13 Things You Won't Find At Aldi

While there are many Aldi items with a cult following you won't find elsewhere, there are also quite a number of things you won't find at Aldi that are common to other grocery stores. You may not have even noticed that some ordinary items are missing. Sure, there are products and brands you may have to purchase at a different store. However, the list of items you won't find at Aldi extends far beyond just the products you can't buy. Aldi just does things differently, but there's a method to the madness.

Most of the things and services you won't find at Aldi are related to the chain's dedication to keeping prices as low as possible. Interestingly, some of the ingredients you won't find in its products or its packaging choices are related to requests from customers and its dedication to being a healthier store with more sustainable packaging. Our list of items you won't find at Aldi will give you more insight into what makes Aldi its customers' favorite place to shop.

Free grocery bags or grocery baggers

You won't find grocery baggers putting your groceries in free grocery bags at Aldi. If you're new to the Aldi experience, you might be taken aback by how quickly the Aldi cashier scans and puts things into a cart for you. This is because time is money, and Aldi times its cashiers. Employees can have quotas to meet that can be as intense as 1,000 products per hour or even 40 products per minute. That comes out to the need to scan a product every 1.5 to 3.5 seconds. Skipping bagging allows Aldi to hire fewer workers and move people through the lines more quickly. The cashier will place all your purchased items into an empty cart at the end of the checkout aisle. You can purchase reusable bags to bag your own groceries, but you won't find free grocery bags.

By not providing free bags to customers, the chain doesn't have to tack on the price of bags to the price of your groceries. Plus, it's good for the environment. Alternatives include snagging empty boxes throughout the store to hold your groceries or bringing your own reusable grocery bags. You can even place your groceries into your trunk straight from your shopping cart. After all, you place groceries directly into your vehicle without a bag when you shop at food clubs like Sam's and Costco.


Have you ever noticed that you never hear music at Aldi? There's actually a lot of psychology behind why most grocery stores play music for their customers. You can use it to get customers out of the store quickly (with loud music), get them to buy red meat (also with loud music), convince them to buy healthy food (with soft music), or even coax them into buying expensive wine (with classical music). 

However, there's a specific reason why Aldi has decided not to play music for its customers while they shop: All the music that grocery stores play requires licensing, and licensing costs money. So, for a store that has dedicated itself to keeping prices low wherever possible, paying for music just doesn't make sense. After all, licensing to play music can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars per year per store. With the chain keeping prices lower than the competition on most of its items, it gets those sales regardless, without needing music to affect people's buying behaviors and decisions. Plus, the simple layout and fast cashiers get people through fairly quickly, anyway.

Employees wrangling shopping carts

The first time you visit an Aldi can be intimidating since the shopping carts are chained together. However, you can unlock and "rent" a cart with a quarter you deposit into the cart and get it back when you return it to the cart bay. You'd think a quarter wouldn't motivate people as much as it does, but you rarely see a stray cart in the parking lot. We've seen a few carts abandoned near the accessible parking spots, which makes sense with the cart bay being too far away to walk unaided. But people snatch those "free" carts up quickly just to save a quarter.

There's a reason you have to pay for your cart. With everyone corralling their own carts and grabbing any "free" carts they see rolling around in the parking lot, there's no need for Aldi to pay employees to corral them. It also limits the number of carts the store needs, since half the carts aren't sitting out in the parking lot waiting for an employee to bring them back to the cart pickup bay.

Another part of Aldi cart etiquette you need to know is to always offer a quarter to someone who attempts to give you their cart in the parking lot. One lady who was new to shopping at Aldi told us she didn't know about this unspoken rule and was surprised when a person offered her a cart and then demanded a quarter from her; they weren't simply being nice.

The same items every time you shop

Aldi says it sells "the most commonly purchased grocery items in the most popular sizes year-round." So, common items like butter, eggs, cheese, chicken, ground beef, flour, sugar, and standard fruits and veggies like apples and lettuce are always there for you. There are some staple items you can count on being available every time you shop at Aldi. We go weekly to get some of the best and cheapest oat milk around (Friendly Farms) and a cheap brand of non-sweetened, flavored soda (Belle Vie). However, some of the other products are seasonal or limited-time only.

For example, there are some seasonal products you will only find during German Week, when you'll see an abundance of Deutsche Küche products like muesli, fun desserts like strudel, and flavored herring fillet tins in the store. You'll find the limited-time-only products in the Aldi Finds aisle (also known as the Aisle of Shame). Part of what gets customers coming in weekly (besides good products and prices) is the rush of adventure they get from perusing all the new items that show up in the Aldi Finds aisle and around the store every Wednesday. Aldi Finds is an ingenious way the chain tests new products. Aldi says, "Several popular product lines started as ALDI Finds and are now part of our everyday selection, including the Earth Grown line of vegetarian and vegan foods, and liveGfree, the ALDI-exclusive brand of gluten-free items." So, there's always a possibility you may see the best Aldi Finds items again.

