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A Mom’s Guide to Aldi

IMG_1807First things first, this is NOT a sponsored post.  No one paid me to write it, nor did I receive any free products (although I would gladly take some!).  I just wanted to share my love for Aldi (and all bargain-shopping tips) with you today!  Truth be told, the majority of my trips to the grocery store are to Walmart.  It’s cheap, it’s near my house, and they have everything you could possibly need to buy, all in one store.  With three kids under the age of 7, plus another one on the way, this is key for me.  But, about once a month, we make a trip to our second favorite (Aldi), and I’m here to tell you why you should consider it as well.

If you’ve never been to Aldi, then you are in for an adventure. And who doesn’t love an adventure?!  I highly recommend taking the kids; if they’ve never had the Aldi experience, there will be so many new, fun things to see and do, which will make it less likely that they start slapping each other and/or throwing temper tantrums in aisle 7.  But let me warn you:  Aldi is nothing like your other grocery stores.  Unlike HyVee, there is no “helpful smile in every aisle”, but it’s not because they don’t want to help you out.  Unlike Walmart, there are not seventeen cashiers standing at the ready when you decide you’re done filling your cart; there’s probably only one or two cashiers at any given Aldi.  And unlike Fareway or your other hometown grocery store, there is no drive-up service or someone to walk you to your car and load your bags into your trunk.  In fact, there isn’t even someone to bag your groceries!  But, all of the above in mind, consider the reasoning:  with fewer employees to pay, no bags/baggers, and mostly off-brand items, Aldi turns out to be a bargain-shopping mama’s dream.come.true. 

And so, back to the adventure. Here’s a quick list of tips for your first (of many) trip to Aldi:

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1. Come Prepared. First rule of Aldi shopping: do not leave home without a quarter.  They have the quarter-system for their grocery carts, in which you insert a quarter in the slot on the cart to unlock it, and when you return the cart, your quarter comes back out.  My kids love this part.  In fact, my boys fight over which one will be putting the quarter in, and which will be taking it out.  Again, it’s all an adventure.  Oh, and also don’t leave home without some reusable shopping bags, foldable thirty-one totes, or anything else to carry your groceries.  I wasn’t lying when I said there aren’t any bags (unless you want to purchase them), so you will need to bring your own, or else search for empty boxes on the shelves (more on that later).

 

 

image2 (2)2. Make It Fun For The Kids.  The adventure does not have to end with the quarter slots in the cart, my friends.  Aldi offers the double-seated cart model!  Two kids, in the top part of the cart? Amazing! I can actually reach both of them, plus still have room in my cart for the actual groceries.  Hallelujah!  Mine love to sit together in the cart (90% of the time), and it always makes for a great photo opp.  Once we’ve started shopping, the fun continues as they get to pick out some of their favorite snacks at less than half the cost of the other grocery stores that we normally visit.  I swear mine are in shock at the amount of times I say “yes” to their requests in the Aldi aisles!  Oh, and the most fun?  Searching for those empty boxes!  Adults and kids alike are on the hunt at Aldi, looking for the best size box to carry home the goodies.  The trick is to find one with two or more compartments (keep the cold stuff separate from the dry goods), and one that is basically empty on the shelf, so you don’t have to empty it yourself.  My kids are getting great at finding the “perfect box”!

 

 

 

3. Produce, Produce, Produce.  The number one thing we head to Aldi for is the produce.  As all of you mamas know, we are frequently finding ourselves back in the minivan headed to the store we were just at three days ago, for bread and milk and produce.  The essentials.  Am I right?  Well, if your list is that short and you are looking for bargains, head to Aldi! Their produce is always fresh and delicious, and seriously the prices can NOT be beat! Just today when I was there, the strawberries were $1.39 and the blueberries were $1.69.  Those prices are unheard of! $1.29 for three heads of broccoli? Yes please! (My kids eat broccoli like it’s going out of style).

4. Stock the Pantry.  Again, if Aldi isn’t your “main” grocery store, at least plan a monthly trip to stock up on the non-perishables in your pantry, because you can save some serious cash.  Canned goods average between 59 and 69 cents, you guys.  Cereal, baking items, juice boxes, and more.  All at less than half of what I’m used to paying.  I even found some of the squeeze applesauce pouches that my kids love, and the price made me so happy I bought one of each flavor!

