ALDI. That store that you have driven by a thousand times but never ventured inside of.
ALDI. That store that they are building the next town over but you have no idea what they sell or what the quality is like.
Chances are decent that you fall into one of the above two categories. Up until about 5 years ago, I fit into the first category. In fact, when I was in high school, the sister of a guy I dated (who clearly had no idea what she was talking about) told me that ALDI was a membership-only food store. You were not allowed into the building without a membership. Um, FALSE.
We are now weekly ALDI shoppers and buy our groceries almost exclusively there. We supplement with items from BJ’s once a month or so and sometimes when ALDI doesn’t have the exact produce or other products we’re looking for, we’ll stop at Produce Junction, Giant or Walmart. Shopping at ALDI on a regular basis has drastically slashed the amount of money that we spend on food. There are many months where we spend $150 or less for 3-4 weeks’ worth of food for breakfast, lunches, dinners and snacks.
Before you take your first trip to ALDI, there are several tips that are handy to know!
1. ALDI is NOT a scratch and dent, surplus or generic label store. Nope, nope and NOPE. The very first ALDI store was opened in 1914 in Germany. They began to expand throughout Europe and then to the United States. Their foods (most notably their wines and cheeses) have earned them international awards! You might be familiar with ALDI’s sister stores – Trader Joe’s (founded in Southern California). ALDI sells ALDI brands of food. They are not generic, off-brand labels, they are ALDI brand labels. Their Clancy’s line includes chips and pretzels. Their SimplyNature line features food products (many certified USDA organic) that are made without over 125 common preservatives and ingredients. Their Baker’s Corner line includes baking mixes and ingredients. There is nothing bottom-barrel about these foods!
2. You need to bring a quarter to use an ALDI shopping cart. Yes, really. You do, however, get your quarter back upon returning your cart. The concept is pretty genius. By keeping their carts chained together and by charging you a quarter to unchain one, ALDI is fairly sure you will bring your cart back to get your quarter back. This eliminates the need to hire an employee to round up carts from the parking lot, lowering their overhead, keeping the cost lower on their products.
3. Bring your own bags to ALDI or else you have to buy bags at the store. Another way that ALDI keeps costs down is by encouraging shoppers to bring their own reusable bags to hold their groceries. Cashiers ring up your groceries and place them in your cart. After you pay, you push your cart to the shelf-lined wall ahead and you bag your own groceries in your own bags. This eliminates the need to hire someone to bag the groceries and cuts out the cost of bags. Should you forget your bags (happens to the best of us), ALDI does have paper and plastic bags available for purchase in the 6-10 cents/bag range.
4. UPDATE!!! ALDI NOW ACCEPTS CREDIT CARDS!!!!!
Leave your credit cards at home, ALDI does not accept them. Yet another way that ALDI saves a substantial amount on overhead is by not accepting credit cards as a payment form. Credit card companies charge businesses a processing fee to accept credit card payments from customers. ALDI accepts cash and debit cards for payment. I have heard rumors that ALDI may be testing out credit card payments in some markets but as of now, they are not accepted.
5. You WILL get more for less when you shop at ALDI. It’s true. Your grocery budget will go a lot further at ALDI than at a traditional grocery store. The savings are substantial! Even if you only buy a portion of your groceries at ALDI, you will save money. I started out as an occasional ALDI shopper. I would go there before hosting a big holiday meal or before a big baking extravaganza. Little by little I would pick up an extra product or two to try out and compare to other brands. Today we are weekly (or bi-weekly, depending on how much leftover we have week to week) ALDI shoppers.
I’d love to hear about your favorite ALDI products or how shopping at ALDI helps out your bank account. This post is 100% NOT SPONSORED by anyone. My love for ALDI is 100% authentic. :)
Check out some of the other ALDI posts that I have written over the years!