ALDI 101: How To Shop At Aldi

February 26, 2013 by Ali

ALDI 101: How To Shop At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

ALDI 101 continues! For those of you who are just tuning in, I am taking a mini-break from recipe posting to share a 3-part series with you about one of my favorite places – ALDI! After my first post yesterday on Why I Shop At Aldi, we are continuing today with How To Shop At Aldi. Then be sure to tune in tomorrow too for What To Buy At Aldi.

As I mentioned yesterday, I do about 50% of my grocery shopping at Aldi and am a huge fan of the store. But without a doubt, there are a few quirks that differentiate Aldi from traditional grocery stores. So I thought it would be fun to do a little “how to” post about the entire shopping experience there — from planning your trip, to arriving, to finding your way around, to checking out, and then leaving with your bags and boxes of affordable Aldi goodness.

For those of you who have never set foot in an Aldi before, I really hope this will inspire you to give it a try. (And then you totally have to report back and tell me how it goes!!) For those of you who haven’t been in years, or even those of you who go regularly, hopefully there will be a tidbit or two in here that you didn’t know that will make your shopping experience all the more Aldi-tastic. :)

Again, this series is not sponsored, endorsed, or in any way associated with the store. This is just something I wanted to do for fun to hopefully start a conversation about even more affordable grocery shopping, and share with you some of the reasons I really like shopping at Aldi!

Here goes…

ALDI 101: How To Shop At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

Planning Your Trip To Aldi: Store Hours & Weekly Ads

Store Hours

I mentioned yesterday that one important thing to note when planning a trip to Aldi is that they are not a 24/7 grocery store. They are only open during peak business hours, which in the US is typically 9am-8pm Monday-Saturday, and 10am-7pm on Sundays. So pencil that into your schedule!

Weekly Ads & Specials

Weekly ads are one of my favorite things about Aldi. In contrast to most grocery stores that publish their weekly ads the day they go into effect, Aldi always publishes their weekly ads and specials 2 weeks in advance every Wednesday. And the specials are always amazing!

ALDI 101: How To Shop At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com The weekly ads are usually condensed to a simple 4-page flyer, which can be found on their website, on their cool new app (where you can also find stores and create grocery lists), or you can even sign up to have the weekly special offers emailed to you. Then of course, once you are actually in the store, the current weekly ad flyer is available for you to pick up right as you walk in the door. And the upcoming week’s ad is posted in the window as you are leaving.

In addition to the weekly ad, don’t forget to check out these amazing specials which are posted on their website and marked in the store:

  • Special Buys — Every week, Aldi has a section in the middle of the store called “Special Buys”. The special buy items are usually all over the map — from food, to housewares to everything in between! Often they are mostly grouped around a theme, like the SuperBowl or Valentine’s or next week, for example, is apparently an Italian Pasta theme with everything from fresh pastas and sauces, to fancy olive oils, to stainless steel pasta pots, etc. They are totally worth checking out, as I have found all sorts of random things there over the years. And when those items go on clearance, they are even cheaper!
  • Fresh Meat Special Buys – Every Wednesday, Aldi publishes a fresh meat special buy, which is usually an amazing deal. (This week is an entire pot roast set with veggies for $7.99!) These are advertised online and in stores, but be forewarned — they usually disappear quickly.
  • New Low Prices – Aldi also has an entire page on their website that they update whenever prices drop on certain items. It’s practically like another great weekly ad in and of itself.

Or You Can Skip The Planning…

…and be spontaneous and just show up to see what’s in the store that week! Again, the weekly flyers are always available just inside the door, so at minimum, be sure to grab one when you arrive.

 

ALDI 101: How To Shop At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

Arriving At Aldi: Carts, Bags & Boxes

One of the important distinctions about shopping at Aldi is that they do not provide you free bags or carts to carry your groceries. As I said yesterday, Aldi was green before “green” was cool. ;)

You can either bring your own reusable shopping bags to use when you grocery shop, or you can use Aldi’s carts, bags or boxes.

Carts

ALDI 101: How To Shop At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com Aldi always has a large section of carts housed just outside the front entrance, and they are technically free to use — but you have to pay a quarter to release a cart, and then your quarter is returned once you turn it back in. Or you can be a “quarter angel” and leave your quarter in the cart to surprise the customer coming after you. :)

This may go without saying, but just in case you’re iffy about releasing the cart, there is usually a tiny box up by each handle where the chains are connected. Just pop your quarter into the slot and pull. Then you’re ready to go!

