10 Things You Should Know Before Shopping at Aldi

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Aldi store
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Aldi is a grocery store chain based in Germany that is quickly becoming a favorite alternative to other U.S. discount grocers like Walmart.

The chain is known for carrying its own brands, which are generally less expensive than but comparable to national brand names. In fact, more than 90% of products at Aldi are exclusive to the retailer.

Here are a few things to know before you go.

Bring along a quarter

Aldi shopping carts
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Unless you find a shopping cart in the parking lot, you will need a quarter to “rent” one.

To reduce costs, Aldi does not have employees who retrieve carts from the parking lot, so carts are chained together at the front of the store and released when you put a quarter into the handle. Customers have to return their carts to the corral themselves to get their quarter back after shopping.

Don’t forget your bags

woman with groceries
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Another way Aldi reduces costs is by not providing free bags for customers’ groceries at checkout. The retailer has disposable and reusable bags available for purchase instead. Sometimes empty boxes are available for free, like at warehouse clubs, but not always.

So unless you are willing to pay for bags every time you shop at Aldi, the only way to ensure you have something to carry your groceries home in is to bring your own bags.

Prepare to be your own bagger

Aldi checkout lines
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There are no baggers at Aldi, so be prepared to pack your groceries as or after they are scanned.

Cashiers will put your items into an empty cart at the end of their lane, so if you’re quick or have another person with you, you can bag at the same time. Otherwise, you’ll pull your cart over to the side to pack everything into your bags before leaving the store and then return the shopping cart outside.

Aldi does not take manufacturer coupons

A collection of coupons
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Aldi does not accept manufacturer coupons and rarely offers store coupons. The retailer explains on its website:

“We take pride in making grocery shopping smart, fast and easy. ALDI shoppers do not have to clip coupons to find the best deals because we offer the lowest prices on groceries every single day. From time to time though, we may offer regional promotions or coupons tied to an event, such as an ALDI store Grand Opening. Keep an eye on your mailbox or in stores for special promotions near you.”

Get a refund and a replacement if you aren’t satisfied

Aldi meat and cheese aisle
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Under Aldi’s Twice as Nice Guarantee, which applies to Aldi-exclusive food products, you can get both a refund and a replacement if you’re not happy with the quality of an item.

Just note that you must bring the product packaging and any leftover product back to the store. You also must bring the receipt to receive a refund in the original form of payment; otherwise, you’ll receive store credit equivalent to the current price of the item.

For other types of items, and for Aldi-exclusive food items that you are returning for non-quality-related reasons, you will be offered a refund or replacement.

Look for local and organic produce

Aldi produce department
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Aldi has a great variety of local and organic produce at discounted prices. You may also find prepackaged produce.

Indeed, fresh produce is among the purchases cited in “10 of the Best Things To Buy at Aldi.”

It’s not just the produce that’s organic

Aldi's Simply Nature organic, non-GMO granola bars
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Aldi also carries a surprising number of other organic products for a discount grocer. In fact, it has an entire brand — Simply Nature — with nothing but organic and non-GMO foods.

“We are also continuing to expand our organic selection to meet customer demand,” the retailer says on its website.

Check out the discounted household supplies

Cleaning supplies at Aldi
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You might be surprised by the variety of nongrocery items that are available at Aldi, like cleaning supplies and pet food, given that its stores are relatively small. While you might find better pricing buying items like toilet paper or paper towels in bulk at a warehouse club, Aldi has a wide selection of household supplies and personal care items at pretty significant discounts.

Don’t miss the ‘Aisle of Shame’

Aldi Finds sign
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The center aisle of Aldi stores, affectionally nicknamed the “Aisle of Shame” by its fans, has more than just food. The merchandise includes a variety of household items, such as bedding and organizing containers, at deeply discounted prices. These finds, which Aldi refers to as Aldi Finds, generally change every Wednesday.

At my local Aldi, I thoroughly admit to finding well-priced organic beef and a few unnecessary but oh-so-cute cardboard kitty houses. Other great Aldi Finds I’ve seen include inexpensive soy-based candles and Disney children’s books for well below the suggested retail prices.

Take a stroll down the aisle or visit Aldi’s website to view the current and upcoming Aldi Finds in your area.

You can grab some beer, too

Beer at Aldi
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Many Aldi stores stock beer and wine in addition to groceries and goods, although alcohol sales are not permitted at grocery stores by law in some cities and states.

Use Aldi’s store locator to check alcohol availability at specific locations near you.

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