Why I Don’t Do My Weekly Shopping at Aldi

posted by Andrea | 09/26/2013

Aldi Store

Two questions I get on a VERY regular basis (like every single week) are:

1. Do you shop at Alid? 

2. Why don’t you shop at Aldi? (usually asked after I answer “no” to the first question)

Now, to be fair, I have nothing against Aldi stores in general — and I DO shop there every once in a while (like once every 4-5 months) to stock up on canned goods and chips — because they have great prices on those items.

I just don’t do my regular weekly grocery shopping at Aldi (for a variety of reasons listed out below)

My mom shops at Aldi, many of my friends and relatives shop at Aldi, and I’m sure many of you shop at Aldi — that’s fine. The store by me is ALWAYS jam packed any time I’ve been there, so obviously, not everyone shares my opinions :)

My intention in writing this post is in no way trying to persuade YOU not to shop at Aldi; I’m simply stating a few reasons why it doesn’t seem to make sense for ME to shop at Aldi — and I’m officially typing it up in a blog post so I can link to this post whenever I get Aldi questions in emails (insert evil laughter!)

So, if you’ve ever emailed me wondering why I don’t shop at Aldi — here’s why! 

1. The Aldi closest to me is not great.

I don’t know, maybe I’m picky, but the only Aldi store that’s remotely close to our home is extremely small, kind of dirty, and it’s always very picked over (the last time I went, they were out of eggs, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yogurt!)

Also, I’ve been to this same Aldi many MANY times in the last 7 years and I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than one cashier working at a time — which means the line is at least 10 people long (seriously). I’ve never waited less than 15-20 minutes to check out, and it’s often longer.

Because I’m big on time management, I’ve frequently timed myself shopping at Meijer and then at Aldi, and I can almost always get in and out of Meijer faster than Aldi because of the ridiculously long checkout lines. (My record at Meijer is 17 minutes for a full week of groceries!)

2. Aldi has a lack of variety.

Honestly, there have been times when the massive variety of products at Meijer can actually be overwhelming for me.  However, I do appreciate being able to choose from more than 3 types of yogurt (vanilla, blueberry, strawberry) and more than 3 types of cheese (cheddar, colby jack, mozzarella).

I’m not super brand loyal and I don’t buy exotic foods or high-priced brands, but the Aldi store by me has an extremely limited selection of foods — and the produce is almost laughable.

They do have great prices on produce, but they rarely have it in stock to actually buy. As I mentioned earlier, the last time I went their specifically for potatoes (I was making lots of soup) and they were completely out of russet potatoes, red skin potatoes, and sweet potatoes. They were also out of bananas, apples, celery, and carrots — and this wasn’t the first time they were out of what I needed.

3. Aldi only sell groceries.

This might sound like a “duh” answer — but I’m used to shopping at Meijer where I can get everything I need in one trip. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Meijer, it’s basically like a Super Target or Super Walmart.

On top of my weekly groceries, I can also buy a couple cans of spray paint for my next project, a flood light bulb for our front porch, a baby present for my friend’s shower, a birthday card for my grandma, and fill a prescription — all without loading Nora in and out of the car 15 times and driving all around down.

Plus, I can grab a rotisserie chicken for $5 or a 40%-off HUGE deli pizza for about $3.99 if that’s the plan for dinner (we do this once in a while).

For those of you who don’t know me well, I absolutely HATE running errands, so the fact that I can do everything at one store at Meijer is pretty much a deal-clincher for me. Not only do I save time and gas money, I also save both my and Nora’s sanity :)

4. Aldi doesn’t save me time or money in the long run.

Aldi is known for having great prices on groceries without the need for special sales or coupons — and I totally get how this is appealing for most people. Aldi DOES have great prices on a lot of things, and as I mentioned above, I do shop there every once in a while to stock up on canned goods and chips.

However, after calculating my various Aldi trips (approximately $35-$40) versus Meijer trips (approximately $50), I figured that I only saved an average of $10-$15 per week. Now, that sounds like a lot, especially after adding it up week after week… BUT since I can rarely find everything I need at Aldi, I still have to go to Meijer to pick up the rest. This extra trip wastes time and gas — and also usually costs an extra $10-$15. So my over-all weekly totals end up almost identical.