Boxes

ALDI 101: How To Shop At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com Another option instead of (or in addition to) a grocery cart is to grab one of the cardboard boxes throughout the store where items are displayed, and then use it to help carry your groceries. Trust me — you are totally allowed to take the boxes (provided they are empty or at least mostly empty). In fact, Aldi encourages it because then there is less for the checkers to clean up around the store.

Sometimes people also leave leftover boxes in the bagging area near the register. So if you end up needing an extra bag or box when you’re checking out, be sure to peek ahead and see if there are any boxes you can take for free.

Bags

ALDI 101: How To Shop At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com Aldi also provides plastic and paper grocery bags that you can buy to take your groceries home. But heads up — if you go in expecting to buy a bag, they are only available at the checkout (not at the entrance). So you need to find a way to carry your groceries until the checkout. But once you do reach the checkout, they are generally located just underneath the grocery checkout belt where you lay your groceries. You can choose paper or plastic, and they are each a few cents.

You can also reuse old Aldi paper or plastic bags that you have bought on a prior shopping trip. Just be sure to tell your cashier that, otherwise they will charge you for them again.

 

ALDI 101: How To Shop At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

Finding Your Way Around Aldi: Store Layout, Pallets & Labels

Store Layout

ALDI 101: How To Shop At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com One of my favorite things about Aldi is that the stores are all laid out very similarly. In fact, I can’t speak to many other cities around the world, but at least in Kansas City, our Aldi stores are practically identical. (Although you cannot legally sell alcohol in grocery stores in Kansas, so the wines/beers/etc. are only available in Missouri.)

In general, Aldi stores basically have three long aisles. When you first walk in, there should be a place to pick up the weekly ad. Then typically there are a few of the specialty items just inside the door as a preview. Then the aisle are comprised of the following sections:

  • Dairy
  • Frozen Foods
  • Pantry Items
  • Snacks and Sweets
  • Beverages
  • Wines/Beers/Sangria
  • Refrigerated Meats
  • Household Items
  • Pet Food
  • Special Buys (you can’t miss it — this is usually a section in the middle of the store with all sorts of random items from the Weekly Ad!)

I will go into more detail about the specific items in the store in tomorrow’s What To Buy At Aldi post.

But in general, know that 95% of the items in the store are the Aldi brand. And typically there is only one (or maybe two) options for any one specific product. So for example, there is only one type of baking soda. You don’t get the option of 5 different brands and packaging. This helps keeps the prices low and focuses the store’s inventory.

Pallets & Labels

ALDI 101: How To Shop At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com The other thing about Aldi is that they are unapologetically “no frills”. They don’t invest in tons of fancy signs and displays, and the money they save there helps keep your prices low! Case in point: the way their food is displayed. Unless it is in the refrigerators or freezers, all of the items are generally store in cardboard boxes on pallets.

And the price for each item will either be clearly printed on labels above or below it. I love it because you don’t have to squint down at teeny tiny labels to see the price on each item. The pallets (which now happen to be tres popular on Pinterest) also help for easy stocking for the employees.

 

ALDI 101: How To Shop At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

Checking Out At Aldi: Lines, Paying, Cart Swap, Bagging

Checkout Lines

ALDI 101: How To Shop At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com Ok, I feel like the first thing I should say about the check up lines is that they move FAST. So don’t be dismayed if you walk up and there are a few people in front of you with full carts. The cashiers at Aldi are super-crazy-unbelievably-ninja fast, and (fun fact!) nearly every item in the store has two barcodes on the packaging. So when they go through the two-sided scanner, they pretty much always scan the first time. (Brilliant, Aldi!!)

But a few important things to know about keeping up your end of the speedy checkout process.

  • You are responsible for unloading all of your items onto the checkout belt. Don’t leave them in bags or boxes. Unpack every single one for speedy scanning.
  • If you plan to purchase a paper or plastic bag, go ahead and pull them out and set them on the checkout belt along with your groceries. Or at least, hold them up so that the cashier can see them. 

How To Pay

ALDI 101: How To Shop At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com You have three options for paying — cash, debit or EBT card. Checks slow things down, and credit card fees hike up prices.

So be sure that you plan accordingly!

The Cart Swap

While you are paying, the cashier might surprise you by doing the Aldi Cart Swap. You might not even notice — often it happens so quickly!

When the cashiers are scanning your items, they will usually place them in a cart that is already waiting there at the end of the checkout (not the cart you have been using). So once you have paid, you have a cart full of groceries waiting for you. Rather than hold up the line and wait for you to unload the cart so that it can be reloaded with groceries of the person behind you (remember, things are moving quickly!), the checker will just do a cart swap and send you and the grocery-loaded cart to the bagging station. And then they will sub in your cart as the replacement, which you leave behind.

