Doing something about it.

I’m going to admit something that I’m not proud of. Until recently I never shopped at Aldi’s because, speaking plainly, I was a snob about it.

Don’t ask me why, but I equated shopping there with, I don’t even know. Something beneath me. Ridiculous, I know. But I’m admitting it.

I assumed everything there was off-brand and yucky and that if I bought produce there, chances were ten to one that I’d come down with some kind of stomach-lining-eating bacteria with a side of tuberculosis.

Not. Anymore.

I’m converted. I will go there and bag my own stuff and hug the bananas and the oranges because they never saw the inside of a Giant Eagle. And I have Giant Eagle to thank for it.

Here’s the deal. I’m aware that getting four little bags of food at Giant Eagle is going to run me about 75 dollars because I’m paying for the nice store, the pretty floor tile, the overpriced Jarlsberg cheese, the wide selection that can be found in their international aisle, and until this weekend, I never batted an eyelash about it.

Not. Anymore.

This weekend I went to buy avocados and limes at Giant Eagle for a family dinner party. I grabbed a self-scanner doohickey and headed to produce. When the sticker-printing machine kicked this baby out for five avocados (photo courtesy of Saucy, my bitch):

I was suddenly all [eyelashes batting furiously]. Dudes! I am not purchasing the avocado tree! I just want five avocados. Avocados that had I bothered to take the time to head to Sam’s Club would only have cost me about 4 bucks.

Trying to see through the blurry screen being created by my furiously fluttering eyelashes, I headed over to the limes — a must have for pico de gallo and fresh margaritas. I needed ten.

Eight dollars and ninety cents.

I could have purchased that at Sams’ Club for three and a half dollars.

Realizing the ridiculousness of the prices, I wanted to go to the back of the store and Chuck Norris their stupid giant chicken-man decoration. I wanted to go to floral and pop all of their stupid Dora the Explorer balloons. I wanted to throttle the produce guy for not having any overpriced cilantro in the store. At this point, my eyelashes were like BLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL.

I lost a few of them in the process. They’re now not as thugaliciously thick as they once were.

I have no idea why it bothered me as much as it did on this particular trip. All I know is that I was shaking when I got to my parents’ house armed with the bags of overpriced shit. I shook when I told them and my sister how horrible it is for Giant Eagle to claim to be trying to save people money when they act like there are gold nuggets of riches to be found inside of their fruit. I was offered several glasses of wine to calm my nerves down.

Then I realized. Complaining isn’t helping. Continuing to shop there and support them isn’t helping. Drinking is definitely helping.

Then I decided. I’m going to take the advice of those readers that write me all, “God, PittGirl. Shut up about the things that piss you off and DO something about them for a change.”

So I am. From this day forward, I will no longer shop at Giant Eagle. I’m going to Aldi’s and to Target and to Walmart and to Sam’s Club. Anywhere but there. I don’t care if David Conrad holds a boob-signing at Giant Eagle. I will patiently lie in wait outside of the store until such a time as he can Sharpie “To my number one fan!” on my cleavage.

And anyone that writes me to say, “But if you shop at WalMart and Sam’s Club, look what you’re supporting!” I’ll say to you, “I’m supporting reasonably-priced foods.” And anyone that has a problem can take this $65 receipt from Giant Eagle and choke on it because twenty plus dollars for limes and avocados is enough to make me all BLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL.





86 Comments


  1. Heather
    May 27, 2008 10:04 am

    I’m with you, Pitt Girl! Screw the fuel perks! I’ll take the bus.

    I just spent $38.42 on the ingredients to make pasta salad. Pasta salad!



  2. Mark
    May 27, 2008 10:08 am

    At least after spending that much you saved 10 cents on gas. ;-)



  3. Johnny
    May 27, 2008 10:13 am

    Semi Related note. Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s are owned by the same company. 2 very diffrent ends of the spectrum, but I love both. That’s all.



