Only two to three years ago I was mainly shopping at Giant Eagle and Trader Joe’s for our food and household needs. I still love Trader Joe’s and will stop in whenever I am in the area but my heart has changed. I am an Aldi convert. The bulk of my grocery shopping is done there and I do not see that changing as long as I am within 50 miles of an Aldi. Luckily I have one about five minutes away from me currently.
Two years ago I was spending $1200 a month easily at grocery stores. Nowadays the top end up of my grocery budget is $700 a month. That is a HUGE change and it is do to some diet changes (less paleo centric) and shopping different stores. Pretty much all of my food and household extras (like toilet paper and dishwasher soap) are bought at Aldi. I shop elsewhere for most of my meat purchases and via Amazon Prime for a few other toiletries. Gone are the days of going into Giant Eagle and dropping $300 on a shopping cart full of groceries. Now I go up to the Aldi checkout with an overflowing cart and only spend $100. It is an amazing thing.
The crazy thing is that I have lived very close to Aldi for six years now and did not go there until 1-2 years ago. Why? Because I envisioned it to be like shopping at Big Lots or dollar stores for food. Right or wrong I have always had an attitude about stores like this and imagine their food to be old and the stuff no bought that gets funneled to the cheapy stores. My husband encouraged me to visit Aldi and I refused with my nose stuck up in the air. The very first time I went, tagging along with my husband, I was hooked. I was like a kid discovery DisneyLand. No kidding. These days I have even been known to buy a few things at Big Lots if I am in the area. Oh, how times have changed.
But why is Aldo so great? In my opinion the regular prices at Aldi are equal to or better than the best sale prices at other grocery stores.
Why is Aldi So Much Cheaper?
There are quite a few reason why shopping Aldi saves you money. Here are a few of them that add to big time savings for the customer.
- They offer a narrow selection. They do not have 20 different options for barbecue sauce and 10 different mayo choices. They have two. Not having to fill their store with every option available means they spend less money to stock their stores and waste less money having to deeply discount stuff just to get it out the door. All their products have a high turnover or they don’t sell them.
- You rent shopping carts for a quarter. Aldi doesn’t have to pay people to round up carts because the customers return them on their own. You have to insert a quarter in a cart to unlock it and then you get your quarter back when you return it. You always return it because you want that quarter in your car and waiting until your next Aldi trip.
- You bag your own groceries and you bring your own bags or pay for them. Yes! This company does it right. They scan all the groceries and put them back into a cart. When you have finished paying you take the cart over to a long table and bag your groceries in your own reusable bags. If you forgot them you can buy reusable bags or paper bags at the checkout. They do not have to pay associates to bag groceries or pay for bags in general, saving you money.
- Aldi private label products have many barcodes (like 4-5 on a single product). This makes checkout super fast, it is actually amazing to watch. They get customers checked out way faster and therefore they require fewer checkout people. My Aldi only has four checkout lanes and the most I have seen running at the same time is two.
- Because everything is so efficient they have little need for lots of employees. Usually they only have 3-4 working at any given time. Can you imagine a grocery store staffed by only four people? It is amazing and it ends up being reflected in their prices.
- Stocking shelves is easy because they leave everything in the bulk boxes they are shipped in. Items like milk and eggs stay on huge rolling carts with shelves. Sugar, flour, and heavy items are left on pallets. All of these little changes mean less time involved stocking shelves.
- Produce is not sold by the pound so there is no weighing and extra time involved at checkout.
- They have great clearances and sales to make way for new and seasonal products. Loved that peppermint silk pie they had around the holidays? Well, that $6 pie is $2 after the holidays and you can stock up for birthdays and special occasions.
I am simply amazed by the prices. $.69 cents for eggs. $1.50 for milk. Cereal for $1.29 a box. Real orange juice for $1.99 as carton. It is crazy! Produce prices are always the best in town and they have plenty of organic and gluten free products that cost a bit more but are still cheaper than anywhere else. I also stock up on seasonal and sale items. Once I had been eyeballing a cheesecake sampler box for $6.99 every time I went in and then after a few weeks I saw the samplers for $1.99. Needless to say I bought them all for future parties and entertaining. Recently I went in right at opening because I am an early riser and discovered all their whole chickens had large discount stickers on them making each bird only $3 and some change. I bought a bunch and froze them. I have also bought hams after the holidays for about $5 a ham and they are huge hams that are bigger than my six quart crockpot.
Another HUGE cost savings is available via bloggers who have done the legwork and figured out the best ways to leverage Aldi. I adore the Aldi meals plans from I Am That Lady. I think I have all of them and a $150ish dollars and one day spent prepping and freezing meals will result in meals for two weeks or so. When I buckle down and do these plans I save even more, dropping my food budget down to $400 for a family of five with two teens. There are grilled food plans, crockpot plans, dump meals, gluten free meals, etc. They come with shopping lists organized by aisle number too. I highly recommend the Aldi meal plans!!
Another great resource is a book you can find on Amazon, Slash Your Grocery Budget and Eat a Whole Foods Diet with ALDI. It is written by a blogger friend of mine and a mother of eight. It is a great resource for eating healthy and cheap at Aldi with lots of recipes included as well. You can get it free if you have Kindle Unlimited. Enjoy and happy shopping!