Sometimes this can work a little differently, depending on whether or not you have tons of groceries, or whether you had a cart to begin with. But in general, the idea is that you are not supposed to hold up the line by leisurely bagging your groceries right by the check out. Thus…

Bagging

ALDI 101: How To Shop At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com Aldi customers are encouraged to bag their groceries in the bagging area just beyond the checkout. It’s nothing fancy — usually just a long counter, and sometimes there are a few extra cardboard boxes or bags there that you can use. The idea is just that you can take your time bagging groceries however you would like there, while the checkout line can continue to move uninterrupted.

 

ALDI 101: How To Shop At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

Leaving Aldi:

ALDI 101: How To Shop At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com And voila! You now have your groceries, you’ve saved a lot of $$$, and you are ready to go home and cook some recipes from Gimme Some Oven!!! Ok, ok, or you can go home and enjoy your groceries however you’d like. ;)

On your way out of the store, be sure to check out the flyer for the next week’s ad which is posted on the doors as you leave, as well as being available in a print flyer that you can take home.

Also don’t forget to turn in your cart. There are no cart bays in the parking lot, so the hope is that you will return it right where you found it.

Then you can say hasta la vista, bebe — until next time!

ALDI 101: A 3-Part Series On Shopping At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

Coming Next:

Tomorrow the final post will be What To Buy At Aldi. Then don’t forget to check out yesterday’s post on Why I Shop At Aldi.

ALDI 101: How To Shop At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

What are some of your tips for shopping at Aldi?

 

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About Ali

Ali Ebright is a freelance recipe developer and food writer/photographer, and blogs at Gimme Some Oven and Gimme Some Life. She also loves all things music, traveling near and far, actually making things from Pinterest, cozying up with a good book and her sweet pup, Henry, and spending time with a wonderful group of friends. Come say hello and follow Ali on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ & Instagram.

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78 thoughts on “ALDI 101: How To Shop At Aldi

  1. Could not figure out why all the junk in the first aisle?

    Margin leaders, maybe?

    - jamex@gmail.com

  2. I love Aldi, it has been around a long time. It certainly helped my single mother raise 5 kids. I love how it has evolved, and I think that it has some of the bests chocolate bars anywhere, also the pasta sauce, and salad dressings are delicious. I like that things that are new and trendy even make their way and our store in West Virginia even offers Organic milk! You are a fool if you do not take advantage of the steals here, why pay more? I’ve been blessed the cart quarter Angel 3 times, and I’ve passed it along every time too!

    - Rebecca

  3. I shop at Aldi in Illinois. I almost never take bags or boxes, seems a waste to sort and fill just to unload and sort at home. I have a few small square laundry baskets I bring in the car. When I come out with a full cart, I sort items into the baskets like this: cold/frozen, boxes/cans; fruit/bread/soft. That way, nothing gets squashed, and if I’m in a rush, I can put away the cold/frozen and leave the rest for later. Easier to bring into the house this way too!

    - Amy

  4. I am from Germany, Aldis home country. In Germany it is normal having to pay for bags and having to pack your own groceries in every supermarket, not just Aldis. Also you always have to insert a quarter in the shopping cart and bring it back.
    The only thing different at Aldi is the packing area – only the cashier will not put your stuff in another cart for you, you have to do that yourself and you have to use the cart you used to do your shopping. They have really long conveyor belts so all your groceries will fit, but you better be fast because the belt ends right after the cashier! I think this is a really great system because I hate it when I have to wait just because other customers are too slow. Aldi makes them speed up.

    - annika

  5. Went to Aldi today for the first time at the recommendation of a friend. OMG. I was impressed by the prices. I’m terrible at making decisions so the limited selection is great. It’s my new grocery store. Love that you have to pay to use a cart. Saw that when I went to Italy and wished American stores did it. And their produce was pretty fresh. No rotten fruits or vegetables. None that I saw anyway.
    I’m going to the new one in Denton Texas. Opened last year in May.

    - tim

  6. At the local Aldi around here, if you spend $80 or more you get a $10-off coupon for your next order of $40+. I try to only hit Aldi about once every three weeks for stuff, but although I try to keep it to milk, cream, butter, canned tuna, tacos, and a few other things, there always turns out to be some really great seasonal specials, which can (sometimes) put me over $80.

