Sunday, January 30, 2011

ALDI: A Whole New Experience

I went to ALDI for the first time last week. My twin sister, Kristin, raved about it and I had been meaning to go for years. I thought it was an average grocery store. I was wrong. My feel experience would have been completely different if I knew something about the "ALDI Culture".

Sure, I saw the carts outside but figured I would find one inside the doors. I was wrong. I tried to leave but I couldn't get out of the 'Entrance Only' door. So we had to walk around the entire store to go back outside to get a cart. I picked up my heavy c and realized I had to pay a quarter. What? Pay for a cart? I found out later I would get the quarter back once I returned the cart. This way they don't have to pay an employee to round up the carts and (hopefully) the carts won't disappear.

I didn't realize most of the food is generic..I mean ALDI's select brand. I saw a few brands I recognized but not many. I really liked the L'oven Fresh whole wheat bread--it is soft and delicious. And I picked up canned tomatoes for chili because I figure I wouldn't be able to taste the difference. My friend, Kristina, told me she is addicted to the Mercer animal crackers. I was also surprised by the small selection; ALDI stocks about 1,000 products compared to over 25,000 at a typical grocery store).

Cash or Debit Only
ALDI does not accept credit cards---just cash and PIN-based debit cards. And you have to bag your own groceries, eliminating the expense of baggers. I have experienced all this before. But what I didn't expect to see is that they don't have bags. I usually bring in my own 'green' bags but had forgotten. The checker asked if I wanted to purchase bags--I didn't realize saying no meant all my groceries were going back in my cart. As I wheeled my groceries out I noticed 'experienced' shoppers were bagging their groceries on a long shelf that locked like a folding table at a laundry mat. Luckily I had a bag in the car to make the transfer a little easier.

One Week Challenge
The ALDI website encourages shoppers to do all their grocery shopping at ALDI for one week and then compare your receipts with other grocery stores.They are so confident you will like what you find they offer a Double Guarantee: "If for any reason, you are not 100% satisfied with any product, we will gladly replace the product AND refund your money."
What's Next
I am looking forward to my return trip. I just wish the checkers would ask, "Have you shopped at ALDI before?" It would have made things a lot easier...especially when you are shopping with a toddler. 

Quarter in my pocket? Check. Debit card and green bags? Check. Ok, let's go back to ALDI.

Find an ALDI near you and let me know what you think. Just don't forget to return your cart.


  1. We had a similar experience the first time we shopped at Aldi, but I have to say, once you know what you are in for, there is no comparison. $80 of groceries at Copps will cost you about $30 at Copps, I've found. And I haven't had any complaints with the quality of food compared to the name brand versions at other stores.

  2. Great blog, love it! I should share this with the HR people at Aldi who I work with! Now I want to try those animal crackers. Think I got that bread, yummy, but worried it has that bad ingredient you told me to look out for. Great job!

  3. Kim said the bread has high fructose corn syrup. She was right. No wonder I liked it. Please tell your ALDI friends I love the store but wish they would tell new customers 'the rules!'

  4. I went to Aldi once and never again. I never even made it to the check out line or had the need of a cart. It definately wasn't at all what I expected. I don't know how anyone could do all of their grocery shopping there. Once just opened in Fitchburg and I was thinking about checking it out. Maybe I will have to take a stroll through and see now that I know what to expect. :)

  5. Sounds like grocery stores in Vienna...deposit for carts, bringing own bags. That is one part of Europe I didn't enjoy. ha We don't have Aldi here, so I can only live vicariously through you. :)