March 3, 2020

My Aldi Experience

Since mentioning that I had tried Aldi for the first time, many people have asked, "So, how did you like it?".  Read on to hear my thoughts!

In a nutshell - I am hooked.

I don't know why I waited so long to try it out before, but I am loving it.  However, I can see why it maybe wouldn't work for everyone, but what does?

The first question I get when I start talking about Aldi now is, "What is Aldi?"  A lot of people have seen it, but consider it to be just a cheap grocery store.  According to their website description listed below Aldi exclusive brands can save up to 50%.
 ALDI, one of America’s favorite grocers*, operates more than 1,900 stores in 36 states. We take a simple, cost-effective approach to grocery shopping that saves shoppers on their grocery bills. In fact, smart shoppers have found that switching from national brands to ALDI exclusive brands can save them up to 50 percent** on their weekly must-haves. More than 40 million customers each month benefit from the ALDI streamlined approach, bringing shoppers the highest quality products at the lowest possible prices every day.

Truth be told, Aldi has been around for a while.  With the first store opening in Germany in 1961, you can read the history of how it came to be here.  Although not as cute, Aldi is a bit Trader Joe's-esque with a little IKEA thrown in.  And even though there are some Trader Joe's ties to Aldi, they are actually owned and operated independently. To get the whole story, click here for all the juice of how Trader Joes and Aldi are kind of but not really in cahoots.  As the article puts it, "They are like estranged cousins."  Lol.

There are so many things I like about shopping at Aldi, with fewer dislikes.  Here's my take.


  • Limited selection* - Sometimes it is nice not to have to compare and contrast every item and just pick one.
  • Price Point - I have shopped at Aldi for the past 5 weeks now and can definitely say that their price point is significantly lower than many grocery stores, including Walmart (where I previously shopped).  We are saving anywhere from $25-50 a week on our normal grocery items.
  • No Bags- I didn't like this at first, but now that I have my basket system for getting my groceries from the car the house after each trip, it is nice to not have so many wasted bags and/or have to remember to take bags with me each time.  More on my baskets later.

  • Aldi Finds - new every week (Wednesdays) - These are so fun!  Aldi offers weekly items that range from food to housewares to clothing.  I have found so many great, low priced items that are great quality.  They advertise them a week before they hit the shelves so you know what to expect.  However, act fast, they usually don't get restocked!

Snagged these last week and love them. 
They would have been twice that price at Target or Home Goods!

  • Inexpensive organic options - We don't buy a lot of organic, or haven't before, due to price.  I tend to buy more from Aldi since the prices are more in line with non organic options in other grocery stores.
  • Check out is quick-  Because Aldi doesn't use bags, even if there is a line, check out is super quick.  They also have a cart waiting for your items, so you can unpack without the cashier having to wait on your cart.
*this is also a dislike!

Dislikes (kind of):

  • Limited selection - There are times when I need a specialty item or I want a certain brand that I know I will have to make a trip to a different grocery store.  I thought this would be a deal breaker for me in the beginning, but it hasn't been that much of an inconvenience.  When I was ordering on Walmart Grocery Pick Up I would have to do this at times for items that were out of stock, or that I forgot to add to my order, so it really hasn't been that different.
  • Buy veggies/fruit in larger quantities - Some fruits and vegetables are only sold in large quantities (pears, kiwi, potatoes, onions, etc).  Sometimes I don't need a bag of potatoes, I just need two.  That was frustrating at first, but now I just plan ahead and make two meals that week that will need whatever ingredient I have to buy in bulk.

  • No pick up option (Instacart delivery is available)- This has ended up not being that much of a dislike, but more inconvenience. It is nice at times to be able to schedule grocery pick up (getting back from vacation, busy weeks, etc).  I did Wal Mart pick up for about 3 years up until this point.  However, there are a few variables that makes this not that big a deal for us. 
1.  My Aldi store is only a mile from our house, so location makes shopping much more do-able 
2.  My kids are older and don't hate grocery shopping, so they don't mind coming along.  And, in all transparency, I actually missed grocery shopping...I mean the blog's name is Grocery Lane!  
I like having the kids help me (usually one at a time) pick out our weekly food and discuss costs, and needs/wants with them.  They are also great at helping me sort the food once we get to the car into the different baskets (produce, refrigerated/freezer, pantry) 
3.  Because of our location (work/home) and getting away early from school most days, our afternoons give us time to grocery shop without being rushed (most weeks).
  • Toiletries/Cleaners - There is a very limited selection of toiletries and house cleaners.  This usually gives me an excuse to go to Target for these items (oh, darn!).  So maybe this really should go in the like category!?!
  • Quarter for cart - So many people are turned off by this,  but it does help keep the carts out of the parking lot and in much better shape.  I have yet to have a cart that squeaks or is hard to push.   I just get nervous that I won't have a quarter in my purse when I need it!  I usually make sure to have two or three in my wallet and a few in the car just in case.  You get your quarter back, FYI, once you return your cart!  Another way Aldi keeps costs down.

Things to know:

--To cut costs, Aldi does not carry a lot of name brands.  And, if they do, it's usually not consistently and just one type/flavor.  For instance, they may sell LaCroix, but only the grapefruit flavor, not all selections.

--Aldi has a great selection of beer and wine along with meats and cheeses (they even sell cheese curds!!!).  If you are having a party and in need of charcuterie ingredients - this is the place to shop!

--New "Aldi Finds" come out every Wednesday and are usually not restocked.  The website and circulars let you know what items will be in stock the following week so you can plan ahead.   These are generally housewares, clothing, plants, etc.  I found my air fryer there and have been thrilled with the quality.  I am headed for some remote control puck lights tomorrow!

--The Aldi website and app are great resources as well as many Instagram accounts.  I love to see what other people are buying so I know what to look for on my next trip.  Some accounts I follow are @aldifavoritefinds, @aldisbuys, @theamazingaldi and @aldiusa.

--Aldi stocks GREAT greeting cards!  I am shocked at how cute and well made the greeting cards are...the envelopes are even lined and most of them have a 3-D element.  The best part - they are only $0.99!!!

I mean...alllll the heart eyes!  These were so cute I bought 3 just to have on hand!

Lists, baskets and more...

I definitely had to get back into the swing of making a grocery list.  I like to physically mark it out on paper, but phone lists are fine, too! 

I just keep a word document on my computer and then once my menu for the week is entered at the top I fill in the ingredients below.  This is how I originally got into meal planning and has been a no fail way for our family since the beginning.

I don't bring any bags with me to the store.  I have three baskets that I keep in the back of my SUV/trunk for my Aldi trips (they have actually come in handy for other items in our day to day lives, too!).  Once I check out and all of the groceries are put back into my cart - no bags remember, I go to my trunk and spread the three baskets out.

I fill one with produce, one with cold/frozen items and then if there is room I start with bread/fragile items.  I usually put the pantry items in behind the baskets just loose in the back of the car.  I am only driving a mile home and once home it is so easy to just pick up a basket and put it on the counter, verses 500 bags, and then refill the baskets.

Once I empty a basket onto the counter one of the kiddos, usually Everett, goes back to the car with the basket and fills it back up with whatever is left in the back.  I told him it's like putting a puzzle together and he has loved the challenge of making everything fit.  He actually prefers baskets to bags and because the baskets are a good size, it usually only takes 2 more trips for the car to be empty.

I know Aldi may not be for everybody, but it has been a great addition to our weekly routine and budget.

Happy shopping!

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