    There’re a lot of things I don’t care for at Aldi, but for general staples they’re great. They only have bleached flour and only one size of everything, though that one size can be generous for the money, like 24 oz of salsa for $1.80. They do have some AMAZING things like 200g German chocolate bars for $2. Their frozen pizza is the best around; their canned tuna is low-end mush, but just as good as Chicken of the Sea and about $0.30 less. They recently started selling a BIG jar of mixed nuts for about $12 – a huge deal.

    Yes, the cashiers will just throw everything in the cart (assuming you rented a cart) so if you’re wise, you’ll bring a cart-size box (@18″ x 24″) and keep it on the cart’s bottom shelf until you’re in the front of the check-out line; get the box in the other cart FAST ’cause those cashiers are in a hurry!

    - Andy

  7. Ali,
    Thanks for posting information about Aldi. I love this store. But I am skeptical about their meats?? Can you provide more insight. Thankd

    - Monique

  8. I like to clip coupons from my local grocery store to take along to Aldi (shop Aldi first, then the bigger grocery store). While Aldi doesn’t take the coupons, at least I can check if their prices are lower than even the sale prices at the larger grocery store! Great way to save even more money!

    - Kit

  9. Very helpful entry. Went to Aldi for first time,and was lost at check out procedure. Now I can go back informed . Thank you. Every question was answered. Love the store. Items I bought were equal to all the brands I have,always bought in the past.

    - susan

  10. Aldi’s is always my 1st stop on shopping days, then my local health food store and then a fill-in for any other items at Walmart Superstore. Last week at walmart strawberries were $2.99 and $1.17 at Aldi’s for the same size container.

    - Kathleen

  11. Lovely explanation. Learned alot eventhough I have shopped there.

    - Rebecca Myers

  12. Would you please list what county the products are from?

    - D Young

    • Most of the produce is seasonal and is from the USA. Some items are from other countries and since these items are usually sprayed with pesticides by the US when arriving into our country, I usually skip those.

      - Kathleen

  13. Do you have an actual PDF or form with the layout of the store?? and maybe even a grocery list you can print and just check off what you need??
    thanks

    - Debbi Shertz

  14. My neighbor sent me your Aldi 101 as a guide, since our neighborhood store is opening TODAY. Very cool! I appreciate all your valuable info written in such a helpful and amusing way :)

    - Stephanie Stephens

  15. I decided to try out Aldi’s tomorrow and I feel more confident about that decision from reading your post. They were very informative and delightful at the same time!

    - Rebecca Sanchez

  16. One tip i have to make the ninja cashiers move even faster is to take a second when you putting your items on the belt and organize them from heaviest and toughest to lightest and weakest. It makes it easier and quicker for them to stack your cart full. Which is also the biggest complaint I have heard from people about Aldi’s is sometimes a cashier will literally toss items helter skelter without care into the cart. Doing this tip elevates both problems. But if a cashier is tossing your items stop him/her and ask them to be more careful.

    - ben

  17. You forgot to mention ALDI has virtually no customer service, tries to avoid issuing rain checks, and has limited selection

    - Andy

  18. Hello,

    I had a “not so pleasant” experience at Aldi a few weeks ago, I walked out confused but refused to let it bet me. Their prices kept bringing me back. I came across your blogs about Aldi and I want to say THANK YOU. I took my husband with me on my last trip and said watch this…it was an awesome check out situation and its all because of your blog. I’m so excited to keep coming back!
    JT

    - Jessica Thompson

  19. So, even if you bring your own bags, they just throw everything into the end cart and do not bag your groceries for you?

    - Nadia

    • Hi Nadia,

      They will place your items in one of their carts, and then it would be up to you to place the items in your bag.

      ~Ali

      - Ali

  20. I have been shopping at Aldi for several years. I own a busy restaurant and am thrilled since they opened a 3rd store in my city (Greensboro, NC) which is near my house. Now I spend typically $150 to $200 per week with Aldi. The only drawback is that I don’t get home until after 8:45 pm and I leave the house at 6:30 am so I can only shop on Sat or Sun or on afternoons when I decide to go home for a quick vist. I love to buy all kinds of products there especially buttermilk & half & half. My personal favorite though is the chocolate bar with almonds that is in the orange wrapper. Yum!

    - carolyn

  21. Is Aldi interested in opening a store in Cambridge Maryland 21613.

    - Phil Theobald

  22. Aldi & Trader Joes ARE sister companies. Owned by the same German family..

    Speaking of Aldi, which along with Trader Joe’s is owned by Germany’s Albrecht family, consumers named it as the top-ranked grocer for low prices in the poll. Both Aldi and Trader Joe’s may be small in terms of the physical sizes of their stores, but they obviously please their customers — and they seem to be proving themselves as big trendsetters in the supermarket business.

