If you’ve never heard of or considered Aldi, it’s time to change your mind. The store’s been around for 70 years since its launch in Germany, but now has 1,400 locations in the U.S.
Aldi prides itself on offering low prices on quality products, which is music to any college student’s ears. Don’t fear, you no longer have to starve for a few days when all of your groceries magically disappear because now you can totally afford another trip to stock up. Happy shopping, my friends.
1. It’s cheap
Aldi is notorious for being a bargainer’s heaven, but the store is often slighted when it comes to reputation. Those who have never visited Aldi may see it as a discounted chain that sacrifices the quality you may find at larger grocery stores.
However, this is not the case. The smart-shopping site Cheapism pitted Aldi, Kroger, and Walmart against each other, and they found that Aldi was the top store. I do all of my grocery shopping at Aldi while away at college – minus the pints of Ben & Jerry’s from CVS – and I have never spent more than $50 for two weeks of groceries.
There’s this notion that generic brands are subordinate in comparison to name brands, but I have failed to spot any difference. My few of my personal favorites to stock up on are their Greek yogurt, peanut butter, and baking staples. They’re indistinguishable from Chobani yogurts, Jif, or Pillsbury products.
I had classmates who sneered at the idea of shopping Aldi, some asking me if I was “poor,” but while they were spending $70+ on less groceries, I was pretty content with my budgeting skills.
The online publication Rare also ran a similar comparison with Walmart and found that the total bill savings were 41 percent when buying the same products at Aldi. For college kids, every single penny counts, and Aldi keeps that in mind.
2. Fresh produce
Some may also think that produce sold at Aldi may be bruised or nearing spoilage, but again, that is not the case at all. I don’t stray to another store or farmer’s market when buying produce because I love what Aldi has to offer.
The aisle offers both organic and locally grown selections if that’s what you usually buy. The produce is always fresh with prices lower than that of larger grocery stores. For most of the year, avocados are 99 cents, so when you’re stocking up to try out these recipes, go to Aldi.
Aldi utilizes a unique cart system, which requires a quarter to unlock a cart and for you to return the cart to get your quarter back. This ensures a clean exterior of the store with an absence of stranded carts strewn all over the parking lot and denting cars.
In addition to this ingenious tactic, the store requires you bring your own bags in order to conserve both paper and plastic. While plastic bags are pretty bad because of their non-biodegradable material, paper bags are actually worse because they require more energy to produce.
If you don’t have any reusable bags or your own, Aldi sells them at the checkout for less than $2, so you’ll be more than prepared next time.
4. Quick checkout
If you’ve ever found yourself in a hurry at the grocery store, wasting time in line while countless other shoppers before you take their time in loading their groceries into their cart or paying, Aldi is definitely the place for you.
I have never taken more than two minutes at the checkout because their cashiers are trained to be fast. You’re pretty much in and out, but bagging is all up to you. Quick and easy, just like these lemon bars or this brownie parfait.
5. One word: Chocolate
When you first walk in, you’re greeted by a section of chocolate that will leave you wanting to throw every single offering into your cart. A good amount of their chocolate is European, but they still offer Hershey’s and Reese’s if you can’t live without them.
You can definitely pick up your favorite variety, whether it be hazelnut or mint, or even some chocolate covered nuts at a much lower price than Trader Joe’s selection.
6. Products for every diet
Long gone are the days of having to spend your paychecks at Whole Foods or other specialty stores to get the groceries that fit your diet.
Aldi has its Fit & Active brand, which is on the healthier side of products. From quinoa to yogurt to ready-made meals, you don’t have to spare your diet if you want to shop smarter.
The liveGfree brand is for those who are gluten-free, so you can still snack on pretzels or whip up some gluten-free pancakes without killing your wallet.
For vegetarians, there are options, but my one complaint is that they don’t sell tofu, so I have to head over to other stores to pick up a container.
Aldi also has what are called “Aldi finds,” which change every week and are often foreign products. I’ve found everything from cookie butter to whole wheat gnocchi in this section, so definitely keep a keen eye out for these fun products.
7. Small store size
All Aldis are modeled the same way, so it’s nearly impossible to get lost in one. You don’t have to go reeling through aisle after aisle to find what you need because at Aldi, there are just five. Everything is clearly labelled and sorted neatly, which keeps customers cool and collected while shopping.
This can be a downside if you love variety, but for me, it’s better than seeing 10 feet of shelf being used for slightly different versions or brands of the same product.