Why I Stopped Shopping at Aldi for Groceries

published Mar 21, 2024
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Wilmington, DE/USA - April 6, 2019: Aldi grocery store.
Credit: Abigail McCann/Shutterstock

During those mid-COVID-19 days when I lived near my family, my mom and I would have catch-ups — more often than not — at the grocery store. More specifically, Aldi. She’d been trying to convince me to shop with her there for a few months, luring me with the grocer’s cheap strawberry prices and her favorite store-brand ground coffee beans. My mom swore they were just as good as, if not better than, my favorite coffee shop.

I admit I was hesitant at first, wondering how Aldi could possibly offer much lower prices than my usual spot, Trader Joe’s. Yes, Aldi famously does all sorts of things — displaying products in the boxes they are shipped in, staffing fewer employees in stores, not to mention the cart-rental system — to keep costs down. I put it aside, loading up my quarter-powered cart with a garden variety of produce, my dog’s new favorite dry food, and hunks of cheddar gruyere cheese, all for a steal. 

Not long after I fell for its discount prices, though, Aldi started to lose its luster. About a year in, just before our relationship could bud to something lasting, I finally decided to stop shopping at the beloved grocer. Here’s why.

Credit: Joni Hanebutt / Shutterstock

Why I Stopped Shopping at Aldi

How did my Aldi love grow so cold? It didn’t happen right away. The beloved discount grocer does have a nice cheese selection and some of the best budget-friendly bottles of wine around. But as I ate through my summer strawberries and midwinter potatoes, something dawned on me: I didn’t think many items I bought tasted all that great. (The pared-down shopping experience, praised by many Aldi fans, also makes me way less likely to linger in the store as I am wont to do.)

While Aldi is one of the most competitively priced grocery retailers around, too many of the products I bought were lacking in flavor or seemed just a bit past their prime. Slowly but surely, I started returning more things — trail mix, bagged spinach, ice cream, and bagels — than I kept. In fact, Aldi is where I really started to consider what I value in my grocery shops. 

Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaeffer; Prop Styling; Tom Hoerup

It became clear, even if I bought a few items, the money I had been spending at Aldi was better off being spent at other grocers. I could shop at one (maybe two) stores and find everything I need, just the way I like it. Of course, I’ll make a rare journey to Aldi for a wedge of Irish cheddar or bottles of wine to gift during the holidays.

My mom and I still have our catch-ups, but not at Aldi. I spend a bit more at my usual stops (Trader Joe’s and occasionally Target for household items and my favorite gelato). So now I make one stop, spend about the same, and save a lot of mental space. 

Have you stopped shopping at your favorite grocery store lately? Tell us about it in the comments below.