03 May 2011

All about Aldi

We love Aldi. I get complaints just about every day from Cheapskaters in South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and Tasmania about the fact that they don't have Aldi. I've tried. I've met with Aldi representatives and told them how you feel. I've had phone conversations with Aldi and told them how you feel.

Last week I was filming a story about Aldi and yet again mentioned how you all feel. I actually went further and suggested that if Aldi were to make the move to go national that they would be the supermarket leaders in double quick time and I really believe that.

When Aldi first opened in Australia they were an unknown, but not for long. Cheapskaters, official and unofficial alike, embraced the  opportunity to feed their families for less, decorate their homes for less and enjoy the latest technologies for less.

I've written quite a bit about Aldi over the years and time has not lessened my love of Aldi.  You can read those articles here and here and here.  You can read a Cheapskates member's experiences here.

If you've never shopped at an Aldi supermarket before there are a few things you should know that will make your first visit a success and start your love affair with Aldi.

First off you'll need a gold coin or a trolley token to get a trolley from the trolley bay. The trolleys take $1 or $2 coins or a token you can buy for 99 cents. I keep a $2 coin in the zip compartment of my purse just for Aldi trolleys. Be prepared- getting change from the store isn't that easy.

There is only one way into an Aldi supermarket and one way out. If you don't have change for the trolley you'll need to go into the store and then get in line at a checkout to get a gold coin.

Most Aldi supermarkets only have four aisles and they are wide, wide enough for two trolleys to pass without risk of losing a limb.

Most Aldi supermarkets have the same layout, which makes shopping at different stores easy. And enjoyable. Who hasn't gone into a supermarket in another suburb and not been able to find a thing because the layout was completely different? You don't normally have that problem at Aldi.

When you need to stick to a strict grocery budget, Aldi is the supermarket to visit. The range is limited, and that's a good thing - too much choice costs us too much money. You'll generally find that there will be a "budget" brand and a slightly more upmarket brand of every item in the store.  You'll have two choices of pasta and two choices of dishwashing detergent, two choices of cheese, two choices of baked beans and so on.

The other thing to bear in mind is that you will only get pantry staples at Aldi. No gourmet herbs and spices and many groceries will be seasonal. Mixed dried fruit for instance is usually only available from November through to Christmas so when you see it stock up (it keeps in the pantry and you can freeze it if you want to). Be prepared for seasonal foods to only be available for a short time and if you regularly use them out of season buy enough to get you through.  You'll still save a lot of money.

Start by going to the Aldi website and using their online tool to make up your shopping list. This will give you an estimate of what your groceries are going to cost. I say estimate because you can't get the prices for fresh meat, fruit or vegetables as they will vary depending on the weight of the food you buy. But it's close enough to give you a good idea of how much you're going to spend.

Each week, on a Thursday, the new sale cycle starts. There will be weekly grocery specials and the weekly special buys Aldi is famous for. Expect Thursday to be a very busy day instore and if you don't want a special buy, perhaps shopping on another day would be wise. Oh, and the special buys are usually at the back of the store, on the end of the centre aisles. You need to be quick, they are limited stock and go fast.

When you get to the checkout you'll see the conveyor is long, very long. This is supposed to make checking out faster, I'm not convinced on this. It just takes you longer to get to the cashier.

 You will need to have your trolley fully unloaded before you get to the cashier because you need to pack your groceries back into it. Do not, under any circumstances try to pack your shopping into bags at the checkout. You'll just hold everyone up and end up in major confusion. Instead load them into the trolley and then take advantage of the packing bench to get your groceries ready to take home.

 You need to take your own green bags with you, unless you want to pick up empty cartons as you shop or buy new green bags on your way through the checkout.

And one last thing. You can pay by cash, eftpos or credit card. If you opt for the credit option there is a 1% surcharge on top of your grocery total. Cash or eftpos are the way to go.

That's pretty much it. Shopping at Aldi is an experience and can seem a little strange at first, but once you get use to it (and start counting the money you are saving) you'll be hooked too.

There's a great thread called My first Aldi experience with loads of tips and product reviews that makes great reading in the Member's forum. It's good to get other Cheapskater's perspectives on things before you try them so I suggest you take a look. Use the forum search to find other Aldi threads too, it will be worth your while.

12 comments:

  1. Aldi now has a cook book out so you can now do all your shopping at Aldi. It costs $9.99 and well worth it. Some really great recipes in it. From now on no more shopping at different stores. Do your menu planner up from the recipes in the book.

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  2. Hi Suzanne, yes I have a copy of the recipe book. It's called "One Family, One Supermarket" and is a good starting point for beginner meal planners.

    Cooking from scratch with double duty ingredients is the best and easiest way to keep your food bill low.

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  3. I'm sure I've read that one of the reasons Aldi were reluctant to open in WA was the restrictive trading hours. Hopefully now that they have finally been relaxed WA may finally get Aldi. I've been living in Melbourne for 8 months now and I love my local Aldi.

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  4. My Sister lives in Country Victoria and is always bragging about the savings ay Aldi's. Is there any news on whether one will be opening in Perth WA anytime soon??? Can't believe that even the country towns have them over east and we are missing out in Perth.

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  5. We've been staying in Portland while renovating a house for sale and we love Aldi.

    Now that Woolworths in Mount Gambier is moving to the new Big W location, Aldi's could move into the old store on Commercial St East. The population of Mt Gambier is big enough and the store already exists as a supermarket. Mention that to the Aldi execs the next time you speak to them.

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  6. Karen, better than waiting for me, do it yourself. Go to the Aldi website and under the Contact Us heading you'll fing the address. Write them a letter and let them know how you feel.

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  7. We think they'll open up in Centro Plaza - old Fishers Foodland Store. Woolworths is keeping it's Commercial St East store.

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  8. Cathy
    Please keep trying to get them to go National. I love shopping there when in NSW but I am severely restricted in the amount I can bring home to WA on the plane. I have written to them and they had a that time no plans for a store here, maybe we should inundate them with reuests.
    Also seen a store in the UK but was unable to stop at the time to check it out.
    Maggi

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  9. OH, all of WA gets Sunday trading from the end of August. Perhaps it's time for Aldi to start planning for the West?

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  10. please , please Aldi, open a store in Tasmania !!!

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  11. I don't get the love for Aldi personally. While we do shop there once or twice a month, the quality is no better than the supermarkets (and for some of the things I've bought, it is significantly worse!!!), and if you shop around (ie, wait for the specials!) you can beat Aldi's prices pretty easily. My dog didn't even like the dog food very much, and he's no gourmet pampered pooch!!!


    And before you ask, I don't have anything against Aldi, my brother works for them!

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  12. The specials now start on a Wednesday and there is a different selection available on Saturday. I love that ALDI now open at 8.30am and (our local stores at least) close at 8pm. It is so convenient to shop after dinner when the stores are quiet

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