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La Jolla Mom

What It’s Like to Shop at ALDI

BY La Jolla Mom

Yes, it’s possible to buy the foods you love at prices of up to 50%* less than those at traditional grocery stores. I’m talking about organics, gluten-free options and other premium products.

It’s true. I saw it for myself last week during a visit to San Diego’s first ALDI. I’d already received an ALDI Delivered box of nonperishable goods courtesy of my partnership with ALDI and needed to pick up the remaining items for several ALDI recipes I’m excited to share with you soon!

What Is ALDI?

ALDI may be new to California, but ALDI operates more than 1,500 US stores in 34 states. This huge distribution means that they are able to bargain with suppliers for the best deals. But this is just one of the many ways they pass savings on to the customers.

I buy these same organic berries usually at around $5.00** per packet.

Discounted fresh berries at Aldi in San Diego

Now, that’s savings. The other way ALDI keeps overheard low is by cutting out frills. I thought this would bother me, but it didn’t especially after I saw my receipt.

A Quarter for Your Cart

I pulled in and actually noticed that the ALDI parking lot was remarkably clutter-free. Part of the reason is because customers need a quarter to release shopping carts for use. Of course, staff will lend you one if need be.

What this does is incentivizes people to return carts themselves in order to get their quarters back. The carts also stay locked together which probably reduces the chance of theft.

Wide Open Aisles
aldi vista san diego review-2

ALDI keeps prices low also because they keep things simple. I thought this would bother me, but it didn’t especially after I saw my receipt.

Absent are fancy displays, a bakery, ATM machines and other bells and whistles. Goods are left in their boxes so they don’t have to be unpacked by staff. No ambient music plays (though I didn’t notice until later).

I was able to find everything I needed rather quickly via the visible signage throughout the store and because everything is either at eye level or below.

Exclusive and Premium Brands

Gluten free options at Aldi in San Diego

ALDI exclusive brands like SimplyNature® (includes organic items), liveGfree® (gluten-free foods) and Specially Selected (hand picked meats to rich treats) lack things like synthetic colors, MSG and added trans fats. I was impressed by the size of the gluten free section, actually, and have now made their gluten free strawberry cupcakes (cost per serving at time I made them is estimated at $.59** each). They’re delicious!

Fresh apples at Aldi grocery store in Vista

Quite a bit of the produce is locally grown, seafood is certified sustainable and meats are USDA Choice. They had a small local craft beer section and a decent stock of wines, many from California with even a handful hailing from nearby Temecula.

Brands I buy wherever I shop, were also represented.

National brands at Aldi in San Diego

Easy Choices

It’s actually easy to get in and out of ALDI rather quickly because of streamlined offerings. Instead of 10 different organic peanut butters to choose from, there is just one, for example. I didn’t have to deliberate over which to buy.

A cart full of discounted premium food at Aldi grocery store

With some of these cart items, I made a really awesome superfood salad, an ALDI recipe I’ll share soon.

The flowers also looked incredible.

Fresh flowers at Aldi in Vista

Bag Your Own

I’m used to this, having lived in London where customers bag their own groceries at most stores.

Here’s how it works. I loaded items onto the conveyor belt. A staff member scanned them and placed them back in my cart. After checking out, I pushed my cart to a bagging area and took care of packing things myself. ALDI has bags and boxes but you should bring your own.

Customers bag their own groceries at Aldi San Diego

I unloaded the cart at my car and returned it to the doorstep. As I secured the cart back into the locking system, my quarter popped out.

A Double Guarantee and a Little Perspective

If you’re ever unsatisfied with any ALDI item, they’ll replace it and refund your money.

Speaking of money, I left ALDI with a new understanding of what goes into pricing a grocery item. Would I rather pay less to bag my own groceries (which took only a few minutes), shop sans music, lend a quarter for a cart, forgo a pharmacy and things like this? Most of the time, I would.

Good to Know

While you could definitely make full meals with ingredients sourced only at ALDI, things like ginger, fresh herbs and the like will need to be purchased somewhere else.

The ALDI Test Kitchen churns out delicious recipes. You can find them (have a look at the cute kids’ snacks) on the ALDI blog and I’ll soon be showing you what I made, too.

I read that there are about 45 new stores opening in California soon. Maybe we’ll get another in San Diego. I’d love that. Right now, the closest ALDI is in Vista.

In the meantime, follow ALDI on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. I’ll be sharing what I made with my ALDI ingredients shortly so stay tuned!

Have you shopped at ALDI? What did you think?

This post was sponsored by ALDI. As part of my partnership with the brand, I received my ALDI Delivered box as a fun way to sample and review products and recipes. This is not a new delivery service.
*Based upon a price comparison of comparable products sold at leading national competitors.
**Prices subject to change and may vary by store location.

See how ALDI can help you save serious cash on groceries and more.
ALDI is now open in Vista in North San Diego. See what it's like inside!

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5 thoughts on “What It’s Like to Shop at ALDI

  1. I am originally from NE Ohio where Aldi’s has been available since the 90’s. It’s a great store. The prices really can’t be beat. Even if you don’t buy into the cheaper cereals or off-brand bread you can still save. The dairy is great. Really high quality. The produce is also very fresh since they have to replenish it often. Sugar, flour and other pantry items are also steals!

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