Before I even get started, I want to be clear that this post is in no way sponsored by ALDI. I have no affiliation with ALDI, other than the fact that I am a regular shopper there. The idea for this post came about when I realized how many conversations I’ve had lately with people who have never shopped there before.
If you’re completely unfamiliar with ALDI or if you’ve been hesitant to try it out because you’ve heard it’s a little “different,” then I’m so glad you’ve landed on this post because you are exactly the person I had in mind when I decided to write on this topic. I’m going to start out with reasons why you should absolutely NOT shop at ALDI. Then I will discuss all the reasons you should shop there, and I will end the post with a quick list of things you need to know for your first shopping trip. My hope is that by the end of the post you will know whether ALDI is a good fit for you.
You Absolutely Shouldn’t Shop at ALDI if…
- You want to have a wide variety of flavors and sizes for everything you’re shopping for, and you want a store that carries very specific foods, brands, or ingredients. If these are important to you, then ALDI may not be for you. Let’s use cereal as a quick example. In a typical grocery store, you have about 500 choices (or so it seems) for cereal options. While they have good options and great prices, ALDI only offers about 10-15 (my rough estimate), not counting the ones they have for a limited time as ALDI Finds.
- You want to shop in a grocery store that is visually appealing – one where everything is stacked neatly, and everything is fully stocked. Nothing looks out of place, and all the produce is full of vibrant color, perfectly shaped, and not one is bruised or beaten. Well…you’re not going to find that type of environment at ALDI. If you care more about the shopping experience than the purpose of your grocery trip, then you’re going to have to pay extra for it, and ALDI probably is not for you.
- You want someone to bag your groceries for you. If you don’t know this already, at ALDI you put your groceries on the conveyer belt, and the cashier will quickly scan them and put them into a different shopping cart next to the register. The good news is that they can quickly check you out once they start, but the downside is that you then have to go and bag your groceries in a separate bagging area.
- You don’t have much flexibility with your shopping list, and you need to be able to count on items being in stock week after week. Once you have shopped at ALDI for a while, you will learn what items are regularly in stock and which items are seasonal. For example, you can’t buy a frozen pie crust year-round at ALDI, but they usually carry them in the fall and around Thanksgiving. Also, it has been my experience that you can’t count on being able to buy a particular type of produce. Many times they will be out of stock or the ones available will look beaten up, overripe, smashed, etc. Sometimes you may have to settle for a different type of fruit or veggie than what you intended to buy.
- You’re not willing to buy generic brands. Like any other grocery store, ALDI has their own family of brands for the majority of products. They carry very few name brand products, and the ones they do carry are typically for a limited time only.
- You want to shop at a store that is open 24/7. As a cost savings measure, ALDI is only open during peak shopping hours, so you can’t plan to do your shopping late at night or in the wee hours in the morning. While it may be less convenient and require more planning on your part, at least the inconvenience of this measure is reflected in the prices.
Okay…now that we got that out of the way, allow me to share with you all the Reasons You Should Shop at ALDI…
- You want to save (a whole lot of) money!! By far, this is the best reason to shop at ALDI and what makes it all worth it for our family. If you are not into clipping coupons each week (um, that’s me), then the simplest way to save money on groceries is to shop at ALDI for as much of your list as you can. You won’t be able to buy every last thing that you need at ALDI, but you should be able to get the majority of your shopping done there. I get everything I can at ALDI, and then I use Wal-Mart’s Online Grocery Shopping for the rest of the stuff we need – things like diapers, wipes, vitamins, hygiene items, specific salad dressings, remaining produce, etc.
My husband and I recently did a price comparison of Wal-Mart versus ALDI on all our regular grocery items. We compared over 40 items, comparing price per ounce to make it fair, and ALDI was cheaper for about 80% of the items on our list. Even the few items that were cheaper at Wal-Mart were usually still within 0.50 or less.
- You want to simplify your shopping experience. As I mentioned above, ALDI does not offer 10 choices for barbecue sauce or 16 flavors of cream cheese. You generally have one or two options for things, which may feel restrictive or frustrating for some people, but I kind of enjoy the lack of options. It’s somewhat freeing and definitely a time saver. If I have ketchup on my list, I don’t have to stand there for five minutes trying to figure out which one is cheapest per ounce or what flavor sounds the best.
- You want to be able to check out quickly. Perhaps the most genius thing that ALDI does is print multiple, large bar codes on their products, which allows for insanely fast scanning during checkout. (I’m still not sure why more retailers haven’t caught on to this yet.) Also, once a line begins to form, the cashier will call up another employee to open a second line. I have rarely waited for what I would consider to be an unreasonable amount of time, and I’ve been shopping at ALDI every week for a couple of years now.
- You enjoy shopping in a smaller store. This may seem like an insignificant reason to shop at ALDI, but a smaller store provides several benefits.
- One is that you can get through the store a lot quicker, even if you forget something and have to go back. (Don’t you dare forget something at Wal-Mart! If so, you have to cross a county line just to back for what you need.)
- Secondly, their smaller stores mean lower rent, and that cost savings is passed along to the customer.
- Thirdly, if you have children with you who like to help by retrieving items (or if you have kiddos who are prone to wander away), you can usually still hear them or see them because of the size of the store.
So…is ALDI for you? Are you going to give it a try? If so, below are a few things to know to help make your first trip go a lot smoother. And if I haven’t convinced you yet, check out this article on the ALDI Mom blog. She gives a lot more background into how ALDI is able to keep their prices so low.
What You Need to Know for Your First ALDI Trip:
- Bring a quarter if you plan to use a shopping cart. It’s a simple deposit system. You put your quarter in the cart, release it from the chain connecting it to the others, and when you’re done, be sure to return it, so you can get your quarter back.
- Bring your own reusable shopping bags or plan to purchase them at the store.
- When checking out, the cashier will transfer all your groceries to a new cart as they are scanning them, so be sure to start moving any other non-food items (such as children 😊) into the new cart while they’re checking you out.
- The countertops lining the wall beyond the cashiers are for bagging your groceries.
- If something is listed as an “ALDI Find”, it’s for a limited time only, so don’t plan on it being there next week. Stock up!
- Check the hours before you go to make sure they’re open if you’re shopping at an odd time.
I hope you will try it and enjoy saving money on groceries as much as I do! Let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below. Also, if you have questions, feel free to leave a comment as well.