Free samples and coupons (unless it's opening day)

Some grocery store chains entice you to try new products by offering free samples. When we shop in stores like Trader Joe's and Sam's Club, it's difficult to ignore the tantalizing samples employees are cooking up, pouring, and handing out to shoppers. However, there are no such stations around Aldi stores. Why cut into your profits by offering free samples when customers come in specifically looking for new products to try every week? The concept sells itself. Anything that doesn't sell at full price gets marked down.

Instead of coupons, you'll see all the discounts on the shelves. If you see a yellow price tag with red text, the item is on sale. We've noticed that a large portion of these are in the same aisle where employees put last week's Aldi Finds, but you'll find them all over the store. We've seen some products drop below a dollar when they've been around for a while and the store wants to move them out to make room for new products.

There is one time that you might find free samples at Aldi, and that's on opening day at a new store. The grand opening is also when you might find coupons (something else Aldi doesn't normally offer). With so many unfamiliar brands on the shelf, it makes sense for the new grocery store in town to offer samples and coupons to tempt customers to try new products and come back again.

Everything on your shopping list, especially if it's name brand

If you're not picky about which brand you buy, you could conceivably get nearly everything on your grocery list at Aldi. Aldi does sell some name brands. For example, you can find Coca-Cola, Cheerios cereal, and ∆√ shampoo. However, you may not be able to find some other brands like Better Than Bullion, Hershey's chocolate, or Heinz ketchup.

Since only about 10% of the brands at Aldi are name brands, you will usually find one of Aldi's brands replacing the brand with which you are familiar. In many cases, you may find that you like the Aldi brand as well or better than the original brand. However, you may still need to swing by another store for items you don't find to be an acceptable substitute. Some of Aldi's brand items are made by the same suppliers as some name-brand products you know. For example, in a 2015 recall notice, we learned that Bimbo Bakeries USA makes brands like Sara Lee as well as Aldi's L'oven Fresh bread brand.

There are Aldi products you probably won't ever find at Aldi. For example, we've had to go elsewhere to buy grits, light bulbs, or a pre-made birthday cake when they were on our grocery list. That said, you can find cake mixes — and sometimes even frozen cakes — at Aldi. The Aldi in Batavia, IL, (where Aldi's headquarters are in the U.S.) got an in-store fresh bakery in 2018, but the chain hasn't decided to make it a universal offering yet.

Synthetic colors, hydrogenated oils, and MSG

If you're a label reader, you'll notice that there aren't any artificial colors, hydrogenated oils, or MSG in any Aldi brand products. Aldi removed all three of these in 2015 as a result of customer feedback.

While the FDA has banned some dyes in the U.S., there are plenty of others that other countries have banned that are still in U.S. products. Healthline says some dyes the FDA hasn't banned have been linked to everything from children's hyperactivity to cancer. Plus, there are people who are allergic to certain food dyes. If you are trying to stay away from artificial food coloring, you'll find plant-based ingredients like turmeric, beets, and paprika adding color to products rather than controversial and unsafe certified synthetic colors (like red dye 40) in Aldi-brand foods.

Per Healthline, hydrogenated oil has been linked to negative blood sugar levels, inflammation, and heart health risks. Thus, Aldi and many other companies have decided to remove hydrogenated oils from their food products.

MSG has been blamed for everything from headaches and sweating to more serious allergic reactions like abnormal heartbeats and difficulty breathing from throat and face swelling. However, Healthline says this seems to only be for certain people who are sensitive to MSG, and that studies haven't indicated that MSG is dangerous for everyone. Still, Aldi listened to its customers and removed MSG from its products.

Newspapers and magazines

While you wait to check out your groceries at most grocery stores, you can entertain yourself with preposterous tabloid headlines or magazine covers that promise to reveal new secrets to you. However, newspapers and magazines of all kinds are missing from Aldi. You won't find them on checkout line end caps or in a dedicated area of the store.

Aldi actually did a trial run of selling newspapers and magazines at around 40 stores in the U.K. in 2022. However, the experiment failed, and Aldi decided not to bother trying to sell newspapers and magazines.