  4. In Sewickley
    May 27, 2008 10:19 am

    It’s funny, PittGirl, to hear all sorts of people talk about how great fuelperks is and how they save on gas. And anytime they say it, I think, “But really, freakazoid, you’re wasting moolah in the store!!!!!!!!”

    My family shops all over the place: Target, Super Kmart, Wal-Mart (though I haven’t stepped foot in one in almost a year), Giant Eagle, Kuhn’s, Shop’n Save.

    We find that all of them do have great deals to be found. Sadly, they’re not under one roof. With gas going up, we’ve not been to Giant Eagle as much. They’re WAY OVERPRICED.

    I’m glad you’re a Pittsburgher who proudly announces your frustration w/ the monopolized food store chain. Even though it’s a local company, it’s not here to help us out, just steal from our wallet.

    I love buying locally — finding a small grocery store like Coraopolis Cash Market or Safran’s in Sewickley. I wish others would see that Giant Eagle is a crock of sh*t.



  5. shouldBworking
    May 27, 2008 10:20 am

    Amen. Though I’d much rather support local business, I’d also much rather be able to eat. Especially with the high price of gas, I can’t afford the ridiculousness of Giant Eagle.



  6. In Sewickley
    May 27, 2008 10:23 am

    Side note: shouldBworking and me are in the SAME OFFICE. Both of us posted at about the same time and neither of us knew the other was on The Burgh Blog.

    We’re so crazy! But we love PittGirl!!



  7. Mrs Pitsberger
    May 27, 2008 10:32 am

    ALDI! ALDI! ALDI! Giant Eagle can suck it!!! Not that I do ANY of the grocery shopping at my house (that’s Mr. Pitsberger’s job), but I stopped in there for some Weight Watcher’s bagels and they were $3.99 for six bagels!!! That’s highway robbery.

    Oh, and PG, don’t forget incessant radio and TV ads on the list of things you’re paying for at the Iggle.



  8. Kat
    May 27, 2008 10:34 am

    I usually shop at Kuhn’s, where my weekly grocery bill is under $40. A few weeks ago I was near a Giant Eagle, so I went there instead, and they charged me over $60 for one little basket of stuff. Never again.



  9. Erin
    May 27, 2008 10:35 am

    Way to go, PittGirl!



  10. addie
    May 27, 2008 10:43 am

    Right on. And if you’re ever in the East End (or even if you’re not), you should totally hit up Trader Joe’s, too.



  11. Kelli
    May 27, 2008 10:48 am

    I love the Shur-save in Bloomfield. Sure, it can sometimes be a little scary looking, but it is much more affordable than the Iggle.



  12. Erin
    May 27, 2008 10:50 am

    I love the Shur-save too!



  13. Magnus Patris
    May 27, 2008 10:52 am

    I thought Aldi’s was my dirty little secret. No longer will I have to pull my Pirates cap low over my eyes as I shop there, lest anyone recognize me. Now I’ve been liberated! I can shout it from the mountaintops! “MY NAME IS MAGNUS & I SHOP @ ALDI’S!”



  14. Mark
    May 27, 2008 11:02 am

    No love for Whole Foods? I know, Whole Foods is actually much worse than Giant Eagle for being overpriced, but at least they’re almost worth what you pay. I started going there after being disgusted by the slimy meat I got at Iggle’s deli counter one too many times. Seriously – a “special on turkey” doesn’t have to mean “whoops! we still have that turkey from last month! slap a $2 off sticker on it!”

    Anyway I would urge you to check out Whole Foods for their deli, which is fantastic. I usually steer clear of their organic fruits though – just hit up a farmer’s market for those, locally grown beats the hell out of organic.



  15. Izzy
    May 27, 2008 11:07 am

    Kelli, Erin….OOH!OOH! Please tell me you don’t by meat from Shur Save?!?!??!? Every bloody time I run in to pick up something for dinner; the meat “just doesn’t look right”. Definitely ok for packaged stuff. I agree about Trader Joe’s and Aldi’s; as far as the Big Bird; know your prices and shop what’s on sale…totally ridiculous to just go in their willy nilly. Ack!!!



