13 Mistakes You Might Be Making When Shopping At Aldi
Aldi, founded by the Albrecht family in 1961, was the first grocery store in Germany to offer discounted prices. While Aldi has expanded a lot from that first store, the chain still offers a wide selection of groceries for discounted prices, helping shoppers find quality items without sacrificing their budget. While many discount stores require guests to purchase a membership in order to shop, you don’t need a membership to shop at Aldi. Anyone can take advantage of discounted prices and purchase some of the fan-favorite food items.
In addition to discount prices, Aldi is also known for helping shoppers finish shopping, check out, and get back home as quickly as possible. If you’ve ever been in one of the stores, you’ve probably already noticed how fast the cashiers move everyone through the checkout line. In fact, many of the store’s products are covered with extra barcodes to help the machines scan them more efficiently and save the cashiers time. Whether you’re an avid Aldi shopper or have only been to the store a handful of times, there are several mistakes you’ll want to avoid to help you get the most out of this discount grocery store.
1. Not bringing a quarter with you
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when shopping at Aldi is forgetting to bring a quarter with you. While the carts at other grocery stores are freely accessible, you’ll need a quarter to access one at Aldi. Don’t worry, Aldi isn’t charging you an extra 25 cents every time you shop, you only need to deposit a quarter in the cart to unlock it so you can use it on your shopping trip. Then, once you’re done shopping, simply return the cart where it belongs, and your quarter will be released.
Many people wonder why Aldi has designed the system this way. It isn’t because the store is worried about customers stealing the shopping carts. By having customers use a quarter to unlock the cart and then giving the quarter back when the cart is returned, Aldi doesn’t have to hire more workers to go out periodically to collect all the stray carts throughout the parking lot and bring them back into the store. Ultimately, this allows Aldi to keep prices lower, so it actually benefits you. If you don’t always have spare change with you, you can find keychains designed to hold a quarter. This way, you’ll always be prepared for your next Aldi shopping trip.
2. Not shopping on the right day of the week
While there isn’t necessarily a wrong day to shop at Aldi, there is one day that is better than the others. Wednesday is the best day to shop at Aldi. When you shop on Wednesdays, you have a better chance of seeing fully-stocked shelves and getting ahold of some limited-edition or limited-quantity items that may otherwise be sold out.
On Wednesdays, Aldi releases its updated weekly specials called Aldi finds. With the release of new specials and new sale prices, new products are either added to the shelves or marked down. If you don’t act quickly, you can miss out on a great deal or try something that might disappear off the shelves before you get a chance to stop by. Because the Aldi finds items are available only while supplies last, if it’s sold out before you make it to the store, then you might be out of luck. Aldi also won’t hold any of these items for customers, so the only way to get something you want is to grab it off the shelves before it is gone.
3. Not bringing reusable shopping bags with you
If you haven’t been bringing reusable bags with you when shopping at Aldi, you might want to reconsider. Like many other grocery stores, Aldi also charges customers for paper or plastic bags. By not spending company money on paper or plastic bags, it is able to save more money and then pass some of these savings on to its customers. While charging for bags is one thing Aldi does to help keep its prices down, it might not help your wallet.
So, the next time you shop at Aldi, make sure you bring your reusable bags. This way, you won’t have to add more to your total by paying for bags at the register. If you decide you don’t want to spend the extra money on bags and don’t want to pay for them at the store, you’ll have to juggle everything to get it out to your car. Keep in mind that customers are also responsible for bagging their own items at Aldi.
4. Walking past the produce aisle
Walking past the produce aisle without grabbing some fruits and vegetables is another mistake you’ll want to avoid on your next Aldi shopping trip. Many people don’t realize that Aldi actually offers a wide selection of fruits and vegetables, with several organic produce options. The team members at Aldi restock this section on a daily basis, helping you find several fresh items to bring home and enjoy. Not only does Aldi offer a wide assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables, but everything is often priced much more reasonably than what you’ll find at other grocery stores.
