon and expects you to grab everything and dump it into your trolley in record time. I wasn’t quick enough, so my operator just swept everything in for me; all my carefully sorted items landing in a jumble wherever they fell!
After paying, I moved over to the bagging area, where I proceeded to take up most of the space carefully sorting and bagging my groceries into the green bags that I had brought from home. I got a few quizzical looks; perhaps it’s not common for people to attempt their whole week’s shopping in one go? Or they take their trolley to their car and bag things directly into their boot? Or perhaps normal Aldi shoppers just throw everything into bags higgledy-piggledy and don’t make a fuss?
After I’d finished, I didn’t feel as worn out as I normally do after a bout of grocery shopping despite my checkout/packing troubles, so I decided to continue on to Coles to pick up a few items I hadn’t managed to find in Aldi.
Money wise, the result was very pleasing; I only spent about 70% of what I usually do. The experience was also pleasant enough. As for the quality of the items I bought…that remains to be seen as we consume them during the week.
Are you an Aldi shopper?