4 tips for shopping at Aldi


June 16, 2010 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

A good friend of mine may never return to one of the best places to find great grocery deals.

The store was Aldi. The friend was confused.

Aldi is a discount grocery store chain with more than 1,000 stores in 31 states. The store also has international arms in Europe and Australia. Aldi carries “private selection,” aka off-brand items, that are comparable to many of the name brands you find in other grocery stores. But these items are often just a fraction of the cost of popular brands, which is music to my little red wallet (just check out this week’s deals for proof).

Unfortunately, my friend visited Aldi and left not wanting to ever return.

She shopped with her arms filled with groceries because she couldn’t figure out how to detach a cart from the rows outside the store. She couldn’t put her food in bags after she paid because the store charged for bags. Then there was an incident involving a metal bar and a cardboard box that I’m still trying to figure out.

Aldi is a fabulous store with great prices. But here are some things you need to know (courtesy of the store’s website) to get the most out of your shopping experience.

  1. Bring a quarter. “You’ll find ALDI shopping carts hooked together right outside the door. As you approach the store, just insert a quarter to release a cart. When you’re finished shopping, reconnect the chain and get your quarter back. This expense-saving tradition (no rolling carts to chase and no damaged cars!) has become a legendary part of the ALDI culture.”
  2. Remember those reusable bags in the back of the trunk? Better bring them inside. “And as long as you’re bringing a quarter, bag even more savings at ALDI by bringing some bags from home. To help bring you honest to goodness savings, we don’t hire baggers or bury the cost of free grocery bags in our prices. Instead, we encourage you to bring your own.” If not, you’ll end up having to buy your own bags.
  3. Don’t forget your cash. Aldi doesn’t accept credit cards, but they gladly take debit cards, cash and food stamps. Taking checks also slows down the line and saddles us with bad check costs, so we don’t mess around with them. By avoiding credit cards, we avoid the extra time it takes to sign a slip and the hefty processing fee charged by credit card companies.”
  4. Don’t expect to get all your grocery shopping done at Aldi. I usually stop at Aldi first during the week, but wrap up my grocery shopping at other stores. “Our customers find they can do as much as 90% of their weekly shopping at ALDI. We carry everything from fresh meat and produce to frozen foods to dairy, bakery, canned goods, and paper products.”

Any other tips for Aldi shoppers?

13 thoughts on “4 tips for shopping at Aldi

  1. Sarah says:

    If you forget bags or aren’t getting too many items, just grab one of the empty (or nearly empty) cardboard boxes in the store to hold your purchases.

  2. Joe says:

    I bet this friend is confused by many things, not just Aldi.

    Also, Aldi has a surprisingly great cheese selection.

  3. Susan says:

    One thing I’ve noticed recently is the “shrink ray” on some items at Aldi – while the prices seem lower than regular grocery stores, check the amount of ounces or servings in the packages, and budget accordingly. If I recall correctly, the boxes of dried pasta are somewhat smaller than normal grocery store sizes, so it might be necessary to buy two to get the equivalent amount.

  4. Hello
    I like Aldi for the reason of the prices which are low and the fact that all of the specials are gone by the time i get there the blood of what had been still on the ground from people fighting over the same products just kidding but yet i have seen people fight over the 1 object and it was funny to see that a bread maker could be so loved lol.

  5. Autumn says:

    I have a tip. Don’t be scared to take your time. The first time I went in there (w/o a cart as well!), I felt like every other customer was some moving saving guru, and they could tell I didn’t know anything about what I was doing. I found myself moving through the store so quickly that I only bought 1 or 2 things. The next time I went, I made it a mission to see every item in the store, and they had SO MUCH MORE stuff that I wanted! Don’t let those penny-pinchers intimidate you!

  6. […] Adventures at Aldi: I love Aldi. Every visit is filled with glee when I look at how many reuseable bags I fill for half the price of other stores. Let’s face it, I might name my first child after this grocery chain. It’s not local, but the prices are right for someone on a tight budget. My four tips for shopping at Aldi remains one of the most-read posts on Ashlee Eats. […]

  7. […] removed a carton of Aldi-brand oatmeal from my cabinet. Then he showed me how real grown ups eat a proper […]

  8. […] around. I read Sunday ads religiously to find the best deals around town. If Aldi doesn’t have something at the right price, there’s Kroger. Or Walmart. Or ValuMarket. […]

  9. […] lunch. Naturally, I jumped on the bed to wake up my husband and screamed — all while I held my Aldi-brand Hot Pocket. The Mister became Mouse Hunter while I stood on an armchair and ate my Southwest […]

  10. […] shouted my love of this bargain grocery store on the blog before. This year, I realized Aldi is the perfect place to stock up on baking essentials at low prices. […]

  11. […] in price, operations and origin. I’m a huge fan, as I’ve written about on the blog here, here and […]

  12. […] If you’ve never shopped at ALDI, it’s a bit of an artform. Louisville’s Ashlee Clark Thompson, a food writer, covered some of the key tips on her blog Ashlee Eats. […]

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