Save a Pretty Penny by Shopping at Aldi for Groceries

Aldi was founded by 2 brothers in Germany in 1962 as a low cost grocery store.  Aldi opened its first store in the US in 1976.  Today, there are 1,000 stores throughout America and over 8,000 stores worldwide.

They have a “no frills” approach to selling groceries and strip away any excess spending on their part to bring the cost of groceries down for you.  Here are examples of what they do to maintain a low overhead:

1) Require a $.25 deposit for a grocery cart.

This is my personal favorite! To use a grocery cart you need to have a quarter.  The carts are all hooked together by means of a chain, a “key”, and a “lock box”.  You insert your quarter in the “lock box” and it pushes the key/chain out of the box from the rear and you are free to take the cart.  When you are done shopping, bring the cart back, insert the chain/key into the rear of the box and your quarter pops out of the front.  By doing this, they have eliminated the need to have employees constantly gathering carts.  I have NEVER seen a stray cart in Aldi’s parking lot.  People always want to get their quarter back.

2) Sell food off pallets and do minimal shelf stocking.

Their grocery items are sold stacked in boxes on pallets.  In some cases they have shelves, but the shelves are intended to hold the boxes of smaller items.  When an item sells out, they wheel out another pallet.  It reminds me of a small scale warehouse store like Costco and Sams.

3) Sell Aldi brand products.

Aldi, as an international juggernaut, has made the best deals with companies to provide quality products and the best cost for all their stores.  I saw a special on TV where many of Aldi’s products come off the same production line as name brand items just with an Aldi brand name. They are so sure of their products that they offer a double guarantee:  If you do not like the taste or quality of the food you buy at Aldi they will replace the product AND refund your money.

By the way, they also sell name brand products of items that they have collectively bargained for. Ex. Hershey chocolate chips, etc…

4) Keep a smaller inventory of staples.

They sell what moves.  Think staples: milk, bread, eggs, cereal, flour, sugar, spices, canned soups, canned veggies, paper products, etc…  They also have popular veggies and fruits:  lettuce, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, bananas, oranges, apples, etc… And they sell meat and frozen items:  Hamburger, hot dogs, lunch  meat, chicken, beef, pizza, ice cream, hot wings, etc…  I shop Aldi first and then go to a big grocery store later to get specialty items like cilantro or saffron.

5) Their checkout process is FAST and efficient.

Once you shop at Aldi, you will develop a strategy for putting stuff on the belt at the checkout.  Generally, they only need ONE cashier.  They do not bag any items at Aldi.  You put your stuff on the belt and they have a shopping cart at the end of the line to put your items in.  They don’t stack or arrange, they don’t organize or worry about crushing things – they just scan and drop stuff into the cart.  I have seen them put bread and eggs in the child seat, but mostly the food is FLYING off the belt.  This is no joke, by the time you have unloaded your cart, the cashier is done ringing you up and is waiting for your payment.

7) Cash or debit ONLY

Nice and simple.  No credit cards, no checks.

8 ) Charge $.25 for grocery bags.

Since they do not bag for you, you must bring your own bags or pay for theirs.  When you are done checking out, you wheel your cart over to one of the long counters and bag your own items.  You can also scan the aisles for empty boxes as you go and use those to box up your groceries.

Those are a few of the highlights of how they save money to save you money.  I just spent $89 on groceries to feed 6 people 5 meals for our camping trip this weekend.   That’s $2.96 per meal!  While I was bagging my groceries, I overheard a lady exclaiming over the cost of her purchase.  This was her first time and she was shocked that she got an entire grocery cart of goods for $80.  She said, “I’d pay twice this much if I was at Food Lion.”

If you have never heard about Aldi, go to their website and see if there is a store near you.

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