Lidl is more than a little lovable.
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Lidl logo on a yellow burst icon on an orange background
Credit: Allrecipes Image

When I first learned that my beloved Best Markets on Long Island, NY, were closing down to make way for Lidl, I was devastated. I had been loyal to that brand for years. I lauded their commitment to insanely cheap, fresh, and local produce. I adored their deli-quality Kaiser rolls for iconic BECs (that's bacon, egg, and cheese for the uninitiated).

I resented what I thought was an ALDI-like interloper coming in, and I was determined to dislike them on sight.

Of course, curiosity got the best of me as buzz built, and I found myself begrudgingly won over by this latest European grocery import — and not just for their European grocery imports.

The more familiar I became with the brand, its layout, product selection, and the innovative ways they help shoppers save more on everyday groceries, the harder and faster I found myself falling in love with them. In months, I went from detesting Lidl to loving it a whole lot.

Here are all the reasons why I'm a big fan of the Lidl grocery store — and how you can cut your grocery budget by adding a little Lidl to your weekly shopping route.

1. Most of the stores are bright, shiny, and new!

Yes, there's comfort in familiarity. But I, like many other folks, are really just two-legged, unfeathered magpies, and I find it hard to resist things that are sparkly, bright, shiny, and new.

On Long Island, where I first experienced the brand, real estate is sparse, so Lidl had to repurpose the retail space they were taking over to fit their model. But in Atlanta, where I live now, most of the Lidl stores are purpose-built in a signature modern design, and they're absolutely gorgeous.

Light and airy, full of natural sunlight and luminous white lighting, Lidl stores are invigorating to shop in. Everything just feels clean and natural, which is helped by the materials they choose for their fixtures and farmers' market style of signage.

2. Know one, know them all.

Although most supermarkets follow the same general floor plan — refrigerated perimeter and shelf-stable central aisles — how they're organized can vary greatly, even within the same store brands. Not so with Lidl.

With German precision, their design makes it easy to become an expert at shopping in their stores since they make it a point to set up all their categories identically from location to location.

In fact, one of the bigger projects they undertook when repurposing spaces they commandeered was to shift all the aisles, fridge, and freezer cases to match their general blueprint as much as possible. So if you need something in a jiffy and you're not by your home Lidl, no worries — you'll still be able to walk in and find what you need exactly where you expect it.

3. The store's app is helpful and easy-to-use.

I know, I know — it seems like every grocery store wants you to download an app now. Do you really need one more? If it's Lidl's, the answer is yes.

The Lidl app's interface is simple, and you get personalized rewards with flexible parameters. Most stores offer digital coupons, and Lidl is no exception. But Lidl goes the extra mile by pre-loading yours automatically and giving you percentage discounts on entire categories of food.

To help you stack deals, they even list on-sale suggestions beneath the earned discount details.

For instance, after spending around $100, I got 30 percent off frozen food once. The app offered suggestions for items that were already marked down. Finding the sale foods is a breeze, as the app will tell you what aisle to look in and how much stock they have.

You can unlock more rewards and freebies as you go along, too; they offer different milestones and challenges to make grocery shopping more fun.

4. The app gives early circular previews.

As a major grocery nerd and overplanner, my favorite day of the week is circular day — so much so that I obnoxiously announce it to anyone nearby in my best Oprah voice.

With Lidl's app, I don't have to wait until preview Tuesday to see what's coming up, however. Their app gives up to a week's notice on their projected sales to help you meal plan and decide if you want to wait a couple of days before you make or buy something.

You can even pick up next week's circular as you finish shopping the current week's deals. Many stores will have them printed and displayed at the store's exit so you can strategize your buys.

Seeing sales early also helps motivate me to get out of bed on the weekends or to get to the store midweek since the early circular will also list Unbelievable Weekend Deals for cut-rate specials and Limited-Time Offers for "while they last" products. (The latter is often name brands and/or flavors that they may have gotten a closeout on and can therefore offer until supply is gone. You'll find bonus ones on the app in addition to published promos as well.)

5. The Lidl Love It Guarantee.

Trying any product with "Lidl Love It Guarantee" printed on the label means it's totally risk-free.

Like ALDI, Lidl will refund and (not or) replace anything that's not to your satisfaction with a similar item in the same department. They sometimes make exceptions if there's no comparable product.

For example, the bakery's cinnamon rolls are … not the greatest. However, they only have that one product, so I was able to swap that out for their excellent croissants and get my money back, since it's from the same department and similar in value.

Just make sure you have your receipt, and that what you're returning is legitimately most of the product and not a near-empty package. (Honesty is how we get to keep having nice things.)

6. The bakery offers inexpensive viennoiserie.

Speaking of croissants, how often do you look at a pack of golden, flaky croissants and think, "Mmm, I could definitely eat all four or six or dozen of these … but should I?"

