8 Things to Know About Saving on Groceries at Aldi

Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.

This spring I have been trying to not only purge the girls’ closets and rotate through one season and size of clothing for the next, but I’ve been trying to do the same with some of our finances. We aren’t super extravagant, but like many other families we get into spending habits that could probably be reviewed and improved from time to time.

Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express

I already mentioned how I am being much more diligent about tracking many of our purchases via the Citi Price Rewind tool to get back some cash if the price drops within 60 days of an eligible purchase. But one other big spending area I’ve been tinkering with recently is groceries. I love my trips to Whole Foods for some otherwise hard to get items, but the nickname Whole Paycheck can ring true if you do the bulk of your shopping there. After serendipitously finding myself in the middle of a discussion about the organic foods available at Aldi just days prior, over the weekend I made my first trip to Aldi since the first week it opened here years ago.

img_0947-1.jpg

Aldi is a low cost grocery store that originated from Germany and is related to Trader Joe’s. I kind of hated my first trip to Aldi, and thus had decided years ago to make it my only visit. They didn’t take credit cards, didn’t have the brands I was used to, you had to put a deposit for a shopping cart, and it was hard for me to find everything I wanted. In retrospect, a big part of my dislike for the experience was simply not knowing what to expect and not being used to the process. To prevent those problems this time I did some online research to brush up on the Aldi shopping experience ahead of time, and in the process learned that they now accept credit cards!

img_0949.jpg

Saving Money on Groceries Thanks to Rewards Credit Cards

The fact that Aldi now accepted credit cards was great news since cost savings was my #1 driver in heading back to Aldi, and rewards credit cards make that even more possible since the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express gives 6% back at US supermarkets (up to the first $6,000 per year), The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express awards 3x points at US supermarkets that can bump to 4.5 points per dollar with 30 transactions in a billing cycle (up to first $6,000 per year), and the Chase Freedom right now is awarding 5x points at US supermarkets (up to $1,500 per quarter).

Eight Things to Know Before Shopping at Aldi

In case you are also looking to reduce grocery expenses, here are eight things to know before shopping at Aldi.

1. Aldi does now accept credit cards. I mentioned that already, but if you were turned off by the cash or debit cards only policy in the past, know that major credit cards are now accepted.

2. Bring a quarter to get a shopping cart. I’ll admit, this really feels odd, but isn’t a big deal if you are prepared for it. The quarter physically pops the lock to release the cart from the next tethered cart. When you re-secure your cart at the end of your shopping trip the quarter is then popped back out. If you think about it, not having stray carts loose in the lot is actually really a very good thing.

img_0948-1.jpg3. You won’t see most of your usual brands at Aldi, but many of the SimplyNature branded products are organic.

4. Some of the products are still in bins or crates instead of the store spending extra money on stocking and shelving items. It looks a little different, but of course is no big deal.

img_0950.jpg5. There are no deli counters, meat counters, etc. There are just pre-packaged products that are priced lower than most other stores around.

6. Aldi is physically smaller than any other US grocery store I’ve been in outside of NYC. Aldi does not carry everything I will want, but the fact that the store was physically smaller made it a very time efficient trip, so I see this is a positive.

7. Bags cost extra, so bring your own if you can. Of course it is good to bring your own bags regardless of whether or not the store charges, but at Aldi you will pay extra for each bag you require. The charge was only 6 cents per paper bag and 11 cents per plastic bag when I visited, but no reason to spend extra money when you don’t have to.

img_0952-2.jpg

8. You bag your own groceries. The Aldi cashier will scan your items and then deposit them back into a cart or similar, and they will not spend their time bagging your groceries, even if you have purchased or brought bags along to be used. After you pay for your groceries (with a rewards credit card!) you can go over to a bagging area and load them into the bags however you deem best.

Again, I gotta admit I sort of liked being able to control which items went together into which bag because it made it easier when I got home to put the groceries away in an efficient manner. There really is something to the German efficiency that Aldi adheres to!

img_0951.jpg

Changing habits and patterns can be hard at first, but it is rare that I waltz out of Whole Foods spending much less than $200, and my trip to Aldi was only $60. Now that I am a little more prepared for the Aldi shopping experience I fully intend on returning to keep the grocery savings rolling for my family. We won’t do all of our shopping at Aldi, but if it helps us save a few hundred a month then I’m more than happy to bring a quarter for the shopping cart.

I’m sure some of you are much more ahead in the Aldi game than I am, so I’d love to hear your grocery savings tips!

 

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

Comments

  1. Here in Germany we (my +1 and I) love to do our grocery shopping at Aldi. It has most of the stuff we need and the prices are usually the lowest around. When we are in the US we only rarely go to an Aldi … mainly because we have it at home. But we don’t have Walmart, Whole Foods and Co 😉
    Anyway, I like that the Aldi stores in the US have quite a bit in common with the German version.
    Of course, it might take some getting used to to have a coin available for the shopping cart. But it definitely has its advantages.
    A few decades ago parking lots of German supermarkets looked like those in the US today. Shopping carts everywhere. Then the concept of coin deposits spreaded and we all got conditioned to bring back the cart after loading stuff into our car.
    Today, we Germans bring back the shopping carts to their designated place even without the concept of coin deposits. Just because we are used to it.

    Regarding acceptance of credit cards. I didn’t know they were not accepted at American Aldis in the beginning. That’s interesting. I know that in Germany Aldi refused to take credit cards for a long time. Started accepting only maybe a year or two ago. First with Visa and Mastercard, then Amex followed. Love that 😉

    • They started accepting them about a year ago here, though I didn’t know that until a few days ago. Thanks for weighing in!