  16. joey
    May 27, 2008 11:09 am

    Whole Paycheck? LOL. We’re talking about Aldi’s here…WF is further to the price extreme than GE.

    Aldi’s does rock, btw.

    Oh, and limes are expensive everywhere. Was looking for one for a gin & tonic but refused to pay .89 for a sorry looking lime.



  17. c
    May 27, 2008 11:21 am

    Aldi’s shopping crowd is very similar to the Gabes aka Gabriella’s Boutique experience. It’s the Mercedes/PAT bus combo crowd.
    You were certainly confused about their produce – it’s actually less waxed more local than GE’s. But since Aldi has been marketing like the wierd TV commercials, prices have increased. As most things German, no bull there. Buy your staples by the case and be down with shopping in less than 15 minutes, yahoo! News flash for the anti Walmarters -Tesco is coming and this will rock their world.



  18. efw_west
    May 27, 2008 11:22 am

    Giant Eagle produce is so over-priced, it is pathetic. Case in point is asparagus. In March/April, this stuff grows faster than the farmers can chop it down. Should be had for < $1/pound. Giant Eagle refused to drop the price below $2.99 for the whole growing season. Yet people continue to flock there for the fuel perks. Kuhn’s routinely had the asparagus at less than a dollar during peak season.



  19. Virginia Hendricks
    May 27, 2008 11:23 am

    I have to confess. We broke down on Sunday and shopped at Aldi’s. While I didn’t find everything I was looking for, (no chicken gravy and no Sunny D or related type product) We still spent $68 and probably ended up saving a ton on the produce (tomatoes- 89 cents, lettuce – 89 cents) banana’s was only about 5 cents cheaper per pound, but still 5 cents is 5 cents. We weren’t 100% sure if we made a good deal or not, but skimming through the receipt, I’m thinking we did. I’m glad you posted this, because now I can justify going back there. Who cares if you don’t have 16 brands to choose from. I’m all about saving money. And i’ve refused to go to Get Go. Their gas prices are always the first ones to go up!!!!



  20. Cindy T.
    May 27, 2008 11:26 am

    Thank you for that last paragraph. I shop at Walmart and have received a lot of heat about it (from one particular friend). I say I go where they save me the most dough. Where I work they started a program where you can buy groceries on line and they will deliver it here (goodapples.org). It’s been decent…not as high priced as I thought it would be. I have been sticking to the weekly specials. A deal is a deal.



  21. Zsa
    May 27, 2008 11:35 am

    Trader Joe’s. Shur Save. Kuhn’s. Foodland. Shop & Save. Or best of all, name your independent local grocery store here. And don’t forget that it’s farmers market season.

    All these are better options than supporting the EWE (Evil Walton Empire) and less likely to give you a headache after hours of shopping under unnaturally bright lights with parents of brats screaming for a Hannah Montana video. Plus, their food often is kind of gross. I’m with c in that I can’t wait for Tesco to get their bloody selves over here.



  22. Kat
    May 27, 2008 11:41 am

    I get twitchy about giving money to the Walton family, too. Luckily there are other options.

    I’ve been to Whole Foods twice. I have to go out of my way to get there, and the crowds and traffic are like shopping on in a regular grocery store on Thanksgiving or Superbowl Sunday ALL THE TIME. No thanks. I like Trader Joe’s, but same deal.



  23. coolmommy123
    May 27, 2008 11:59 am

    What, nobody goes to Costco? I live in Squirrel Hill and used to truck to Robinson to shop there. Now that there’s one in the Waterfront, my life is complete. :)

    For you East Enders…there’s a little “fruit guy” who has a small shop called “Corrado’s Market” in Swissvale. He goes to the Strip every morning and gets his fruits/veggies. They’re always fresh, and his prices are amazing. Just a little hole-in-the-wall shop, but worth it if you’re anywhere in the area. Just take the Edgewood/Swissvale exit from the city, make a right up Monongahela Ave. Follow Monongahela past the CVS plaza on your left, then a Sunoco on your left. Denniston is on your right, directly after the Sunoco (you’ll see “Big Al’s Unisex Hair Salon” on the corner…I kid you not). Make the right onto Denniston, and Corrado’s is there on your right. Ask for Paul (my kids call him Uncle Paul). Hope you find it! (if you cross into Rankin, you’ve gone too far). My girlfriends who live in the Summerset development scoot over there all the time to get the fresh goods…it’s only about 5 minutes from there).



