Are you #TeamAldi, yet? They take some warming up to, but Aldi is great for saving on groceries, even if you buy organic and gluten free. Here’s what you need to know if you’re going to shop at Aldi including what to buy the items you should avoid.
This is NOT a sponsored post for Aldi, I just like shopping there.
Aldi was around for several years before I ventured in. In fact, Aldi has been in the US since 1976! I was turned off by a couple things. What kind of weird place rents their carts for a quarter? And you’ve gotta bag your groceries yourself? With your own bags? But after having been several times I’m kind of a convert, with a couple caveats.
1. Carts are free at Aldi but you must return them.
It’s kind of smart. Instead of paying staff to bring the carts in, customers do it themselves. You simply hook the chain on from one cart to the other and out pops your quarter. When I first started shopping at Aldi, I always offered to take a shopper’s cart for them. They all refused insisting “Gotta get my quarter back!” Now I just carry a quarter with me and if I see an Aldi customer on the way to return their cart, I just hand them a quarter.
2. Beer is cheap, wine not so much at Aldi grocery.
Listen, I love craft beer and I love supporting local businesses. So, I usually buy local beer, if I am buying beer at all. BUT if you are the kind of person who’s looking for a Corona knock off or shandy to sip outside, well, you can get it for a steal at Aldi. No judgement.
Aldi Wine? I’ve tried a couple bottles and it has been hit or miss. Sometimes I stumble upon a terrific tasting wine, but the next time I am there it may be gone. I tried a couple brands and they make two buck chuck taste pretty good. The other thing that irks me is that it is hard to tell what the price for Aldi wine is. While they do a terrific job of having pricing for everything clearly marked, they fail when it comes to wine. Is it $6.99 or $15.99. Sometimes it is quite difficult to tell.
3. You’ll have to become a bag lady (or man) at Aldi…or take advantage of my tip
For the first year and half at Aldi, I’d just grab a near empty carton and use that for my groceries. Of course if you are buying a decent amount of items at Aldi, it doesn’t make sense to carry around a carton. You’ll still need the Aldi shopping cart. But two cartons usually does the trick for my shopping. You can easily snag these cartons: either look for bins where employees toss empty Aldi cartons or just look for an almost empty carton and move the items into a nearby carton, freeing it up for you to use.
Now, I bring reusable bags when I shop at Aldi. I find it easy because most shopping trips, I fill the 3 bags and it is easy to carry everything from my car to the kitchen without making multiple trips.
4. Aldi grocery has a terrific variety of organic foods.
Whole Foods doesn’t have the market cornered on organic foods. Aldi serves up their “Never Any” brand of organically sourced foods. There are meat, chips, marinades, coffee – many items you buy regularly can be found at I’m really surprised at just how low the prices are. Plus there is also a line of Gluten free items at Aldi that are quite affordable.
However, I’ve found the meat to be hit or miss. Like their chicken contains far less added water than Kroger’s and their pork chops are always good. But beef is sketchy. Packaging is misleading as to the “cut”. I mean, lopping a bunch of meat together into one package doesn’t make it a “cut” of flank steak. Speaking of meat, there’s not butcher or seafood guy to package up your pick. It’s all self serve, baby.
5. You probably won’t find your favorite brand at Aldi.
For most staples like ketchup, mustard, soups, sauces, etc you’ll only find about 2 labels. More brands would mean more space and Aldi is tight on space. So, if there’s a certain brand you love from your grocery, you will not likely find it shopping Aldi grocery.
6. Barcodes are on multiple sides of Aldi products to check you out faster.
Aldi cashiers have one goal – check you out as soon as possible. After a couple trips I noticed how many areas on the packaging of Aldi products have bar codes. Make sure to put fragile items last on checkout. Most cashiers at Aldi are respectful of how they place your items in the cart, but on a couple occasions I have had some fragile items a bit crushed.
7. Aldi grocery stores do NOT accept coupons.
Since the prices at Aldi are already quite low, they don’t accept coupons. They do everything they can to already keep prices low and check you out fast, so coupons would just slow the process down. I’m glad for this as I’ve never been someone who could clip coupons.
8. Not everything is a huge savings just because it is at Aldi
For example, they have 12-packs of La Croix that cost more than what you can find at Publix. I find myself buying more things at Aldi because I feel like I am saving money. But you have to be careful that you don’t buy something that would be cheaper elsewhere.
9. Aldi has a generous return policy
What is Aldi’s return policy? It’s quite generous. If you aren’t pleased with something you buy or if you don’t find it up to your satisfaction, you can take it back and they’ll refund your money AND give you a new item.
