In my never-ending quest to buy quality groceries at a reasonable price for the oh-so-hungry humans at my house, I recently took my first trip to ALDI. And all I can say is, HOLY COW!!
For years, I’ve been shopping at a combination of Publix, The Fresh Market, and (occasionally) Wal-Mart. In my humble opinion, Publix is the Cadillac of grocery stores. It’s got the best produce, the widest selection, and hands down the friendliest and most helpful staff. Unfortunately, even with their great BOGO deals, they tend to be the most expensive. The Fresh Market is the place to be on Tuesdays when their super high-quality ground beef and chicken breast are marked down to $2.99/lb. And Wal-Mart…well, it’s cheap. That and its convenient location is about all our local store has going for it.
But, thanks to a dermatologist appointment that landed me just a stone’s throw away from an ALDI that is nowhere near my neighborhood, I decided to check it out. And, my oh my, am I glad I did!!
Afterwards, I told all my lovely followers on Facebook about it and WOWZA!! They had some super strong, super helpful opinions, tips, and tricks to share with this ALDI-newbie. And, in the spirit of their enthusiasm and generosity, I’m here to share it all with you.
To be quite honest, I had the completely wrong idea about what this store was. Imagine how happy I was to be proven wrong! Let me clarify. For the longest time, I had it in my head that it was a scratch & dent, overstock kind of place. Far from it! The produce was beautiful, the shelves were well stocked, and the store was very clean. I’m embarrassed to admit that, in my head, I had equated “discount” with “less than.”
Sure, many people initially start shopping at here because of budgetary concerns. And for good reason! I snagged so many deals on my trip! Beyond that, though, here are the top 5 reasons my friends are all about the ALDI.
A simpler shopping experience. Yep, the store and small and there aren’t many brands to choose from per item. But that would seem to mean that you can be in and out quicker, right?
Less waste. ALDI doesn’t have grocery bags as a complimentary feature. Bring your own, or you won’t have them! Simple as that.
Reasonably priced organics. I’ll say it. I’ve got some very “crunchy” and particular friends. (Nothing but love, there. Y’all know that.) At a lot of stores, trying to buy organic will break the bank. Not at ALDI, though! There’s a great selection throughout the store, including meats, packaged items, dairy, and sustainably sourced fish and seafood. Also, a friend pointed out that their store-brand kid’s cereals are colored with fruit juice and not synthetic dyes! Good to know, right?
UTZ-certified chocolates. If you would have asked me even 5 minutes ago what that meant, I would have had no idea. But! My friend Jessi knew and clued me in that this is a very good thing. It means that the (absolutely delicious) chocolates are environmentally friendly and sourced in a humanitarian way (at least, that’s my interpretation). So you can feel even better about your decision to indulge! It’s a win-win!
The savings really add up! Elizabeth told me that she can usually save about $50 on a big trip to ALDI versus her local grocery chain. And Jen said that she was able to throw quite a party for 75 people on a $200 budget (minus the booze, of course) by shopping there! Other friends noted that they can put together an impressive charcuterie board on the cheap thanks to the imported meats and cheeses available. Another really good point was that by choosing to save some money at ALDI, they didn’t feel bad about splurging in other areas of the grocery budget. Makes good sense to me!
The Dos and Don’ts of ALDI Shopping
Quite frankly, there aren’t too many don’ts on the list! I think the most common hesitation people have is with the fresh meats. Some remember back in the day when the store’s reputation wasn’t so good. Others simply prefer the the taste of meat from other places. As for me and my house…we’ll probably stick with the meat from Publix and Fresh Market.
Another don’t was pre-packaged processed foods (i.e. mac ‘n cheese or mashed potatoes). Apparently, the sodium content is a bit too high and the quality of the product isn’t worth the little bit of savings you might get.
And while produce mostly got a huge thumbs up from my friends, they did recommend to really check anything that comes in a package (bags of apples, boxes of berries, etc). Like the adage says, one bad apple really can ruin the whole bunch.
The last don’t is kind of a fun one, though. My friends would also tell you DON’T miss shopping in the seasonal housewares aisle!! From garden hoses to laminators and everything in between, quality and price just can’t be beat.
The real fun in my Facebook post, though, was when people started listing off all the things they LOVED to buy at ALDI. There were so many things, in fact, that I went ahead and made this handy dandy printable for you! Let’s call it the Ultimate Shopping Guide (downloadable/printable version: ALDI Shopping Guide).
So that’s it, friends! You can now count me in the ranks of faithful ALDI shoppers. What about you?