Aldi vs. Jewel, a Comparison

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

T.S. Eliot

Dramatic. I know. But this is how strongly I feel about the impact of what I’m going to tell you. It’s going to decimate your love for wherever it is you shop right now, and it will leave that corporate behemoth crying in its own overpriced milk.

I’m diving right in. Blog number one, the maiden voyage, a comparison shopping trip. This wasn’t a special excursion. It was just an ordinary weekly run to Aldi to buy what I need to feed my family.

Now, I know that there are many people who make grocery lists. Some of you even have a little notepad that you don’t lose on which you write down desired and necessary items throughout your week, then when it’s time to shop you rip the front page off of that little sucker, stick it in the designated pocket of your purse that you’re not embarrassed to show the inside of, and you just check off the items as you find them with a pen that you didn’t accidentally steal from the bank. I’m seriously impressed with you. Maybe when you’re done with this week’s list, you can come over and organize all of my closets.

My method is different. I’m a grabber by nature, a spontaneous shopper who likes to just buy stuff and pray that somehow these things will total up to meals. It generally works out.

That means, though, that sometimes my grocery basket looks kind of weird. When you shop by sales and mood, the grocery cart potpourri is never the same from week to week. On this particular shopping trip, I ended up a little Eastern. I bought two 12 oz. boxes of Indian roti bread mix (just add oil and water) and four individual frozen curry entrees. As it turned out, the Jewel store I chose for my price comparison (ubiquitous Midwestern grocery giant where most of our mothers shopped our whole lives, for those of you who aren’t local) didn’t have directly comparable foods available, so when you see the numbers know that they are less those items. (And we will talk in another blog about how freaking cool it is that you can buy international foods at Aldi.)

For the sake of science, here is a breakdown of my method:

When tallying competitor prices, I do not look at brands. I just go for the cheapest equivalent product. By “equivalent” I mean the same thing. If I bought a 15.5 oz can of black beans at Aldi, then I’m pricing a 15.5 oz. can of black beans elsewhere. Not a 16 oz. can, not a can of seasoned black beans, I mean the same darn item. When it comes to meat, I go by weight. I write down the competitor’s price per pound, then I do the multiplication at home using the actual weight of the food from Aldi to determine how much it would have cost at the comparison store. Sometimes, I defer to the “per ounce” price listed on store tags. For instance, this week I bought a box of chocolate rice cereal. There was no box in the same size at my comparison site, so I used their per ounce figure to calculate the cost. My entire goal in this process to determine the absolute cheapest that my cart could have been at another grocery store.

Okay, ready?

Before sales tax, and minus the price of some kick-butt ethnic foods, I spent $82.66 at Aldi today. It looks like this:

If I actually made lists and planned ahead, I would save even more money, but I would also miss out on the joy of surprising my family with things like chocolate peanut caramel apples and maple bacon cookies.
If I actually made lists and planned ahead, I would save even more money, but I would also miss out on the joy of surprising my family with things like chocolate peanut caramel apples and maple bacon cookies.

Had I bought the exact same cart at Jewel, my pre-tax total would have been:

Dun-dun-duuuuun (That’s the accepted phonetic interpretation of suspenseful cartoon music.)


That’s a difference of $64.89. Let’s say it out loud together. “Today, I saved $64.89 by shopping at Aldi, AND I bought some awesome Indian and Thai foods that Jewel doesn’t even carry.”

Most of you will stop reading here and rush to your nearest Aldi, but for those of you who are as interested in groceries as I am/don’t need to shop today, here is what I bought.

  • 8 lbs. ham shank portion
  • 4 lbs. pork butt roast
  • 2 lbs. of fresh chicken breast tenderloin
  • 1 package turkey Italian sausage
  • 5 lbs. roaster chicken
  • 2 lbs. radishes
  • 2 lbs. carrots
  • 2 lbs. seedless red grapes
  • 3 lbs. Bartlett pears
  • 2 lbs. red onions
  • 1.5 lbs. yellow squash
  • 1 large head green cabbage
  • 8 oz. block sharp Cheddar
  • 1 lb. penne pasta
  • 1 box dry onion soup mix
  • 2 lbs. fettucine
  • 2 boxes Parmesan cous cous
  • 2 boxes olive oil and garlic cous cous
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 cans light red kidney beans
  • 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 can peas
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 can green beans
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 16.9 oz. olive oil
  • 1 box graham crackers
  • 1 box chocolate rice cereal
  • 1 box pumpkin cornbread mix
  • 2 red curry frozen entrees
  • 2 yellow curry frozen entrees
  • 2 boxes roti bread mix
  • 1 bag oyster crackers
  • 1 bag maple bacon cookie mix
  • 1 graham cracker pie crust in a tin
  • 6 chocolate peanut caramel apples
  • 4 triple-blade ladies razors
  • 1 stick Old Spice
  • 12 rolls toilet paper

That’s a lot of food for a little scratch. Now go shop.



P.S. They still have Cajun cornbread in stock which is, like, the best stuff ever. I’d have bought some today if I hadn’t picked up five boxes last week.

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