Read this before stepping foot inside Aldi again

Shopping at Aldi may not seem like a right of passage, but isn't part of being an adult having a favorite grocery store? And, you know, being fiercely loyal to it? Buying food is a life necessity so you naturally want to do your shopping somewhere that fits your unique needs.

Some people are all about Walmart as the superstore carries basically anything you could ever want, let alone need, but others may find it overwhelming. Whole Foods lovers are passionate about its variety of health foods, but other people just don't get the hype. In the same way, Aldi fans love that it's quick and quaint, but some people can't get past the store brand's quirks (like needing a quarter to use a shopping cart).

As America's cheapest grocery store, Aldi has a unique way of doing things that can seem weird at first, but there's a reason why they choose to operate the way they do. To get the most out of shopping at Aldi though, you need to know how to shop like the 40 million customers who fill their carts there each month. Read on to discover what you need to know before stepping foot inside Aldi again.

Aldi has food for different kinds of diets

If you've ever been to Aldi, you know it has a small selection compared to larger grocery chains. However, that smaller selection doesn't mean they don't cater to a wide variety of diets.

Aldi has its own gluten-free line, liveGfree, along with an organic line, Simply Nature. The store's brand Never Any! consists of meat free of all steroids, added hormones, and antibiotics. And, for non meat-eaters or those looking for more plant-based options, there's a vegetarian and vegan line called Earth Grown. Aldi also has a large selection of protein bars and powders under the brand Elevation and their Fit & Active line has many low-calorie options. It's entirely possible to build a balanced and diverse meal plan with your groceries from the chain. And yes, the food tastes good.

Liz Ruggles, a spokeswoman for Aldi, told PopSugar, "We have in-house taste testers, aka our Aldi Test Kitchen Chefs. Our chefs hit pause on developing recipes at least twice a year to taste the quality of our products before they hit the shelves — every single Aldi product." Aldi doesn't just want to give you cheaper options, the company also wants them to be appealing.

Aldi's refund policy is very generous

Aldi has a very impressive return policy, which is sure to have gained the company some fans. It's called the "Twice as Nice" guarantee. As Cooking Light highlighted, you can return an item, get your money back, and receive a replacement product. Aldi's guarantee is that their products are the best quality out there so the company is unafraid to offer such a generous return policy.

If you need to make a return, you just need to bring your receipt and whatever is leftover of the product back to the store. However, this policy only applies to food. You can't return alcohol or non-food products, as stated by The Kitchn.

Larger retailers aren't as liberal with their returns. Walmart and Costco, for instance, will refund money for returns, but they don't offer replacement products like Aldi does. That said, there is a downside to making returns at Aldi. The grocery chain doesn't have a dedicated customer service desk like the big supermarkets, so you'll have to wait in the checkout line.

Don't expect to buy many name brands at Aldi

As you may have noticed while perusing your local Aldi, the majority of products it sells — about 90 percent — are not name brand. Rather, they're Aldi's in-house labels, according to CNBC Markets. This is actually part of how you save so much money when buying your food at Aldi. You can save as much as 50 percent when you buy Aldi's private label foods instead of the big name brands, Cooking Light revealed — and you don't need us to tell you how significant that is. 

Although you can usually find a few name brands sprinkled here and there throughout the store, you won't get them for non name-brand prices. If you really want a specific name brand but still want all that Aldi has to offer, your best option may be making a second shopping trip to a larger grocery store. Of course, you'll have to weigh whether those Lays are worth the commute.

Aldi created a system for speedy checkout

Aldi is famous for its speedy checkout, which is said to be some 40 percent faster than other grocery stores. Cashiers scan items at such lightning speed, it may be tricky to load your groceries onto the conveyor belt as quickly as they're taken off. This rapid checkout is, of course, by design. 

According to Cooking Light, Aldi products have several barcodes on them so the cashier doesn't have to look for it before scanning it (so clever!). Even produce is already packaged with a barcode to prevent pausing to look up an item in the system. Another unique aspect of checkout is that your groceries are put into an empty cart beside the cashier, rather than back into your original cart, as HuffPost reported. Your original cart, now empty, will move to the spot next to the cashier to be used for the groceries of the person behind you, and so on.

Aldi cashiers also do not bag groceries, which saves time. Instead, you bag your own groceries in an area away from the checkout line. It makes the checkout process a breeze, but it does make a little more work for the customer.

Aldi sells more than just groceries

You may not realize that Aldi is more than just a grocery store. The company also sells a wide range of home goods, ranging from decor to furniture to tools. You can also find clothing and shoes for adults and children along with pet products. There's often seasonal items like Christmas wreaths in winter and garden accessories in the warmer months. For many, these aisles are the best part of shopping at Aldi. But, there's a catch.

Dubbed Aldi Finds, these items aren't available for very long. If you see something you like, you'll want to grab it while you're there. Items are changed out weekly, so you may not find the same thing twice. In fact, according to Woman's Day, there are around 100 featured items each week. The publication explained that if an Aldi Find is hugely popular, it may become part of their permanent selection, like their gluten-free foods. If you're afraid of missing out on these often elusive items, though, you can visit the chain's website to see the current Aldi Finds and preview the items for the following week.

To find the best deals, pick up the weekly ads in Aldi stores

You can find Aldi's circulars as soon as you walk into the store and, if you didn't notice, they also have circulars to grab on your way out of the store as well. The ad on the way in tells you that week's deals, according to Cooking Light, whereas the one on the way out is for the next week, per Aldi's site. There's also a circular called "Aldi Insider", as The Kitchn reported, that features the current Aldi Finds.

To save the most amount of money, you'll want to make sure you're staying on top of these circulars. If you happen to forget to grab a current or upcoming weekly ad in-store, don't fret. You can also find them on Aldi's website, which means you can even pull up the ad on your phone during your shopping trip.

Aldi stores are designed to make your shopping trip quick

Have you ever noticed how much faster you can shop at Aldi compared to other grocery stores? That's all by design. A major reason you'll grab groceries faster is due to the store's smaller floor plan. Woman's Day reported that Aldi stores are usually around 12,000 square feet. There aren't many aisles either; most stores feature just four or five. Unlike some grocery stores, each and every Aldi is laid out in the same way so that you can always find what you need even when you're not at your usual Aldi location.

Aldi stores also only feature a small selection of the same type of product, which makes it faster for the customer to grab a product and go. The company knows that customers don't want to spend a lifetime shopping for groceries, so they keep customers happy with these time-saving strategies.

You can shop at Aldi online

Thanks to Instacart, you can shop Aldi products online and order them for pick up or delivery — as long as you live in one of the 6,000 zip codes they deliver to. To do this, you'll just need to visit shop.aldi.us. According to Aldi's website, you can order your groceries to be delivered in as soon as an hour from the time you place your order. Or, you can order them in advance up to seven days ahead of your delivery time. Items can be delivered during the day from an hour after the store opens to an hour after it closes, so there's a lot of flexibility to it.

This does, however, require creating an account with Instacart and you may want to consider getting an Instacart Express membership if you plan to do most of your grocery shopping online. That way, you won't have to pay delivery charges on orders over $35. Service fees are lower with the membership, but keep in mind that no matter how you shop with Instacart, you may be charged more for delivered products than you would in-store.

Aldi skips some features of bigger grocery stores to save you money

As is apparent when walking into your local Aldi, the grocery chain keeps things super simple. This enables Aldi helps keep their prices as low as possible. Liz Ruggles, a spokesperson for Aldi, told PopSugar, "We don't have hidden expenses because we choose to save shoppers money rather than have nonessential grocery store services like in-store banking, pharmacies, and check cashing." Aldi's emphasis isn't on all of the extras. Instead, it's on having rock-bottom prices. This approach has won over a lot of shoppers who want simplicity and affordable groceries.

Ruggles also told PopSugar that Aldi keeps prices low by putting products on the shelf while they're still in the box. That way, workers don't take nearly as much time stocking the shelves. Other store's displays may look slightly neater, but to many shoppers, the savings are well worth the sacrifice of aesthetic.

Aldi's wine is award-winning

Did you know that you can buy wine at Aldi? The company actually has an impressive wine selection considering the relatively small amount of products they offer. Aldi offers at least 37 wines for under $10 a bottle, as Refinery 29 reported. The company stocks red and white wines, rosé, sparkling wines, and even specialty wines like their "Petit Chocolat." Aldi's bottles of vino have even won awards.

As of this writing, there are nearly 30 award-winning kinds of wine listed on Aldi's website. According to Reader's Digest, these wines have won awards from several organizations and, yes, they really do taste good. The publication lists their wine as something to "always buy at Aldi."

Keep in mind though that not all stores have the same selection so you may not always find the wine you're looking for, especially if it's a specialty one. Prices differ between locations as well. Either way, it's bound to be cheap, right? After all, you found it at Aldi!

Aldi works hard to be environmentally friendly

Aldi works hard to keep their prices low, but they also care about the ways their stores affect the environment. Aldi's BYOB (bring your own bag) rule doesn't just get you through checkout faster, it prevents the use of plastic bags. Aldi spokesperson Liz Ruggles told PopSugar, "We are dedicated to reducing our impact on the environment. So we ask our shoppers to bring their own reusable grocery bags or buy a few at checkout to use for all their trips to Aldi." You didn't know you were helping out the earth while getting your weekly groceries at Aldi, but now you can give yourself a pat on the back!

Having customers using their own reusable bags isn't the only way that Aldi is thinking about the environment. In 2018, Aldi announced that they would be reducing their use of plastic. According to CNN Business, the company's goal is to have 100 percent sustainable packaging by 2025. Wow!

Don't bring your checkbook or coupons to Aldi

Unlike other grocery stores, Aldi doesn't accept checks. This probably isn't a big deal for millennials shoppers considering the majority of millennials don't use checks, but it's worth noting. On Aldi's website, the retailer explains that customers can pay with a debit card, credit card, Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), SNAP, or just cold hard cash.

In addition to checks, though, coupons are also not accepted at Aldi. You probably don't need them when you're saving a lot on groceries already, but don't expect to stack savings on top of savings.

According to Aldi's website, there is an exception to this rule. Occasionally, the company will send out store coupons when there's a new location opening. These Aldi coupons would show up in the newspaper or be mailed out or possibly handed out in-person at a store. The site mentions that the company does not offer digital coupons, though, so if you see one floating around online, it isn't legitimate. Sorry, couponers!

You should know when to make your shopping trip to Aldi

You may not realize that making your shopping trip at the right time will give you the best chance of finding good deals and special items at Aldi. According to Taste of Home, Wednesday is the best day of the week to head to Aldi. This is the day that fresh produce goes on sale and new products hit the shelves (like those awesome Aldi Finds).

You shouldn't just think about the day of the week you visit Aldi as the time of day is key as well. As you could probably guess, the morning is the ideal time to shop for the best selection. This also allows you the opportunity to root through the aisles before other customers do the same.

It's important to note that Aldi stores don't have the same hours as other grocery stores. Taste of Home reported that they're usually open for about 11 hours a day while stores like Walmart may stay open for 24 hours. Unfortunately, you won't always be able to make quick late-night run to Aldi when you realize you're out of g.

There's an Aldi app

Aldi is more tech savvy than you might have guessed. The company has an app, simply named ALDI USA. The app shows you what sales are going on in the current week and which deals are coming your way the next week. According to one Aldi shopper, the app is updated on Wednesdays just as the in-store sales are, so you can make your shopping plan a week before you go into the store. The app is also specific to your Aldi location so there's no question whether you'll find the item you're hunting for.

The app allows you to search for products by department and lets you know what new products have hit the store. You can even add them to your list with the app's shopping list tool, as Aldi's website states.

Additionally, the app will help you find Aldi locations (so you can visit one even while you're on vacation) and the QR Code Reader in the app helps you scan items and find their description while you're actually shopping in the store. It's a handy tool, especially if you're a regular Aldi shopper.