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How to Shop at Aldi: A Guide for First-Timers


Grocery stores are sort of like restaurants. We all have our favorites, and we have those favorites for very specific reasons. 

This is especially true of grocery chain Aldi, which offers a very specific, unique type of grocery experience that differs from that of most U.S. grocery stores. It has quite a loyal fan base due to the savings it offers AND the idiosyncrasies of shopping there. For those interested in giving Aldi a try, but perhaps intimidated by its distinct design and shopping process, it’s important to be prepared. Here’s exactly what to expect.

Display of summer clearance sign at an Aldi store
Image: Aly Walansky, RetailMeNot

What Is Aldi?

Aldi is a German chain of grocery stores with plenty of U.S. locations that offers high-quality produce and other groceries at competitive prices. At its core, it’s all about efficiency. While most of the products at Aldi are their own exclusive brand, it’s also a spot to find good prices on familiar brands like Oreo cookies or Coca Cola.

Aldi may seem confusing at first, but once you get used to it, it’s actually more simple to shop here than many more traditional U.S. grocery stores. This is not a store that appeals to someone looking for the most obscure and gourmet of ingredients but rather a no frills, no fuss shopping experience that will get them fresh produce, pantry staples and excellent prices on dairy, meat and seafood. So, if you are wondering what does Aldi sell? The answer is, basically everything you’ll find yourself needing on a daily basis.

What Makes Aldi Unique?

There’s a benefit to having most of your inventory being store-exclusive brands. Because store brands aren’t big brands with lots of commercials and advertising, those costs don’t have to be absorbed into the price of the products, which means some pretty surprisingly low prices.

While this isn’t a store that is open 24 hours that you can pop in any hour of night when you have a last-minute need for an exotic ingredient, it is one to get in and out of quickly during normal daytime hours, that will have all the most popular items we need for our favorite recipes.

Aldi is a store with its own feel and even its own lingo. We’ll see “finds,” “deals” and “savers,” but all spell savings if you know where to look.

How to Shop at Aldi

There are a few tips to follow to ensure a smooth Aldi experience, as well as extra savings.

1. Bring Your Own Bags 

As another example of keeping things no-frills and low-priced, you’ll not see plastic bags available at the cashier. Bring your own bag when you come to the store. While some stores do allow you to buy bags for a small fee, bringing your own bag is a way to maintain the savings.

2. Choose Your Day Wisely

Frequent visits to Aldi will show you some days are better to shop than others. Many Aldi shoppers like to shop on Wednesdays because that’s when the latest Aldi finds hit the shelves. Aldi also releases the next week’s circular when they release the current week’s so this is a good time to check what is on sale during the current week but also the next and choose the best time to shop depending on the items you need to buy.

3. Manage your Expectations 

This is a streamlined and simplified store for a reason. You’ll find everything you need quickly and easily. But it won’t ever have as many options as those huge superstores. It won’t have their hefty price tags or long lines either, though. This is the best stop for getting those basics you need at a great price when you are having a busy day.

4. Study the Aldi Weekly Circular Before Shopping

This is sort of like building a mental map of the store. Each week, this circular offers some steep deals in whatever items are on special that week. The week I shopped, I got beautiful blueberries for $1.99 — that’s less than half the price of what I had paid for the same size container at another grocery store just a few days earlier.

5. Bring a Quarter for the Carts

Something else you’ll need to bring when shopping at Aldi is a quarter. You have to insert a quarter in a cart to obtain a cart, and that quarter is returned when you return your cart after shopping. This is great for avoiding runaway carts abandoned in the parking lot, which also ultimately cuts down on the cost of additional manpower and replacement expenses.

photo of coin slot in an aldi shopping cart
Image: Aly Walansky, RetailMeNot

6. Keep an Eye out for Discount Stickers 

This will be alerts of special deals and discounts on individual items that may not even be mentioned in the weekly circular.

blueberries in a box on a shelf at Aldi
Image: RetailMeNot

7. Look for Aldi Finds 

These are new, limited-time food and household products at extra low prices. For those who often ask why Aldi is so cheap, it’s because of great values like these.

8. Shop the Aisle of Shame 

The aisle of shame is not an official thing that exists, but an unofficial name given on social media to a middle aisle that often exists at Aldi with odds and ends in short supply at discounted prices. This may be where you find both housewares and candy items, and there’s nothing shameful about it.

9. Keep Your Receipt

Aldi has a double guarantee policy where they will replace an item if you are dissatisfied and also give you your money back. That’s like a double value! 

10. Be Ready to Bag Your Own Groceries

Aldi’s streamlining extends even to the checkout. Because the employees don’t bag groceries (your purchased items will go directly into an empty shopping cart so you can bag them yourself), things happen faster, which keeps costs down. There are also products that are displayed in boxes.

candles in boxes at Aldi store
Image: RetailMeNot

That means less time stacking shelves, much like having the carts unlocked with a quarter saves Aldi the money of hiring people to corral them. All these avoided hidden costs mean lower prices.

From fresh and well-priced produce to freezer bags of high-quality seafood at family-friendly prices, there are plenty of reasons to give Aldi a try; you’ll be back!

The post How to Shop at Aldi: A Guide for First-Timers appeared first on The Real Deal by RetailMeNot.



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