Aldi: The Supermarket That Combines Quality and Low Prices

Finding high-quality products at the grocery store for a reasonable price can be a challenge, but this expanding grocery store chain is making things easier.

Aldi supermarket in Australia

It seems that new Aldi supermarkets are popping up on every corner. The Los Angeles Times reports that since 2014, the German-owned retailer has opened roughly 130 U.S. stores, with plans to open 45 more in Southern California alone. For shoppers, this translates to deeply discounted prices on high-quality items.

If you've yet to check out your local Aldi, the format may be a bit jarring at first. For starters, the space is on the small side. While it isn't uncommon for major supermarket chains to tout 40,000- to 60,000-square-foot stores, Aldi features just a handful of relatively compact aisles.

Shoppers also need to be prepared to bring their own shopping bags, shell out a 25-cent deposit to use a shopping cart, and bag their own groceries.

Aldi may be lacking a bit when it comes to convenience, but the retailer more than makes up for it with their prices. According to Phil Lempert, editor of SupermarketGuru.com, the no-frills, bare-bones format allows the company to pour all its energy (and money) into the food.

"Can you buy everything you want there? Maybe; it depends on what you're really looking for," says Lempert. "But it's certainly a place to save money, get high-quality store brands, and to have a good shopping experience."

Aldi shopping cart

What kind of savings are we talking here?

I recently checked out my local Aldi in Clearwater, Florida and was immediately taken back by the dramatic price difference. (I typically do the bulk of my family's food shopping at Publix.) For instance, while fresh mangos typically go for $1 each at Publix, they were just 39 cents at Aldi. I also stocked up on cans of organic black beans for 79 cents a pop, a pound of whole grain pasta for only 49 cents, and seriously discounted dairy products, like yogurt and cream cheese. Everything I purchased, aside from the mangos, were Aldi's store brand.

"Most of what they sell is their own store brand, which is very high quality," adds Lempert.

The selection, especially the produce, was limited at best—but the items they did have were insanely inexpensive. A pack of deli-sliced mozzarella only cost me $1.99. That's about 50 percent less than what I pay at Publix. Another bonus was that I was met with a friendly and helpful staff. My cashier even assured me that I could get a full refund on any item I wasn't crazy about.

When it came time to settle the bill, the woman behind the register also informed me that credit cards were a no-go—cash or debit only. Some Aldi stores in Europe have started accepting credit cards now, so maybe we'll see it over here in the US soon as well.

The good news is that everything I purchased was up to par in terms of quality. Unlike other low-price store brands, where the quality can be hit or miss, I was more than happy feeding my kids the fresh produce I picked up at Aldi.
This is precisely why Lempert says that Aldi's U.S. expansion is giving other supermarket chains a run for their money.

"There's no question that they're among the smartest, best retailers that are out there, and they've proven over the past few years just how powerful they can be," he says, adding that the same family that owns Aldi also owns Trader Joe's. "This is especially true when we look at the millennial generation and generation Z, who are more focused on the food than the environment."

Lidl, another European chain with a similar shopping format, is also making its way over to the states. Lempert predicts that within five years, we're going to see more new Aldi and Lidl stores popping up across the country. Whole Foods is reacting in kind with its 365 concept. These new stand-alone stores, which are specifically geared toward millennial shoppers, will spotlight lower prices for high-quality, all-natural products.

In the meantime, Aldi continues to expand throughout the United States. Does the retailer offer huge selections and spacious storefronts? Not really, but the prices will definitely have me coming back for more.

What Slickdealers Think of Aldi

Tips for First-Timers Shopping at Aldi

  • Don't leave the house without your shopping bags. Alternatively, you can purchase reusable bags at the store.
  • Hang onto your quarters — Aldi requires a 25-cent deposit to use their shopping carts.
  • Don't expect to knock out your whole shopping list. In general, the selection at Aldi is somewhat limited. That said, you'll still find some killer deals and significant savings. (Click here to see their weekly deal page.)
  • Be ready to pack your own bags — you won't find baggers at Aldi.

Looking to give Aldi a whirl? Click here to find your nearest store.

See all Slickdeals for Groceries here!

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons (Onderwijsgek, Bidgee)

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About the Author
Marianne Hayes Contributor

Marianne Hayes is a freelance writer, wife and mother in Tampa Bay. After earning a degree in journalism and creative writing from the University of Central Florida, she spent nearly a decade getting lost in New York City and Los Angeles before making her way back home again in 2014. Marianne's writing has appeared in a variety of publications including The Huffington Post, Forbes.com, LearnVest, The Daily Beast and more. When she's not writing, Marianne is usually cruising her local bookstore with her two daughters.

11 Comments

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#2
Marianne, a coupe of other things - Aldi stands for Albrecht Discount - the 2 brothers are Albrechts. One of them does own Trader Joe's. They are by far the biggest grocer in Germany, and that's where they are baesd on.

The thing that appeals to me at Aldi are the non-grocery items that they have. Again, it is their house brand (Crofton, for example), but they are great deals.

