[Disclosure: ALDI compensated me to write this post and also funded my travel to their recent #InTheALDIKitchen tour.]
No frills. Lower quality. Not in a familiar neighborhood.
These were all my views of the grocery retailer ALDI less than a year ago. Even with my dietitian colleague Sally of Real Mom Nutrition and my own business partner, Serena, singing ADLI’s praises, I was perfectly happy with shopping at my beloved Trader Joes a few times a week rounded out with a quick trip to my local chain supermarket.
And then an ALDI store opened 2 miles from my house.
Granted, it was not in an area I ever did any kind of shopping or stopping. In fact, I drove by it for a few months, not even realizing it was only one block back from the busy road I frequently used.
After finally figuring out where it was (really, how did I not see it?), curiosity got the best of me. I took my bags and my quarter for a shopping cart (you get it back upon return) and ventured inside. I was seriously amazed by the selection and could not believe the total of my first trip – $68 for staples and week’s worth of groceries. And I’ve been going back ever since.
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to visit the ALDI headquarters in Batavia, IL and one of their nearby stores. My head is still spinning from everything we learned (and tasted!) in 24 hours and I couldn’t wait to get home to take a new look at my local ALDI. #AD 10 Surprising Reasons You Should Consider Shopping at @AldiUSA via dietitian @tspbasil Click To Tweet
So, I’m sharing my favorite things about ALDI. And if there’s not one in your area yet, there may be one soon. ALDI is currently in 34 states and rapidly expanding – they’re adding an average of 130 new stores each year.
My Current Favorite Things About ALDI :
1) Fresh Produce For Less
One thing that stood out to me on my first visit was not only the quality of the produce but the wide variety of options (from mango to fresh herbs.) And then the low prices! I recently bought organic tomatoes for $2.99 and a bag of sweet potatoes on sale for $.79. One of their top sellers, Simply Nature Organic Mixed Greens is only $2.49 – you get the idea. (Note: price and availability of produce may vary by location.)
On the trip, I asked how the heck they keep prices so low for fresh and organic fruits and vegetables. See #3, #6 and #7 as a few reasons why.
In the past few years, ALDI has done A LOT in the area of offering better-for-you options that also taste great including launching these product lines:
Simply Nature– All organic or Non-GMO Project verified products with a cleaner list of ingredients and no added artificial ingredients and preservatives.
Live G Well – Exclusively gluten-free products.
Never Any– Meat and poultry with no antibiotics, no hormones added and no animal by-products.
Additionally, last year, ALDI removed certified synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils and added MSG from all of its exclusive brand food products (which is 90% of the store items.)
I never thought I’d care about how a grocery store stocks their shelves but now I do. ALDI does many things to cut costs here – like keeping products in bulk packaging on the shelves, having dairy, eggs and freezer items on trolleys that are quick to restock. As a result, each store runs with fewer employees and these savings are passed on to us, the customers, via those amazing low prices for organic produce, for example.
4) Super Spices
This is brand new – ALDI is expanding their spice shelves to include a wider variety of both regular and organic spices ranging from only $1.19 – $1.99 per bottle. Now I have no excuse not to update all my old spices.
5) Healthier Checkout Lanes
By the end of 2017, all ALDI store checkout lanes will get healthy makeovers meaning the usual candy and chocolate will be replaced with nuts, trail mixes, dried fruits and granola bars.
Meaning no more kid negotiating as you wrestle with the unloading your cart and paying the bill. Meaning no more snap purchases of that chocolate peanut butter goodie that I really don’t need to buy and now I won’t because it’s out of sight, out of mind. #score
6) Speedy Checkout
On your next (or soon to be first) ALDI visit, look for the UPC scan codes on any product. They’re bigger and there’s more of them which makes the checker’s job a breeze – I was totally caught off guard at how quickly my groceries were rung up on my first few visits as I fumbled for my wallet.
And your items are placed back in your cart – you take them to an area to bag them yourself (don’t forget to bring your own bags.) Again, more strategies that save time and money AND are eco-friendly, too.
7) Smaller Stores
ADLI stores average 10,000 square feet vs. 40,000 -60,000 of current mega-sized grocery stores. I LOVE this – our new local Giant is so enormous, it just feels overwhelming and wasteful, quite frankly, to have 10- 20 different varieties of every food item. Smaller stores mean fewer employees and again, more savings to the bottom line.
8) Employees Treated Right
I’ve always joked that if I ever just upped and quit my business (don’t worry Serena, not happening anytime soon), I’d go work at Starbucks because of the many employee benefits.
Well, I may consider working at my local ALDI instead. All employees are paid higher than minimum wage and those who work at least 25 hours week have access to the same employee benefits as full-time employees.
9) They Work With Dietitians
This past year, ALDI hired a corporate dietitian who does everything from give advice on new product lines to help creative better-for-you recipes. ALDI also has a dietitian advisory council that gives shopping tips and shares their favorite products like this list of Dietitians’ Picks.
10) They Listen To Their Customers
The customer service team regularly shares customer comments, complaints and wish lists with the staff. While 90% of the products in the store are ALDI exclusive, the other 10% are branded items that customers have requested to be stocked at ALDI for convenience.
And “special buy” products (meaning once they’re gone, they’re gone) have been brought back as regular products due to customer requests. The liveGfree line is one example.
I could go on but I’m saving some more tips and finds for next week’s Facebook Live which will include a Thanksgiving recipe and a giveaway!
Tune in at our Teaspoon of Spice Facebook page on Wednesday, November 16 at 12:30 pm ET for a chance to win a $100 ALDI gift card.
Do you have ALDI stores near you? If you shop there, what are your favorite items?