Aldi has been a huge part of my strategies for feeding a large family on a budget. The only other thing that has saved us as much money as Aldi has been cooking from scratch. We have been shopping at Aldi for almost 20 years. We even have a lot of fun memories from our countless shopping trips there. Nothing like your toddler escaping, getting knocked down by an automatic door, and sliding across the floor screaming in terror all in front of a lady who ended up being a social worker! Fun times!
This is part of my series on how I shop for groceries for a large family on a budget. These strategies will work for you even if you don’t have a large family. We all buy groceries and we all are looking for ways to save money. Where and how you shop is going to bring the biggest results in this area. I wrote about Sam’s Club and Walmart here so be sure to check those posts out.
Advantages of Aldi
Obviously saving money is the biggest advantage of shopping at Aldi. I’ve found prices to be as much as 50% less than other stores, often for the same products. Because of this I’ve never been a coupon user since even with a coupon you can’t get most things cheaper than Aldi. While they sometimes carry name-brand items as specials, most of their products are their own private brands. This, along with how they operate their stores, keeps their prices low .
Another thing Aldi saves me is time. With their private brands there is typically only one choice for most products. You don’t waste time deciding between 10 brands and sizes of ketchup since there are only 2 choices. Do you want regular or organic? Grab one and go. Choices are great but most of us are already experiencing decision fatigue so I don’t want to use any energy choosing which ketchup to buy.
Aldi has a good selection of specialty, organic, and allergy friendly products. We bought their organic whole-bean coffee for years. I love their imported Italian pasta, it’s made with only durum wheat and water. They carry lots of fun cheeses, breads, and snack things that are very affordable. Do not buy their dark chocolate salted caramels unless you have a friend to eat part of them for you. They are to die for!
A Few Disadvantages
There have been a few things over the years that I have tried and haven’t been pleased with. Aldi “Cheese Curls” are just not the same as Cheetos. Their Cheerios are noticeably different from the real thing. Since I’m primarily shopping for produce, perishable, and dairy this isn’t too much of an issue. Also with low prices you aren’t really risking much to try an item out and see if you like it.
The flip side of limited choices being great is when the options available don’t work for you. I don’t buy enriched bleached flour or sugar that may come from GMO sugar beets. This means that I buy a particular brand of flour and sugar at Walmart. If I couldn’t do this or wasn’t a flour and sugar snob I could get all those things at one place.
Another issue can be if an item you need is sold out or hasn’t been restocked for some reason. This happened a lot because of the shipping delays during the Pandemic. For a while they had no chicken, then it was ziplock bags, or eggs. Since they only have one option for most items that may mean that it’s not available at all. You have to be flexible if something you need is out of stock.
Expert Aldi Shopper Advice
Take your quarter for a cart! Or don’t! One way Aldi saves money is by asking shoppers to bring a quarter to unlock their cart. After you get your groceries in your car, lock your cart back in the row and get your quarter back. If you want to make someone’s day, leave your quarter in the cart! However, if you forget your quarter or some rude person takes your Aldi quarter from it’s sacred place in your car, all is not lost. The employees will loan you a quarter or even an extra cart, just return it to them when you’re done.
Check out the specials! Aldi has a rotating schedule of specials all year long. It may be an aisle of ethnic food or themed products depending on the time of year. There’s always items for any upcoming holiday. In August they have back-to-school supplies and dorm room things. In the spring they carry a selection of plants. Last year I passed up a carbon-steel wok but when they came back this year I snagged one.
If by chance you don’t like a product, it’s defective, or there’s another issue, Aldi will refund your money and replace the item if they can. I’ve returned an emameled pan that chipped, roasted cashews that weren’t actually roasted, and a few other things. They are really good with returns.
So, if you have one in your area, grab your quarter and your shopping bags and give Aldi a try!