Let’s face it, any supermarket with a toddler is a battleground but exiting Aldi (the German discount superstore which now dominates the U.K.) without war wounds, is a major parent win.
“Why not just do an online order?” I hear you cry. Simple. I love a bargain. I love their award-winning nappies. And I am addicted to their Special Buys (one-off product that are released on a Thursday and Sunday). Here’s my pointers for getting outta there relatively unscathed.
This is key: Aldi is not for the faint-hearted. You need strategy, focus and tenacity.
- Do an online order. You are not, I repeat not, going to do a full shop at Aldi. Get all your branded goods, the Fairy Washing Powder, the Heinz beans (it has to be Heinz) etc. lovingly delivered to your door
- Have your £1 ready for the shopping trolley. This is not the time to be messing with a buggy and basket (you WILL end up buying enough to survive nuclear winter despite the online order)
- Know your ‘Special Buys’ beforehand. If it’s a DIY / motor accessories week then you need to cruise on through (unless that’s your bag baby) – this aisle is a danger zone – fact!
- Bring your positive mental attitude – and knuckle dusters for the till queue showdown…
- Distraction is everything. There will be magazines placed in the entrance and the toddler homing device will instantly pick up on the Thomas the Tank Engine/Paw Patrol/Peppa pages in their peripheral vision. That’s £4.99 to dodge a tantrum before you’re even properly through the sliding doors. Distract them with bananas, blueberries or a fruit product, which will be in close proximity, to create a pretence of health before you delve deeper in to the belly of the beast
- Beware the biscuits. By the time you’ve wrestled your trolley through meat and dairy, remembered to backtrack and pick up courgettes and collided with three over-stacked, out-of-control trolleys, your toddler will be bored of blueberries, finding it more fun to create a squishy marble run by lobbing them down the aisle. That’s when you’ll hit the biscuit shelves. Sugar! That’ll keep the little blighter happy. Ohhhh no. Know that the second you crack open the party rings, your diet is screwed. I have been known to down a pack faster than a speeding bullet. And a pack of fudge. And some Teddy Faces. I ended up scanning more empty wrappers than products. The sugar high gets you through the stress but you’ll be a few pounds heavier as a result!
- Special Buy danger zone. Let’s be honest – the special buys are what we are here for but you may well be on the path to meltdown already. Those central aisles that house everything-you-never-knew-you-needed-in-life-until-that-moment, at a cut price cost, will also present some ticking time bombs. Scan quickly and meticulously, as for every rice steamer and compact car jack that grabs your eye, there will be a singing & dancing pumpkin or mini trampoline that your little darling cannot live without. Stealth is the goal. Grab the Elizabeth Arden and Liz Earle beauty knock offs and get yourself to the baby aisle – stat!
- Happy nappy! I am a true fan of the Aldi Mammia range. It is ridiculously cheap and damn good quality. However, by this point the vocals will be ramping up, the party rings have expired and you need to be getting the hell out of Dodge! My strategy here? Basically a supermarket sweep. Work your way along the shelves knocking pouches, biscotti and spicy tomato rings into your trolley with abandon – not forgetting the nappies and wipes you came here for of course. Take a deep breath as you sprint down the final aisle for some bagels and fish-fingers and you are ready for the final showdown
- Till-rage. We Brits love a queue but there is no rhyme or reason here people. Don’t be fooled by the short queue. You’ll stake your position to find that it snakes up round the bog rolls. You’ll move to another queue, whilst popping open a yoghurt pouch for your little pickle, to find that they flash the red light and close the till – for no apparent reason. Then there’s the scrum that’d make England Rugby proud as they open the register two down. Hold your nerve. Find your position. Wait there, stroking little one’s head like a villain from Bond as you coo “nearly there darling – another spicy tomato ring?”
- Need help packing? Yes! Get me out of here. The campaign is so nearly at an end but first you have to survive the superhuman speed with which your products, banana skins, blueberries which have spilled out and empty party rings are rung up. Have your Bag for Life collection open and ready to receive. Don’t even think about coming here without them – by the time you’ve scanned, removed tags and opened up new ones – your entire £80 shop will be precariously balanced on the checkout with the people behind sighing at your naivety. Cash or card? I think I’ve paid with life force thanks.
Time to head home, unpack your trophies of war, get the kettle on and crack open the biscuits. Oh… (putting the wrapper in the bin).
How have you survived the shopping minefield with toddlers? Any hints, tips or stories – I’d love to hear.
Written by Karen Legge for her blog, The Unyoung Mum.