Back when I lived alone, I was pretty good about sticking to a grocery budget. I could feed myself for as low as $50-$100 a month! But when I moved in with my partner, Casey, this summer, our grocery budget went up quite a bit. I was doing more cooking than I was used to and Casey was eating more than I had expected! After a few months of going over our grocery budget, I looked into ways to cut down the cost. Something that I kept hearing about was this magical Aldi’s grocery store. Aldi’s is a discount grocer and is owned by the same company that operates Trader Joe’s. I took my first trip there a few months back and noticed a few things that make it different from an average grocery store. Below are my tips on what you need to know about shopping at Aldi’s.
1. Stores have limited hours so plan accordingly. Unlike many grocery chains that are open 24 hours a day, Aldi’s is only open select hours so they don’t have to pay employees during times that shoppers are rarely in the store. Hours vary according to location, but for my area they open at 9 am and close at 8 pm. If you like grocery shopping in the early morning like I do, it will take some getting used to!
2. Bring a quarter for a shopping cart. To use a shopping cart at Aldi’s, you need to bring a quarter for a deposit. When you return your shopping cart to the corral, your quarter will be returned. This prevents Aldi’s from needing to hire “cart wranglers” to collect stray carts in the parking lot. Bonus: you don’t have to worry about your car being dented by a stray cart.
3. Be prepared to purchase store-brands. The majority of Aldi’s products are store-brands, and. Their store-brands are comparable to the name-brands and, in my opinion, there’s no difference in taste or quality. The rumor is that the manufacturers who make the name-brand products also make Aldi’s store-brand. The packaging of the Aldi’s brand is similar to the name-brand, so it makes it easier to know what the name-brand equivalent is.
4. You can get in and out of the store in no time! They have a smaller product selection than the average grocery store, which makes it makes it easier for the staff to stock shelves, but also makes it easier for me to shop because I don’t spend forever debating what I want to buy! A win-win.
5. Don’t bring coupons. Since the majority of Aldi’s products are store brands, they don’t accept coupons. Even without coupons, Aldi’s products are usually lower than the name-brands.
6. Bring your own shopping bags. It will cost 10 cents per plastic bag (or 6 cents per paper bag) to purchase them from Aldi’s. I usually just keep some reusable tote bags in my car for any Aldi runs. You can also use an empty box from the shelf, which the store actually encourages because it means their employees do not have to clear the shelves.
7. Be prepared to bag your own items. To keep costs low, Aldi’s does not employ grocery baggers and cashiers do not bag items either. To keep the line moving efficiently, the cashier will load your items into a cart as they ring you up and you will then bag your items at the bagging tables beyond the checkout. I personally prefer this because I like to bag like items together.
8. Don’t bring a checkbook. Aldi’s accepts only cash, debit cards, and credit cards, so if you prefer to pay by check, bring an alternate form of payment.
9. If you have issues with your purchased product, Aldi’s offers a Double Guarantee. They’ll refund your money and give you a replacement product by just returning the product packaging and unused product to the store manager. However, the double guarantee doesn’t apply towards alcohol, national brands, and a few other select items.