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3 Pitfalls of Shopping at Discount Grocers

Two paper shopping bags full of food

Image source: Upsplash/The Motley Fool

If you’re spending more money than ever to keep your refrigerator stocked, you’re not alone. The average American household now has to budget more than $1,000 a month for groceries, according to Census Bureau data. And families with children are spending an average of $331 a week at the supermarket. Ouch.

If you’re struggling with the cost of groceries, you may be eager to find ways to save. One option is to turn to discount grocers like Aldi. But while going this route might leave you spending a bit less on food, you might also encounter these unfortunate pitfalls.

1. The selection may be limited

If you’ve never been to a store like Aldi before, you may be surprised at how bare certain aisles are. Discount grocers don’t tend to be as well-stocked as traditional supermarkets. This means that it may require multiple trips to the grocery store each week to purchase everything on your list. Not only might that cost you in terms of time, but if you live in a more rural area, you could end up spending extra money on gas to keep your family well-fed.

2. You may not enjoy your purchases as much

The belief that discount grocers sell items that are lower in quality is a myth. It’s true that these stores tend to carry off-brands that many consumers aren’t familiar with. But a lack of fancy packaging doesn’t mean you’re compromising on quality.

That said, since you may not find your go-to brands at a discount grocer, you may not enjoy your purchases as much if the taste or consistency of certain products is a little different than what you’re used to. In the case of something like pasta, this shouldn’t be an issue — pasta is pasta, and it adopts the flavor of whatever sauce you add to it. But things like cereal or even bread could taste different if you opt for a different brand.

3. Your picky children might refuse to eat foods from brands they’re not familiar with

Families with children are really feeling the brunt of higher food costs these days. So you may be especially eager to save money on the items you buy for your kids, whether it’s boxed macaroni and cheese, granola bars, or fruit snacks.

But if your children are picky, they may not take kindly to the lesser-known brands you’ll find at discount grocers whose products might taste a bit different. And given that kids tend to be fickle about what they’ll eat in general, you may not want to run the risk of them refusing to consume a given item because it’s taste is slightly different. If anything, that could result in thrown-out food — and wasted money instead of saved money.

At a time when groceries cost so much, it pays to do what you can to trim your costs. None of this is to say that shopping at discount grocers is a poor choice. Rather, just be aware of these potential pitfalls so they don’t catch you off guard.

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