For a company trying to cut any unnecessary costs, not selling newspapers and magazines makes lots of sense. For one thing, people are getting more of their information online than ever before. Think about it: You're reading this article online right now, rather than perusing a magazine or newspaper you picked up at the grocery store. Newspaper and magazine circulation has been cut in half or more in the last 20 years. And while publishers generally give credit for unsold magazines and newspapers, some publishers require returning the cover to get credit for the unsold copies, which takes up employees' time.


There are actually two rival Aldis in existence in Europe: Aldi Süd (Aldi South) and Aldi Nord (Aldi North). These two competing Aldis exist separately because of a disagreement between the founding brothers about whether or not to sell cigarettes. One of the brothers, Karl Albrecht, worried that selling cigarettes would lead to more shoplifters, while the other brother, Theo Albrecht, was convinced that selling cigarettes would increase profits. Rather than reaching a compromise, the two brothers parted ways and created their own stores in different regions. The one that moved into the U.S. grocery market business was Aldi South, owned by the brother who was against cigarette sales. So, if you're wondering why you can't find cigarettes in Aldi in the U.S., it's because of worry long ago over shoplifting.

Aldi North didn't move into the U.S., but its parent company did buy Trader Joe's in the late 1970s. Even so, you won't find cigarettes at Trader Joe's, either.

Unnecessary packaging and plastic, including plastic bags

When it comes to packaging and plastic, Aldi has been making a concerted effort to reduce waste as much as possible. Aldi has created an international policy concerning moving toward more sustainable package choices. Its approach involves the adage you hear often concerning sustainability: reduce, reuse, and recycle. It will use minimal packaging to reduce waste and create more reusable packaging. It also plans to use more packaging that comes from recycled materials and create more packaging that can be recycled. Of course, the packaging choices have to be weighed against food shelf life, quality, and safety.

As of the end of 2023, you won't see any plastic bags for purchase in Aldi stores. In 2025 and beyond, everything you buy at Aldi will have packaging that you can repurpose, put in the recycling bin, or place in the compost pile. Since there will be 15% less overall packaging for products, there will also be less to compost or recycle. Also, an average of 20% of the plastic that Aldi decides to keep in its packaging will come from recycled materials like recycled cardboard or plastic.

A customer service desk or local phone number

If you need to return an item, find something you've left behind, get a copy of a receipt, or make a complaint, you won't find a customer service desk at Aldi. You also won't find a local phone number to call. Not hiring a person whose sole job is to answer your questions and answer phones saves the store and its customers money.

Returns happen at regular cash registers, and you can ask any employee in the store questions. You can also ask to speak to a manager if you have issues like not getting the right change back or buying in bulk. However, if you're wondering about store locations or hours, or if you have questions at home, you can find most of that information online on Aldi's website. The chain's online FAQ is extremely thorough. And if you are unable to find the answer online, you can always write an email or traditional letter to Aldi customer service in Batavia, Illinois.

A reward or membership card

Because Aldi is so different from most grocery stores, we've known of people who didn't go because they thought they needed to buy a membership to shop like you do at Costco or Sam's. After all, everything sits on the shelves in boxes like you see in grocery shopping clubs. So, we understand the confusion. While some grocery store chains (especially local ones) have rewards cards that provide discounts when you use them, Aldi doesn't bother with that sort of program.

Aldi doesn't have rewards or membership cards because it wants to offer savings to everyone who wants to shop there by simply keeping its prices low. You also won't see special promotions like buying one and getting one free because the chain doesn't think you should have to buy an extra product to get a good price. The prices you see on the shelf and product labels are what you pay without having to worry about rewards cards, coupons, or remembering that you should buy a certain number of products to get a good deal.

Bulk bins

Something else you won't find at Aldi: bulk bins — at least, not yet. While some grocery stores have bulk goods you can pour or scoop into containers and weigh to purchase, you won't find any at Aldi. One reason may be so that employees don't have to take time to monitor, clean, and refill the bins. Another part of the reason is likely to get people moving through the store more quickly. For a long time, even most of the produce came pre-packaged, so you wouldn't have to weigh it. With that said, we've seen a lot more individual pieces of produce for sale lately that have scannable labels. This change is likely part of the chain's commitment to using less plastic and less packaging.

However, there is a hint on Aldi's U.K. website that indicates that bulk bins may be in the future. Aldi is planning to move to more refillable and reusable packaging, and there's a small picture below its discussion of this plan that looks like a refillable bin bay. So, we wouldn't be surprised if the chain tries implementing bulk bins at least as a trial in a few stores in the near future. So, maybe you could refill products like flax seed, chia seed, or brown sugar that now come in plastic bags. We're excited to see what happens in the future.