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Friday, May 15, 2015

Shopping at ALDI: What They Have, How to Shop There and Why I Love It

I was provided a trip to the ALDI headquarters in Batavia, IL.  All travel and accommodations were provided by ALDI.  This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.

As most of you know {since I had been shouting it from the rooftops}, I was invited to the ALDI Headquarters in Chicago in April. I felt honored and privileged to attend this blogger event {we are all pictured above}. As a long time ALDI shopper, I was intrigued to know their back story and see, up front and personal, how their store really works.

I'm not going to lie. They took very good care of us. From the flight there, to the travel to and from the hotel, to filling our bellies with delicious food, it was pretty much a vacation for me. I love my family to death, but it sure was nice to have a night away to myself! I won't bore you with the details but it did involve a scenic room view of the Fox River, turn down service that included a cozy robe, slippers, cookies and milk and care packages that lasted me through the headaches of travel. The people of ALDI really know how to treat a blogger like royalty.

But back to the purpose I was really there. To learn more about ALDI! And to give all of that information back to you.

Today I'm going to speak about what YOU all see. The store! ALDI gave us a grand tour of their store in Geneva, Illinois. This store was very similar to mine, as far as set-up and appearance, so from the start I felt very comfortable. 

And that is just one thing they do – they keep all their stores, for the most part, in the same set up, so if you visit one and then a different one a week later they look the same. They also house their warehouse in the same way. The aisles there mimic the aisles in the store. Everything is kept in the same order from distribution to your store aisles. This reduces time wasted on moving items from aisle to aisle and trying to figure out where in the store it is housed.

In case you've been living under a rock, ALDI takes great pride in their low price, high quality items. As this photo says, “We don't match other stores' prices because that would mean raising ours.”

There are many ways ALDI saves money, in order to keep giving us low prices. Things that other big boxed stores just do not do.

  • They do not provide plastic sacks, nor do they provide people to sack your groceries for you. The cashier will scan your items and then place them back in your cart. You then pack your groceries on a long table, using your own bags or boxes that you find off the store shelves.
  • When you arrive you put a quarter in a line of grocery carts, it releases one and you are off to shop. When finished shopping you push your cart back into the line, lock it up and it releases your quarter back to you. This saves on hiring a person to corral carts all day long.
  • Products are taken off the truck and placed directly on the shelves in open-faced boxes or packaging. No one is hired to “face” the shelves.
  • Items have multiple bar codes on the bags/boxes, allowing the cashier to scan the product quickly. No need to look for the bar code or type it in if the packaging is crushed.
  • ALDI designs their own packaging, in house, therefore eliminating the “middle man” {usually an ad agency} to make their product visually stimulating.
  • You will find just a few employees in their stores – a couple cashiers and a store manager.
While in Chicago, we did a lot of blind product taste testing {which I'll talk about in another post}, but the short version is this. Their stuff is good! Many of us could not tell the difference between an ALDI product vs. a national brand. And most times we liked the ALDI product better! Because of this ALDI has gotten a huge cult following.

Here are some of the reasons.

  • ALDI is committed to removing certified synthetic colors, trans fat, and MSG from all ALDI exclusive brand foods and more than 125 ingredients from SimplyNature products by the end of 2015.
  • Over the next five years, ALDI plans to unveil 650 new stores across the country, including expanding to Southern California, bringing its total number of stores in the US to nearly 2,000 by 2018.
  • They will continue to bring “Special Buys” into the stores. These items are a test product to see if buyers are interested. Many of these items become so popular they become permanent staples {think the Simply Organic brand and other gluten free brands}.
  • They provide a Double Guarantee. They replace the product AND refund your money.
  • Did I mention their ridiculously low prices?

In ALDI stores, as previously mentioned, they keep the set up the same. When you walk in you are immediately hit with crackers, chips, chocolate and alcohol.

I could probably live on those alone.

The middle aisles are kept for seasonal items {right now it's gardening}, canned goods, bakery items {the best!}, cleaning products, household items and other drinks {juice, soda, etc.} Produce, dairy, meat and frozen items flank the outside aisles of the store.

I want to mention some of my favorite go-to items in ALDI. How about coconut oil for $4.99? Cereal for $1.69? Ready made HUGE pizzas for $4.99? Organic frozen blueberries for $2.99? All of these are great buys. The prices cannot be matched anywhere.

And goat cheese {$1.99}! Did you know they have a huge selection of speciality cheeses? We buy pounds and pounds of string cheese and block cheese every two weeks. We like our dairy. And for those that have asked they do have organic milk {we buy that too}.

Their organic section is growing daily, I feel like every time I go, there is a new product. We often feast on their organic avocados {$3.99 for a bag}, carrots {99 cents}, bananas {69 cents/lb.} and grass fed beef {$6.99/lb.}. ALDI did not say this, but I honestly feel like the whole store will be organic someday.

Another favorite product is their BACON. Their new Never Any! brand is vegetarian raised and antibotic and preservative free. I would probably cook with bacon for every meal if my hips allowed it.