Lidl lets you buy their pastries individually and à la carte, so you can a) exercise some self-restraint; b) save a couple of bucks since you're buying less and they're priced comparably to bulk; and c) make sure your daily apple turnover (they're very good here — they don't skimp on the fruit) is as fresh as can be.

Lidl bakes their flaky pastries every day, along with a wide selection of artisan, whole-grain, and organic loaf breads.

7. Inexpensive buys are cheaper with orange markdown stickers and Too Good to Waste box.

Sharp-eyed shoppers can find bargain basement markdowns on Lidl's already low prices. In the bakery, day-old bread is discounted — you can identify them by their wrappings (as opposed to being open on a shelf). They will also have bright orange stickers on the front that will show their new price.

The same is true of their packaged refrigerated produce, like lettuce and clamshell packs of salad greens, sugar snap peas, green beans, mushrooms, salsa, and prepped veggies like chopped onions. You can also score close to sell-by date meat and chicken on the cheap by looking for these specials as well.

For the loose, non-chilled produce, look for a box labeled Too Good to Waste. These may be mildly bruised or very ripe fruits and slightly "ugly" vegetables. You can buy the whole box for about a buck or two.

The Too Good to Waste initiative, plus the orange tags, are part of the brand's commitment to cutting food waste by at least 25 percent in each store and increasing sustainability. This is good news for all, since it's cheaper food for us and revenue protection for them, which circles back yet again to keeping their prices low.

8. This European import has incredibly good European imports.

Baking traditions aren't the only things Lidl brought over from The Continent.

Lidl offers a Preferred Selection brand, which focuses on European specialties, every month or so. They also do a neat national or regional food focus with limited-time offerings of authentic imports.

For example, January 2022's theme was Taste of Greece, and from launch date to when supplies ran out, imported Greek prepared foods and ingredients were available. The range included ready-made mezze, from frozen pastries stuffed with leek and cheese, or cheese and olives, and eggplant or beans in tomato sauce, to full gyro kits. They also offered ingredients like frozen whole calamari, dried figs, and frozen flat beans. You could have made a full theme night out of these national and regional foods, since they don't forget dessert, like traditional cookies and pasteli sesame seed bars.

9. The organic foods are far more affordable.

How often do you hear those two words put together: organic and affordable? Yet, it's true!

Most of what Lidl sells is through their own private store label, which results in cost savings they pass on to customers. Their simply named Organics line offers herbs, spices, pasta, applesauce, pizza, sauces, crunchy snacks, milk, and more, and it's on par with name-brand conventional counterparts. This means you can pay standard prices for organic items, letting you opt for better for less.

10. Many of their proteins are always on sale.

Lidl's meat department is priced to match mainstream supermarkets' sale rates — but their prices are for every day.

Even better than that, the meats are sometimes discounted even more when they're on promo.

For example, I've purchased their chicken breast, which is everyday priced at $1.99, for as low as $1.25 a pound, which feels unheard of. I've bought organic grass-fed, eight-ounce individually wrapped sirloin steaks for as little as $3, and lean ground turkey for under $2 a pound.

The deals extend to their seafood, too. What's discounted from their huge selection of frozen filleted finfish rotates from week to week, and it's worth filling the freezer when your favorites hit the sales circular.

The large ocean scallops, for one, are always exciting to see on the sale, as is the fresh salmon they bring in from Chile and Norway. Both dip as low as restaurant wholesale prices for excellent quality.

11. The dairy prices are unbeatable.

This is no exaggeration. Sometimes, dairy foods are a third of the price of store-brand supermarkets cheap.

At the Lidl in Marietta, Ga., I found milk sold for 45 cents for half a gallon and almond milk for 90 cents, down from their usual 89 cents and roughly $2, respectively.

Eggs hover around 79 cents a dozen, and I regularly buy my egg whites and half and half here, too. In fact, I don't even bother checking my conventional markets for dairy anymore — it's always cheaper at Lidl.

12. Bulk buys are as inexpensive as warehouse stores.

Want to stock up on bulk buys without paying for any kind of membership? Lidl lets you do just that.

They have family sizes of pantry and fridge staples, like frozen vegetables and chicken tenders, fresh and frozen meat and seafood, snacks, spices, paper goods, and beverages. Sometimes, they even do bulk buy specials and promos, where you get discounts on buying more, or they have limited edition bigger packages of staple goods.

13. They keep things exciting with limited-edition buys.

In the center of the store, you'll find rows of bins of random household goods. This can be anything from laundry baskets, step stools, pots, pet beds to stationery, car accessories and kits, grill covers and more. You might even find kids' toys and crafts.

These buys are all usually just limited-time offers and advertised in the circular, so if you have your heart set on something you see, you better get there as soon as the sale starts. However, it's fun to peruse it with discovery in mind, as one does at, say, Target or HomeGoods — but usually with significantly less damage to your wallet!