10. Shoppers aren’t very friendly at Aldi – Cart blockers
While I have found employees at my local Aldi to be super friendly, Aldi shoppers seem like they left their manners somewhere else. It is as if they have no regard for fellow shoppers. They leave their carts in the way, blocking passage and rarely bother to use the dividers provided at checkout, which are harder for the person in line behind them to reach. Oh and you have two items and the women in front of your looks like she is feeding refugees from the latest tropical storm? Forget her taking pity on you to let you in front. And no, there aren’t any self check out options at Aldi.
11. Aldi closes their stores early to save money.
Midnight craving? Or just working late? Don’t bother heading to Aldi – they’ll be closed. Most close at like 8 or 9 pm. Aldi closes early to save money. By not being open they save on electricity and also the cost of paying employees.
12. Aldi accepts credit cards
For a while when they first opened, Aldi grocery did NOT accept credit cards for payment. You either needed to have cash or a debit card. But they changed that policy. I guess hardly anyone wants to carry cash, and we’ve all heard about the dangers of swiping your debit card. So swipe away and earn all those reward points!
13. You probably won’t find everything you need when shopping at Aldi.
This is especially true of produce. I LOVE ginger root and cilantro but since they aren’t an every day staple it won’t be stocked at Aldi. Of course, my local Kroger has been out of cilantro the last two times I’ve gone there, so there’s that. Another time, I wanted Italian sausage for my lasagna, and while they had plenty of brats, I was SOL for sweet sausage.
What are some products to avoid at Aldi?
There are just certain items I don’t want to buy at Aldi, like eggs. I bought them once and there were teeny and tasted terrible. It is a pain, but I trek over to another grocery story to buy my eggs. As I said earlier wine can be hit or miss, so I generally avoid buying it there. Frozen seafood is also a no no for me at Aldi. Most of it is farm raised, so near impossible to find sustainable seafood.
However, there are plenty of awesome items to find. Here are the best things to buy at Aldi – there are more but these are my top 17
Honeyed Goat Cheese – Okay this is my treat to myself. It is a small bar of it, but just heavenly tasting. At just $1.99 you can’t go wrong.
- Flatbread / Flavored Tortillas (Tomato and Spinach) are just $1.99. Have you ever priced these other places?
- Pumpkin Marinara Sauce $1.99
- Pita Chips – (like Stacy’s but cheaper). Oh and hummus. They have hummus that is perfect to go with the chips.
- Chocolate bars with flavors like sea salt, dark chili and more are $1.99
- Greek Yogurt – they have key lime and toasted coconut varieties for just $0.65
- Organic Coffee – This is one of my favorite finds from Aldi. I love a good strong cup of coffee to start my day. I was buying Peet’s but they just got so expensive. Now, I buy the Honduran beans from Aldi and the cost is just $4.99 per bag.
- Fruits and vegetables – Oh my gosh, they have an organic Arugula and Spinach salad blend I am addicted to and it is only around two bucks. Avocados, sweet potatoes, bell peppers and other items are super inexpensive at Aldi too!
- Salsas – Besides eating with chips, salsas are great for cooking. Aldi has a great organic variety for well under $3. My favorite one is the Pineapple blend.
- Sliced cheese – nope not just plain American. You can find Smoked Gouda, Muenster, Sharp Cheddar, Swiss and several other terrific tasting varieties.
- English Muffins – They give Thomas’ a run for their money at just $0.99 for their brand! Love it and am never going to switch back.
- Nuts – is it more or are the prices on nuts, well, nuts!?! While they aren’t dirt cheap I have found the prices on nuts to be pretty reasonable at Aldi. We love to make our own peanut butter, so we regularly buy the cans of peanuts here and it always turns out quite tasty!
- Milk – I can’t tell you how many cartons of milk I’ve purchased from Kroger that go bad well before the purchase date. This has never happened from Aldi.
- Lunch meats – Such a great variety and they really do taste terrific. I mostly go with oven roasted turkey.
- Pizza – my husband and I love pizza. On most Friday nights you can find us having pizza for dinner. Aldi’s refrigerated pizza is quite decent and priced at around $6 for a huge serving. I also recently discovered Gino’s East pizza in their frozen section too, and it is not bad!
- Steelhead Trout – If you like salmon, you’ll love this. Whenever they have it at Aldi, I grab it! I marinate it in a Lemongrass marinade and cook it on my Foreman Grill and it is divine!
- Frozen Veggie Burgers – I try to not have too much processed food. But sometimes you can’t help it. So, for those times when I just need something quick, I have Aldi’s veggie burgers in my freezer. I’ve tried several varieties and my favorite is called the Quinoa Crunch Burger. They come in a four pack for about $3.30.