11 Aldi Shopping Mistakes You Should Avoid

On Wednesdays, we shop at Aldi.

<p>Katjabakurova/Getty Images</p>

Katjabakurova/Getty Images

Aldi is one of—if not the—leader of grocery store chains with low prices. This is one of the many reasons why Aldi is one of the most popular supermarkets in the United States. It’s convenient, reasonably priced, and packed with unique finds. You can get your basics (milk, eggs, bread, etc.) as well as personal care items, pet food, and diapers, making Aldi a one-stop shop for many families. But Aldi isn’t a traditional grocery store—it’s a German grocery store with a few quirks. And as such, there are a few caveats to know to make the most of your trip and keep your bill as low as possible. Here’s our list of shopping mistakes at Aldi you should avoid:

Related: 10 Underrated Items at Aldi You Should Try ASAP

You forget to bring a quarter

One of the genius ways that Aldi is able to keep costs low is by saving on employment. You likely won’t find a large team of employees at any given Aldi location, and you certainly won’t find someone collecting shopping carts in the parking lot. This is because Aldi uniquely puts the customer to work—briefly, at least—with its cart rental system. You release a shopping cart from the corral by placing a quarter in the slot. When you return your cart at the end of your shopping trip, you get your quarter back. It doesn’t technically cost you anything if you remember to bring a quarter.

You don’t shop on Wednesdays or Sundays

When your refrigerator is starting to look sparse, it’s time to go grocery shopping. If you can time your trip on certain days, however, you might be in luck. The middle of the week—Wednesday, to be specific—is the best day to shop at Aldi because this is when new products are released. You may be familiar with Aldi Finds, a fun assortment of specialty items at competitive prices. Wednesdays are also when sales and promotions are announced. If you grocery shop once a week at Aldi, try to go on Wednesdays. You may discover new items in the Aldi Finds section, or base your list off of what’s on sale.

Sundays are also one of the best days to shop at Aldi. This is when Aldi marks down certain items, so there are savings to be had if you need to do a weekend grocery run.

You aren’t utilizing Aldi’s online store

Curbside grocery pickups and drive-up orders are becoming the norm, and Aldi isn’t going to be left behind. The chain revamped its website to encourage online shopping, which is free, by the way. You can fill up your virtual cart with the essentials—including everything from baby supplies to pantry staples—and an Aldi team member will do your shopping for you and deliver it to your car. If this sounds too good to be true, rest assured it’s legit. There’s no extra fee, making this a convenient way to check grocery shopping off your to do list. Grocery delivery is available at an additional cost.

Or the Aldi app

There’s an app for everything, including your grocery shopping. Aldi too has an app, which has a few notable perks. For starters, you can view the weekly ad as soon as it’s available, rather than waiting for the physical mailer to arrive. You can also view new product releases and recent price reductions, giving you a jump on the drops and deals. What’s more, the Aldi app has a QR code reader, so you can scan items to access special content. And no grocery app is complete without an integrated shopping list, so you don’t forget any of the essentials.

You spend more on the name brand stuff

Most supermarkets have a generic brand or two, but Aldi takes the cake for the grocery chain with the most private labels—there are dozens of them. A significant majority—more than 90 percent—of the products sold at Aldi belong to the store’s own line of private label products, though there are rumors that some name-brand companies are secretly behind them. You’ll still find name-brand goods in Aldi, but they’re typically conveniently placed next to an equivalent product from one of the many private labels. This is an easy way to save while still nabbing quality goods in nearly every department.

Related: 20 Trader Joe's Shopping Mistakes You Should Avoid at All Costs

You aren’t stocking up on deli meats and cheeses

There are certain areas where a grocery chain just shines, and for Aldi, that’s the refrigerated deli section. There, you’ll find an assortment of deli meats, unique cheeses, and pre-packaged proteins. These are perfect for sandwiches, cheese and charcuterie boards, and cheese and crackers. Meat and cheese can be pricey, but not at Aldi.

Or pantry staples

Fresh meat, dairy products, and produce are among the priciest grocery items because they’re not shelf stable. Foods that expire quickly tend to be more expensive. Pantry staples—things like rice, canned beans, peanut butter, crackers, etc.—are extra affordable at Aldi. The chain also has the best deals on pantry staples like maple syrup, ketchup, and spices, as well as baking supplies like flour and sugar.

You aren’t giving the German products a chance

Aldi is a German company, and the chain doesn’t shy away from the chance to highlight some of the best food products the culture has to offer. The store carries a variety of German products, including chocolate, beer, bread, pickles, and a few others. This is a fun way to mix up your usual grocery rotation and appreciate Aldi’s German roots.

You aren’t taking advantage of Aldi’s generous policies

Aldi is known for being one of the most affordable places to get your groceries, and they have policies in place to make sure of it. Save your receipt in case any of your Aldi Finds go on sale within two weeks of your visit. If so, you can get a price adjustment, which is money back in your pocket. Aldi also has what’s called its Double Guarantee, which means if you aren’t satisfied with your purchase, the store will replace the product and refund your money. A win-win!

You don’t bring your own bags

Like returning your shopping cart, Aldi expects you to bag your own groceries as part of the deal. This helps them save on labor costs, but you’ll need to bring your own reusable bags to save on the single-use bags kept at the register. If you forget, you can purchase bags at Aldi, but they’re between seven and 10 cents each. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but it can add up. Reusable bags are more sustainable and they save you money in the long run, so stash a few in your car so you never forget ‘em.

Related: Grocery Shoppers Love These 5 Aldi Items, According to the 2024 Product of the Year Awards

You bring coupons

Aldi isn’t a regular grocery store. Those manufacturer coupons you get in the mail? They’re not accepted at Aldi. The premise is that Aldi already has the best prices on those name-brand products, rendering the coupons unnecessary. So, save your time and skip the coupon clipping if Aldi is your go-to supermarket. If you stick to the private label products, you won’t need them anyway.

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