The produce at Aldi is pre-packaged, which is another difference from what you see at other grocery stores. Again, this decision comes down to helping Aldi keep its prices down for customers. There is less need for employees to check the condition of the fruit items regularly. Moreover, when the cashiers are checking you out, they simply need to scan the barcode on the package rather than stopping to look up and type in a product code on the register. By having everything pre-packed, it creates less work for the employees overall, which means Aldi doesn’t have to hire as many workers.
5. Not picking up some of the Never Any! meat products
Have you seen packages of meat at Aldi with the Never Any! label? If so, have you tried any of those products? If not, you’ve just discovered another mistake you’ve been making when shopping at Aldi. This line of products is called Never Any! for a reason. Everything with the label is free of antibiotics, artificial ingredients, and added hormones. When you purchase Never Any! products, you can feel confident that you’re buying safe and healthy foods to cook for those you care about. Some of the different items that may be available at your local store include boneless skinless chicken breast, chicken breast tenderloins, and whole chickens.
Aldi released the Never Any! line in 2016. A few years later, it earned the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, symbolizing its high quality and showing customers they can trust these products. In addition to the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for this product line, other products from Aldi, including several from the liveGfree gluten-free line, have also received this same recognition.
6. Assuming Aldi always has better deals than other grocery stores
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While you’ll often get a better deal at Aldi than you’ll find at most grocery stores, this isn’t always the case. If you’re really looking to save as much money as possible on your grocery order, it is still important to do some comparison shopping and check for sales at other local stores. There are a few items that tend to be more expensive at Aldi than you’ll be able to find elsewhere, especially if you can find them on sale at another store.
For example, you’re often better off purchasing your toiletries from other retailers. While Aldi does carry many personal care products, even from well-known brands, they are rarely put on sale. On the other hand, many grocery stores regularly discount products from these manufacturers, which will help you get a better deal on what you need. Toilet paper and paper towels are two other products that aren’t likely to go on sale at Aldi. They are likely to be cheaper at other stores, especially when you account for sales and coupons. If you enjoy name-brand cereal, that is another thing you’ll probably want to pick up somewhere else. Aldi does sell many popular brands of cereal, but you’re unlikely to find better deals than a standard grocery store will offer in its own weekly deals.
7. Not taking a few extra steps if you’re buying meat
There is one other important thing to remember before your next shopping trip if you’re planning to buy meat at Aldi. Remember, at this grocery store, the customer is responsible for bagging their own items. After the cashiers scan something, they just put it right back into your cart, wherever it lands or will fit. If you’re buying meat, this means that it could end up tossed right next to your fresh produce, on top of your baby food, or somewhere else that you likely don’t want it to be.
To avoid potentially spreading germs from the meat package to your other foods, you’ll want to take an extra step when you grab it off the shelf. Aldi should have some plastic bags near the meat section. Putting your meat products in bags will help keep the germs and bacteria more contained. Another way you can help prevent everything from getting completely mixed together is to make sure you put your meats next to one another on the conveyor belt. This way, they will all end up together when they are put in your shopping cart.
8. Not getting a price adjustment
After you check out at Aldi, don’t throw out your receipt. You should keep it in a safe space in case you’re able to request a price adjustment. Aldi offers price adjustments on any of the Aldi finds items for the first 14 days after you purchase them. That means that if something that you bought goes on sale the following week, you’ll be eligible for a price adjustment — if you still have your receipt.
In case you’re not familiar with what a price adjustment is or how it works, it means that Aldi will refund you the difference between the price you paid and the lower sales price currently being offered. As an example, imagine that you purchased a bag of chips last week for $5.00. If this week’s special has that same bag of chips as an Aldi finds item on sale for $4.50, you could bring your receipt to the store and get a $0.50 refund. Paying attention to the ads can add up to some big savings.
