How To Shop At ALDI

how-to-shop-at-aldi

This post is Sponsored by ALDI, however all opinions are 100% mine and I shop here weekly.

When I was a child I’d hated going to ALDI…

My mom hardly shopped there, but my aunt did (I spent a lot of time at my aunts) and I remember those horrible trips where the store was over crowded, full of processed foods, long lines, and it seemed like we were there for days.

I avoided shopping at ALDI when I grew up because of the dread. Just seeing the store sign made me cringe and have flashbacks.

When I lost everything I had to cut back on the lifestyle I was living, and that’s when I discovered what a gem ALDI really is.

I had a store right around the corner from my apartment (well maybe a few blocks away). I hadn’t been to ALDI in years and the store changed drastically from my youth. There was fresh fruits and veggies, fresh meats, snacks galore, cheeses, breads, so much stuff I had no idea what to do. I know I needed boxes or my own bags, but I really had no idea where to start.

I’ve been an advocate for shopping at ALDI for years now. I’ve had so many people tell me they aren’t able to find anything when they go into ALDI so I’m writing this post to help you out.

Lets get started…How to Shop at ALDI

Before You Visit ALDI

Call to find out what time your nearest ALDI closes. The first time I attempted to visit ALDI it was around 9 pm. The doors were locked and the staff was heading out. Most ALDI stores are open from 9 am to 8 pm Monday-Saturday and 10 am to 7 pm on Sunday.

Just like you scan the sales ads at your grocery store, scan the sales ads at ALDI and make your shopping list before you go to the store. Although foods at ALDI tend to be cheaper than regular grocery stores, sometimes that’s not the case. Make sure you plan a list from the sales ad for the maximum amount of savings. The sales ads usually come in the mail weekly, but you can also check online. You can even go to the website, plan your shopping list and print it to bring to the store with you.

Check your ad, or ALDI’s website for specials. I always check the website because I often get my sales ad’s late, which means I miss out on the deals. Here are a few things to search for:

  • Fresh Meat Special Buys = Every Wednesday ALDI has a fresh meat special buy. I’ve seen them on crablegs, roast, chicken, and more. The fresh meat special buys are usually advertised a week before, so when you leave the store pick up an ad preview of the next week. I’ve only been able to take advantage of one fresh meat special buy on chicken breast because I was able to get there as soon as the store opened. If you’re trying to take advantage of the sale get there early because it goes quickly.
  • Special Buys= Whenever you walk into ALDI there is a section in the middle of the store called “Special Buys.” It’s mostly themed items. I got a bunch of football party items for the Superbowl one year. Around Cinco de Mayo I was able to score a set of tortilla warmers and cast iron fajita skillets for cheap. Around the beginning of the year there are fitness related items, but I really love the “Back to School” themed Special Buys. I can stock up on desk lamps, laundry baskets, storage totes and more. Sometimes (if everything isn’t sold) these items go on clearance making it even cheaper.
  • New Low Prices= ALDI has a section on the website that list price drops of a variety of items. Make sure you check the site before you go to save even more money.

Make sure you have your own bags on hand to bag your groceries. ALDI has bags, but they cost. You can also find boxes throughout the store to place your food items in. Just be sure to have a plan before you go so you won’t look dumfounded at the checkout line.

When You Get To ALDI

Aldi-carts

Carts

The carts at ALDI are outdoors and requires a quarter to dispatch a basket. Don’t worry, you’ll get your quarter back when you leave. I think this precaution was put in place to prevent people from stealing the baskets.

Just walk up to the carts, there is a little red box on the cart with a small chain. Insert a quarter into the slot and your basket is released. Once you leave place the chain into the slot of a connecting basket and your quarter will pop out.

Shopping

When you first walk into the store you’re greeted with boxes stacked on top of boxes overflowing with delicious foods. ALDI is a warehouse store. The reason the food is so affordable is there are no shelves and there are no bags. When I walk in I usually grab a decent size box and put it in my basket, then I shop for my groceries. I’m not sure what the layout of each store is, but most of them in my area are similar.

In the first aisle you’ll find chips, candy, cereals, breakfast foods, salad dressings, condiments, packaged fruits, pudding, fruit snacks, dried nuts, trail mixes, and more.

aldi-cereal

Straight to the back of the first aisle is baked goods such as blueberry muffins, danishes, specialty baked goods and more.

