Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Aldi vs. the Drive-Thru

My friend Jane and I were talking about how sad it is that it's far less expensive to eat at fast food dollar menus than it is to cook at home. I've cut our grocery expense in half by shopping at Aldi, but I could cut it again by 50% if I were to get dinner at the drive-thru every night. 


In my lifetime, I have seen the number of grocery stores reduced dramatically. I lived in a town of 12,000 people for several years and I believe there were 11 full stores when I moved there, as well as several neighborhood stores; and by the time I left, 13 years later, there were 2. I listened to many excuses for this, the main one being that the two stores remaining were larger and more competitive. I believe it was really about the fast food industry, and the push to convince people that their time was too valuable to shop for and prepare food.

I live within a few minutes of every imaginable fast food place, and I can still make supper quicker than it takes to get to, and go through, a drive-thru (notice we don't even have time to write out the word "through"). I won't even get into the nutritional and health difference.

Shopping for food is another story, and I believe that is where everything went to hell. Just the thought of having to go to a big grocery store, especially after work, is enough to make anyone want to head to the nearest yellow letter in the sky; and this is precisely why I became an Aldi addict. Aldi is small - there are 5 aisles; you can be in and out in 10 minutes with enough food for the next 3 days. There's no maze to wander through and no fancy displays of high-profit impulse items. 

Aldi has brought back the main street grocery store.

Reconditioning yourself to let go of the familiar label is the only difficult part - it's still the same stuff inside, Aldi's products come from all the popular brands; the advertising cost is removed to save you money. If you don't like something, you can return what's left, and they refund your money and give you an alternate product. Who else offers this kind of guarantee? 

So, instead of making supper, I wrote this. I'll see you later, I have to go to Mc.. kidding! We are having left-overs, another great benefit from cooking your own food. Have you ever tried to eat left-over fast food? Enough said.

1 comment:

  1. Great thoughts! And, think about how much fuel is used by those folks idling in fast-food line ups! That's just silly and incredibly wasteful. Perhaps one reason for the loss of traditional grocery is the increasing transportation costs coupled with the preferences that North Americans have had for out of local season foods. When we had to buy only locally, we could buy stuff more cheaply and it was more healthy to eat that way as well. The big grocery chains ship their foods from all over the globe, pollution our world and wasting energy. The prices are also higher as a result.

    The cheaper and healthiest alternative, for both the environment and our families, is to buy only from local sources and then can or freeze foods to use when the season for them ends. The problem is that you can't really do that easily on your drive home from work, so fast food begins to be the cheapest, easiest and of course, least healthy option. But I can see the buying local idea spreading and who knows--at some point, with gas prices skyrocketing, those big chains just might lose enough customers due to prices that they can no longer survive.

    Personally, I love the small independently owned grocery stores (remember Tyra's?) and can't wait for them to come back again. Maybe Aldi is just the beginning!