The fact I am even writing about this makes me chuckle.  That’s why I am writing about it though.  I was driving home from my first shop in our brand spanking new local Aldi and all I could think about was a Facebook status I could post to describe my experience. But it wouldn’t suffice, so a blog post it is.

In our house, we love Lidl.  I think over the years, it has really improved, and I’m astounded week after week when I get a trolley full of lovely grub for very little.  I can stick to a budget there, and I know what I’m getting.  Chris loves the wines, we get a bit excited when we get the magazine and see what next week’s ‘theme’ is, and we now don’t need to shop anywhere else.  Sad I know, but we are approaching middle age.

However, today I decided to give our new Aldi a shot – just to see.  It would be on our way home from our day out so it made sense.

Fast forward a few hours and I was driving home, feeling flat after my shopping experience, wishing I could return it all and go to Lidl.  Then it hit me – 10 years ago, even 5 years ago, I wouldn’t even be thinking about this!  What have I become that this weekly shop has me comparing notes and regretting my purchasing decisions!

I was weirdly excited about going to Aldi.  We’d had a great day out, and popping in on the way back was the last thing we were doing before heading home.  There has been a lot of talk locally about it, a grand opening, and friends who have shopped there, so I had high hopes.  I talked it up to Lylah, building up her excitement at the chance of seeing a brand new supermarket!  She was also weirdly excited, and even exclaimed to Malachy  as we arrived “Look Baba, we’re at Aldi!”, like it was some local substitute for Peppa Pig World.

I was especially excited about the ‘pea crisp’ snacks that a friend of mine had found in there.  Malachy seemed to like them, so happy days, a new snack, only available at Aldi, it will all be worth it just for that!

It didn’t start well.  I didn’t have a coin for the trolleys (before you wonder, my handy trolley coin is on my other set of keys), so I had to go into the shop, ask for one at the busy tills, go back through the exit and follow the checkout girl who had to leave her busy till to help me.

The trolley seemed small compared to my usual large Lidl one, but that aside, I wandered down the first aisle.

I never realised how much of a creature of habit I’ve become.  Every week, I do a very similar shop to the week before, bar the occasional exception, it normally comes to around the same price, and it’s all in a place I know around the store.  Walking down the first aidle made me feel slightly uneasy, like I was lost on a weird budget food planet I’d never visited before, and I didn’t know where to begin.  The 6 selected vegetables on at 29p each settled me though – yes, I thought, this will be worth it.  Chris phoned me at this point, and I told Lylah to tell him where we were like it was some big reveal.  She was all excited telling him, but while she was revealing our exciting location, I was having a minor meltdown at the price of mushrooms compared to Lidl.  I spoke with Chris on the phone and explained my dilemma…should I buy the same size pack as I always do at nearly 30p more?  I’ve saved so much on the 29p veg selection, I assured myself, I can let this one slide.  At which point, I saw a bigger, better value pack, and it felt okay again.  Phew.

I wandered round the store, but nothing seemed to flow.  Nothing was where it should be, and I nearly decided to leave, but with half a trolley of fruit and veg, I decided, that even if only for a week, this week we’d shop at Aldi.  Then I came across a free-from and health food section, and they had Quinoa!  Not just one type, but two types!  Aldi was slowly getting one up on Lidl – they only have Quinoa sporadically!

I carried on and got my usual bits, filled the trolley, but without with a few things that I can only get at Lidl, but honestly I didn’t enjoy it.  I felt like i was just going through the motions, but not really taking it all in!

Then I realised I hadn’t seen the pea snacks!  I can’t leave without the pea snacks!  That’s essentially why I have cheated on Lidl in the first place!  They weren’t in the crisps section, so I travelled back to the health food section.  There they were, so I grabbed both flavours and felt immediately happier.

I loaded up the till belt with my purchases, but noticed a few things I always buy were missing.  I was disorientated here, I’m missing out essential items like honey and butter.  This wouldn’t have happened at Lidl.  But Lidl don’t have pea snacks…

In the car, I mused over our new local Aldi.  I’m not concerned for the future of our fab Lidl store and it’s amazing Gin and Deluxe steaks.  My shop looks similar to usual, but without that Lidl sparkle!

Gone are the days I treat myself to weekly shopping in Sainsburys.  Those trips are only reserved for special occasions.  And Waitrose is only for free coffee and posh picnics.  So I’m left with comparing Aldi to Lidl.  I’m 33, a mum of two, and have hit a stage in my life where that’s okay to do.  That excites me, it makes me tick now, and that’s okay!

I wasn’t convinced by Aldi…not sure Lylah agrees though.  When I asked her tonight at bedtime what she enjoyed about today after seeing lots of friends and visiting an old palace, she said, wait for it…”going to Aldi”.

Next week, I will be back to my usual routine, perusing Lidl for anything new in the Deluxe range and hitting the aisles like a pro.  All they need now is pea crisps.