9. Ordering pickup or delivery instead of shopping in store
While ordering pickup or delivery can save you some time, it can actually end up costing you more money. Delivery will end up being the most expensive option. The prices charged for products through the online delivery system are more expensive than what is charged in stores. Even if it is only a few cents more, if you’re purchasing multiple items or opting for delivery several weeks in a row, it can really add up. Beyond the higher cost per item, there is also a delivery fee associated with each order. This fee will vary depending on how far you are from the store and the delivery window you choose, but unless it is free, it will still be more expensive than shopping in-store.
Many Aldi stores offer curbside pickup. While this option is less expensive than having your order delivered, it will still cost more than going in-store and shopping for yourself. The price per item is the same, but you will have to pay a pickup fee, which may vary by location. You’ll also have to pay for Aldi’s bags rather than saving some money by bringing your own reusable bags.
10. Skipping the aisle of shame
The aisle of shame, as many Aldi regulars refer to it, is the center aisle in the store. This area of the store is dedicated to special seasonal items that Aldi is offering. The types of things you may find include decorations for the home, outdoor furniture, small appliances, clothing, pet supplies, candles, and other goodies. The items in this section don’t last long — they often sell out within the week and rarely get restocked.
The next time you visit Aldi, be sure to take a quick stroll through the aisle of shame. Don’t worry — despite its nickname, it’s actually a pretty happening part of the store where you’ll likely find good company with other shoppers looking to snag the best deals. If you skip over this aisle, you might not know what you could be missing out on. And, because items are rarely restocked, you may never have the chance to take advantage of the same deals again.
11. Not taking advantage of the twice as nice guarantee
While it can end up being quite a nightmare for employees, Aldi customers love the company’s Twice as Nice Guarantee. Aldi strongly believes that it offers high-quality and delicious food items. In fact, the store backs many of the brands exclusive to the store with a Twice as Nice Guarantee. If you try one of these exclusive products and are not satisfied with its quality, bring the unused/uneaten food, the packaging, and your receipt back to Aldi. An associate will refund your money and give you a free replacement.
The Aldi Twice as Nice Guarantee only applies to exclusive food items. It does not apply to alcohol, products from national brands, things not related to food quality, or any non-food items. If you have an issue with any of the categories just mentioned, you’ll still want to bring your receipt in. You may be eligible for a refund or a replacement, but not both.
12. Bringing checks or coupons with you
If you prefer to pay for your groceries with a check, you’ll have to choose an alternative payment method the next time you shop at Aldi. The store doesn’t accept checks, which makes sense when you think about the store’s goal of getting each customer checked out quickly. Waiting for someone to write a check can definitely make the line move more slowly. You can pay with a credit card or cash, however. Contactless payment methods that only take seconds to process — like Apple Pay and Google Pay — are also accepted.
Aldi also does not accept any coupons. So, if you have some in your purse or wallet, you might as well leave them tucked away while you’re in the store. Not only can coupons slow down the checkout process, but most of the coupons you can find online or in newspapers wouldn’t even apply to Aldi-exclusive brands (which make up most of the products offered in the store). Aldi also works hard to negotiate the best prices possible for the name-brand products it offers, which is why coupons aren’t accepted for any of those items.
13. Not downloading the Aldi app
If you haven’t downloaded the Aldi app, correct that mistake as soon as you finish reading this article. The Aldi app is your all-in-one resource for shopping and saving at Aldi that you’ll want to have on your phone. With the Aldi app, the Aldi finds weekly specials will always be right at your fingertips, helping you browse at your convenience to make sure that you don’t miss out on a great deal. You can even make your shopping list for your next trip directly in the app, helping to keep everything organized and in one place.
When Aldi introduces new products, app users can also find out about them right away. Discover new foods or specials that you’d like to try, and then get yourself to your closest Aldi to grab them before it sells out. When you get to the store, use the QR code reader to search for more information about many Aldi products. If you ever travel and want to find the closest Aldi because you know you’ll want to see what other stores look like, you can even use the app to search for stores near your current location.