Circulars (usually only 4-6 pages) come out weekly, but they usually have next week's flyer in the store as well. In terms of credit cards, our stores here in NC don't take CC - only debit or cash. In terms of bags, I don't bother with a cart - I just load up my reusable bags, and then load them on the belt. I can never keep up with the cashier, who loads the cart at the end of her row. I think they are judged based on how fast they can unload. The other thing - I usually see a BMW or two in the parking lot - it isn't just for thrifty people.
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#3
Quote from jbwhite99
:
Marianne, a coupe of other things - Aldi stands for Albrecht Discount - the 2 brothers are Albrechts. One of them does own Trader Joe's. They are by far the biggest grocer in Germany, and that's where they are baesd on.

The thing that appeals to me at Aldi are the non-grocery items that they have. Again, it is their house brand (Crofton, for example), but they are great deals.

Circulars (usually only 4-6 pages) come out weekly, but they usually have next week's flyer in the store as well. In terms of credit cards, our stores here in NC don't take CC - only debit or cash. In terms of bags, I don't bother with a cart - I just load up my reusable bags, and then load them on the belt. I can never keep up with the cashier, who loads the cart at the end of her row. I think they are judged based on how fast they can unload. The other thing - I usually see a BMW or two in the parking lot - it isn't just for thrifty people.
Agreed! Good points, thanks for your insights.
Quote from jbwhite99
:
Marianne, a coupe of other things - Aldi stands for Albrecht Discount - the 2 brothers are Albrechts. One of them does own Trader Joe's. They are by far the biggest grocer in Germany, and that's where they are baesd on.

The thing that appeals to me at Aldi are the non-grocery items that they have. Again, it is their house brand (Crofton, for example), but they are great deals.

Circulars (usually only 4-6 pages) come out weekly, but they usually have next week's flyer in the store as well. In terms of credit cards, our stores here in NC don't take CC - only debit or cash. In terms of bags, I don't bother with a cart - I just load up my reusable bags, and then load them on the belt. I can never keep up with the cashier, who loads the cart at the end of her row. I think they are judged based on how fast they can unload. The other thing - I usually see a BMW or two in the parking lot - it isn't just for thrifty people.
Agreed! Good points, thanks for your insights.
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Joined Jul 2004
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#4
You're talking about the USA but when talking about credit cards you link to the Irish site. Aldi in the US doesn't accept credit cards [aldi.us] ostensibly to save on the merchant fees and pass the savings on to customers.
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#5
Good article, though I'm shocked it took any Slickdealer so long to visit an Aldi!
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#6
I've been shopping at Aldi since my college years, which started over 10 years ago. There's been a few in Wisconsin for that long, though they have been adding new locations in recent years. For the most part, it's not name brand products, but the quality is very comparable to what you would get in a normal grocery store. There are a few things to get used to, as mentioned above, but the prices are generally worth it. The stores in Wisconsin tend to do good business. My suggestion would be to shop there a few times, find what you like there and what you don't. If you're willing to make the extra stop afterwards for what you still need, you can definitely get great deals there.

One warning, though: I'd be careful buying some of the non-grocery items that they have. They usually have a random assortment of different things like pans, appliances, toys, etc. These are definitely in the area of "get what you pay for".
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#7
They have been in my area for years. We go about twice a month for the basics. Love it!
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#8
The Aldi stores in Minnesota accept credit cards, it is part of a new test to see if they will roll it out across the USA.
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#9
Aldi's have been in parts of Illinois for almost 30 years. In the beginning it was terrible, the food was bad and basically you shopped there if you were poor, which I was for a portion of my childhood. Then years later, they started improving, I mean by leaps and bounds. Now I do a sizeable chunk of my grocery shopping at Aldis and I get good quality fruits and vegetables from there. I don't purchase meat from them since I like to use a local butcher.
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#10
I like surpermarket very much cause I can purchase everything that I need in one place.
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#11
Aldi stores in the New England area have pleasant staff, great prices, and great quality. They are a go-to source for the basics, and at least 95% of their house brand products are as good as or better than the national name brands. Think Triscuit crackers, DiGiorno pizza, Girl Scout Caramel Delight cookies, Dole salad, Wish Bone salad dressings, Hefty trash bags, and more. I have on a few occasions purchased items I didn't care for (personal preference, not quality issues) and later returned with my original receipt. They never questioned refunding my money.

Aldi's selection of housewares and non-grocery items is seasonal and changes weekly. Recently I was surprised to find windshield wiper blades for my truck selling for less than half of what "discount" stores typically get in my area. They fit and worked perfectly.

The stores are always kept near-spotless and although they lock the doors at 8 pm sharp on weeknights, they never rush you out, but rather work around you cleaning the floors and organizing merchandise. Also there is a self-bagging counter after the checkout area and usually a corral among the aisles with free cardboard boxes which I use to avoid buying grocery bags.

If you haven't yet been to your local Aldi, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.
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#12
We've been shopping Aldi for quite a few years. All our family does. From us, who are on my fixed disability income, and feeding five, to my well-off sister-in-law and her husband & daughter, who spent time in Germany with her job, and loves Aldi. We get the most "bang for the buck' there, and Aldi is our first stop when grocery shopping. We get the majority of our groceries & many of our non-grocery items there. Everything we have tried has been of the highest quality, and compares to or even surpasses the quality, ingredients, and flavor of national brands. The staff are pleasant, and very efficient. The stores are always clean.
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