The Aldi Experience

The first time I ever visited an Aldi grocery store was when I was 16 years old.  I just passed the exam for my driver’s license.  One Saturday, I wanted to borrow my grandmother’s car to go cruising with my friends.  She agreed to let me borrow the car for a few hours, but I had to work for the privilege to use it.

My job was to go to the market for her.  My assignment was not to go to any random supermarket, but to go to Aldi.  I have never been to Aldi before.  I knew where the store was located, but did not even know that it was a grocery store.

Aldi is not like any regular supermarket.  You need to bring some supplies with you.  My grandmother armed me with a single quarter ($0.25) as well as 6 or 7 cloth bags.

At Aldi, customers must put a quarter in the shopping cart to rent it.  By renting the cart, shoppers have an incentive to return the cart back to the rack after they are finished shopping to get their quarter back.  This reduces labor cost because the employees do not have to go around the parking lot to round up the shopping carts.  Plus, Aldi only has a few employees staffed per shift.

Aldi does not have grocery bags.  Customers must bring their own.  They were green and environmentally friendly before it was a trend.  This too is a cost saving measure because they do not have the expense of providing plastic or paper bags for customers to use.

I was only a kid at the time and did not exactly know how much groceries cost.  Even though it was a new experience, I was impressed with the amount of food that I could purchase for $35.  I had those 6 or 7 bags filled with groceries.

When I delivered the groceries to my grandmother, I asked her if there is a big difference in price between Aldi and the other local stores.  She said yes.  A shopper saves about 30% by buying their groceries at Aldi.

Fast forward a couple of decades 

I have recently read a few articles about Aldi.  Their business is booming.  They are currently working on building over 450 new stores.

There is also a ton of buzz around shopping for groceries at Aldi in the financial independence community.   I read that PoF from Physician on FIRE  shops at Aldi and there was a review of Aldi on The Wall Street Physician.  All the buzz motivated me to give it a try.

My wife and I normally go to the grocery store once per week.  We do an inventory and create a list of what we need to purchase for the next week. Our orders are generally the same every week.  At our local Shop Rite, we spend about $110 per week on average.  We are price conscious shoppers and try to only buy what is on sale.  We are also health conscious and mostly buy healthy foods such as fruit, vegetables, lean meats, whole wheat bread or pasta, and fat free dairy products.

When we went to our local Aldi, it was under construction, but still open.  They are doubling the size of the store.  Other than building new stores, Aldi is also expanding the size of many of their current locations.

The layout of the store was just as I remembered.  Like every grocery store, the aisles are broken down by category.  Being new to the store, it took us about 5 minutes to find out where everything we needed to buy was located.  It was easy to find what we were looking for.

We were in the store for about 10 seconds before I started noticing the prices.  It did not take long for me to pick-up on the major difference between our local Shop Rite and Aldi.  When we checked-out the amount owed was $75.  That was for our full weekly order that normally costs $110.

Conclusion

After reviewing the Aldi experiment, we will be shopping there from now on.  On our first visit, we saved $35 compared to virtually the same order at our local Shop Rite the previous week.  That was a difference of more than 30%.

Most of the products at Aldi are their own brand.  When we shop at Shop Rite, we also buy store brands when available.  Aldi also sells some name brands.  The price for name brand products at Aldi still cost less for the same product at our local grocery store.

If we can save $35 per week by shopping at Aldi, that would be over $1,800 in savings per year in our grocery bill.  That $1,800 in savings is just for a household of 2 adults.  Shopping at Aldi would provide even greater savings for a larger household with more members.

If you are interested in finding the store closest to you, go to their website www.aldi.com.

What is nice about their website is that they provide the weekly sales flyer online.

Have you ever shopped at Aldi?

If you have, please share your experience.

12 thoughts on “The Aldi Experience

  1. Matt

    Mastering the layout of the grocery store is probably one of my proudest adult accomplishments. We do 90% of our shopping at Kroger, but there’s an Aldi right across the street and I go there around once a month, but I know the Kroger so well it’s really just habit at this point. $1800 a year in savings is amazing and we have pretty similar grocery expenses – definitely gonna make it my FIRST (and hopefully only) stop next time.

