Where do you do your grocery shopping? I started doing my weekly shopping at Aldi a little over a year ago, and let me tell y’all, it has changed me. But there is a learning curve for learning how to shop at Aldi. And that’s what we’re covering today—my definitive guide for shopping at Aldi.
First of all, if you’ve never heard of Aldi, it’s a budget-friendly supermarket chain, that still carries some really great products and groceries. It was originally founded in Germany in 1946, and now has more than 11,000 locations all around the world, including 1,600 in the U.S.
Aldi is super affordable, but it doesn’t feel “cheap.” They have a great selection of produce, meats, canned food, dairy, cleaning products, home goods, and more.
Here is my ultimate guide for how to shop at Aldi.
Aldi is quite a different experience, so your first visit might be a bit of an adjustment. So let’s start with the basics.
What to know before you even walk in the store
First of all, don’t try to make your first trip to Aldi a big shopping trip. Your first visit to Aldi might be a little overwhelming, since it is such a different experience compared to a more “regular” grocery store. For your first time shopping at Aldi, I recommend only buying a couple of items just to get the hang of it, or nothing at all, just browsing and getting a feel for your store.
Bring your own bags. Aldi doesn’t use plastic bags, like most grocery stores. You have to provide your own bags. They do offer brown bags at the registers for a small fee, or you can buy nicer, reusable bags around the store. I’ve got a few bags myself, including a couple insulated ones for cold items.
Have a quarter. You have to “unlock” the shopping carts with a quarter each time you use one. But you get the quarter back once you lock your cart back up when you’re done.
Don’t expect to see a ton of name brands. You’ll find some here and there, but for the most part, Aldi carries its own brand, which is what helps keep the prices down. And their store brand is pretty great. I haven’t found a whole lot that I’ve been disappointed in.
Be prepared to bag your own groceries. The checkout clerks are speedy when scanning items. They can get through a seemingly long line like magic. But that’s mostly because they’re not also bagging your groceries. They put them back in a cart for you to bag yourself. Remember those reusable bags you brought? That’s where those come in.
And like any other grocery shopping trip, make a list. It’ll keep you less distracted and will help you navigate the aisles—which aren’t always intuitively laid out.How to shop at #Aldi Click To Tweet
Okay, now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s move on to the important stuff.
What to buy, and what NOT to buy, when you shop at Aldi
Okay, so, here’s the thing about Aldi. They sell a lot of their stuff in larger sizes or bulk, especially produce. So if you only need one or two of a certain item, say, a single sweet potato or just a couple of lemons, I recommend getting that at your regular grocery store.
Here’s what’s on my usual shopping list:
- Small potatoes for roasting
- Salad mix
- Canned goods (beans, tomatoes, some canned fruit)
- Condiments (peanut butter, mayonnaise, ketchup, etc.)
- Bread (sometimes)
- Veggies (carrots, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, mostly)
- Cheese (in several forms)
- Various meats (ground turkey, chicken breasts, sausage)
- Frozen goods (on occasion)
- Baking goods (flour, sugar spices, oils, etc.)
These are things I consume within a week or two, or freeze to use later (e.g., meats). I will say that produce is hit or miss, but mostly hit in my experiences. I go through a box of strawberries and a small container of raspberries in a week.
I absolutely love Aldi’s cheese selection. Not gonna lie, it’s what won me over when I first started shopping here. They have your usual blocks of cheddar, Colby jack, Monterrey, Swiss, etc., but they also have an amazing selection of “special” or “fancy” cheeses, like Brie, Camembert, gouda, Irish cheddar, goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, and more. I pick up a pack of string cheese every other week or so, because it makes a great snack for work. Most of their “fancy” cheeses range from $2.49 to $3.99, which is super affordable, considering most grocery stories carry mini Brie wheels for $5 or $6. My other favorite cheese finds are smoked gouda and blueberry vanilla goat cheese. Or any kind of goat cheese.
Now, here are some items I DON’T recommend buying at Aldi.
- Some cleaning supplies.
- Bathroom goods.
- Pet goods—especially if your animal is as finicky as mine.
- Single or low-quantity produce.
Cleaning supplies are also hit or miss. Paper towels, dish soap, sponges, zip-top bags, disinfecting wipes, and simple stuff like that aren’t bad. I still buy toilet paper at my regular grocery store, because Aldi only carries the kind I like in super-bulk sizes, if at all. Glass cleaner, laundry detergent, and multipurpose cleaners are also still reserved for regular grocery store trips. I still go name brand for most cleaners. Aldi’s bathroom and beauty selection is pretty limited, so if you’re picky about your bath and beauty supplies, save those for grocery stores, Walmart, or Target. But if you’re okay with basic, go for it. Also, I’ve never seen cotton balls at Aldi… which seems odd, but you do you, Aldi.
If you’re any degree of a coffee snob, I’d pass on Aldi’s coffee selection. It isn’t the worst coffee I’ve ever had, but it’s certainly not my favorite. It’s a little bitter and doesn’t have a ton of actual flavor. Stick to your other preferred brands, or even better, buy local.
For the pet stuff, I can’t speak to the dog supplies, but I have found that I like their kitty litter. My cat is super finicky and picky, so I haven’t tried their cat food. Maggie likes her Fancy Feast quite a lot. Their pet selection is kind of limited, anyway.Your ultimate guide to shopping at Aldi Click To Tweet
Now, let’s talk about the Random Sh*t aisles. I don’t even know how to describe them otherwise. There are two aisles in my Aldi that carry just about anything and everything. Sale items, last-chance items, food storage, utensils, gardening tools, camping gear, pool floats, a few clothing items, organizational items, and literally almost anything else. I’ve seen a six-person camping tent for $80 (and later regretted not buying it) and a “multipurpose inflatable mattress,” next to an eclectic selection of jams, spreads, and boxed dinners.
Bottom line: don’t skip the Random Sh*t aisles. They’re at least worth a browse, and you never know what you’ll find. They evolve seasonally, so you really never know what you’ll find. And if you see something you like, or might like, get it. Because it probably won’t be there next time you go.
This is an example of a “usual” Aldi shopping haul for me: apples, berries, milk, veggies, cheese, avocados, chicken sausage, turkey sausage, lemons, limes, eggs, salad dressing, salad mix, chicken breasts, cleaning wipes, and a few other things hidden in there. I rarely spend more than $70 in my shopping trips. I believe this one was somewhere around $50? So Aldi is a super budget-friendly grocery store.
Whew… so that’s my crash course for how to shop at Aldi. It took me a few visits to get the hang of it, but now I’m an Aldi loyalist and am always happy to talk more about it.
Where do you do your grocery shopping? Have you ever shopped at an Aldi? What tips do you have for successfully shopping at Aldi?