We Southerners sure are are picky bunch when it comes to our grocery stores, especially when we find a good supermarket that allows us to save money, get out the door faster, and pick up everything we need in one stop. You can bet on us returning week after week for produce and packaged goods to feed our families with, and telling everyone under the sun how much we love it. Well, the cat's officially out of the bag concerning Aldi, because we can't seem to get enough of this store in the South.
For those who've never shopped at the discount grocer, we're here to let you in on a little secret: you’re missing out. Even if you love buying in bulk at Costco or taking advantage of Trader Joe’s generous sampling policy, Aldi offers something that can only be described—quite simply—as different. Since first opening its sliding doors in Iowa in 1976, the German chain has grown rapidly, creating a cult-like following in support of its intimate space, ridiculously cheap prices, and quality food products. With more than 1,600 stores across 35 states, it’s quickly expanding, besting Walmart’s low prices in the process. And here are eight more reasons why you should convert to the blue and orange side if you haven't already.
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1. They carry Trader Joe’s products at Walmart-low prices.
While you won’t find some of Trader Joe’s popular products and selections here, you can still purchase a few knock-offs that are significantly lower than TJ’s and the “everyday low prices” at Walmart. Eggs, milk, diaper wipes, avocados, bananas, guacamole tortilla chips, and spaghetti sauce are just a few of Aldi's cheap product offerings that typically cost you a pretty penny at other Southern markets.
2. Limited, specialty items make shopping more fun and interesting.
Unless it’s your staples like bread, milk, and eggs, you can expect specialty items to change week-by-week, which means certain foods are only available for purchase until they’re gone. For shoppers who prefer more variety, Aldi has it at better prices. You never know what you’re going to get, and that’s part of the excitement. Mystery, margarine, and meat—what more could you ask for?
3. Its small size and minimalist layout makes it easier to shop (and park!).
At first glance, Aldi’s smaller format and, even, smaller parking lot may appear to be a deterrent. But think about it this way—not only do you get to park closer to the store’s entrance, but you can quickly scan the entire store upon entering. Unlike other stores where it can take ten minutes to get to the other side of the store, it’s only a short walk between aisles at Aldi. And we should add that the layout is consistent at every location. You know how confusing it is when you visit another Walmart whose sections are completely different from your hometown store? Yeah, you don’t have to worry about the confusing aisles at Aldi. Once you’ve shopped at one, you’ve shopped at them all.
4. It offers a no-frills shopping experience, making your grocery bill a lot cheaper.
You won’t find any nautical themes or tiki inspiration at Aldi. Anything that gets in the way of providing an efficient, money-saving experience to its customers is deemed a hassle. That means no music, no shelves (everything is stuffed in display boxes), no price comparisons, no BOGOs, no name brands vs. store brands, no weighing produce, and no coupons. By carrying one offering in every category and stocking fewer private label items atypical of big-box stores, they can cut their operating costs and cut out the middleman, keeping their prices lower.
Also, don't let the idea of BYOB (bring your own bag) and making sure you have a quarter on hand to use the shopping carts scare you off. Trust us, it's a valuable shopping experience that instantly pays off. Besides, as long as you return the buggy, you get your quarter back. It may seem like a silly system on the outset, but they don’t have to pay employees to round up shopping carts in the parking lot, which allows them to pass the savings on to you.
5. Wait, did someone say Girl Scout Cookies?
If you love Samoas (and, who doesn’t?), you can buy cookies that taste just like the caramel and coconut treats for a little over a dollar. That’s practically 50 percent cheaper than the real thing. And since Germans are famously known for their tempting cookies, you can expect to find the best varieties at Aldi for a fraction of the cost.
6. They care about the environment and their employees.
Eco-friendly practices are common at Aldi. They expect you to bring your own reusable bag to carry your groceries out, or you'll end up paying a nominal fee for their bags. This cuts down on the use of plastic, a material that’s harmful to environment. Aldi is also careful to avoid waste with their packaging and display materials, which is why they repeatedly use cardboard boxes throughout the store. The employees are also handsomely compensated, allowing them to attract quality people who can provide you with a pleasant and speedy checkout experience.
7. You can buy organic without breaking the bank.
Let's face it: We all wish we could eat healthier, but organic isn't always affordable. Good thing Aldi has started carrying natural and organic products that are much less expensive, including beef, fruit, vegetables, milk, pasta, snacks, and dog food. That's right, you won’t find MSG, hormones, antibiotics, gluten, and artificial ingredients and colors in their vast organic selection.
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8. They vouch for their private label brands.
At other retailers, you have to read the fine print on their money-back guarantee, because they'll find every excuse not to pony up the cash. Not at Aldi. Here, if you’re not satisfied with their exclusive products, they won't just replace the item for free—they'll give you a refund, too. This takes the uneasiness out of trying different brands.