Now, I realize this seems like a bit of a simplistic topic, but not everyone is up on the rules and quirks of being an Aldi's consumer.
For those of you who are NOT couponers and don't have a competitive bunch of grocery stores around you, Aldi is a great place for you to shop.
I have memories of Aldi from back in the '90s when everything was canned, the meat and produce was atrocious, and the best you could find was cheap prices on Veg-All. In fact, this memory kept me from taking advantage of the Aldi that is just down the road. Then entered a hike in milk prices, along with an Aldi milk sale. I went to the trouble of going there as well as my normal stop, and was able to save nearly $5.00 per week just on milk, eggs, and bread. Then I got a coupon in the mail for $5.00 a $25.00 worth of groceries for Aldi and I rose to the challenge of doing all my grocery shopping at Aldi for two weeks in a row. I have to say, I wouldn't want to be exclusively an Aldi shopper here, since the grocery stores are so competitive, but in the rural area I grew up in, I'd seriously consider it. The most remarkable difference I've found in Aldi is in the quality of produce. Not everything is fantastic there, but in my estimation, the quality is about as good as Walmart's produce, at a fraction of the cost. If you're lucky enough to be there when they're getting rid of day old bread, you're really in for a steal. They sell white loaves for as cheap as 15 cents and wheat for around 30 cents, and they're delicious. Their bread is much better than any of the generics I've had from Walmart, Kroger, or Meijer.
If you're in a grocery rut, and you'd like to try something new to lower your costs, get $10.00 in cash and try out your local Aldi...it may surprise you how much you like it!
Now, here are some things to remember about shopping at Aldi's.
1. They don't pay anyone to collect carts. They give an incentive to their customers to bring the carts back, namely, you have to put a quarter in the cart to use it. You will get it back when you return the cart, but don't forget your quarter. It will make you miserable, I promise.
2. They don't provide bags. You need to either bring your own, or hunt around the store for boxes to use. My kids get the biggest kick out of bagging our own groceries...they think it's one of the best things about shopping at Aldi's.
3. There are very few marketing techniques used at Aldi's. If you rely on end displays and flashy signs, you may be surprised at how little you're saving. The savings are all over at Aldi's. If you know what things cost from store to store (I'll be posting on this some in the future), you'll see the prices and notice a difference immediately. They generally don't give you visual clues to the deals--you have to be a smart shopper to start with.
4. If you have small kids to take to the store and you're overwhelmed at the prospect, Aldi's is a great place to start. Their stores tend to be small and rather informal. It's easy for you to see a runner...and the bathrooms are small and conveniently located so you can continue shopping while you wait. They are very family friendly, in my opinion.
5. Their coffee is terrible. This is just a personal head's up. MOST of the generics I've tried have been really good. Not so with the coffee...so look out.
6. The fresh meats are usually not a deal, at least here, if you shop meat sales at other stores. The quality seems to be pretty good, but I haven't been overly impressed with the prices of them. The frozen meats tend to be a great buy, however.
7. If you're someone who doesn't do a lot of cooking from scratch, but you want to cut costs, this is the place for you to be. There is an Aldi version of just about every pre-prepared or meal kit I've ever seen at a fraction of the price. It's a handy place to shop the week you're just too busy to cook.
8. Shop at Aldi for staples like crackers, canned fruit, and snack foods...that's where you get the best consistent deals.
9. Bring cash or a debit card...they won't accept credit.
Try it out, and if you're a loyal Aldi's shopper, give me a shout out about your favorite/most dreaded aspects of the store!