Aldi in Wonderland: An Unfamiliar Shopper’s Guide
I was 21, newly-wed, and quite poor when a coworker first told me about this tiny European grocer. “You are crazy if you don’t shop at Aldi! Everything is half as expensive!” he said. I nodded my head politely, but all I heard was “blah-blah-blah dirty and gross and in a sketchy neighborhood.”
So, maybe I had some preconceived notions. One of these notions–better costs more–is why I delayed my pioneer trip to Aldi. I mean, if I wanted wholesome, quality groceries I should pay out the nose for it! Right?…right?
Today I’m going to share everything you need to know in order to…
1) Accept that Aldi can save you money (while offering great quality)
2) Not look like a total baffoon shopping there.
3) Save MORE money with a few thrifty tips.
Then I’m going to share my family’s grocery list that makes 5 dinners and a hearty breakfast for $55!
Let’s get started!
(cue: heavenly chorus singing)
How Aldi saves you money:
You bring your own shopping bags or buy them at checkout. My store charges 10 cents for plastic, 5 cents for paper.
You bag your own groceries! This is one of the many ways Aldi saves on labor costs.
There is no customer service desk, no staff to collect grocery carts, and no telephone in the store.
There is a limited and heavily discounted product selection and they don’t accept manufacturer’s coupons. As a result, there is no fluff in the prices.
The items are left in the original shipped boxes and not shelved with fancy displays. Very utilitarian.
So are you convinced? Let’s go shopping!
4 Important Tidbits:
1) Bring a quarter. You will need it to rent a shopping cart. No worries—you get that quarter back!
2) Bring bags from home or be prepared to purchase them. Bonus points for earth-friendly bags!
3) Bring cash or a debit card. No credit is accepted at Aldi.
4) This is not an all-in-one store. There are basic groceries and random other goods.
4 Thrifty Tips:
1) Plan your menu in advance. If you can double up on certain ingredients, do it! I buy bagged spinach every week and make sure it’s in at least two meals. A little planning goes a long way.
2) Check out their website or facebook page for weekly specials. Last month I got avacados for 25 cents each!
On your way out the door, grab the preview pamphlet to plan the next menu. Savings for the next week, as well as Special Buys, are listed therein.
3) There is a 100% Aldi Guaruntee. If you don’t like your product, you get a full refund or replacement!
4) You really need to check this place out. There are tons of boxed and canned goods, but there are also healthful—and even organic—choices you may be surprised to find.
Grab this pamphlet on your way out for next week’s specials.
My Top 10 favorite buys at Aldi:
10. Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
9. Premade spicy guacamole
8. Ground chicken
7. Speciality cheeses (buffalo mozzarella, seasoned feta, etc)
6. Sea Salt Pita Chips
5. Almond milk
4. Organic pineapple
3. Mamas Cozis Freshmade Supreme Pizza
1. Donut House Keurig pods
I suggest the donut house coffee
There is also a great variety of organic produce, ethnic foods, and sales on brand names you’ll recognize! Their off-brand Skinny Cow Ice Cream sandwiches are NOMNOM-able.
I used to spend >$125 a week on groceries. My new budget is $60.
This week’s list/menu assumes you have the following items in your kitchen: salad dressing, olive oil, salsa, dried basil, and powdered mashed potatoes. If you don’t have potatoes, they are 85 cents per packet at Aldi!