    Read more: Trader Joe’s and Aldi: German-Owned Sister Supermarkets Setting Trends | TIME.com http://business.time.com/2013/07/29/how-two-german-owned-sister-supermarket-brands-became-hot-trendsetters-in-the-u-s/#ixzz2obXZ7j7s

    - kmetoyer

  23. We shop at Aldi frequently for the basics. Dairy products and canned goods are so much cheaper than local groceries like Walmart or Hyvee. Several years ago we bought a bunch of canned good then went to Walmart to compare prices – we saved over $50! Our local Walmart will price match local competitors. Our local Walmart creates a “price match list” each week and sets it at the front door for customers to pick up as they enter the store. They don’t list every local competitor item and they don’t put anything from the Aldi’s ad on it (found this out from one of the Walmart cashiers that has worked there for years)! So if I go into Aldi to get produce and it doesn’t look good or don’t have the item, I go to Walmart, buy the item and tell them Aldi’s has it for whatever price and they give it to me! My most recent item are pomegranates. Aldi had them for 49 cents a couple of weeks ago – When I told the Walmart cashier she questioned the price (because the ones at Walmart were $1.98, but she gave them to me for 49 cents! I find the produce is about the only thing I attempt pricematching at Walmart because Walmart will not price match an Aldi produce for a Walmart or other name brand similar product.

    - MIndy

  24. Nice article Aldi rules and you are rather cute too. Happy Holidays!!!!

    - vance

  25. You are right-on with these tips of how to shop at Aldi!
    I have been shopping at Aldi ever since my parents ran home with 5 boxes of saltine crackers which they paid 17 cents per box!
    They’re other fab bargains and news of the savings spread like wildfire!
    It’s more than a decade later, and I never begin my bi-monthly grocery spree without going to Aldi first!
    I’m always excited to see the circulars for the upcoming week, great for budgeting and planning ahead. More importantly, I can’t wait to say” I got it at Aldi!” about the great savings and great quality of food and produce. The other major supermarkets still get my business for the items Aldi does not carry…yet!

    - Micmale

  26. I was living in Kansas City when I found out about Aldi too. When I moved back to the Dallas area, I really missed my Aldi deals and my food bill went up. When I married and moved to Arkansas, I was excited to again be in an Aldi area. Now that Aldi’s has expanded into the Dallas area, I have converted my mother to a fan too! I would guess that I get 70% of our food from Aldi’s. Thanks for the info, and thanks for all of the recipes! I just found your site, but have really enjoyed poking around. :-)

    - TLSF

  27. I skip the packing counter, I pack my bags and boxes outside. That way I am not handling my things again. I fill a bag and put it right into my vehicle. Saves me a little time, plus my kiddos are safely buckled in the car instead of getting into things in the store.

    - Lisa

  28. I wish I could find the article now, but they were was an article I read months ago with an Aldi representative. In the article they discuss the non-name brands. They estimate that about 75% of what they sell is actually the name brand product but packaged in Aldi’s “brand” packaging.

    I have a friend who worked for Borden for years who said this was a regular thing for many brand companies. Borden would put their products in their Borden packaging on one production line while another had a generic package for one store, another with a different generic package for another store, etc. In the end even though the packaging (and prices!) would end up being different it was still the same product inside the package.

    - Daisy

  29. For those who don’t know, Aldi and Trader Joe’s are sister companies. They are owned by the same German company. Aldi is the more dollar version while Trader Joe’s is the gourmet version.

    - Renee

  30. I live in fort myers area. We need aldies….please come here…miss shoping there…

    - debbie weber

  31. I’m so happy to see another food blogger share my enthusiasm for Aldi! When I run in to people I know there, they’re always like, “YOU shop at Aldi?!” There are only a few things I buy elsewhere and I know those are about my personal brand preferences (ex: HAVE to have JIF peanut butter, simply MUST only have Colombian coffee).

    And if I’m looking for a particular cut of meat, etc. I might have to go somewhere else.

    I also really appreciate that because of their amazing prices, I can afford to buy REAL food… fresh veggies (instead of frozen or canned), real butter (instead of margarine), fresh chicken (instead of ground beef all the time because it’s the cheapest), etc.

    I only grocery shop every two weeks so I buy a lot at one time and it’s such a great feeling walking out of there knowing I just saved at LEAST $100 because I didn’t shop at a traditional grocery store or even Wal-Mart.

    - Mandy @ South Your Mouth

  32. I love Aldis prices especially when it comes to buying milk, eggs, and produce.

    My kids didn’t care for their brand of grape jelly, I didnt taste it so I don’t know if they were just being picky or not.

