How Shopping at Aldi Grocery Helps Save Money and Your Health
A European Phenomenon Comes to America
Why do so many Europeans and a growing number of Americans like shopping at Aldi?
The Aldi phenomenon started in Germany and has since spread to the United States.
There are now about 1,200 Aldi locations throughout the country,and Americans are discovering how this strange, but charming, chain can help reduce their grocery bill.
I feel fortunate to have an Aldi market just a short drive away. It took me a couple of years to step inside for the first time. The initial visit, though, left me unimpressed, but I returned to give it another try.
Now I'm a loyal shopper who wants to tell other people about Aldi, which carries high-quality food at deeply discounted prices. My local store recently started stocking organic produce, and plans are underway to increase the organic product line.
Having Aldi nearby helps my family eat well, as food prices continue to rise. Aldi also carries a good selection of "Special Purchase" gourmet items from Europe. Although I usually buy only organic bread, I recently made an exception to buy Deutsche Kuche brand sunflower seed bread for my husband.
Buying Organic and Avoiding GMOs
It's very difficult feeding your family organic food, while sticking to a reasonable budget in the neighborhood of $150-200 a week. Aldi makes this much easier.
A couple of months ago, our store carried boxes of organic cereal for just $1.99. Apparently, this was a one-time purchase, so I stocked up.
One reason we're eating organic is to avoid genetically modified foods, which French researchers have shown cause cancer in lab animals.
It is safe to say, in the United States, nearly all processed foods contain something that's genetically modified, unless the package specifically says it doesn't, or there's a USDA Organic logo on the label. Many Aldi brands, no doubt, contain GMOs because there is nothing on the packaging indicating otherwise.
So, when I shop at Aldi, I bypass the aisle of packaged Aldi brand junk food and head straight for the organic dairy and produce. Four sticks of organic butter is about $2 less than what you'd spend in the regular grocery store.
Also, since Aldi is German-based, there are frequent shipments of European-made items. Genetically modified foods are generally not sold in European Union countries, so, even if they aren't organic, they're a better bet than American-made products.
Discount stores such as Aldi and Ocean State Job Lot, an Eastern US chain, help stretch the grocery budget, especially if you buy organic foods.
Beaumont Coffee is Delicious I Hear
I tried really hard to get my husband to switch over to organic coffee, but he was really hooked on Starbucks. However, he'll also drink the Aldi brand Beaumont coffee, which is said is comparable to Starbucks. I don't drink coffee, so I can't tell you from personal experience which brand tastes better. For him, Beaumont is one of the few brands that he'll happily substitute for Starbucks.
If he's just as happy with Beaumont, at $3.99 for a 12-ounce bag, then it's foolish to pay $9 for the same amount of Starbucks coffee.
Aldi Shopping Tips
Aldi is not your regular grocery store, so you'll need to be prepared for a different shopping experience. Offering customers no frills allows Aldi to keep prices low.
Here are a few things to know before you shop.
1. Bring Change. Customers in the United States must deposit a quarter to rent a shopping cart. No quarter, no cart. The quarter is returned when the cart is returned.
2. Bring Bags. You'll need to bag your own items on a long shelf near the checkout line. Aldi doesn't give away bags and it doesn't have employees bag purchases.
3. Bring Cash. Aldi doesn't take credit cards, so you'll either need to use cash or a debit card.
4. Be Flexible. Sometimes Aldi doesn't always carry certain items. Because of its aggressive mission to cut costs, it doesn't carry multiple brands of the same item. For instance, if you want canned black olives, there's just one type. The produce section is very small, but it contains incredible deals compared to a regular grocery store.
5. Stock Up. I haven't seen special purchase items return. Once they're gone, they're gone. So buy as many as you think you'll use.
Tell Us About Your Aldi Experience
Do you like shopping at Aldi?
Businessweek Article on Aldi
Aldi's Move into North America
- Aldi’s Manifest Destiny: The Discounter Moves West - Analyst Insight from Euromonitor International
Will discounter grocer Aldi succeed in the US West coast? Market research company Euromonitor International says with the right positioning, it could.
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