I got paid yesterday and went out for a small food shop. I went to my local Aldi, which I am liking better and better. I never shopped at Aldi until this past year and I've been really impressed with the quality and, most importantly, the prices. I've been bringing my own shopping bags to the grocery store for years (before it was the 'cool' thing to do), I did purchase two of their insulated cooler bags, I don't pack a cooler in my car. For $14, I walked out with a boat load of food.
I have found is that a majority of items are the same quality and much less expensive than the grocery store. I'm getting most of my staple items from Aldi-sugar, flour, most dairy, basic pasta, rice, cereal, baking supplies, frozen veggies, french fries, ice cream, chips, salsa, canned soups, etc. A couple things I prefer a store brand or name brand (Aldi brand Triscuts just don't cut it, sorry tried twice, they don't carry unsalted butter, and I don't like their low fat yogurt). They don't have a extensive dried bean section, but I tend to buy my dried beans at the ethnic market every couple months.
The cleaning supplies and toiletries are not name brand, but I know folks who swear they are just fine (and probably no different than getting the Target or Wal Mart brand). The do carry some amazing ultra dark chocolate bars. I even gave them out as Christmas presents and one recipient asked for a couple more bars as a birthday present this month. Best $4 I ever spent.
I have found an Aldi, Job Lot Store, Target, the great ethnic market and Costco all within 15 minutes of each other (actually the Aldi, Job Lot Store and Target are in side by side shopping centers). I'm now planning my shopping around these five stores so I can save time, money and gas. For me, this is great, because I actually dislike shopping unless I have to. This works out well for me.
The moral of this story is sometimes you have to just try out the non chain grocery store, weather it be an Aldi or some other chain.