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5.  Milk It.  My love for Aldi stems from milk.  When my boys were 1 and 2 (before my daughter even came along), they had me honestly considering buying a cow to keep up with their milk consumption.  Disgusting, I know.  And then, I stopped at Aldi for a few things, and it was like the gates of heaven opened up in the form of a dairy cooler.  I’m not joking, there is nowhere you can find milk as cheap as Aldi.  While the gallons are tipping the scales around $4 these days, I bought mine for $2.69 this morning.  And with another baby coming soon, I’m sure I’ll be back to buying 2 or 3 gallons at a time.

 

 

 

image1 (3)6. Don’t Skip the Seasonal Aisle!  Aldi’s hidden treasures (sometimes literally hidden behind other things) can often be found in the seasonal aisle/section.  Household gadgets, fun toys, we even bought our umbrella for our patio table there (and a really nice one, at that!).  At Christmas, they have some awesome, unique cookies/candies (perfect for gifts), and in the summer they have some of the best sparkling lemonade you will ever have.  I may or may not have four bottles in my pantry as I write this.

 

7. Remain Calm.  Aldi definitely was not made for you Type A mamas.  The aisles don’t always make sense, there are items strewn about (blame that on the search for the perfect box), and there doesn’t seem to be a single employee in the store to help you.  But if you can survive the not-so-normal check out lane, you are basically home free.  So here’s how it works: you put all of your items up on the conveyor belt (normal) and the cashier starts to swipe the over the scanner (still normal…or so it seems).  But this motion will happen in freakishly fast fast-forward mode.  Mainly because they don’t have to bag anything; they just swipe and toss into the cart sitting next to them.  So, get your wallet ready (they don’t take checks, by the way), and next get your kids out of the cart, because as soon as your order is complete, they are going to grab that cart, swing it around the edge of their scanner, and start swiping the next person’s groceries.  I’m not kidding, this stuff happens so fast I feel like my head is spinning.  And then you’re off to pack up your groceries! Which I actually love, by the way.  I love packing everything up the way I like it, and not having my bananas crushed by canned goods.  So, the kids and I get out our reusable bags, and a couple of the best boxes we could find on our treasure hunt, and we pack it up.  They love this part, too.  And then of course it’s outside to get back our quarter!

If you can survive the whirlwind check-out, and boxing up your own goodies, then you are home free.  Blast the AC in your minivan, hand the kids a donut (Aldi has the best chocolate covered donuts!), and take a swig of your sparkling lemonade as you glance over your bargain-filled receipt before you start driving home.  Your wallet will thank you, your kids will thank you for the adventure (and the donut), and you will feel like super-mom when you feed them a plate full of yummy fruits and vegetables that you bought for $1.69.

Take the plunge.  Go to Aldi.  And then tell me what good bargains you got!  Chances are you’ll see me there, too! Oh, and where else do YOU like to go for a good bargain?!  Leave a comment and share your secrets!  And then read here for one of my other favorites, TJMaxx.

{And a shout out to all of our bargain-hunting mamas.  If you haven’t joined our Facebook group “ICMB Bargain Hunting Mamas”, search for us today!}

 

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10 Responses to A Mom’s Guide to Aldi

  1. Lana July 24, 2015 at 5:09 pm #

    The sparkling lemonade IS the best! Sadly, this pregnancy I have to watch my sugar, and Tom bought one for me the other day thinking he was being nice. I have watched him drink it, enjoying my sugar-free beverages. 🙂

  2. Andrea July 25, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

    I shop Aldi and like it but I don’t think their produce is a good value at all. I’ve never bought any berries of any kind that didn’t have mold in them or didn’t become moldy overnight. We know if we buy fruit we must eat it *that day* or it’s no good, same for some of the mushrooms, squash, etc. But we do enjoy their bagged salads and they typically have a good variety of organic carrots and tomatoes. The yogurt, milk, cheese, and veggie patties are a great value, as is the cereal. We actually prefer their brand of the “shredded wheat” over the name brand. They also do not take credit cards or check. They accept debit cards or cash only.

  3. Jackie July 25, 2015 at 5:41 pm #

    I live in Cedar Rapids and have been an avid Aldi shopper for years. I have a few extra tips to add. First, Aldi is a great store for holiday meals. They often have the lowest prices on ham at Christmas and Easter, and ours also carries Butterball turkeys for the lowest price at Thanksgiving. I should also add that they sell many brand name toys and games around holidays for good prices, however I like to wait until AFTER the holidays and stock up on gifts. Because Aldi stores don’t have a lot of extra room, they try to clear out their seasonal items very quickly, which means they will mark down their prices drastically to get the items to sell. Last year I got a Graco doll set with a doll stroller, high chair, and pack-n-play for $5 after Christmas that I just set aside for my daughter’s birthday! These mega-bargains will vary by store, so it’s always a good idea to shop after the holidays just to see what you can find!