I’m not a huge couponer, but I do save several dollars each week using coupons; and Meijer has some really good weekly sales, so if I just learn to stock up when items are on sale (and use coupons if I have them) I can often get better prices at Meijer. Plus, the Meijer store I shop at has a KILLER reduced produce rack and reduced bakery rack. I can fill my cart with product for pennies on the dollar — much cheaper than the prices at Aldi.

5. Aldi doesn’t take credit cards.

I realize this might go against everything that Dave Ramsey followers believe, but Dave Dekker and I use our one credit card to buy everything. EVERYTHING. Then we pay off the entire bill at the end of the month.

Our credit card is a Meijer Master Card so we get extra discounts for buying gas and groceries at Meijer. We also get extra coupons mailed to us monthly for 5%, 15%, and even 20% off groceries and general merchandise. And if that isn’t enough, at least once a month, I get a $5 off a $50 gift card purchase — which means I can buy a $50 gift card for $45 (and then turn around and use that gift card to buy groceries.)

So not only is it like a free $5 off, I can also use any other discount coupons AND dollar-off manufacturer coupons in one transaction (no, it’s not as confusing as it might sound!)

I don’t even own a debit card and I rarely carry cash, so if I’m going to shop at Aldi, I need to make a separate trip to the bank — which uses more gas and more time.

.

Again, I’m certainly not trying to say YOU shouldn’t shop at Aldi — so please don’t feel the need to defend yourself if you do. I realize that all Aldi stores are very different and you might have an extremely nice store by you, you might not have any other grocery stores to choose from, or you might love using cash :)

I also know for a fact that all Meijer stores are different and that the Meijer I shop at is extremely nice.

So for those of you who have questioned why I don’t do my regular shopping at Aldi — hopefully this (really long) answer will help to explain!

Do you have a favorite (or least favorite) grocery store?

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69 comments

  1. Melissa

    09/26/2013

    I try and do my weekly shopping at Food City. It’s a small local store chain that’s out of Maine (where I live). We run a small farm, and their produce manager loves to buy local and always puts our products out first! So we show our support back by shopping there first.
    The other stores in town, Hannaford, wants us to jump through flaming hoops to be able to sell our produce there. Though the selection is way better at Hannafords, I am making my weekly trips to Food City and go to Hannaford about once a month.

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    Barb Reply:

    I am basically the same.I do most shopping at Giant Eagle to get my fuel perks esp when the sale stuff is the same or cheaper than Aldi.I have $2 off a gallon,so we save a lot in gas.I also shop at Shop N Save and Bottom Dollar.I watch the sale ads.There are some name brand stuff and I can get better deals on sale than Aldis generic,esp on paper towel and toilet paper and stuff like coffee.

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    Andrea Reply:

    $2 off per gallon of gas!! That’s insane! wow, Meijer doesn’t have that good of deals on gas, but there is still a good savings!

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    Kristen Reply:

    Giant has a rewards card that gives you $0.10 off a gallon of gas for every $100 you spend in a month. There are also ways you can get extra cents off, like buying 5 of a certain group of products, or a coupon in the flyer that gives you an extra 300 points ($0.30 off) for spending $50, etc.
    Just don’t want you to get too jealous, thinking it’s a price you can get normally ;) It is nice to redeem your points when your tank is really low, though I’ve never gotten close to $2 off/gallon!!

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  2. Paula

    09/26/2013

    I think just like you, but it’s really hard to read this post…. we just moved to Colorado from Michigan and lost completely any access to Meijer OR Aldi….. Closest we have is Target or Walmart and I refuse to shop the latter, so have the same debacle with produce and ‘real’ food at Target that Aldi presents. Meijer rocks in my book, totally.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Oh no, I would definitely miss Meijer too! I personally don’t love shopping at Walmart either, and we just finally got a Super Target but the grocery selection is very limited — so I’ll be sticking to Meijer for a long time :)

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  3. Barb

    09/26/2013

    I know what you mean Paula. The worst of the withdrawal symptoms from moving away especially from West Michigan is first the lakes but then Meijer! I am 50+ and until I moved away I didn’t realize that Meijer wasn’t a “regular” grocery store. And yes all the Meijer stores like Aldi are different but you quickly can figure out the best time (usually 1-3 weekdays or 8-11pm) to get in and out of Meijer. They also have at the flyer stand a map of their store so pick one up to take home for organizing your shopping list.

