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.
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.