I love Farmer’s Markets for finding fresh and local foods, but it’s hard to find one for things like flour, plastic bags, semi-exotic fruits like bananas and oranges, and frozen foods. If you are looking to save money on your grocery bill, a great place to stock up on basics is one of the two Scott County Aldi stores – one in Savage and one which opened this summer in Shakopee.
I first discovered Aldi as a student abroad living in Austria in the early ‘80s. A German company, they flourished in Europe before opening up stores in North America. I liked them primarily for their assortment of yummy chocolates. When I saw a sign for Aldi on County Road 42 a few years ago, I turned in only to discover a whole new shopping experience. It was like visiting an old friend.
The first thing you notice is that it costs a quarter to “rent” a cart. This encourages people to return their carts, only the Southerner in me calls them buggies, rather than leave them in the parking lot. You can also use boxes or bags if you have a small amount of groceries. They don’t have fancy shelving units and displays and not a huge variety of brands, but the Aldi store brand (Clancy’s, Happy Harvest, Casa Mamita, Savoritz, and more) generally cost significantly less than you can find at most grocery stores. The prices on items like milk, eggs, yogurt, meat, baking goods, chips, and especially produce beat other stores’ sale prices. Who ever heard of buying two 5 ounce filet mignons, wrapped in bacon for less than $5? And they are yummy! The key is to cook them thawed rather than frozen. We also use the ground turkey which is several dollars less per pound. Yes, per pound!
A leader in the grocery retailing industry, Aldi operates more than 1,400 US stores in 32 states with additional stores in 16 countries. More than 30 million US customers each month save up to 50 percent* on their grocery bills, benefiting from the Aldi simple and streamlined approach to retailing. Aldi sells more than 1,300 of the most frequently purchased grocery and household items, primarily under its exclusive brands, which must meet or exceed the national name brands on taste and quality. Aldi is so confident in the quality of its products, the company offers a Double Guarantee: If for any reason a customer is not 100 percent satisfied with any Aldi food product, they will gladly replace the product and refund the purchase price.
Aldi was named the 2014 Retailer of the Year by Store Brands Magazine for its strong commitment to value and innovation-focused private brand product development. (*According to a survey of more than 6,000 consumers conducted in March 2014 by Market Force Information.)
Another significant difference is that you also need to bring your own bags or you can purchase them for a few cents. Then the cashier loads your groceries back into your cart and you bag them yourself in a designated space. You take them to our car, unload, and then return the cart to get your quarter back.
Formerly a brand name snob, I discovered Aldi brands are just as good if not better, and always cheaper. And if you are job hunting, Aldi is practically always hiring and is committing to hire 10,000 people in the next three years nationwide.
Tessa Lehto is a Shakopee resident and garden enthusiast. This article is funded in part by Scott County’s Statewide Health Initiative Plan to promote healthy eating in the county and Local Harvest Alliance to promote awareness of local foods. Comments or Ideas? Contact me at email@example.com.