Aldi is the both a godsend to scrimpers nation-wide, and one of the most confusing places to visit if you’ve never been. One second you’re walking through the door, the next you’re sandwiched between cold meats, laundry detergent, household tools, and a stacks of Roald Dahl books.

But, as many converts will tell you, Aldi is not only the ultimate way to cut down your grocery bill, but also just a damn fine place to shop. So if you’re just starting your Aldi journey, know someone who is, or if you need a refresher course after spending too long in fancy-pants delis, this is the guide for you.

READ THEIR CATALOGUE

Aldi’s catalogue doesn’t just show their latest discounted items like other supermarkets. They also use they to advertise their limited specialty products, called “Weekly Specials”. This is where you can get stuff like gaming consoles, snow equipment, house decor, and even mother-flipping lawnmowers for a fraction of the normal cost. They’ll also advise when they go on sale – normally either a Wednesday or a Saturday – and the best items usually sell out on the day. So it’s worth having a look at the catalogue in store or online, in case something catches your fancy.

KNOW THEIR OPENING HOURS

Unlike other chains, Aldi have strict opening hours that stick pretty close to your city’s business hours. So have a squizz as to when your local opens and closes, because there’s few worse feelings that getting to a shop minutes after it closes.

BRING A GOLD COIN FOR THE TROLLEY

All Aldi trolleys come fitted with a coin lock system, designed to stop trolley theft. It’s simple: you put a gold coin in to unlock it, then you get the coin back when you snap it back into the trolley bay. If you’re not keen on always carrying coins around, Aldi also sells a small token you can attach to a keychain that fits in the slot as well.

DON’T GET CONFUSED BY THEIR PACKAGING

Aldi’s packaging is… special. That’s to say, about 50% of any product’s packaging is barcodes. It looks weird on the shelf, and even weirder when you bring it home. But don’t let it fool you: they’re designed that way so that their cashiers can scan your shopping faster and, thus, get you in-and-out quickly.

GIVE EVERYTHING A GO

Aside from the award-winning wine and whiskey, some of their products are straight-up better than their brand name counterparts. Among the PEDESTRIAN.TV offices, we found that their pasta sauce, blue cheese, chocolate, and Hawaiian frozen pizzas are all big hits. Also, did you know their tuna is Greenpeace approved? Hooray for ethical eating!

THERE IS ONLY ONE LANE WHERE YOU CAN GRAB GROG

Most Australian Aldi outlets now have an in-store drinks section. But only one cashier lane is legally able to sell you drinks. In most stores, this will either be leftmost or rightmost lane, but check to be sure, in case you want to grab a drink during your shop.

PAY IN CASH AND SAVE MORE

Aldi charges a 0.5% surcharge for credit card purchases, including Paypass. It sounds like a small amount, but it can add up, especially if you are doing a large shop. To skip the hidden fee, the best thing to do is to bring cash when you shop.

BE PREPARED TO BAG AND CARRY

Part of the deal at Aldi is that you have to do your own grocery bagging. This starts from when you get to the cashier; they’ll immediately ask you to park your trolley behind the cashier so they quickly dump your groceries in.

There’s also benches behind the counters set aside just for packing. You can buy both plastic and fabric shopping bags. But if you’re particularly keen, you can grab an empty pallet box. The staff shouldn’t mind, as long as you ask nicely.

IT’S STILL GOOD TO SHOP AROUND

Due to the way they source their products, some of Aldi’s products are not as cheap as other chain supermarkets or your local grocer. You may also find other products that aren’t as cheap at the discount shopping outlet as you’ve been led to believe. So always keep an eye out; Aldi isn’t the be-all and end-all.

Congrats, you’ve passed Aldi 101. Time to go out and get all the savings, ever.

The above article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent financial advice before making any financial decisions.


Suncorp Money Boilerplate

Image: Drive