  24. JT
    May 27, 2008 12:19 pm

    for produce stop in the Strip District- Sam’s Market to be exact (the one next to the Steeler store, green awnings). Prices cannot be beat. I go about every other week, fill up a BOX of goodies, and spend $20. That includes limes, lemons, asparagus, tomatoes, etc.

    Oh, and the big secret? You don’t have to shop in the Strip at 9am….Sam’s (and many other stores) are open till 4pm. Go at 3 and park right in front!



  25. Moe the Dog
    May 27, 2008 12:19 pm

    Yeah, the iggle sucks, but I’m more impressed with the party menu…Pico de gallo, margaritas and I’m assuming guacamole (avacados & cilantro). Was your family celebrating Mexican Memorial Day?



  26. Pierogie Kid
    May 27, 2008 12:28 pm

    JT don’t you mean Stan’s? In any case, that place is like where they give produce one last shot before they take it to the dumpster.



  27. Dave in Pgh.
    May 27, 2008 12:28 pm

    Aldi rules. I went to Aldi on Saturday and bought about 80 dollars worth of food. That’s about the same as a typical purchase at Shop N Save for me, but the amount of food I bought at Aldi will last at least twice as long. I’d shop there more often if it were closer to home.

    Most of my shopping takes place at Shop N Save because of the fuel perks, and because I can earn money toward a nice coupon for buying diapers there. I don’t do much driving, so I fill up on gas about once a month and pay around $2 per gallon. In order to get such a good deal, I have to spend a truckload of money on groceries. It’s not really worth it. I’m better off going to Kuhn’s, which is much closer to home, or driving out to Aldi one a month.

    Trader Joe’s is ever farther away, but I’ve heard such good things about it that it is on my long-term “to-do” list.



  28. Jo Janoski
    May 27, 2008 12:29 pm

    Aldi’s, Pitt Girl! Try their dairy products–yogurt and cheese. So yummy and so reasonably priced.



  29. retiredguy
    May 27, 2008 12:33 pm

    OK, I’m convinced. We’re going to start shopping at Aldi’s.

    We’re spending $300 a week at Da Big Bird.



  30. JT
    May 27, 2008 12:37 pm

    PK you are right, it is Stan’s, sorry. Frankly I don’t think your statement about it’s freshness is true- it’s only the leftovers that they couldn’t sell to the restaurants. Sure, some of it goes bad quickly, but for the price, who the heck cares? Just makes you eat your veggies faster!



  31. Stephanique1
    May 27, 2008 12:40 pm

    PittGirl – were you secretly at my sister’s party on Saturday?? Our Pens game party was Mexican themed with margaritas with limes and fresh guacamole from avocados.



  32. Kelli
    May 27, 2008 12:44 pm

    I am a big fan of the Strip – but do you mean Stan’s?

    And yes, I do buy meat at Shur-save. I have found it to be both cheaper and better quality than Giant Eagle.

    Actually, anyone who is interested in the independent grocers should look into Shur-save. Yes, they are a chain, but from what I understand, they are a grocery distribution chain that doesn’t actually run the stores – that is up to the actual store owner (which may mean you will find the stores run differently from each other.)



  33. Pierogie Kid
    May 27, 2008 12:55 pm

    that’s true if you are going to use them within a day or two its a good deal



  34. Pittsburgh Tom (in NJ)
    May 27, 2008 1:13 pm

    The quality of the meat at Giant Eagle depends on the store. At least it was when I was still living in Pittsburgh. My roommates and I would drive further to go to a Giant Eagle that didn’t have green meat. The quality of meats and produce definitely varied from store to store. I imagine prices are the same across all Giant Eagles, though.

