Shopping at Aldi: Love or Hate?

CAM00681If I were a betting woman, I would bet that when you hear the words, “I shop at Aldi,” you either chime in with a “Me too!” or you respond with an “I can’t stand the place!”

Aldi seems to elicit strong reactions from people for a variety of reasons. Personally, I love Aldi. I continue to be amazed at the money I save by shopping there and I am continually impressed by their products. As the holidays approach, a season where I tend to spend more on groceries and baking supplies, saving dollars by shopping at Aldi makes sense.

First, a little back story. I discovered Aldi in the swanky neighborhood of Danada, IL, near Wheaton in the 1990s. I laugh now as I think how out-of-place Aldi seemed among the high-end salons, the boutique stores, and the pricey grocery stores. As a young married woman, trying to stretch her grocery dollars, I was amazed at how much more I could buy at Aldi than if I headed over to the local Jewel or Dominicks.

The first time I stepped inside the store I realized there was a “right” way and a “wrong” way to shop at Aldi. I needed cash or a debit card for starters. I needed a quarter to use a shopping cart. I needed to bring my own bags and bag my groceries. Once I figured out those details, I was ready to go.

I also quickly learned to be careful who I told that I shopped at Aldi. Among some, Aldi was thought of as “the ghetto store” or “the trashy grocery store.”

After we moved from the area, I went through a long non-Aldi stretch. No store was found near where I lived. On more than one occasion during the graduate school years, I wished for an Aldi store to help stretch my grocery dollars even farther. When an Aldi store opened near the Smith Haven mall a couple of years ago, I happily resumed my Aldi-shopping habits.

Every household has their favorite products/grocery items that they love. When I make my weekly or biweekly trip to Aldi, you can bet the following items are in my cart. (BTW, if you are new to Aldi, don’t think of this store as your “one-stop-kind-of-store.” I probably do 80-90% of my shopping at Aldi and pick up the rest of my groceries at the local Stop-n-Shop.)

  1. Aldi Frosted Mini Wheats—my family swears they taste as good as or better than the name brand version. At $2.09 a box, I buy 4 or 5 at a time.
  2. Aldi Half-n-Half—By far, the cheapest price around. Again, I buy a couple to stash in the frig.
  3. Butter—cheap and good.
  4. Milk—In recent months, Aldi started to carry 1% milk. Hallelujah! The price difference from the regular grocery store is sometimes close to a $1 in savings. FYI, Aldi carries almond milk and lactose free milk too.
  5. Greek yogurt—Whether it is individual cartons or the quart-size container, the price can’t be beat and the texture and flavors are as good as the name brands.
  6. Fresh mozzarella—In the summer, when my go-to lunch is a tomato sandwich with basil and fresh mozzarella, I am glad for the great taste and low price of this item.
  7. Frozen orange juice concentrate—The shelf in my freezer is routinely stocked with a row of Aldi orange juice cartons. $1.49 a carton!
  8. Ice cream—No one in our family seems to complain about any of the varieties. From vanilla to chocolate chip cookie dough to cookies and cream, there is a flavor for everyone.
  9. Seasonal items—This past summer we bought a window AC unit for our bedroom for $100. None of the other home improvement box stores could touch the price. You never know what you will find in this middle section of the store.
  10. Potato Chips—Most bags are under $2. While I don’t eat a lot of chips, the mesquite barbecue and salt and pepper kettle chips are tasty. We also love the tortilla chips in our house.

I would love to hear your thoughts about Aldi. Do you love it or hate it? What are some of your favorite products?

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About alwaysorange

Writer, teacher, wife and mother. Lover of the good, the true, and the beautiful. Also, dark roast coffee, home-cooked meals, good books, spending time with my family, and planning for vacations.
This entry was posted in Domesticity, Favorites, Saving Money and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Shopping at Aldi: Love or Hate?

  1. Jacquelyn Wilson Grattan says:

    Yikes, Alicia, this Canadian living on the west coast of “Cascadia” has never even heard of Aldi! I wonder how they keep their prices so low?

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    • alwaysorange says:

      You haven’t heard of Aldi?? The company started in Europe. I believe, Germany. Every store is exactly the same in terms of layout and product. The no-frills aspect keeps the prices low. Next time you are in Bellingham see if they have one.

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  2. Mama Rachael says:

    An Aldis came to Waco. Yes, they have good prices, but not on enough stuff to make the trip all the way across town worth it all that often. I do buy flour and sugar in bulk there, and when I’m there I’ll pick up milk, cream cheese, eggs, potato flakes. Last time I was there, they didn’t have the whole tomatoes in the big cans, which was a disappointment.

    Funny, I don’t love Aldis but I don’t hate it either. I’m just an odd ball.

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  3. Jennie Donovan says:

    I spent some time researching grocery shopping choices this fall. I had been going to stop n shop and hating it. I felt like I spent so much, and it was really annoying bringing my 2 kids grocery shopping there. I’d end up pushing one cart and pulling another. Anyway, I asked a bunch of friend to tell me where they shop and why. A few recommended aldi. Here was my reply to them:

    I ended up going to aldi today. Kind of a dim-lit yucky store, but I saved over $31 from what I pay at stop n shop (I paid about $50 when at stop n shop I would have paid over $80 – I did exact sizes of comparable products. Then for what I couldn’t get at aldi I got at target. Again, I paid $44 for what I would have paid $68 at stop n shop. I didn’t mind either store cause they were easy to navigate. I saved $50 today and feel like a winner!

    So, as you can see, aldi can be a real winner. I was so excited about my savings I told as many people as I could! I also then joined Costco because there was a living social deal which reduced the cost of membership to almost nothing. So, to be truthful, I haven’t been back to aldi since that first trip because I’ve been finding most of what I need at costco and target, but aldi is not off my radar. I feel like there are certain things I would buy at aldi: cereal, chips, pantry items, etc. I appreciated your list, Alicia, so that I can have someone else’s perspective on what is good. I’m not too sure I’d buy the fresh mozzarella there, but maybe I can be convinced! 😉 Just another thing you and I can talk about when we go out for a walk – now that track is over let’s try to get together!

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    • alwaysorange says:

      Jennie, thanks for your comment! Thanks also for sharing your “research.” I’m glad you shared the actual dollars you saved by shopping at Aldi. For a while I kept a price book for all the stores I shopped at so I would know if I was getting a good deal or not. This helped tremendously, but I found it difficult to maintain when life was busy (i.e. most of the time!).

      I stopped at Aldi this afternoon for my weekly grocery shop. One item I didn’t mention in my post is Aldi owns Trader Joe’s. In recent months, I have noticed more and more of their products mimicking products I see at Traders Joe’s. For instance, today I saw that Aldi now sells coconut oil. Glad you are also finding some savings at Costco.

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  4. Joyce Helyer says:

    Love your comments about Aldi’s. I’m making it a point to see what changes have been made at my local store.

    Like

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