    The best part of Meijer in West Michigan is the family run atmosphere. Here in Ohio we have Meijer but to the employees it is just a big company…the owner use to visit with the shoppers and bag groceries on occasion. Bless you Fred you are missed.

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  4. Debbie

    09/26/2013

    Im sorry to say that i completely disagree with you. We have several Aldi stores in our area and they are all clean and neatly stocked. They have plenty of varieties to choose from and they even have seasonal special buy products that are cheaper than other stores. I buy everything at Aldi and it saves me time from having to run to other stores and cut coupons. I do shop at other stores once in a while for the few things that Aldi does not have but I definitely save a lot of money at Aldi.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Sounds like your Aldi stores are much nicer than mine. As I mentioned in the post, I’m not trying to get you to “agree” or “disagree” with me, just stating the facts why the Aldi store near us doesn’t work for the way I grocery shop. Glad Aldi works for you :)

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  5. nick

    09/26/2013

    To me it was mostly processed garbage and not much of the things I eat… e.g.

    Grass fed beef / pastured meat, organic fruits and vegetables.

    BUT if I did eat those things they did seem to be cheap.

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  6. Jozie M

    09/26/2013

    My mom always shopped at Aldi’s when we were kids. I don’t know if things have changed but I have never shopped there as an adult because I remember certain things tasting funny. Hot dogs,american cheese, milk, just to name a few. It would also bring back those memories of being pretty poor which I don’t like to revisit.

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  7. Heidi

    09/26/2013

    We do the one credit card thing too! It saves us money because it keeps all costs and spending on one bill instead of spread out. We use an amazon card and it racks up amazon points we use to pay off part of the balance.

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  8. Luba with FLP

    09/26/2013

    I used to shop at Aldi all the time–until I figured out that the sale prices at other stores beat Aldi’s low prices. Usually the quality at other stores is better too. Once in while they will have good produce, but the bananas usually rot before they ripen. Plus, I have a Target, Rainbow, and Cub much closer to me than an Aldi. :)

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  9. Michaela

    09/26/2013

    When my older son lived at home I used to shop Aldi all the time. He nearly ate me out of house and home, so I had to keep the cost down. They had built a new one in our town right on my way home, but it still felt like a hassle because I would have to go to Walmart right after to get certain products Aldi didn’t carry (or I didn’t like).

    Now that he is out of here, I tend to go wherever I get the whim to go (mainly avoiding Walmart and Aldi now). Also my husband started a new job going store to store stocking pop, so he has access to places that I never get to go. Many times we buy meat from two local stores (who stock local meat), Costco or Sam’s Club once a month, and anything else is picked up along the way (depending on where we are working – I also travel for work). I don’t even pay attention to the cost because the three of us aren’t nearly as expensive as when my older son was living here.

    Since not going to Aldi, I have not missed it. I like the variety and I like certain brands and I would rather spend a few extra dollars and have exactly what I want.

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  10. Jen

    09/26/2013

    I’m so jealous! We don’t have Aldi or Meijer in Louisiana :(

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  11. Laurel

    09/26/2013

    I’m the most loyal Meijer shopper. Haven’t they changed your Meijer Credit Card rewards, though? They changed them so they are no longer giving out the 20% off H&B and groceries. Now it’s just 5% off H & B and groceries and 15% off household. I used to sometimes get 3- 20% off coupons each month and we pay our bill off each month in full too, charging every single thing we can. When they switched their rewards plan back in May, it’s not nearly as good. I joke that I was probably one of the reasons they had to switch it as they were actually losing money with me! Anyway, now we only use our Meijer card for gas and have switched to a better credit card with better rewards for everything else. Still love my Meijer store, though. I went in Aldi’s once and was turned off, never to return again.

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  12. JoDi

    09/26/2013

    I don’t shop ar Aldi’s either and you pretty much covered all the reasons. Ours is just like you described. I only went there a couple of times and that was enough. Our local grocer and Super Walmart have everything I need, and we buy grass fed beef from a local farmer once a year.

