I must admit that I was a little intimidated the first time I shopped at Aldi. There’s a few things you need to know before shopping there, but with some preparation it should be smooth sailing!
Aldi tries to keep their prices as low as possible by using a no frills approach. With that, there’s a little more work on our part. Firstly, bring a quarter as this is needed to get a shopping cart. You will put a quarter in a slot in the cart to unlock it and then at the end of your trip when you lock the cart back up, you will get one back. Sometimes people in the parking lot may offer you a quarter for your cart so you both don’t have to walk to the cart corral.
Secondly, bring your own bags. The store does have bags for purchase in case you forget. Your cashier will put all your items in a cart and then it is your responsibility to bag your own groceries. There is a designated area to do so.
Thirdly, check the stores hours. From my understanding, stores are open from 9am-8pm during the week and 9am-7pm on the weekends. Double check before making an early morning and late night grocery run.
Until somewhat recently, the chain did not accept credit cards. Now all US locations take them so this is no longer an issue. EBT cards are welcome as well. Keep your coupons at home though as they do not accept manufactures coupons.
So now that you’re ready for your trip, it’s time to shop! I always stock up on milk, cheese, eggs and canned goods as they are significantly lower in price compared to the other stores I shop at. Budget-friendly grocery stores are notorious for selling a lot of processed unhealthy foods. Aldi does carry their fair share of these items, but also offers a lot of nutritious foods as well. They pride themselves on having milk free of artificial growth hormones and are working towards providing cage free eggs.
All the produce at Aldi is very reasonably priced. I feel like the quality is generally good but be sure to look over everything. I regularly buy onions, potatoes, green peppers and oranges there. The selection is pretty limited so don’t expect to find exotic fruit or other less common items there.
All the meat, fish and poultry is very affordable. They come prepackaged so specific requests are not an option. Again, selection is limited so options don’t go any further than the basics.
Aldi carries several of their own store-brand products, many of which are specifically geared towards health conscious customers. Here's the scoop on some of the different products available from some of these Aldi brands:
Fit & Active
This brand carries low fat and low calorie items. I would consider this their “diet” brand. Overall I think these products are good choices. There are some whole grain items available such as waffles, thin spaghetti and instant brown rice. Some low sodium options are available as well including chicken broth and petite diced tomatoes.
The Neufchatel cheese is just another name for low fat cream cheese so don’t be afraid of the fancy title. This works well as a substitute for regular cream cheese in something like a taco dip or dessert.
There are quinoa and brown rice side dishes in a few different flavors that are microwavable. They are higher in sodium than what is ideal, but compared to other similar products they are much more nutritious.
If you buy products like Healthy Choice or Lean Cuisine frozen meals, the Fit & Active frozen meals are significantly less expensive. Again, these aren’t low sodium options but could be useful when you’re short on time.
One thing to note regarding the Fit & Active brand is that there are a lot of low calorie snacks such fudgesicles and 100 calorie pack cookies. It’s great that these lower calorie treats are available, but remember that “low cal” doesn’t necessarily mean they are healthy.
SimplyNature products are made with “honest ingredients you can feel good giving to your family”. A lot of these products are organic. I personally buy the frozen blueberries for smoothies as this is the best price I’ve found for frozen fruit. Again, I would just be wary that organic and “honest ingredients” does not necessarily mean guilt-free. Eating too much of these foods can cause weight gain just like eating too much of any other food.
Aldi even has a gluten-free brand. If you or a loved one are following a gluten-free diet, you have to check these products out! Gluten-free products are notorious for being pretty pricey but the liveGfree products won’t give you sticker shock. Most people have good things to say about the hamburger buns, pretzels, cookie mix, and crackers.
I would recommend sticking to the Aldi brands when shopping at the store. The few name brand items they sell seem to have a higher price tag compared to other grocery stores.
All in all, shopping at Aldi can save you a significant amount of money. You may not be able to get 100% of everything you need as it is a smaller store, but it’s a great place to pick up staples that your family uses every day.