Periodically, Mr. K.B. and I pack the kids in the car (or minivan) and head over the border to Buffalo NY for a day of crying, whining, shopping, eating, and laughing, A-murican-style.
The first couple of years that we did this, we didn’t really consider the grocery stores, although I have always been a fan of grocery stores, unless our dollar was strong I didn’t really see the financial benefits of cross-boarder grocery shopping for our family.
But now. Oh my. Now, with the Canadian dollar being all Schwarzenegger and stuff, there are deals to be HAD. Even if you don’t have coupons. My new favourite US grocery store is, ALDI. I had been reading about ALDI on various blogs and forums and was intrigued by the store, but the one time I ventured it, I couldn’t figure out what to buy, as 90% of what they sell is their own store brand. So I read some more and took note of the recommendations of those people who do shop there regularly and already knew what to buy and what to avoid.
So this time, we brought the cooler. And oh, the bliss. The savings. The joy of shopping in a store that is NOT Keswick Wal-Mart!
I spent $55.84 at Aldi last Saturday, and this is what that brought home:
2x Parmesan Cheese – $2.39 each
1 jar pasta sauce with meat – $.99
1 gallon skim milk (that’s just under 4L) – $1.89
1 gallon 2% milk (again, just under 4L) – $1.95
1 package, 80 Count – Gluten-free CORN Tortillas – $2.49
1 Jumbo bottle Sweet Baby Ray’s – $1.99 (yes, I know it was free recently at WM with the $2 coupon, but I couldn’t get that coupon this year!)
1 jar Medium Salsa – $1.69
1 jar Mild Salsa – $1.69
4 boxes, 12 count each, taco shells $0.99 each
2 King cans of Arizona Iced Tea – $0.79 each ( we were dying of thirst!)
5 medium-sized boxes of Aldi’s Cheerios (which, unlike the store brand Cheerios in Canada, are actually EXACTLY the same as the General Mills brand, which my kids love! – They won’t eat the “Selection” brand that Metro/Food Basics hocks) – $1.69 each
3 boxes of drink mix sticks in cool flavours I don’t see here – $1.49
1 box of store brand Corn gluten-free Chex – $2.19 (a box of Chex at WM is $4.97, if you have a coupon $3.97 and if the planets align and it’s on sale you can walk out with it for $1.97 – this has happened once in the last year)
2 bags of marshmallows – $0.99 (no real savings on that one)
2 dozen large eggs – $1.15 each (excellent sale price in Keswick is $1.99/dozen, normal sale price is $2.29/dozen)
1 gallon of Arizona iced tea -$2.69
2 “Medium” bags of brand name peanut M&M’s – $2.89 each
The ones that blew my mind were the eggs, milk and cereal. And of course we’re in awe at the much wider selection of gluten-free products!
But that’s not all, we also stopped in at Big Lots on South Ogden Street in Buffalo and totally scored on Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free corn bread mix – $2.90 a package! We also lucked out on tonnes of tinned peaches and fruit for $0.50 – $0.65 a tin.
Tops Market was a bit of a let down this time, because we didn’t revisit the nice new one we went to on our last trip and instead ended up in a ghetto one that was like visiting a local A&P store in Scarborough in the 80’s, but that may be a really obscure reference *grin* Tops did have ripe bananas packaged up for $0.39/lb, so I bought enough for my kids for two days (8 bananas) and was still just over a dollar.
From my observations, it’s not worth it to buy produce or meat or most ‘junk’ food (unless it’s stuff we just don’t see for sale up here!) across the border, unless on a killer sale, but many general groceries and dairy can be a total score. I didn’t use a single coupon for my shopping, which was a culture shock and felt mildly wrong, but I came home with a van full of groceries and didn’t even come close to spending my weekly grocery allowance.
Oh, and not for nothing, if you’re heading down that way, do not fill up your tank in Canada. Have enough to get yourself over the border and to a gas station – you will save oodles. The lower-end Ontario price was $1.20/L when we left on Saturday morning. We paid $0.95/L (3.599/gallon) in Buffalo on our way home later that same day. I can remember when gas was under $1/L here at home, I had far fewer children and far fewer wrinkles! Oh, and FYI, to save you the trouble, 1 US Gallon = 3.8L 🙂
For more information about ALDI, check out The Frugal Girl’s post about her visit to the Aldi Headquaters in Illinois. She sure loves her some ALDI! *Grin* (you can also search her site for more ALDI product-related information, including Part 2 of her trip).
What do you shop for in the US? Or do you prefer to just keep things local?