8 Things You Don't Know About Aldi, Straight From an Insider Employee

We reached out to an Aldi spokeswoman, Liz Ruggles, to find out the answers to our burning questions. How is it possible that everything is so cheap?! Turns out, there's a good reason for that and for the mandatory quarter per cart . . . oh, and for the self-bagging, too. Curious about the behind the scenes of one of the most budget-friendly grocery stores in America, one that attracts 32 million customers each month? Read ahead to get the scoop.

There's a reason prices are so low.

"We're obsessed with value, and by taking a simple approach to grocery shopping, we're able to keep our costs down. 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. We also skip the fancy shelving and keep our products right in their display boxes, which saves us (and our shoppers) time and money. 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. At our stores, shoppers also pack their own groceries to keep our checkout lines moving."

There's a strategy behind the mandatory purchase of a cart for a quarter.

"Shoppers deposit a quarter to use a cart at our stores, and when they return the cart to the corral, they get their quarter back. This saves everyone money because our staff can focus on serving shoppers inside the store instead of collecting the carts from outside of the store. For many people, this becomes an opportunity to pay it forward. Our shoppers will often just pass their cart onto the next shopper, instead of returning it to the corral."

Aldi has in-house test kitchen chefs.

"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. They want to make sure our brands are as good, if not better, than the national brands."

You can return any Aldi-exclusive product for a full refund.

"We're so confident in the quality of our products that we offer a double guarantee, which means if for any reason customers don't like an Aldi-exclusive brand product, we'll give them their money back and replace the item."

Aldi donates expired foods.

"Each of our divisions has the option to contribute to local charities, donate product to causes in their areas, and encourage employees to volunteer with local community organizations. In 2015, we also grew our partnership with Feeding America to make it easier for our stores to donate expired or lightly damaged product to food banks in our communities."

The best way to save money is to buy Aldi-exclusive brands.

"Smart shoppers have found that switching from national brands to Aldi-exclusive brands can save them up to 50 percent on their grocery bill. We also have Aldi Finds — these premium food and household products are only in stores for a limited time. Product variety depends on the season, and there's usually a theme for the week's Finds. For example, starting Dec. 7, we have some great gift options."

Fresh produce is among the bestselling products.

"In 2015, our top selling products included staple items such as eggs, milk, and butter, as well as our fresh produce items such as strawberries, bananas, grapes, and oranges. Additionally, with our Never Any! product line, we offer fresh meat that never contains added antibiotics, hormones, or animal byproducts."

There's no MSG, artificial coloring, or hydrogenated oil in Aldi's products.

"Aldi got rid of added MSG, certified synthetic colors, and partially hydrogenated oils from all of our exclusive brand food products. And more than 90 percent of the products on our shelves are under our exclusive brands."