Okay, I’ve met a lot of people who would deem themselves knowledgable critics. They will give me plenty of reasons why they are not going to shop at Aldi. I’ve heard it all. “They can lie on their nutrition labels.” “I just can’t trust their meat.” “If it’s so cheap there has to be something wrong with it.” Well, I’m pretty sure there are plenty of laws in place about lying on nutrition labels. Their meat isn’t bad. Again, they couldn’t sell it if it was. I will say, their meat and produce don’t always have as much of a life as they would if they were from a leading grocery store, but I just buy what I need. What I can’t use I freeze.
The thing about Aldi is they know exactly how they can lower prices without sacrificing the food itself.
This part isn’t always the most fun, but I just try to remember that if they had everything I needed, including a fresh cut of salmon and the specialty vinaigrette for the salad to go with it, the prices would not be what I want them to be and, well, we wouldn’t have an Aldi anymore. I will say, when I made my trip to Aldi the other day I was a little surprised that I couldn’t find corn starch. But since I had my grocery list laid out and I was already making a trip to another grocery store to get the things I knew I wouldn’t find at Aldi, I just moved it from one list to the other and went on with my day. You might be thinking that it’s not worth the extra trip to Aldi, and you’ll probably lose time because you have to go to two different grocery stores. I’d like to say that’s not the case. The amount of time it takes me to stop at a second grocery store on the way home is probably made up in the amount of time I save by speeding through Aldi and grabbing the one brand (see below) that they have of each thing I need and heading back out the door. After shopping there consistently for about a year now, I know where everything is. It makes my shopping trips pretty quick. Once you start shopping at Aldi more often you’ll get an idea of what they do and don’t have and make arrangements based on that.
Aldi has it figured out. The people that shop there do so because they want cheap prices. So they sell one brand of everything for cheap. Less food on the shelves = less money they have to spend. In my opinion, it makes shopping easier too. They already did all of the price-checking for me. No more standing in front of the peanut butter and comparing prices per ounce to figure out which one is the best deal. I just grab and go. One thing I’ve learned is that a lot of the brands that they have are actually made by the same majo companies that you see at other grocery stores. They just repackage them and change the name. Their Fit & Active brand, which is their more organic option, is made by the same people as a brand sold at a natural foods store. So there you go. One brand, but a good brand, at a low price. Every now and then you see name brand Pop Tarts and things, but they are more expensive. Just go with the off-brand. Trust me, the quality is still there.
Bring Your Own Bag, Return Your Own Cart.
If you think about it, stores spend a lot of money on shopping bags. In order to lower the price of their food, Aldi does not hand out bags. Instead, you can bring your own bags or buy either their reusable or disposable bags. If I forget my bags I grab some empty food boxes from the aisles and use those. It seems even easier to me than carrying bags of food.
Other grocery stores also have to pay their employees to carry carts back inside from the cart returns. Aldi has a cart-return policy. When you get there you place a quarter in your cart which releases the cart. When you replace your cart you get that quarter back. Simple as that. It lowers the store’s expenses, which lowers the cost of your food.
The faster the checkout, the less employees the company needs to be working at a given time. Aldi has multiple extra-large barcodes on their products. At the register, the cashiers don’t have to turn over the items to scan them, so the checkout is faster. They also do not take checks or credit cards. Cash, debit cards, and food stamps only. Just punch in your pin or hand them some cash and go on your way. No signing, no writing out a check. Quick and easy. Debit cards are cheaper for them than credit cards, and checks can bounce causing additional fees. They really seemed to think of everything.
There’s more on the list. They cut down on shelving by having self-displaying packaging to save on labor and costs. They carry a select amount of produce at a time. They have shorter store hours (they’re only open until 8 most days of the week. That’s a test for me. I prefer to grocery shop after 10 pm). Everything they do is to make things cheaper and easier for their customers.
So, here’s to you, Aldi. I can make a very reasonable grocery budget and still have delicious things for dinner every night.
To all you skeptics, I hope you’ll check it out now. Or at least check out Aldi’s website. They have a lot of information there as well.