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Living in small town America has its pros and cons.  The pros?  Wide open spaces and simpler living, a neighborly connection to the people around you and being surrounded by nature, which soothes the soul.  The cons?  However, there’s little access to the conveniences of urban life.  There’s maybe one Uber driver in town, if that, and there’s no Whole Foods within an hour’s drive.  Not to mention, the words “y’all” and “ain’t” and the phrase “bless your heart” are heard around every corner.  I’ll let you decide if that’s a pro or con.

So, suffice it to say that I do my own grocery shopping.  I like it, honestly.  I’m a former registered dietitian, so I like looking at food labels and get satisfaction in knowing I chose (in my own opinion) the right product off the grocery store shelf.  But, what’s my ultimate goal?  Frankly, it’s pretty simple.  I just want to fill my family’s bellies with healthy meals.  But there’s one important factor standing in the way: How much money should it take to put healthy meals on the table?  Simply stated, it’s bellies filled without bank account emptied.

A few years ago, I sauntered around the aisles of the new Aldi grocery store that had just opened in my town.  Change isn’t easy, so I didn’t even grab a cart when I walked in.  I was only there to see what all the fuss was about.  Here’s what I observed.  First of all, you “rent” your cart by inserting a quarter into the mechanisms that lock them in place so that they aren’t strewn all over the parking lot, dinging car doors and requiring a paid staff member to round them up.

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