I freaking love Aldi. If you’ve ever talked to me about buying groceries, saving money on groceries, or the ingredients for the meal I made, I’ve probably blabbed your ear off about Aldi. What the heck is Aldi you say? Only my favorite grocery store EVER, and here is why.
Aldi is a discount grocery chain. According to their website, they have stores in 36 U.S. states with plans for expansion, so lucky for you, there is probably one nearby!
The store carries an assortment of products which are mostly all store brand items. They have their own specialty product lines like liveGfree (gluten free), Earth Grown (vegan and vegetarian), NeverAny! (meat products with no antibiotics, added hormones or steroids), Simply Nature (organic) and Little Wonder (baby). Nervous about store brand products you’re unfamiliar with? Not to worry, Aldi has a “Twice as Nice” guarantee. If you buy anything you’re not happy with, they will replace the product AND give you your money back! They do occasionally have some name brand products in store especially for non-food items like Tide, Pantene, and Dawn. The also have an entire aisle full of special buys from candles to sheets, toys to painting supplies. It changes weekly and there are always some cool seasonal buys as well for really great prices.
One of the major things I love about Aldi is the fact that I can shop it quickly. The stores are small, (it doesn’t take half an hour to get from the produce area to the paper products) and the assortment is small too. You want Ranch dressing? Pick Light or Buttermilk. They’re aren’t 37 different bottles to choose from. For me, this is a much easier way to shop. I don’t second guess myself, I don’t have to compare calories or prices much, and I know the products are backed up by their guarantee. I also like that they have specialty products like fancy meats and cheeses (brie and prosciutto anyone?), health food store type items like chia seed, almond meal, and agave syrup (to name a few), and some European products to try as well (as they are a German based chain).
I also love the prices. When I comparison shop item for item Aldi vs. Walmart, I am generally saving at least $35-$40 per trip which can really add up when you have a tight budget. They do not accept coupons, but honestly because the prices are so low, they don’t need to. They have a store circular called the Aldi Insider that comes out every Wednesday (or Saturday depending on your area) and highlights the sale items but really everything is affordable without having to be on sale. Wednesday (or Saturday, again depending) is a good day to shop too because last week’s circular is still good on the same day the new one comes out. Overlap = extra savings! I like that everything is really reasonably and dependably priced. It helps me plan my grocery budget knowing that one week a whole chicken isn’t going to be three dollars more.
And in case you needed just one more reason to give Aldi a try, they sell Wine Advent Calendars. Religious or not, 24 tiny bottles of wine from all over the world is something I know I’m looking forward to this year around the holidays! FYI they also have beer, and cheese versions in addition to the standard and delicious chocolate kind which I also recommend.
There are some definite differences between Aldi and other chain grocery shops. For one, the items on the shelves are typically not faced out like you’ve seen in most grocery stores but instead, items are placed on the shelves in shipping boxes which makes it quicker and easier for store associates to get products out and ready to grab by customers.
Some of the other things you might find odd are that at Aldi are that you have to bring a quarter with you to unlock your shopping cart. The carts are housed outside under cover and are chained together. A quarter into the little slot unlocks one cart. This is the way the store handles not having to collect carts from all over the parking lot and guarantees customers don’t just leave them floating all over the place. I usually leave a quarter in one of the side pockets in the door of my van just for this purpose. Once you return your cart, you get your quarter back. You might find upon leaving, another shopper approaches you in the parking lot and offers you a quarter for your cart saving you both a trip back to the cart corral, or on the flip side may even give you a cart without asking for a quarter in return when you get there. This is a normal thing and its actually super easy so don’t freak out.
The checkout lines often look really long too but they go super fast. You’ll notice if you look closely at any Aldi brand product there are UPC codes on almost every side. This is so the cashiers can scan the items quickly and keep the line moving expeditiously. You’ll also notice that the cart you get on your way out the door is the one the customer in front of you was using and you’ll park your old cart at the end of the belt for the customer behind you unless you specifically ask to keep your cart. I’ve done this before when I’ve had a crabby baby in the seat of the cart or really heavy items in the bottom that I don’t feel like heaving up onto the belt. The cashiers are usually fine with this unless its super busy.
Finally at Aldi, you bag your own groceries. It sounds like a pain in the butt but its one of the ways they transfer the savings on to you. Now that there are many grocery chains that have stations where you can ring up your own goods, this shouldn’t be such a big issue or a deal breaker for most people. You will need to bring your own bags with you when you shop. If you should forget, they have bags for sale, plastic or paper, at the checkout line. You can also use the boxes they use to stock the products to take your groceries home in. The store often leaves a few out for customers near checkout or you can take a nearly empty one off the shelf too. There is a large counter immediately facing the end of the check lanes where you can unload and pack your groceries into your own bags. If the weather is nasty outside or I’m by myself this is usually the route I go. If I have the kids with me and/or its nice outside, I will typically haul everything out to the van, load the kids into their car seats, pass out a snack, turn on the radio and pack my groceries in the back.
Below are some of our personal Aldi favorites:
I will say that there are a few things I choose not to buy when I shop Aldi. I don’t like their dishwasher tabs, they don’t compare in my opinion to name brand Cascade, which I can’t often find there, and I don’t much care for their version of Cheerios. Nobody but General Mills can get those right! Otherwise pretty much everything else I’ve ever gotten I’ve been happy with! They also don’t carry a wide variety of personal care products so if you need baby Tylenol, cold medicine, or want more than one choice when I comes to brand of deodorant, shampoo, vitamins, or feminine care product, you might have to make a second stop.
All in all though, Aldi is my go to store for saving money and saving time and that makes me a happy and loyal Aldi shopper.
*Note: This post is neither endorsed nor sponsored by Aldi. I’m just a giant fan (bet you couldn’t tell!).*
What are some of your favorite Aldi finds? Share in the comments below!