    Second, I always use the Aldi ad to make my menus. Every week they highlight different meat specials and fresh produce, in addition to their seasonal items. I have heard others complain that they have difficulty finding fresh produce since it is often very ripe and must be eaten right away. However, I’ve discovered if you can go after their truck has arrived (our store is usually Mondays), you can get the sale price and still have fresh fruit and veggies that will last several days, just like at any other store. Their ads also highlight special promotions. For example, June was national dairy month, so Aldi sold milk for $1.69 per gallon!

    I tend not to buy a ton of fresh meat from Aldi, but I do buy a lot of frozen meat from there. Wild caught salmon is usually only $3.99 per pound, frozen whole chickens range from $0.79-0.95 per pound, and ground turkey ranges from $1.69-1.89 per pound, which is lower priced than any other store (unless that store are running a special). I love having healthy protein choices that aren’t outrageous prices!

    Finally, there are a few hidden gems that a lot of people may miss at their local Aldi store. If you need gluten-free items, Aldi has the best prices hands down. Their milk is hormone-free, and they are just now starting to offer more organic, dye-free, and antibiotic-free food choices as well. Oh, and don’t forget to check out their selection of fresh flowers. They sell roses in bouquets of 6 stems for $3.99, making a dozen roses only $8! I have used these for visiting friends in the hospital, thank you gifts for teachers, and as surprises at my daughter’s dance recitals. Some of their other bouquets besides their roses are equally as lovely for their $3.99 price!

  4. Laura Hathaway July 26, 2015 at 11:23 am #

    You are sooo right. We have shopped at Aldi for years! We even have a favorite Aldi! Love the prices and, yes, the seasonal aisle. That sparkling lemonade is the BEST!! No matter how many bottles I buy, it’s always gone in two days. Great post! — Laura

  5. Rachael T July 29, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

    We just got a Little Tikes water table for our toddlers for $29.99 there a few weeks ago and the kids LOVE it. Their almond milk is cheaper then anywhere else. And I love that they have a lot of organic and natural foods. Less sugar for my kids makes me a happy mommy.

    Fun fact, did you know that Aldi and Trader Joe’s are part of the same parent company? I think I read somewhere that it is 2 brothers that own them.

    I just wish there was a location closer to where we live.

  6. Kimberly July 29, 2015 at 9:55 pm #

    Ok forgive my ignorance because I have not been to Aldi since i had kids…what do I do with my kids when they have to get out of the cart at check out?!? I have 15 month old twins…they can’t walk through the parking lot by themselves and I won’t be carrying two toddlers and all my groceries! I need that cart to get them to the car!

    • Sara July 29, 2015 at 10:50 pm #

      The goods from your cart get transferred to an empty buggy next to the register. As soon as all is transferred…(or even before!)…you move your kids to the new cart as well. After you pay, you just roll the new cart (full of your food and your kids) to a counter area a few steps away. That is where you get to repack everything into boxes and bags if necessary. And finally….you roll out to the parking lot, deposit kids and food into car, return your buggy, grab your quarter, and finally….put that quarter into a special place in the car for your next Aldi’s trip (my special spot is the tiny crevice next to the door handle!) Not an issue at all. I have 3 kids and do it all the time!

  7. Sybil July 29, 2015 at 10:08 pm #

    I love aldis…it is my favorite and very affordable.. You forgot to mention they don’t take credit cards either just debit .

  8. Rebecca July 30, 2015 at 8:03 am #

    We love Aldi, but many of our groceries come from Dollar Tree. They are the one dollar store I know of that actually charges a dollar or less per item. They have household items, books, toys, dry goods, and even frozen foods like ice cream, fruit, pork sausage, prepared sandwiches, and more. My coworkers laugh because most of my lunches come from there.

  9. LeAnn March 12, 2017 at 8:56 pm #

    Love Aldi. We are in East Texas and milk is $.69 and a dozen eggs is $.47 right now. The produce is so cheap and most of it last forever. We love most of all the Aldi brand products like tortilla chips, crackers, cheese, cold cuts and so many more. It can be very overwhelming shopping there though and I like going alone. My husband likes to go but it’s not easy for him with his anxiety of being in crowded places. It’s a zoo on the weekends. Lol.

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