    Anyone heard the Chris Rock stand-up bit about there being two types of supermarkets: regular supermarkets and black supermarkets? I found out this is true, although I’d label it more correctly as well-to-do neighborhood supermarkets and poor neighborhood supermarkets.



  35. Pierogie Kid
    May 27, 2008 1:13 pm

    also for anybody out in the south hills (way out in the south hills: Peters TS, USC) check out Radiccio’s on rt 19



  36. a-nony-muse
    May 27, 2008 1:31 pm

    Having lived in Germany and experienced ALDI in it’s “Vaterland” I can tell you that it is not regarded as a store of last resort. To the contrary, ALDI was widely recognized for having a great selection of “soups to nuts,” (including champagne and pc’s!) at a super price. You would see a wide range of demographics in the store as well. Say what you want about European snootiness, but in my experience they are much less worried about the looks of a store as opposed to the freshness and value of the offering. Of course, this comes at a certain social cost, but that’s a topic for another day. Oh, to be able to buy champagne in a grocery store once more…



  37. Jennifer
    May 27, 2008 1:32 pm

    Where is Aldi???

    Costco is in fact a great alternative to Sam’s Club or walmart.

    And for cheese (the most important category of food there is) Penn Mac in the strip is the ONLY place to go. Its way cheaper than the dirty bird.

    I usually shop in a bunch of different places, (Trader Joe’s rocks) depending on what each place has cheapest, but with the cost of gas I;m not sure I can do that as much. Though seriously, the food prices are going way up everywhere, any one else notice that?



  38. Goob
    May 27, 2008 1:36 pm

    Following on JT: yes.

    If you have the opportunity & organization to do a weekly run to the Strip, it’s wonderful. As far as produce goes: between Lotus down by 17th for their block-rockingly good Asian selection, Stan’s for nearly everything else, PennMac and other places for the occasional outrageous deals on specialty things, and the farmer’s market by the Firehouse, it’s astonishing how usefully one can eat for a budget. Added bonus: (generally) no obnoxious piles of brightly colored plastic and cardboard to distract from the things that are actually food.

    The snag is that seasonality matters; a tomato in the dead of winter is going to be pricey anywhere, and likely fairly awful as well. There is also a bit more effort to be put into food made from ingredients, rather than yanked out of a box and plopped in a microwave, but I’ve found to that be good work, and rewarding, too.

    I’ve never been able to find truly good deals on berries, though. So I grow those.



  39. JP
    May 27, 2008 2:21 pm

    I completely a-nony. I lived in Frankfurt for 5 years and definitely saw a certain type who shopped at Aldi (Turks, Eastern European immigrants), vs say Kaufhof or HL or even Tengelmann. I think there is definite class stratification in people’s shopping habits in Europe, particularly in Germany, which is much more pronounced than the US. None of the German bankers I worked with (or their wives) would have been caught dead in an Aldi. Me being a Pittsburgher of hunky origins, could of cared less, that is, until I say rat(or large mouse) in the Aldi in Sachsenhausen



  40. Christy
    May 27, 2008 2:31 pm

    I have two words for you, PittGirl: Word. Up. I’ve been really mad at Giant Eagle for a long time now. So much so that, at one point, I was planning to do a full-blown (and by “full-blown,” I mean “completely OCD”) comparison of prices between Giant Eagle and Shop N Save, with each one’s respective fuel perks. Shop GE and buy Get Go gas for one month…shop Shop N Save and buy Sunoco gas for the second month… Ok, so I didn’t go through with it. But, I still feel certain SNS would have won that battle. If only Giant Eagle weren’t fifty feet from my apartment…



  41. Goob
    May 27, 2008 2:43 pm

    (What we really need is Wegman’s! Grumble.)



