This isn't one of those posts. I'm just an avid ALDI shopper living 20 minutes from the headquarters who's been going there since before it was cool. In fact, Katie asked me how one shop's at ALDI. I've been shopping there long enough that I never considered it's a different experience going into an ALDI as compared to a WalMart, Target or Jewel.
ALDI used to have a bit of a reputation, which I understand. Growing up, the only ALDI in our area was in a very not glamorous part of town. But we went anyways because the prices were impossible to beat and the quality was clearly established. It's mostly private-label items, but this place is owned by the same people as Trader Joe's, which is also mostly private-label merchandise. People, it's the same manufacturers with different labels. I challenge you to taste the difference between Cheerios, Healthy Os and Trader Joe's Os.
ALDI does require a bit of planning. You must bring a quarter, your own shopping bags and either a debit card or cash (credit cards and checks are not accepted). Why do you need a quarter, you ask? Because the carts are all chained together right outside the entrance. You use a quarter as a deposit to unchain them. This means rebel carts aren't out there damaging your car (if you have a car fancy enough to care. I don't.) and no one has to be paid to collect carts in the parking lot.
And why the bags? ALDI was also green before it was cool. ALDI has bags, but you have to pay for them. It ain't easy being green, people. If you forget your bags and absolutely can't stomach pay a nickle for a bag, there are cardboard boxes near the check out where you can stack up your purchases for the ride home.
What I like about ALDI is that there are only two or three basic layouts for the store and they generally do not change. What this means is that I can go to any ALDI in the suburbs and know where to find the bananas, almond milk and frozen chicken.
Generally speaking, the chips and candy are first, followed by cereals and baking supplies. The refrigerated case is at the back of the store, with the freezers running along the further wall from the door. The bread is by the freezers, and fresh produce, paper products, canned goods and special buys are in the middle. The short freezer cases are special buys as well - holiday hams and Super Bowl wings and such.
Some ALDI carry beer and wine, and some carry hard liquor. This includes off brands and brands you'd recognize like 312. What I like about this established layout is that there is a flow to the store - often times, I don't even make a list because I can walk the whole store in 20 minutes and pass anything I might need to jog my memory.
Also, there are only a few choices for each product category. My biggest time suck in grocery shopping is standing in front of an entire aisle of salad dressing. Peppercorn Ranch? Bacon cheddar Ranch? Low-fat Ranch? Low-sodium Ranch? Just give me Ranch, thankyouverymuch. The typical grocery store carried 30,000 items, and ALDI carried just 1,400. That's typically enough for me to get 80 percent of what I need.
Most of ALDI's products are displayed in the boxes they're shipped in. This saves time in merchandising. The boxes are also colored to match the product so everything looks neat.
ALDI does have sales flyers, which I tend to receive in the mail during the week from my newspaper carrier. You can also access the weekly specials online. These are usually seasonal for the holidays, or around a specific ethnic cuisine theme. It can include food products as well as electronics, toys and household goods. Watch for hand-written signs, which generally mean an item is on clearance.
Once you've selected all your goodies, you'll pay with your cash or debit card. You can get cash back on the card. Then, you bag your own groceries. Again, this saves money because they're not paying a teenager to do this for you. Your paid-for groceries are deposited back into your cart by the cashier and you can take them over to a low counter near the check out to do your own bagging. It's not inconvenient at all, promise.ALDI double guarantee. I've only twice bought items at ALDI that were rancid and they were replaced and refunded without any question.
Now, on to my favorite ALDI foods!
|Sweet potato chips, Irish cream liquor, oatmeal, knock off Nutella, pita chips and sugar-free jam|
|Chocolate bars, knock off Kashi, all forms of spices, doggie treats, chocolate chips, almond and organic milk|
|Tortillas, pasta sauce, chicken broth, artisan bread and water flavor|
|Frozen steamable vegetables, frozen raw and cooked chicken, frozen strawberries, tea and produce|
Do you have any other questions about shopping at ALDI? E-mail me!