Next to that you’ll find the milk and egg coolers, then the dairy section. In the dairy section you’ll find cheeses, biscuits, cookie dough, sandwich meats, yogurt, and other items usually in the (dairy/refrigerated section).

aldi-milk

The second aisle usually has all of your spices and baked goods. At the front of the second aisle you’ll also find beverages, sodas, juices, miscellaneous items. Across the aisle in the second row is the Special Buys area, you’ll find a plethora of items on sale, mostly items for the home, or seasonal items.

The next aisle behind the second row is where you can stock up on various fresh fruits and vegetables, in that area you can also pick up bread, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, tortillas.

There is a refrigerated section in that area where you can get fresh meats, frozen packages items, ex. frozen chicken breast, frozen wings, chicken pot pies, frozen fruits and veggies, fresh salad mixes, spinach. I also find orange juice, almond milk, and a variety of frozen or refrigerated items.

At the top section of the third row you’ll find canned vegetables, canned fruits, canned beans, can soups, canned tuna, canned meats.

aldi-canned-goods

On the other side of the third row there are household items such as toilet paper, paper towels, body wash, hand soap, detergent, trash bags, storage baggies. I don’t shop this section often because I go to other stores for coupon match ups, but the products they have are cheaper than regular stores. I do sometimes shop for their storage baggies, they are just as good as Ziploc and cost a fraction of the price.

ALDI-toilet-paper

In the last row of the store one wall is refrigerated and has frozen foods, such as egg rolls, seafood, frozen chicken fingers, fish sticks, ice cream, frozen treats (my boyfriend loves the cheesecakes), and more. The other side of the aisle has broths, pastas, rices, noodles,  specialty cooking items for Italian, Asian, and other cultural foods.

What Else & Tips 

Here are a few need to know items, and tips:

ALDI sells wines, sangrias (which I heard are amazing), and beers. Not sure if that’s in every state but I have them in mine.

ALDI also has over 30 “Gluten Free” items in the store everyday.

ALDI sells pet foods and sometimes has items in the Special Buys section for pets.

Sign up for ALDI’s email list for emails about “Special Buys,” promos, weekly ads, and more.

ALDI-Checkout

Checkout

ALDI has four methods of payment: Cash, Debit, EBT, and ALDI Gift Certificates.

ALDI does not accept coupons. *Periodically, ALDI sends a store coupon in the mail.*

The lines may be long but they move very fast. Make sure you check your receipt afterwards to make sure they didn’t ring up something twice. The cashiers move quickly so it happens sometimes.

  • Make sure you remove all items from your cart, boxes, or bags and lay them on the belt so the cashiers can scan quickly. If you are buying any bags put them in front and let the cashier know so he/she can ring them up.
  • Sometimes (most times) they’ll ring up your items and put them in a cart that was already there, you’ll then swap your empty cart and take the full cart of your food (notice on my picture the empty cart waiting to be loaded).
  • You’re responsible for bagging your own groceries. There is an area with a long counter along the wall. You simply take your basket, and bags or boxes to the wall and package your foods.

Once you bag your groceries and head out of the store, stop to grab a preview ad of the next weeks “Special Buys.”

ALDI-special-buys

Don’t forget after you load your groceries into your vehicle to return your shopping cart to the baskets area to retrieve your quarter. A lot of times someone is walking in and will swap you a quarter for your basket.

I hope that you find this post helpful in conquering your shopping trip to ALDI, be sure to check out my post “The Best Items To Buy at ALDI.” Also, if I missed anything let me know in the comments.

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3 Comments

  1. April 21, 2015 / 9:45 pm

    You’re welcome Leslie! I have another post showing the best items to buy at ALDI.

  2. Leslie
    April 21, 2015 / 6:24 pm

    I just started frequenting Aldi in the last year (although they’ve been around me nearly my whole life). I sooooo wish that I had stumbled upon this post before that first trip! The carts, no bags, and cash/debit only totally threw me for a loop. Now that I’m in the groove, it has its place in my own frugal sale shopping line-up but I didn’t know about the Special Buys and New Low Prices. Thanks for the tips!

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