    If you plan on shopping aldi on a regular basis, I highly recommend purchasing a few of those reusable, sturdy shopping bags so that you don’t have to continually pay for bags.

    - christy garrett @ uplifting families

  33. 6 months ago my boyfriend and I moved out on our own for the first time in our young adult lives, as such, we’d been couponing and looking for deals everywhere so that we didn’t blow the budget and we could have a little bit left for the savings. Coupons are nice sometimes as at Walmart and Wegmans I can frequently get things for almost free (same at Dollar Tree) but there are often times where I clip coupons and then think “I can get this for less at Aldi’s than I can anywhere else with the coupon”
    Until I got out on my own I had never really shopped at Aldi’s and for some reason was under the impression that the low prices meant low quality. Sometimes it does, but most of their food is great and really reasonably priced. The cashiers there all know me now and look forward to my happy dance when I check out with a full cart for $50.

    - Nikki

  34. You can also use a Discover card if you have one – that’s a new addition within the last four or five years to Aldi stores (and man do I love that).

    - Karen

  35. Thanks for this! I went to Aldi for the first time yesterday and I’m glad that I had read this beforehand. I had no idea what Aldi was about…. Thinking it was just another generic grocery store… I was pleasently surprised and prepared for when I went. I’ll definitely be shopping there more! Thanks!

    - Jennifer Meyering

  36. WOW. Thanks for all info about Aldi. I still have to read your last article. An Aldi store just opened in Stony Point NY, about a minute away from my house and I am looking forward to checking it out. I have no problem going to more than one store, to save some money! Again, thanks for the info!

    - Linda

  37. I do love Aldi, too. Thank you for posting about how to shop there. It can be overwhelming for first time shoppers. I have found that if I unload my heavy stuff first then the lightweight stuff,it doesn’t get as jumbled. And if you are an orderly, slightly OCD grocery stacker, the way they just throw the groceries in the other buggy might drive you crazy! (ahem)

    - Jennifer M.

  38. This blog post inspired me to check out the Aldi that’s about 15 minutes from our house, and I’ve been shopping there for the past month! I would say we find about 85% of what we need at Aldi, and everything else we get at either Trader Joe’s (the only pain is that our nearest Aldi and our nearest TJ’s are about 45 minutes away from each other, so you can’t do both in one trip.)

    Our grocery budget is suddenly going A LOT farther, and we’re pretty much eating the same things we always have. One question, though–what do people do about bagging produce? Our Aldi doesn’t have bags to put fruit and veggies in like most supermarkets do–do you bring your own little produce bags?

    - Sara

    • I always put our produce in my regular reusable bags. I do have a couple smaller bags that are good for things like tomatoes or other produce that can easily be squished. Whenever we bring produce home, I always wash most produce right away before putting it away so we don’t worry about what the packaging or baggage is. (a little late reading this post, but hope this helps!)

      - Kathryn

  39. TIP FOR RETURING CART TO THE CART CHAIN GANG:
    When I get to the Aldi parking lot I walk toward the Aldi enterence with my bags in one hand and my quarter for the cart in the other hand. I have an eye out for someone returning an empty cart to the cart area. Aha, I spot someone. The local signal is to smile and raise your hand with the quarter in it. This means ” take my quarter, I’ll push your empty cart into Aldis.” That saves me time stopping to feed the chain gang and the parking lot exchange saved a few steps for the shopper who is driving away a few moments sooner had we not met. Hopefully, after I have loaded my car with my groceries someone will smile and raise their quarter towards me. .. Well maybe not. Doesn’t matter. There is always next time.

    - Neola Fritz

  40. I’m glad I stumbled on this series. I have to add my Aldi opinions. My fiance and I love it there for basics. I’ve found their cereal to be good as well even though it’s not the name we’re used to. What I like most about Aldi is the people. I thought that going into a “lower class” of grocery store would mean rude unhappy people, but every time I go I see someone do something nice. If someone walks in line with 5 items balanced in their arms, some nice person with a cart waves them to the front of the line. When I go to Acme or ShopRite, I feel like someone would cut my throat to make it to the line before me! Like you mentioned, I’ve been a recipient of and a giver of a free cart. The staff is really friendly at my store as well and if you don’t have a ton of stuff, they’ll usually put your stuff in your bag or box for you while they check you out at lightning speed. Yay for Aldi!

    - Leah

  41. I am also an avid Aldi shopper. One thing to know about their prices – if the price sign is in red that means it is a limited item – so if you really like it, buy A LOT!! If it is in black, it is a regular item.

