As a savvy shopper you’re probably well aware of all the big name grocery and discount stores on the block but there’s one that, until now, has been quietly flying under the radar – ALDI. Never been there before? We’ve got you covered with our guide to shopping at ALDI.
Here in the US, this German company has a bit of a mysterious reputation–to the untrained eye, it feels a little like a black market grocery store. But that is absolutely not the case. ALDI prides itself on a quick and inexpensive grocery shopping experience–and it’s also one of the most eco-friendly grocery chains around.
So how do you hit up ALDI for your first trip like an expert? Check out our guide to shopping at ALDI’s that will help you navigate the store, understand the company’s philosophy and–of course–save time and money.
ALDI Hours are Limited
Before you leave, make sure you check your local store’s hours. In order to save on overhead (the cost of personnel and things like keeping the lights on) ALDI stores aren’t open as early or late as some other grocery stores. For the most part they’re open from 9am to 9pm during the Monday through Saturday, and they close at 7pm on Sundays. If you’re planning a midnight run for diapers or milk, this isn’t going to be your best bet but you can’t beat it for your weekly shop!
Bags & Carts Will Cost You
Next up, make sure you grab your reusable grocery bags from the trunk of your car. At ALDI, they’ll charge you a few cents each for grocery bags (they do carry both paper and plastic), although you can take their cardboard boxes for free. This is just another way that Aldi not only cuts costs, but also encourages their shoppers to be more green.
Once you’ve made it to the store, you’re going to need to pop a quarter into a machine to rent a shopping cart for the duration of your trip (it’s returned when you put the cart back). By having shoppers return their own carts, ALDI has eliminated the need for staff to spend time in the parking lot and subsidized the cost of doing so with kept quarters.
Understand ALDI’s No-Name Brands
As you look around ALDI, you may be struck by the fact that the brands look familiar, but a little bit… off. Yes, the brands on the shelves look like the ones you know and love, but they’ll have different names and logos. There’s also far fewer of them. That because ALDI offers no-brand items to keep costs down, and they offer fewer selections so eliminate the need to endlessly comparison shop.
Of course you may occasionally see a name brand item on the shelf but the best part is that the brands on the shelves are usually the name brand items in disguise! ALDI’s parent company has agreements in place to provide their customers with the same product at a different price point, so you aren’t missing out on your favorites!
Leave Your Coupons at Home
ALDI doesn’t accept manufacturer’s coupons, so there’s no reason to spend an hour per week sifting through the junk mail and cutting them. They also announce their sales two weeks in advance, so you’ll have plenty of time to plan your trips. Circulars with sale information are available at the front of the store, and they’ll have a copy of next week’s sales for you on the way out, so be sure to grab that too!
Snag Sale Info in Advance
Of course, if you’re on the hunt for great deals and cost savings you can make your trip to ALDI an even bigger hit by using the OurCart app. With OurCart the weekly ALDI deals and local crowd-sourced pricing are loaded into the app along with deals and price comparisons from your other favorite stores. So if you want to check out prices before you get to the store to snag a circular, this is a great option. Price check and see where you’re going to get the most bang for your buck without even leaving the house.
Watch for Center of Store Specials
Once or twice a month in the center of the store, ALDI offers some limited time specials. These specials aren’t always food related. Other examples include designer pots and pans, electronics or books. These specials are especially enticing around the holidays and, of course, they’re announced in the weekly circulars. Just be sure to take advantage of them – ALDI orders these items in limited quantities, so once they’re gone, they’re gone!
Get Ready to Pitch In
Much like the rest of the shopping process, ALDI has tweaked the way their customers checkout. You won’t see any baggers at the end of the aisle, nor will you see the cashiers constantly flipping items over to find a barcode. Their products are covered in barcodes, so that they will ring through the first time virtually any way they’re pushed across the scanner. That’ll save you time. And the lack of baggers saves you a few bucks.
This means you’re in charge of bagging your groceries using the aforementioned brought-from-home reusable bags (or the disposable ones you can buy at checkout). They’ll also do a Cart Swap, which means that as your items are rung up, they’ll go right back into a cart at the end of the conveyor belt. Once the transaction is complete, just push your swapped cart over to their Bagging Area (usually just a long counter by the door) and bag your goods exactly as you’d like them, or if you’re super on top of your game, bag them as the cashier rings them up. But don’t hold up the line – the whole process is meant to get shoppers through the line quickly.
Need help saving money at ALDI? Download OurCart: The easiest way to way to create a shopping list, compare prices, and save on groceries. Every time you shop. Now featuring sale and circular information from ALDI!