  2. I love grocery shopping and I visit grocery stores anywhere I go while traveling outside the US. I am the one that does all the grocery shopping in my house (I follow the list that my wife gives me). I have an Aldi less than a mile from my house but I never visited. This is how I shop for groceries:
    1) Trader Joe’s: I love this place!!! I buy everything I can there mainly vegetables, cheese, canned food, etc….
    2) Whole Foods: It is a a great place for specialties. There are some things they sell that nobody else can match quality. Yes, it is not cheap but having a freshly squeezed orange juice at the store is priceless. They make my own hamburger patty the way I want. Their buffet food is amazing.
    3) Costco: I also love this place. Quality and price works together there. I buy milk, fruits and all the cleaning supplies there.
    4) Target: We buy anything else we don’t buy in other places. There are some branded products that you cannot get at Trader Joe’s.

    I may have to stop by Aldi and check their store. BTW, the coin on the cart is very typical in Europe and you see that in airports while here you have to pay a fortune to get a cart for your luggage.

    • Thanks for sharing! I’ve never used a coin luggage cart in Europe…they have always been free in Europe where I have visited. Ha! I like your shopping plan. I don’t plan to swear off Whole Foods, but it was high time for a shake-up for some easy monthly savings.

  3. I love Aldi as well. In addition to the savings, I love how quickly you can shop there. Once you learn what products they normally have, I can cruise up and down those aisles grabbing all of the staples for my households. Also, the company pays their workers a living wage and offers health insurance, so I feel good supporting that kind of business. And in turn, all of the employees are so nice and helpful.

  4. Aldi is great if you aren’t the shopper who has been brainwashed by all the advertising / marketing / branding out there. You will find good quality items and competitive pricing and I miss not having them nearby since moving.

  5. I love Aldi for what it is. When I go there I usually can’t get everything I want (I have to supplement at the regular grocery store for some meats or specific vegetables), but I do appreciate that I can get in and get out – the only other store that’s like this is Trader Joe’s. Also, as a mom you can appreciate the plethora of snacks and how cheap they are! I load up on snacks when I go, the kids love when I go to Aldi because I will buy things I wouldn’t normally buy because the price is so much lower. They also have a decent selection of gourmet cheeses and things like that. Yay Aldi!

  6. Most importantly, Aldi’s stands behind their product offerings. If you don’t like it for ANY reason, bring it back and they’ll refund your money. If you want another one, you can get a new one AND your money back. Try that at the big chains —

  7. Even though I have shopped at several grocers in France, which are similar to Aldi in many ways, the manhandling of my groceries took me by surprise. I would have added that to the numbered list, because I imagine it comes as a shock to many at first. We’re so used to groceries placed carefully into a bag that Aldi’s “catch and release” method into the cart, in the quickest way possible, is a real difference. As you mentioned, it’s not a big deal to re-organize especially given the wide shelves past the check stand. And, it actually gets you out of the store faster since the checkers aren’t holding up the line to make your bags primped and perfect!

  8. You’ve got to try the Heller and Strauss Tutti Frutti Hard Candy that they get in periodically. It is simply the BEST hard candy we’ve ever had. The jars are HUGE, and only 4.99. They make great little gifts for when you are invited for dinner, etc. We’ve used them for wedding shower favors with a pretty ribbon………and I always get asked where they came from!! 🙂

  9. Aldi and it’s other German counterpart “Lidl” are in Ireland about 15yrs .Suffice to say they blew their more expensive Irish and British rivals away,especially during the economic meltdown we suffered.
    Huge choice of locally made produce,keen prices,compact layout.
    Plus the staff are always friendly,maybe this is down to the fact they earn well above minimum wage.
    Couldn’t justify shopping in Bigger retailers after I got back to full employment plus I actually like their produce.
    We also have deposit required trolleys plus no free plastic bags,25cents per bag

  10. I love Aldi. In addition to being cheap so many specialty items from Europe are very hard to find in the United States. They have some of the best chocolate you can buy at rock-bottom prices.

    Watch out for the fresh fruit and vegetables though, the quality just isn’t there.

    When Aldi first came to the United States they were actually closed on Sundays in the German tradition (law). That didn’t last very long as there are many Americans who do their major grocery shopping on Sunday.

  11. I love my Aldi! A change they made recently is offering gift cards. So I can max out my Freedom Cards on gift cards this quarter.

    I like the adventure of seeing knew items each time I go. In addition to new food items, I love to look at their aisles of housewares and other seasonal items (for instance right now they have gardening supplies and Easter candy). I always wondered about the quality of the housewares (pots and pans), but my sister has purchased several and she says the quality is great (and you can’t beat the prices).

    I am an Aldi evangelist!

  12. Not sure if it will work in the US due to coin size differences, but since I don’t carry coins i just pop a round head key off my keychain and stick it (head first) in the slot (I live in Ireland). Might be worth a try rather than remembering to bring a quarter every time!

  13. I love, love, love Aldi. I try to get all my friends to switch, but most say they don’t want to have to make several stops and can’t get everything they need at Aldi. I’ve found that I really only need an occasional trip to other grocery stores. And when I do make that occasional trip, I’m always shocked by the fact that I spend close to double what I would at Aldi. As far as the brands, once you get used to them, you may start to prefer them. I joke that my kids are “Aldi snobs” because now they prefer Aldi brands over name brands. I LOVE that they are going to lots of organic brands and also have no-added food coloring. And I can zip right in there with two kids and be done with my shopping in 30-40 minutes. I keep my “Aldi quarter” in a special place in the car. The longer you shop there, the easier it gets.

    • Ditto everything you said! Love Aldi!!! I’ve been shopping at my local store a few years now and only go to a larger store for the occasional milk, bread or specialty item.

  14. My first (and last) experience with Aldi’s was very similar to yours, and I haven’t been back. But now you’ve inspired me to give it another whirl.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *