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In 2016, I ranked what I thought were the best grocery stores to shop at around America. It’s time to make an update and look at two newcomers, ALDI and Lidl.
Most people have one or two favorite grocery stores where they do all of their shopping. In the past, it was usually because they were close to home, or that their mom and dad shopped there, or that it just was easier to do the same thing every week. You knew the layout, the deals and familiarity seemed safe, right? But when money is tight and inflation is in the picture—big inflation—maybe it’s time to explore your options. When I say maybe, I mean you must!
There are always options out there and nowadays those options come from “across the pond” by the names of ALDI and Lidl, two European supermarkets that are taking a real foothold here in the USA, and growing! So today I am asking you to consider why ALDI and Lidl may just well be your best grocery store options in 2022.
Who Are These Guys?
Both ALDI and Lidl are German stores that have now expanded into the United States. Lidl was founded in 1930 and ALDI was founded in 1946. Because ALDI came to America first, most U.S. citizens are more familiar with it than the latter. In a couple of years though, this could change since more and more Americans are beginning to discover and favor the Lidl grocery store.
This is now even more accelerated since industry prices have gone skyrocketing over the past year. But price being just one important factor, there are differences between the two stores themselves as well as major differences between them and the store you are probably shopping at each week right now. So let me explain a bit…
Some of the Research
If you took the time to do some research on these store options, you would conclude that sometimes a different store can better suit your needs.
Of course ALDI and Lidl stores are both popular options for anyone who does not want to overpay for high-quality foods, and that’s just about everybody, isn’t it? If you want “cheaper” choices on your groceries and are wondering which of the two is better for you, then you have come to the right place. These stores offer that and more and it’s time you peer through the looking glass and decide if these stores are the place to shop.
Where Are These Guys?
ALDI is ahead of Lidl in numbers and as of right now, they have over 2,200 locations in 39 U.S. states covering over 1,400 cities. The states with the most locations are Illinois, Florida, and Ohio.
These states and territories do not have any ALDI stores: Idaho, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Alaska, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, American Samoa, Washington, Oregon, Guam, Maine, New Mexico, Montana, U.S. Virgin Islands & the Marianas. But don’t fret too much here. They will be expanding during the decade.
Lidl U.S. currently operates over 150 stores and recently opened locations in East Meadow, New York and Patchogue, New York with new stores in Dunwoody, Georgia, and Alexandria, Virginia too. Their stores are mostly located in the Northeast and the mid-Atlantic states here in the U.S. If you are in this area, you’re fortunate because you have multiple chances to shop and save there.
Let’s break down the reasons why these are great alternatives to your local markets.
The Things They Sell
Two of the most important things to all of us when we shop for our food are quality and taste. In my opinion, the difference in product quality between these stores and others is not large enough for everyday people to notice any real differences.
Some critics have said that there is a modest difference in the bread offered by Lidl and that it may be because they have their own bakeries. That being said, ALDI does as well and takes no criticism here about that as it seems always fresh and of high quality.
ALDI sells most of their own “house brands” and these are the store’s most popular products. By manufacturing most of what they sell, ALDI is hands-down better at quality control then your local store. Their most popular products use the brand name SimplyNature, but they have an extensive list of popular product brands too.
ALDI and Lidl both have free parking. Lidl has shopping hours from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. while ALDI is usually open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. That’s slightly less than your current supermarket hours run, but helps them control cost and makes savings which they pass on to you.
Another cost saver at these stores passed directly on to the consumer is the way you check out. You bag your own groceries at both of these stores.
Lidl is more convenient because cashiers have two conveyor belts to keep your items separate from the items of the person behind you. You won’t have to move your items to bag them, unlike at ALDI.
Delivery these days may be way more than just for convenience. It has grown to be safer and a time saver for many. Both these stores have delivery services.
ALDI is currently partnered with Instacart to provide delivery for its customers, whereas Lidl uses Shipt. Both platforms are easy to access and navigate both for people interested in ordering and getting paid to deliver. Delivery costs are also essentially the same, about $8 a month.
A Money-Back Guarantee?
If you see something from a Lidl brand that you want to try, go ahead and toss it in your cart. There’s a “Lidl Love It” guarantee, which means if you aren’t completely happy with something, you can return it for a refund and you can try something else in its place. ALDI has a similar option with its “Twice as Nice Guarantee”.
Produce Is a Clear Winner
The produce selection is big at both stores, with Lidl having an edge here. Lidl’s produce section is larger as is the entire store in general.
Coupons, Emails, and Other Shopping Tips
These stores are right on board as you can sign up for their emails and promotional flyers to be sent to you each week.
Stores do not have a telephone number for you to call directly so their staff isn’t “distracted” and can spend all of their time working and servicing customers. Not really certain that I like that, but they have to save somewhere, don’t they?
If you are a coupon hound like I am, you’ll be disappointed here. They don’t honor coupons and it’s because they insist you will save more from their pricing than to play “the game of cents off” with the coupons that other stores offer. The one exception is that they may have their own store coupons.
There’s a lot more on the website like an app you can download to your smartphone and recipes as well as all the information about locations, directions, and store hours. Information gets updated each week so there is always something new to learn and use to be creative about your shopping experience.
Most people make the assumption that shopping at these stores means you will not find the familiar brand names you love and see at your local markets. But there are many name brands there like Beyond Meat, Coca-Cola, Lacroix, Health-Ade, and more.
However, most groceries won’t be as familiar, but they are definite quality items and worth trying in order to stretch and save your dollars.
There’s a big organic section, too, and the prices are very reasonable!
Lidl versus ALDI for best grocery stores? Or do you favor the ones you’ve been shopping at for years? These two German discount stores will make you think about a switch.
The average ALDI is around 16,000 square feet and Lidl is 20,000 square feet. The quality and the pricing between the two are very similar and stack up well against your local favorite.
Both stores have promotional flyers that do feature promoted specials every week and that merchandise is highlighted. But when it’s gone, it is gone…no rainchecks. So shop early if you see a real deal. You can see everything online at their websites in advance of shopping at Lidl and ALDI.
If you love ALDI, you’ll love Lidl, too. If you’re lucky, you may have them both nearby now. But if not, keep an eye out…they’re coming!