The Ultimate Aldi Survival Guide For Beginners

 ALDI for Beginners

Our family spends half of the money we used to on groceries. I don’t coupon. My family doesn’t price match. I definitely don’t go to multiple stores to get weekly deals. On top of that, we eat pretty healthy – fruits, vegetables, nuts and protein. So, what’s my not-so-secret secret?  

Aldi!

 ALDI for Beginners

(And it’s not-so-secret because most of my frugal friends shop the same way I do.)

When we committed to pay off $81,400 in consumer debt, I knew I had to get our food budget under control. We love eating out. We hate leftovers. (Except Pizza). And all the red in our bank account showed it.

I came across reviews on Aldi so I gave it a try. My family did NOT jump on the Aldi bandwagon right away. I bought a few generic brand items that my husband did not like. I would go to Aldi during the week, hide all evidence of Aldi shopping bags and tell him the food was from Publix! Ha!

But even from the beginning, I knew there was something about the store. So, I went back. And I went back again. I figured out what to (and NOT to buy) and I kept sharing the amount of savings with my husband.

Now we do 90% of our shopping at Aldi. My husband even goes and LIKES it.

 ALDI for Beginners

How I Shop At Aldi

Shopping at Aldi is much simpler than a mainstream supermarket and will save you major time. They only carry one brand of each produce so you don’t have to browse through brands and decide which cheese or black bean can is best.

I buy the same items from week to week to save even more time. Here’s what my shopping list looks like:

  • 2-4 bags/containers of snack food (pretzels, tortilla chips, unsalted peanuts, raisins)
  • 1-2 boxes of cereal (Aldi brand Cheerios, rice crispies, or a canister of oatmeal)
  • Baking goods if needed (spices, flour, sugar, olive oil)
  • Canned goods (black beans, canned chicken, canned pineapple)
  • Bread products (tortillas, honey wheat bread, whole grain bread, mini bagels)
  • Fruit (I buy about 15-20 dollars worth of seasonal fruit…we LOVE fruit for snacks.)
  • Vegetables (Cartons of the organic spring mix for salads, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.)
  • Meat (whatever is on sale or in recipes for the week)
  • Dairy (2 cartons of unsweetened Vanilla almond milk, yogurt)
  • 3-4 cartons of eggs
  • Household products (laundry, paper products, soaps, even diapers!)

Do you notice the fresh whole chicken for 3.54?! That’s not normal – just a really great sale price I jumped on!

What We Don’t Buy At Aldi

Aldi’s business model is to carry one of each product in their brand with a few exceptions. Aldi does carry some name brands, including Coke-a-cola, Old Spice deodorant, Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce and Downy fabric softener. Our first major fail was with Aldi brand soda. Coincidence? I think not.

From years of shopping, I believe Aldi knows that they can’t recreate certain products so they just offer the name brand product. Customers won’t have to stop at a second store for their favorite brands.

Here’s my best Aldi advice – if you see an Aldi product AND a name brand, know that the product may not taste/smell/work the same way as the name brand. So, if you are in love with a certain flavor or smell, just go with the name brand. If not, give the Aldi brand a try!

Other things I don’t buy at Aldi…because they don’t offer it:

  • Fresh cut deli meat – We run to Publix for fresh sliced deli meat because it’s so good. (We do buy Aldi packaged deli meat on occasion.)
  • Fresh deli bread – Again, we pick up fresh bread occasionally from Publix
  • Fresh herbs – Sometimes they offer cilantro in the vegetable case, but not often. That’s why I try to grow my own.
  • Specialty seasoning and dressings – While they do offer spices for an incredible $1, they are missing a few classics that I use like curry, cajun and poultry seasoning. They also don’t carry sesame oil, which is a favorite for asian food.

Other Tips For Shopping At Aldi

  1. Bring a quarter. You’ll need it to get a cart. You do get that quarter back when you return the cart at the end. If you forget, I’ve found that Aldi will loan you a quarter at the register. (Or maybe that’s just me because the cashier feels bad I am shopping with 2 small kids!)
  2. Bring bags. I am guilty of forgetting these often. They do offer plastic bags for 10 cents each which is well worth it.
  3. Be prepared to bag your own groceries. Every Aldi has a long countertop for you to bag your own groceries. The cashiers move really quickly and place all your items back in your cart for you to load.

If you haven’t been to Aldi but you LOVE saving money, check it out ASAP. Have you ever been to Aldi? If yes, what’s your favorite product? 

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