Saving Big Bucks at Aldi by Kimberly Danger

I recently made my first trip to the brand new Aldi grocery store in my town. I had big expectations – moms have been raving about it on Mommysavers for years. My first impression didn’t generate fireworks – in fact, I was a little disappointed. The store was much smaller than I expected, dimly lit, and product selection was pretty shallow (Aldi only stocks about 1,000 products compared to over 25,000 of the typically grocery store). The products were about as exciting as the black and white generics of years ago. They didn’t rely upon the regular supermarket tricks such as mood music and great smells to get shoppers to linger.

Upon deeper inspection, I began to see why moms get so excited about it. Atmosphere aside, this is a bargain hunter’s paradise. You can save money — serious money, if you shop there regularly. They even stock “Special Purchase” items — good only while supplies last — that appeal to the shopper that likes the element of surprise

For those of you not familiar, Aldi is a discount grocery chain that started its US operations in 1976. Originating in Germany, it now operates in 18 countries around the world. It now has over 850 stores in the US and is the 24th largest grocer in terms of gross sales – which is quite an accomplishment considering its small size. By limiting its product selection and working with manufacturers to secure the lowest prices on its own brand, it can pass the savings along to you.

Here’s what you need to know before you go: Aldi only accepts cash. Leave your checks and credit cards at home. The carts are locked up outside the store, and you must “rent” one by depositing a quarter when you take it. They do provide grocery bags, but you must pay for them (paper bags are 5 cents and plastic bags are 10 cents each). They also do not accept manufacturers’ coupons.

Products I found to be much less than grocery store prices were their loaves of bread, their canned veggies and their produce. The bargain I was especially excited about was a Dole pineapple for $1.59. I had recently seen them at another grocery store for over $4, so this was a steal. Plus, it tasted great!

Most of their prices are so low you can afford to take a chance on taste. They even offer a double money-back guarantee on their products which states they will replace the product in addition to refunding your money if you don’t like it. My kids say their Moo-Moo yogurt is just as good as Trix (maybe even better, according to my 7-year-old). The only product I’ve tried that I didn’t care for was their diet cola – but I am fiercely brand loyal in that category.

Let’s let the facts speak for themselves. A price comparison of things the average mom would commonly buy shows that Aldi is on average 18% less than Walmart and 22% less than a local grocery chain (Cub Foods). I compared Aldi’s prices with the store-brand counterparts (or lowest cost alternative) at the other two stores. Every single product (with the exception of canned tuna) was priced lower at Aldi.

Product Aldi Cub Foods Walmart
Hamburger, 80/20 $2.22 $2.63 $2.33
Spaghetti sauce $.99 $1.00* $1.12
Gallon skim milk $3.24 $3.59 $3.87
Egg noodles $.69 $1.43 $1.00
Tuna, canned $.59 $.48 $.50
Corn, canned $.39 $.50 $.46
Tomatoes, diced $.45 $.60* $.58
Tomato sauce $.19 $.25 $.25
White bread $.59 $1.15 $.86
Bananas, per pound $.33 $.53 $.48
Eggs, dozen medium $.93 $1.43 $.98
Taco seasoning $.29 $.49 $.50
Cake mix $.75 $1.28 $.93*
Easy Mac $1.99 $2.50* $3.12
Cream of mushroom soup $.49 $.80* $.68
Flour, 5 lb. $1.15 $1.49 $1.32
TOTAL: $14.94 $20.15 $18.98

*Indicates sale price. Price research done September 2007

The margins here may not seem big, but consider this. If you’re accustomed to spending $500 per month on groceries, an overall savings of 23% (over Walmart) would add up to $1,380 per year. A savings of 26% (over Cub Foods) would amount to $1,560 per year.

17 Responses to Saving Big Bucks at Aldi by Kimberly Danger

  1. Pingback: Having Fun in the ALDI Test Kitchen - Frugal Bites

  2. J.H. says:

    Technically, one does not rent a shopping cart at Aldi.

    One borrows it. It takes a quarter to borrow it. But the quarter is returned once the cart is returned to the right place. It’s pure genius.

  3. We’ve been shopping at Aldi for years now. Great prices and their brands are comparable (and sometimes better) than the name brands or grocery store brands you get at the bigger chain grocery stores. Just don’t forget to bring your own bags.

  4. Pingback: Savings | Welcome

  5. Carrie says:

    Another thing worth mentioning – my daughter has dye allergies (red and caramel color) and we’ve found that about 80% or more of Aldi’s products are artificial dye free. Makes shopping SO much easier!

  6. Tina Stricklin says:

    They do accept debit cards.

  7. Amy Carpenter says:

    Do they offer much in terms of frozen veggies, fresh fruits and veggies and lower fat/calorie options? We try to buy very few “white” products; white flour, white sugar, white pasta, white potatoes, etc.

  8. I’m a single male here. Compared to my Harris Teeter grocery store, I saved over $66 this month by shopping at Aldi instead. That’s over $700 a year which helps saving for my house down payment. I saved $7 on a pineapple and a (bigger and delicious!) ice cream cake alone. My budget of $180/month was always exceeded at other stores, but not at Aldi.

    The only 3 items on my list that they don’t have are eye drops, gel deodorant, and my fav lunchmeat. Aldi is awesome!

  9. Becca says:

    I love Aldi’s, I make 2 trips a month and have saved hundreds of dollars by doing the bulk of my shopping there. There are still few items that I still have to get at Walmart, but not nearly as much as I use to. I even started buying diapers there, OMG, they are 4.99 a pack and are just as good as Luvs.

    • Kimberly Danger says:

      My kids are no longer in diapers, but I recently had a friend tell me she uses ALDI diapers and likes them. What a great savings!!

  10. Brandy says:

    If ALDI sold pampers diapers and infant formula, I would never set foot in Walmart again (Target yes, but not Walmart). ;)

    • Kimberly Danger says:

      Have you tried the ALDI diapers? I haven’t (my kids are past that stage) but I’ve heard they’re pretty good.

  11. Deborah Kyle says:

    Does anyone know if they accept EBT?

  12. Lex says:

    Do they have good prices/selection on paer towels, and toilet paper? How about bathroom/home cleaning supplies?

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