  42. nellie
    May 27, 2008 2:43 pm

    My husband was a butcher. One day we went shopping at Shur-save. He looked around the store, then looked at the meat and said lets go somewhere else, I’m not eating this sh**.
    Plus it was filthy.



  43. GloryB
    May 27, 2008 2:52 pm

    You are SO right about Giant Eagle, PittGirl! The only thing Giant about the Iggle is the prices!

    I’m an Aldi’s. In addition to low prices, there’s the advantage of time – you can be fill your cart and be out of the store in under 20 minutes (Wal-Mart is a time nightmare).

    Hey, and the quarter for the cart (which you get back when you return it), I’d rather that than a ding on my car door from someone else’s abandoned cart.

    Shopping at Aldi’s is smart, but their commercials are dumb!



  44. John
    May 27, 2008 2:55 pm

    I’m torn. I know the Iggle’s prices aren’t so good (okay, they do pretty much suck), but the one in Moon is 5 minutes from my apartment. I guess I could give Kuhn’s a try to see if it’s any better, but I do like the Fuelperks. When I move back to Stowe at the end of August, I’ll have SNS as an option again, and I figure on doing a lot of my shopping there instead. I’ll have to give the Aldi’s in Robinson a try. I’ve been in there a few times, but never bought anything more than a box of frozen steaks (which were good and cheap, come to think of it). However, I will not go to Wal-Mart. I hate that damned store.



  45. Brother Anthony
    May 27, 2008 3:11 pm

    I invite you all to move to Butler. Up here Giant Eagle faces stiff competition in close proximity. I’m now curious to see if it affects the pricing.

    Now I’ve found our Aldis is small and its limited selection of fresh food has only served me when purchasing groceries for, like, camp. Fortunately, we have the very nice Butler Farm Market, the usual roadside stands, some nearby organic growers, and on the weekend a Farmers’ Market. Good living.

    One might consider the costs saved when embracing cuisine that focuses on local materials. Instead of guacamole, how about a dip involving spinach and mushrooms?



  46. In Sewickley
    May 27, 2008 3:21 pm

    To John — you live in Moon, eh? I got a very good suggestion. Try Coraopolis Cash Market. It’s down on Fourth Ave in Cory right across from McDonald’s.

    They have some of the best prices around! And at their lunch counter, they have their own deli meat! It’s so good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Always friendly people, too!

    Somehow or other, the Mancini family is involved in the store.

    Give it a try!



  47. Pittsburgh Tom (in NJ)
    May 27, 2008 3:23 pm

    Goob, I actually do shop at a Wegman’s out here in Jersey. I either shop there or at BJ’s warehouse.

    I never compared prices at Wegman’s to other stores, but it’s a great place to shop. Even has a toy train running above everyone’s head. My only problem with Wegman’s is that they have the cheese shop across the aisle from the flower shop. Both have strong aromas. Both can be considered enjoyable by themselves. Mixed together and it produces a weapons-class odor. I sometimes feel light-headed walking between the two.



  48. Zsa
    May 27, 2008 3:49 pm

    Oh, and is there anyone who shops at Martin’s regularly? I’m not sure how their prices compare to the Bird, but I was in the one in Indiana and was absolutely blown away by the food selection and the extreme cleanliness. It would be nice to have them here.



  49. Eric W
    May 27, 2008 3:49 pm

    I grew up in the suburbs of Philly. I’m used to a LOT more grocery store competition. Within short driving distance of my home were Acme, Pathmark, Giant, Superfresh, and probably a few I’ve forgotten. The Giant Eagle monopoly in Pittsburgh is for the pigeons!



  50. Jennifer
    May 27, 2008 3:56 pm

    I’m a huge Aldi’s fan. Being vegetarian, I refuse to pay full price for produce or frozen veggies especially in the winter time when the local farmer’s markets are shut down.

    Has anyone ever noticed how much the managers at Aldi’s make? $20+ and hour! Dude that’s almost as much as I make as a senior manager at a non-profit!