I'm addicted to Aldi. Once you go and spend a quarter less than you're used to on your groceries while still buying organic, there's no turning back. I actually have conversations with my dad over savings and have a friend with whom I text with over good deals. My sister in law even has the Aldi app to alert her to new items, lowered prices, and seasonal items. One of the elements I like most about Aldi is it's size. With a toddler in tow, larger groceries stores (and God forbid Target) can become overwhelming and boring--getting us to the point where he asks to get out of the cart (it's more of a whine and climb move, really). I found that by shopping at Aldi where the store is a quarter of the size of a normal grocery store, he will typically rest content in the cart while helping me choose food. It not only helps me to shop easier, it becomes a learning experience for him as a helper, putting a quarter in the cart, choosing fruit and vegetables, packing items into bags. I like Aldi for it's straightforward approach to groceries, the size of the store, the prices of the food, but also for the experiences I'm able to have with my son.
The reason Aldi is so much cheaper and concise is that they don't use brands for food. The foods they offer may very well be from a certain brand, but they are labeled with Aldi brands, similar to Trader Joe's (they are, by the way, owned by the same company as Trader Joe's). So, for example, you can buy Kind brand granola bars at Target for $3.09, but you can buy the same granola bar branded as an Elevation bar for $2.99. Or Organic Milk for example, a half gallon can be up to $5.49 at my local grocery store, whereas at Aldi, it comes at a price of $2.95. I've listed some of my favorite items along with their prices here in this post too, if you're interested! Altogether, I find shopping at Aldi makes eating organic affordable.
Here are my helpful hints for shopping at Aldi:
ONE // Bring a quarter.
They use the quarter cart system so be prepared. Walk up to the carts and you'll notice they are chained together so to speak. Insert your quarter and push it in, the chain that attaches it to the cart behind it will pop out. When you're done shopping you simply return it to the cart area and insert the chain, you'll get your quarter back. Jeff LOVES to help with this, as soon as we pull into the parking lot I ask him if he can help me get the cart and he likes the responsibility of holding the quarter and putting it in. Toddler win!
TWO // Bring your own bags.
When you check out they have a cart at the end of the aisle and they just drop everything into that cart. You then pay and give them your now empty cart and take your full one. They have a nice long countertop directly across from checkout that you can bag your groceries in. For me, I like this because I get to put things together that I want together, instead of cringing watching a bagger destroy the system I was aiming for when I unloaded my cart onto the conveyer belt.
THREE // Shop Organic!
Aldi has their own brand of food called “Simply Nature”. This is the line that carries their organic products. Just be sure to read the labels depending on what you want because sometimes Simply Nature will be Non-GMO and USDA organic (Coconut Oil), and sometimes they will just be Non-GMO (Sprouted bread).
Aldi has a second line called “Never Any”. This is food that is not organic but that NEVER contains antibiotics, hormones, or animal by-products. Organic food largely has to do with an animal's diet prior to slaughter. So for example, their chicken is “Never Any” but their ground beef is Organic and Non-GMO which encapsulate what the “Never Any” line does. So Organic is the best but “Never Any” is the next best option.
FOUR // Go With A Friend
If it’s your first time shopping there, I highly recommend going with an Aldi veteran friend. I did for my first trip and it made the anxiousness and wonder of the whole process easier. Of course, you can go on your own, but for me it was really helpful to have a friend show me the ropes (and how to checkout!).
FIVE // Understand Where You're Shopping
It isn't totally glamorous, you're basically shopping in a small warehouse. Often, items are simply stacked in the boxes they arrived in, kind of like at Costco. It really doesn't bother me, because I'm there to get necessities at a good price, for example, at a local grocery store I used to spend about $150 every two weeks. At Aldi, buying the same items and sometimes more (thanks to their seasonal aisle lol) I typically spend between $90-120. It's worth it.
Don't be surprised if they don't have specific items (for example certain spices like Bay Leaves or novelty items like sun dried tomatoes). They have all the staples and rotate some novelty items, but I sometimes have to run into the "regular" grocery store when I'm on the hunt for something specific.
Have any Aldi favorites I should try? Let me know in the comments and I'll get them on my next trip!