I’ve Been Shopping at Aldi for Over a Decade — Here’s How I’m Saving Even More on Groceries This Summer
If you’re a frequent Aldi shopper, cost is probably one reason you love this budget-friendly grocery store. Search almost any social media site and you’ll find Aldi fans waxing poetically about the latest deals they’ve snagged. (Have you tried that $4 grilling cheese yet?) The grocer’s minimalist design and concept — the quarters in shopping carts, self-bagging, and boxes on shelves — lead to lower prices. And with a little extra know-how you can save even more.
I’ve been shopping weekly, sometimes twice-weekly, at Aldi for more than a decade (I even wrote a book on the subject), and in that time, I’ve learned a thing (or six) about how to stretch my dollars even further, including a fun tip from the aforementioned fans. Here are the ways I’m saving money while shopping at Aldi this summer.
1. Bring laundry baskets or reusable bags to avoid bagging fees.
If you forget your bags, it’s going to cost you 15 cents for a plastic shopping bag, 12 cents for a paper bag, or $1.99 for a reusable bag. I keep a stash of the reusable ones in my car for this very reason. In place of bags, you can also load your groceries into a laundry basket — a tip I heard about from a fellow Aldi regular. Mine fits right in my cart! And don’t worry if you forget or your husband borrows your car and removes everything from your trunk, including your grocery bags. You can grab a box or two from the store’s aisles to pack up your items. (I’ve seen plenty of people do this.)
2. Switch to the store-brand items.
Did you know more than 90% of the items sold at Aldi are the store’s own brands? The shelves are stocked with award-winning (more than 1,400 awards, according to a spokesperson at Aldi) brands, many of which I’ve found to be comparable to or better than their name-brand counterparts. And, better yet, they’re less expensive. These Millville Toaster Tarts, for example, are $1.49 for a 12-pack while the name-brand options are $3.28. (Quick math: that’s $1.69 less.) Beyond breakfast options, though, you’ll find similar savings in the frozen foods section, the bakery aisle, and even on alcohol.
3. If you’re not satisfied, bring it back for a refund and a free replacement.
Aldi has a Twice as Nice Guarantee: If you’re not satisfied with a product, you can get your money back and get a replacement for free. Technically you don’t need the receipt, but if you bring one you’ll be completely refunded for the amount you paid. Otherwise, you’ll receive store credit equal to the current retail price. (FYI: This guarantee doesn’t cover alcohol, non-food items, national brands, or if you’re returning the product for a non-quality reason.) You’ll also need to return the packaging and any unused product. I’m not saying you should take advantage of this policy; you should only do it if you sincerely are unhappy. In the past, I’ve returned a package of bacon that was mostly fat and left with new bacon and the roughly $4 I paid for the original.
4. Check the price per ounce.
If you look closely, every price tag includes the price per ounce (or, in some cases, per serving) in smaller type beneath the retail price. This “unit price” helps you to compare the price across different sized packages, items, and brands to find the best deals. Aldi sells about six types of bacon, which range in price from $2.99 (turkey bacon) to $8.85 (thick-cut, hickory-smoked). I’ve have tried most of them and the Applewood Farms center cut bacon ($6.45) isn’t much different from the Applewood Farms sliced bacon ($4.29), but it is $2.16 more and double the price per ounce (26.9 cents vs. 53.8 cents).
5. Stock up on discounted meat and fish, particularly on Wednesdays.
Aldi will slap $1- or even $2-off stickers on items nearing their sell-by dates. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll find multiple stickers on products; clerks will enter both stickers in the register and you end up saving $3. Frequent shoppers have told me that the best time to spot these deals is on Wednesdays, when things turn over, but I’ve found them randomly on other days of the week too. Whenever I see a sticker on any of the grocer’s salmon varieties, I scoop up a few and toss them in my freezer. And while I’ve mostly found these discounts on meat and fish, you can also occasionally find them on bread products.
6. Look for the red and yellow tags for additional markdowns.
The red arrow “Aldi Savers” tags you’ll see around the store flag products with a temporary price drop. I recently saved 50 cents on the delicious Emporium Selection Cranberry White Cheddar Cheese. The price cut wasn’t because the cheese was close to spoiling. It’s just that people — who aren’t me — aren’t buying a cranberry cheese in the summer.
You’ll also spot clearance items throughout the store. These red-and-yellow clearance tags are often placed on seasonal items. I recently found yogurt with a fireworks-designed package that was 50% off after the Fourth of July. If they’re shelf-stable products, they’re likely in the seasonal specials aisle (think: specialty flavors of chips or crackers). Refrigerated and frozen foods, however, will be in their usual sections mixed in with full-priced items. In addition to these brightly colored tags, you can find additional red clearance tags on Aldi Finds: the here-today, gone-tomorrow deals. I recently discovered a Deutsche Küche Pork Schnitzel marked down — in marker — from $8.99 to $6.99.
What are you favorite ways to save money at Aldi? Let us know in the comments!