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  13. Courtney

    09/27/2013

    I always have to tame my jealousy when you talk about Meijer, growing up in OH we loved it! Now in central PA and no Meijer and Walmart/Target do not even come close! Thankfully the Aldi stores near me are very nice and well stocked. I wouldn’t buy nearly as much fresh produce if I didn’t have an Aldi’s.

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  14. Mrs.M in MI

    09/27/2013

    My husband and I do as much of our grocery shopping at Aldi as we can. Our Aldi is fabulous and 5 minutes away. We also shop at Trader Joe’s, Kroger, Costco, the local butcher, and the local farmer’s market. But we’re foodies, cheap, and childless, and all these stores (with the exception of Costco) are within a 10 minute drive.

    Two things to add: Aldi and Trader Joe’s are owned by the same parent company. As a frequent shopper of both stores, I can tell you that several products are the same, including the organic products. Put an Aldi label on it and it’s half the price.

    I worked as a cashier for Meijer for a few years about ten years ago (at the original Thrifty Acres location in Grand Rapids, no less!), I can tell you that employees of Aldi are compensated and treated FAR better than I ever was. That is worth the extra time and hassle to me.

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  15. Kristen

    09/27/2013

    I wish there was an Aldi near me! The closest one is at least 30 minutes away so it’s totally not worth the savings once you factor in the time and gas. And we don’t have Meijer here, so I have to be content with Target, Costco, and the grocery store :)

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  16. Grae

    09/28/2013

    We have a lot of Aldi stores here and one that is conveniently situated near our gym. Aldi is my go to place for my baking supplies as they can be cheaper than those sold in bigger chain stores. Just be sure to check the fliers to see what they have in store and on sale.

    Aldi’s doesn’t accept coupons. That’s one policy I dislike. But most of the time, the brands they carry have no coupons to match so I guess to accept it is moot point.

    Oh and their canned items are great for restocking!

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  17. Kristen @ Joyfullythriving

    09/28/2013

    Well said, Andrea! I don’t shop at Aldi often for much of the same reasons. My main reason is that it’s on the opposite side of town (a 30 minute drive) verse Meijer (a 10 minute drive). Plus, I’ve found that if I watch sales, I’m still beating Aldi’s low prices with sales and coupons. So, I stock up then – and save my time. Plus, we do the same thing with our credit cards that you do, so I have to be passing by Aldi – with cash in my wallet – for me to stop and shop there.

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  18. lyss

    09/30/2013

    I think it’s funny that so many people inquire as to whether or not you shop at Aldi. Maybe that’s just because I’ve never been to Aldi? I’ve never lived where there was an Aldi, or a Meijer either. I’m blessed to currently have my two favorite grocery stores, HEB and Sprouts, right en route to our church and daughter’s school. Super convenient. : )

    My least favorite grocery store? Definitely Walmart. The produce is rarely good, I can never find anything, and since it’s such a huge store, I end up walking like 5 miles backtracking all around the store, and then have to wait in a long line because there’s usually only one lane open that isn’t an express lane or self-check out(which doesn’t always work well). How’s that for a run-on sentence! ; ) I can’t say I never go there, but it’s not very often, and definitely not for a grocery trip! Oh, and last time I went to walmart to buy earbuds, they were all locked onto the shelf, so I had to get an employee just to pick out my $10 earbuds. Thankfully she let me take them to pay with my other items. She told me they normally make you pay for them right there…I guess I didn’t look like a thief. Same thing with makeup. I wasn’t buying any, but noticed that the entire aisle was behind locked glass! So you’d have to find an employee just to pick up some mascara! What are they going to lock up next? The candy aisle?! And, no, this was not in a bad part of town. Guess that’s my rant on walmart…lol.

    But what I think we should all take from this post is this: Do what works for YOU!

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  19. Kristin

    10/04/2013

    Great perspective! I also do not have an Aldi close to me, but it sure would be nice because of their great prices on chips, cereal, and random things that you need every so often. I always love your perspective on life and your website is always so encouraging! You make us think of things we probably haven’t ever put much thought into. Thanks Andrea!

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  20. Patty@homemakersdaily.com

    10/10/2013

    I feel the exact same way about shopping at Aldi.

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    12/06/2013

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