Shopping at ALDI does take some getting used to. Walking in the first time will be a bit confusing. It looks a bit different and you will need time to start recognizing their products, but trust me, one day it will all “click” and you'll be back again and again.

And you know what? It is not as overwhelming. Take a trip to your local grocery store. Go to the condiment aisle. Cruise the mustards. How many are there to choose from? 15? 20? At ALDI there is one, maybe two or three. Your mind will not have to go back and forth, trying to pick the one you need, plus do different price variations. You simply grab your mustard and move on.

Shopping at ALDI will save you time. Once you get a handle on where and what you like purchasing there, you'll be in and out in a snap {and the cashiers, move SUPER fast, it is pretty neat to watch}.

And lastly, you know what else? I love getting behind a store that loves it employees. Since their inception in the 1970's they have been paying their employees well above minimum wage. They also offer all full-time and PART-TIME employees full benefits.

As we were finishing up our tour that day and mingling by the door waiting for our shuttle, a store employee came over to us and asked if he could say something to the group.

He said, “I just want to thank you for coming here today and for what you guys do, because of that I have the best job.”

I almost teared up. He was so grateful for his job. You could tell he absolutely loved what he did, day in and day out. Why can't we all be that way? Just happy to HAVE a job? And even better, one that we love?

He ended our day on the brightest of bright notes.

I'll end with this. If you haven't been to ALDI yet, just go. Give it a whirl. Still on the fence, give it another try. It will takes a few trips to get the hang of it. And then one day it will click and you'll never turn back.

Stay tuned to Part II of my ALDI trip, where I'll focus on our product testing day, which also included guest speakers and so much more!


I was provided a trip to the ALDI headquarters in Batavia, IL. All travel and accommodations were provided by ALDI. This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.

Would you like to comment?

  1. I was so confused the first time I went into al Aldi. Love the way you laid it all out.

  2. I have honestly never been in an Aldi before, but it sounds like something I need to try out, now! Thanks for the great post!

  3. Don't forget that most stores only accept cash or debit - no credit cards!

  4. Yes, it does take a couple trips! Thanks for reading!

  5. I have shopped at Aldi's for over 20 years and that was way before it was "cool". It was out of necessity with a growing family and not a lot of money. I don't always shop there now but when i do I always come away saying "why don't I just come here first?" . Love their business plan and service. Great post and what fun to be chosen to go on that trip! I am a bit jealous!

  6. Good post! I love Aldi & buy 95% of our groceries there! Once you get familiar with it it's really so much quicker and not nearly as overwhelming as all the choices at a larger supermarket. Oh and so much cheaper!

  7. Great post, I always shop at Aldi when I can. So glad you had a great time Ally, and I loved seeing the pictures of products I've not yet tried but want to! www.ThroughHerLookingGlass.com

  8. IT was such a great trip and I am so grateful for the friendships we have.

  9. And I am so thankful for meeting you! Hugs!

  10. I loved how you said that Aldi's has a "cult" following. I can't believe how many people love going to Aldi's right now! I feel that it is the "in" thing. Growing up we had one 30 minutes away and would occasionally shop there. I'll always remember the grocery cart corral and needing a quarter to retrieve a cart. I also think the layout is unique and the whole business plan is interesting. I'm happy for you that you got to be apart of this experience! This makes me want to try out Aldi's again.

  11. I have to say, I was absolutely terrified to shop at Aldi for the first time! I'd never heard of or been to one, and asked my husband about it, since it was right across the street from our usual grocery store. He said that he just knew it was different than a regular grocery store and that he thought you had to buy stuff in bulk. It took me awhile to be brave enough to try it out and you're right- the first trip is so confusing! The quarter in the cart, the way it looks, the way you check out, no bags, and no credit cards! I definitely had a panic moment at the check out, but the employees were all so friendly and helpful it made me fall in love!

    I didn't use it to replace our regular shopping trips 100% but after that it was part of my usual routine. I'd bring visiting family and friends there and they'd fall in love too. I especially loved it around the holidays because how easy it is to grab boxes of items and for cheap- I used them exclusively for our Christmas food bank donations. I could usually fill the trunk of my Jeep with real food for $30-40!

    We've been in NC for 3.5 years now and I have a small SMALL list of things I miss from Chicago and ALDI is on that list, funny enough!! I tell people that and they think I'm insane, but I feel like you'd understand! :)

  12. Great post! It was so nice to meet you on the trip! You are so right… ALDI does have a cult following, and I'm thrilled to be part of that select, smart group. ;) Hope you are well!

  13. Thanks for the nice response Christina! You do know, I owe my blog to you, right? You were the first food blog I ever read! And I do understand why you miss ALDI!

  14. I do buy my goat cheese there but I didn't know about the coconut oil! Definitely picking that up on our next trip! Loved your recap! :D

  15. I'm in Socal and we don't have Aldi. I hope they open in my town.