    - Valerie

  42. I am enjoying reading your posts about shopping at Aldi! My mom shopped there years ago (before it was “cool”) and I kind of got turned off from it. However, my neighbor and I have started shopping at a really nice Aldi in a classy neighborhood by our homes and I have fallen in love! One thing that I would mention is that I have been told by two separate clerks at two different Aldi stores that if you forgot a quarter for a cart, they will lend you one, just see a cashier :)

    - Liz @ Beyond Blonde Blog

  43. Thans so much Ali! I live in Pearland, Tx and we just got an Aldi store. I was a little leary about the products since I am not familiar with this store. You made my upcoming first visit less stressful. I kind of like stores like Aldi because I feel more in control. I don’t mind bagging my own stuff and LOVE the idea of a scaled down approach to shopping for groceries. My father owned a very small community grocery store when I was a child. Of course the selection was very limited but you would not believe how busy that little store was! People just loved the cozy, comfortable feel of shopping there. I think Aldi will be a similar experience. Thanks again and I really look forward to meeting you on your site. By the way, cooking is an absolute passion for me so it is nice to meet another person likeme!

    - Cindy Kemp

  44. I love shopping at Aldi. I do have to go to another store about twice a month (and sometimes go elsewhere to take advantage of coupons/sales). But one thing I love about shopping at Aldi is that I can get in and out with a weeks groceries fairly quickly. I know where things are, which helps, but there isn’t a lot of comparison shopping to see which brand or size package is cheaper, as there is only one. The time I save at Aldi means I have time to go to Kroger or Publix to pick up the few things Aldi doesn’t carry and still save time often! And save plenty of money too :)

    - Katherine

  45. What Aldi’s do YOU visit?

    The one near me is two aisles wide, and like the rest of this godforsaken place, looks like a disaster area inside and out. I wouldn’t touch anything in there without a flamethrower, a hazmat kit and a company of Marine engineers.

    - Me

    • I have been to several and never have seen what you describe…. but OMG Save A Lot is horrific plus odors… My mother tripped over a buckled rug which led to her death . . .

      - D Young

  46. Thanks so much for this post Ali! The company I work for distributes some of our products to Aldi so I’ve heard the name in the past but I’d never had the chance to stop in. They’re in the process of opening one right by my house so I’m really excited to start shopping there. I’m a broke 20-something who loves fresh produce so I’m really hoping this will help my budget

    - Christeen

  47. We do all our shopping at Aldi and Trader Joe’s. I love that I can be in and out of both of those stores in 30 minutes, WITH four kids in tow! I now get overwhelmed in a normal grocery store and hate shopping in them! lol. We also save a ton of money and feed six people for about 150/wk between the two stores, with the odd trip to Target or WM thrown in.

    - Laura

  48. Went to Aldis very excited yesterday. Was sadly disappointed that they can’t beast Costco or Whole Foods bulk bin prices on many items I buy. (Milk, butter, steel cut oats, oatmeal, pineapple, cheese) We don’t eat a lot of processed foods, so those are probably a better deal at Aldi. And no organics at my Madison WI Aldi store :(

    - Sarah

  49. I love Aldi! Once you know what to buy there and what the prices are, it is so easy to comparison shop. I also buy some organic produce elsewhere, but I love their prices on oranges, clementines, and avocados. Their prices on the basics like half n half, cheese, and ground turkey are unmatched. I think that the ‘locked carts’ are designed intentionally. If you have to put it back where it belongs to get your quarter back, you are less likely to just leave your cart in the parking lot. That means they don’t have to pay someone to gather the carts, which helps them keep their prices low. At my local store, the cashiers are friendly, they recognize my kids and me when we visit and are always willing to let me use my cart to load the groceries so I don’t have to move my youngest to the other cart. :-) Thanks for the great posts!

    - Laurie

  50. LOVE aldi!! great series you’ve done… we save soooo much $$ shopping there. a couple examples: I’ve recently fallen in love with avocados. Walmart sells them for $1.78 each. aldi…$.59!!! their snow crab legs…1.5 lbs for $8!!

    - leigh

  51. I am an Aldi fan…been going there for years! I did not know about the Wednesday special on meats! Loved your post!

    - Kim

  52. thank you for doing this series…we have an ALDI’s near us, but I only pick up a few things because I’m never sure what is really there. I tried to click on your link to have the specials ‘emailed to me’, but it doesn’t appear to be working.

    - deb in sc

  53. Thank you so much Ali for spotlighting my favorite store! Aldi prices are emblazoned in my brain. Comparison shopping is easy and many of our favorite products are at Aldi’s, not the traditional grocery store!