    Reply
    1. thefinancialjourneyman Post author

      We don’t have Kroger in the Northeast.

      As for Aldi, we have shopped there 6 times now and are seeing about $35 per week in savings vs the big supermarket.

      We are able to get get about 90% of what we need at Aldi.

      We might have to go to a larger supermarket once every 5 weeks.

      Reply
  2. BucketBabe

    I am one of Aldi’s biggest fans. We get Kerrygold grass fed butter, organic eggs, really good and in season produce, and wonderful charcuterie with a vast selection of cheeses and meats regularly. We cook about 90% of all our meals including our brown bag lunches. For example, their meat special last week was thick cut pork chops which we stuffed with Aldi herbed goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh spinach, serving it with a frozen Aldi offering of Mediterranean quinoa and a side of asparagus spears. I get about 90% of my groceries there and shop the asian market and an occasional Wal-Mart Neighborhood mart for the pop up need. I believe I get incredible value, excellent products (not to mention their fairly vast gluten free items – a necessity) for at least 65-70% of the “normal” cost of groceries. Occasionally, there’s even a surprise! I bought an entire of box of LARGE size European with hazelnut chocolate bars to make the honey very happy!

    Reply
    1. thefinancialjourneyman Post author

      We just went shopping again at Aldi’s last night.

      We are hooked.

      Our bill came to $62 for 5 bags full of groceries including meats.

      Thanks for sharing what your favorite groceries are.

      We have had the quinoa and love it.

      As you said, we can get about 90% of our groceries at Aldi’s.

      Reply
  3. ~Lisa~

    I am a huge fan if Aldi’s! We especially love the the produce. It is priced well and they have great selections.
    Our store is under going remodeling and we are looking forward to the expansion being completed.

    I also find it amusing that people actually have conversations in the parking lot when you are returning the cart. They will offer you a quarter or even better offer you the cart for free.

    Reply
  4. Crispy Doc

    We have yet to get an Aldi near us, but they are expanding in California and we look forward to the future option of shopping there. I first heard of them from Justin at Root of Good, and it seems they continue to make fans of folks who are looking for value.

    In the meantime, we stick with twice-monthly Costco runs (we live off their frozen salmon and tilapia). In between, as we run low on fruits and veggies, I ride my bike to a nearby Trader Joe’s for decent values on great food. It’s not quite the Korean grocery we visited when I lived in SF, but for the suburbs, it’s a terrific option for our family of 4 and we eat healthfully without Whole Paycheck prices.

    Unrelated, your story is very inspiring and I look forward to reading more great posts from you over time!

    Fondly,

    CD

    Reply
    1. thefinancialjourneyman Post author

      Thanks for the comment CD.

      Trader Joe’s and Aldi are owned by the same company.

      Costco is also great for value because you buy in bulk.

      In the summer, near me, there are farmers markets.

      The fruit and veggies that we buy there are amazing.

      Ty,
      Dave

      Reply
  5. timeinthemarket

    I’ve switched to pretty much entirely Trader Joe’s in the past year after shopping at other stores(including Whole Foods) before that and my grocery bill is around $100/month these days where it was much higher before. I’ve always wanted to check out Aldi but there really isn’t one nearby whereas Trader Joe’s is within a few minutes and that offers a relatively good price point for high quality items. I know TJ’s and Aldi’s are similar stores since they are owned by the same companies so not sure how much variance there is in price and quality.

    I will have to make the drive to Aldi’s sometime soon just to check it out and see if it’s worth adding the additional distance to my shopping.

    Reply
  6. Emily@johnjanedoe

    I love Aldi prices, but a Lidl opened not too far away. Lidl’s prices are just as good (they are also a German company), and I think the quality is a touch better. (Aldi produce always seems to go bad on me.) Like Aldi and Trader Joe’s, it’s mostly store brands.

    But the store environment was nicer than Aldi and the service was better. Right now they are only in Virginia and the Carolinas, but I’m guessing they will grow quickly.

    Reply

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