ALDI 101: A Guide to Shopping at ALDI

The ALDI Story

Albrecht Diskont was founded in 1943 in Germany by the Albrecht Brothers. In the 1960s, the Albrecht Brothers decided they could no longer work together and the company was divided in to Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd. It then became known as ALDI (ALbrecht DIskont) for short. Aldi Nord would later open Trader Joe’s and Aldi Süd is the branch that operates ALDI USA stores. ALDI operates over 8,000 stores worldwide with 1,600 of those being in the United States.

What separates ALDI from other grocery stores?

You “rent” your cart.

ALDI Carts and quarter keeperBring a quarter with you every time you shop, (if you forget, you can get change from a cashier).  You will need it to “rent” a shopping cart. This may seem off putting at first, but it is actually very smart.

Renting a cart is one of many ways ALDI cuts costs and is able to reflect that in their every day prices. No wandering carts = no employees needed to chase them = more savings to you.

You will see the carts lined up outside of the store when you arrive. Simply place your quarter inside the mechanism on the cart’s handle and it unlocks. Check out my live Facebook video demonstrating how to retrieve and return a cart.  At the end of your trip, simply return your cart to the corral to get your money back.

It can be difficult to remember a quarter, so that is why I keep mine in a handy dandy quarter keeper! It attaches to my keychain and multitasks by keeping by quarter safe AND proudly displaying my love for ALDI.

 

You bring your own bags.

ALDI reusable bagAnother way ALDI passes on the savings is by not providing bags. Bags cost money and since ALDI doesn’t have to spend any by supplying them for you, they can keep their prices low.

Don’t sweat it if you happen to forget them, though. Bags (plastic, paper, and reusable) are available for purchase at the checkout ranging from $0.08 up to $1.99 for a nice, big reusable bag. (I think I remember seeing thermal bags last time I went, but didn’t catch a price!)

After your grocery order is complete, you take your cart full of items to the counter behind the registers and pack your own groceries. This is awesome because I actually LIKE packing my own groceries. My colds goods go into thermal bags. My raw meats are always packed in disposable plastic away from everything else.  No more disappointment arriving home after a long shopping trip only to discover my bread is smashed.

 


 

ALDI stores are smaller than most grocery stores.

This may sound like a bad thing, but after shopping at ALDI for some time now, the thought of having to shop at a big box grocery store stresses me out!

The ALDI I shop at has about 5 or 6 main aisles with coolers covering 2 walls with refrigerated and frozen items. There are no fancy displays here either. Many of their items are displayed either on their original palettes or original shipping packaging to reduce time and manpower stocking shelves. I could go on trying to describe a typical ALDI store to you, but the best way is it to see it in this ALDI Virtual Tour I found the the ALDI US website.

 

ALDI sells their own brands.

ALDI works with a variety of food manufacturers to produce their own private-label products. There is a small handful of national brand items that ALDI carries. Over the years, customers have provided feedback that there are specific, national brand products, that they want to be able to purchase while shopping at ALDI.

Because ALDI mainly sells their own brands, there are a lot less choices.

For example, when you are walking in to an ALDI store to buy salsa, instead of choosing from 50 different varieties/sizes, you may have a choice of 4 or 5: mild, medium, and a few specialty ones. There is only one choice of mustard. There are only two choices of ketchup (regular and organic). This has been life changing for me, because less choices = faster shopping trips! ALDI has a wide range of specialty brands (including organic and gluten-free options) that you can check out here.

 

Checking out is LIGHTNING FAST!

ALDI employees are super efficient at scanning and loading your groceries back in to your cart. The cart you empty is not going to be the cart you leave with. As you empty your cart, the cashier down at the other end is scanning items and loading them in to a NEW cart.

If you have a kiddo with you, a lot of times they will leave one of the seats empty so I can swiftly transfer my cutie from one cart to the next. If you have multiple children/too much going on, just ask and they will load the groceries in to the cart you already have.

Also, have you noticed that ALDI items have 4-5 barcodes per package? This allows the cashier to quickly scan each item and not have to spend time positioning the product just right so it scans. How smart!

 

ALDI has Special Buys.

ALDI Find exampleThese are also known as “ALDI Finds”.

ALDI Finds are released weekly and are only available in-stores for a limited time, or until they sell out. These items are marked “ALDI Find” on their sign and be anything from food, seasonal items, kitchen/home goods, automotive, toys, clothing, patio furniture….the items (and prices) I have seen are remarkable!

If you see an ALDI Find you like during your shopping trip, just buy it! There have been times I have said I will just “get it next time” and the next time I shop it is gone. Lesson learned.

 

 

ALDI does not accept manufacturer coupons.

I use to be a HUGE couponer! However, baby number three rolled around, and store hopping and clipping coupons became a thing of the past.

I wanted to go to one place where I could get reasonably priced groceries and not compromise on quality. ALDI is a place where many of their every day prices would be a sale price at a traditional grocery store. Many of their products are just as good, if not better, than national brands.

ALDI does not accept coupons because coupons cost retailers money. Instead, ALDI reflects the money they are saving in their prices.

The ALDI Double Back Guarantee

Did you purchase something at ALDI that wasn’t quite up to par? Take it back to the store to take advantage of their Double Back Guarantee. 

The Double Back Guarantee states that ALDI will replace the product AND refund your money! (This does not apply to non-food Special Buy items, alcohol, national brands and non-quality related issues.)

I purchased peanut butter one time, and brought it home to find out it wasn’t sealed inside properly. I took it back to the store, got a full refund AND a free jar of peanut butter!

 

Their products are awesome.

ALDI has some of the best wine, chocolate and cheese that I have ever had. The prices on these items can’t be beat either!

They have a wide variety of unique items and flavors you aren’t going to find at other grocers. I love being able to find fun items, nice priced items like bunny cookies at Easter and heart-shaped pasta at Valentine’s Day. You are going to pay an arm and a leg for specialty items like those at traditional grocers.

 

 

Why are you still sitting here reading this? Go grab your bags and your quarter and head to ALDI now!