    Some of their seasonal products are so tasty that we stock up and then cross our fingers that they bring them back next year!

    Did you know that the Aldi founders in Germany are cousins of the Trader Joe’s people? With that in mind I have found several products that have to come from the same manufacturer! Aldi’s Chocolate Truffles at Christmas made me forget the fact that there is no Trader Joe’s in Springfield, IL!

    Again, Thank You!

    - AbracaDebra

  54. I’ve never been there, but obviously now I have to check it out!!

    - Sommer@ASpicyPerspective

  55. I love Aldi too! I always do my grocery shopping there first before I hit the other stores. You can’t beat their deals on produce, like avocados have been 3 for 99 cents the last few times I’ve been there, total steal. Thanks for doing this series and inspiring others to shop there.

    - Jennifer @ Mother Thyme

  56. I love Aldi! I have shopped there for 25+ years, and it has helped me stay within my grocery budget, but not sacrifice good food! Your tips are great, and would be so helpful to someone who is new to Aldi! One tip I would share is that I make my grocery list in the order of the aisles, and it makes it so much easier not to miss something on my list (although they recently rearranged a bit, so I am still trying to adjust!!). Looking forward to your next post!!

    - Laura

  57. Ali, thank you for this series. I look forward to tomorrow’s installment. I live in Rutland Vermont, and we are getting an Aldi’s – my daughter applied for a job there yesterday, so today I was researching the company (like any good mom would!). Your first Aldi 101 article came up in Bing, and as I was looking for non-affiliated info/feedback, it was ideal. Thanks for providing a well-rounded, unvarnished write-up. As the family chef, I can’t wait to see what kind of trouble I can get into shopping there!

    - Pat

  58. I love the iphone app!!! Such a great feature.

    - molly

  59. Love this Aldi series Ali, I like to shop there but I don’t think I’ve been making the most it. You can’t beat their produce prices, that’s for sure! They had baby carrots on sale a few weeks ago for 45 cents a bag, I couldn’t pass that up and my husband gave me a weird look when I came home with 15 bags of carrots. lol. :) Looking forward to the next post!

    - Amber (Sprinkled With Flour)

  60. Hi! Been loving your series on Aldi. I’ve been shopping there for years and enjoy the savings!! Like some others, I only regret that I often have to make a second grocery trip to finish out my list elsewhere. Used to be much more doable before two little kids! Anyway, I continue to shop at Aldi several times a month. Just wondered if you could do a few posts on recipes that can be pulled together entirely from Aldi staples & produce. It would be great to have a few go-to meals for which I can get everything for from Aldi! Just an idea…

    - Emily

  61. I’ve never been and now I am so excited to go. Looking forward to tomorrow’s post and some weekend grocery shopping!

    - Victoria

  62. Just wanted to say thanks for the great series. I finally went into Aldi today! There is one about 5 minutes from my house and I’ve been meaning to check it out forever, but I always forget because I’m too used to my regular store. So when I saw your post yesterday, I thought, Okay, I’m finally going in. Very glad I did. I didn’t get a whole lot, but a handful of fruits and veggies plus a loaf of bread for less than 10 bucks was pretty sweet, and I will be back again soon for sure!

    - Ann

  63. When going to Aldi’s I was make sure I have atleast 2 quarters, always take my own bags, use there boxes( bring them home use them to start a fire in the wood burner)after shopping I always look for someonewho needs a cart as handing them my cart they try to give me there quarter I tell them to pay it forward

    - Cindy Wilson Kosloski

  64. Are there actual grocery stores that are 24/7? I’ve never seen one like that before. Their locked carts are especially weird. We have an Aldi about 20 min away but I’ve never been so some of this info is nice to know, should I ever venture in there.

    - Rachel @ Baked by Rachel

  65. My husband and I go shopping at Aldi all the time. We love it. Great food, great prices. I would be heart broken if they left :( Aldi is where we do the majority of grocery shopping and then we pick up other things we can’t find at Aldi at like Walmart of Food Lion. We save a ton of money by shopping at Aldi. We Love Aldi ;)

    - vanessa

  66. Such a great post, Ali! So many useful tips that I never would have known going in there. I feel so ready to take on Aldi for the first time now! Looking forward to tomorrow’s post!

    - little kitchie

  67. One thing I’ve learned about the cart swap at Aldi since having my son is that if your groceries are all out of the cart before the cashier starts scanning, they are usually more than willing to reuse your original cart so you don’t have to transfer the baby from one cart to another! Sometimes I have to ask but they normally do it on their own.

    - Katie Richards