This is a post I have been itching to write for a long time. I used to have really odd negative feelings about Aldis, you know... when I had never been in one. And then I went to the one a mile from our house and while I thought "yeah that's neat", I was honestly a little stressed out because of the nearly uni-directional set up of the small store. You go in one way, snake through, and come out after checkout, and I felt like it was a huge no-no if you forgot something and needed to go back (I do frequently). But after some encouragement from my friend Jen, I kept giving it a shot. Soon enough, I have the location of all typical items memorized and know my problem areas to slow down in so I don't have to backtrack later on. But it is totally ok if I do! And if you get there and think "crap! I forgot my bags, guess I will have to go somewhere else... I really don't want to have to buy some! Just do what I do... load the groceries straight into your car...or grab the free empty boxes at the front (or along the way while you are shopping).
I won't give a history lesson on Aldi being like the wiser older brother to Trader Joe's (yes they are related) but if you want to know more, go read this Slate write up of their history HERE. It truly is fascinating. In fact, Aldi seems to be upping their game a lot lately so I have pretty much stopped going to the more expensive TJ's unless I am just super bored. And if you aren't convinced that Aldis is cheaper than your favorite big-box stores, the Passionate Penny Pincher has done extensive cost comparisons that are free to download (Aldi v Costco v Sams) (Aldi v Walmart v Target) spoiler alert: Aldi wins a lot. Generally, I will go to Aldi first, buy everything that I can (usually about 75% of my list), and then hop across the street to Walmart for those specific brand named things we like (like Lays and Dr Pepper), or random items Aldis doesn't carry (especially toiletry items). So here is a long list of the things I regularly buy (and love!) at Aldis. I will just have to tell you about some of the seasonal items and random staple items because I was tired of being the crazy person taking pictures of everything in the store.
Their crackers are all great, cheaper than normal brands, and sometimes just better. These are my all time favorite tortilla chips, and a giant bag for cheaper than a small bag at other stores. I do not like their Veggie straws, not impressed with their Kettle chips flavors compared to Lays, but absolutely do love the Organic Simply Nature Sweet Potato chips.
The baking item prices blow other stores out of the water, and are great. I am not an aficionado on how one brand of flour or sugar compares to others, but I love the prices and they all work well for my uses. The cookie selection so far has been great as well. The Fig Bars are just like a Fig Newton at the fraction of their price, and the Bentons Caramel Coconut Fudge cookies are amazing. Other snacks I get every week include the dried fruits, apple sauce pouches, and fruit cups for great prices. We have also had no issues with the Boulder brand of household items. I use the paper towels, trash bags, zip-lock bags, paper plates and napkins with no complaint. They are much cheaper and very comparable to Name-Brands we used to buy. I have not tried their brand of toilet paper, but they carry the Charmin we like at the same price as Walmart so I don't mind grabbing it there.
Their milk is the cheapest in town and tastes just fine, as is the milk products like greek yogurt cups. The uncured bacon is now my all time favorite (when on sale...otherwise I really enjoy the Specially Selected center cut bacon). I used to not be very impressed with the meat selection, but in the past few months I feel like everything has changed. You can't beat the lean ground beef price very easily, their pre-cut beef stew chunks turn out more tender in the crockpot than Walmart's, and they made me even happier when they started carrying chuck roast recently. I regularly buy their chicken thighs and legs at $.99/lb. I have learned to only grab the center cut pork chops. Don't take your chances with the random cuts of chops at a discounted price. Their pork tenderloins are also really good.
I was blown away when I first noticed the price on their BIG bag of Jasmine Rice (always available), am obsessed with the seasonal item of Sparkling Pumpkin Cider (non-alcoholic), and Myles and I have been downing the mini butter croissants like they are our last meal. In the bread aisle, if you are looking to pay next to nothing for sandwich bread, this is your place. The white bread is $.85 per loaf and has better texture than the cheapest loaf at Walmart.
I feel like the produce department has gotten a little better as well recently. I have loved buying up avocados each week, ranging from $.49 each in the summer to $.79 each the rest of the year. They are hard as a rock so not to be used in a hurry, but given a couple days on the counter are perfectly fine. Bananas ($.44/lb) and bell peppers are pretty awesome as well. The most I have ever paid for the tri-colored peppers at Aldi is $2.99 for 3, and this week the green ones were $.99 for a pack of 3. Grape quality is hit or miss, but are generally $1.98 for a 2 lb bag. I think I just paid over $2 per pound at Walmart on Monday. They have also been increasing the amount of organic produce and other organic grocery items in the store...if that kind of thing is important to you. Same goes for Gluten Free.
The Deutsche Kuche products are generally excellent. I look every week for the Beer Brats and buy as many as I can when they are available. The photo is actually from when I bought out the section for my parents who love them, but can never get to their nearest Aldi in time to buy them before they run out... (y'all still haven't paid me back!) They are phenomenal, I won't buy any others. The DK Sauerkraut is also amazing, but too large of a jar for me to eat alone, so I heat up half and freeze the other in a freezer bag for later. I can not rave about the Moser Roth chili chocolate enough. I have not had the other flavors, but really enjoy that one. I do not like the Choceur brand of chocolate at all though.
Items not included in photos:
I haven't had a ton of luck with their wine selection and have not tried any of the beer (if you have, let me know what you think!). I am a major fan of their summer-only Sangriano Sangria, a large bottle for $5.99. I am tempted to try their version of different Baileys liqueurs as well (O'Donnells $8.99/750ml), especially the holiday flavors they have in store right now.
I think it is the summer time that their take-and-bake specialty pizza is their 16" thin crust Mexican Pizza in the cheese area. This is amazing. Myles and I eat one per week as long as they are available. I have not tried their other pizzas yet. Also in this area, their cheeses are great; especially the white aged cheddar, the hummus is really good, and sometimes they have a great chipotle cheese spread on special. I regularly buy the shredded mexican and mozzarella cheese here for less than $3 per 4cup bag. I'm still kicking myself for not trying the soft pretzels in a can during Oktoberfest season.
I always check out the weekly-changing home goods area. I have so far bought a pie carrier, tomato cages, and who knows what else. This week they are selling memory foam folding cots for $89... and I'm tempted to get one for those times my brother comes with my parents.
Their canned vegetables are super cheap and all good. I especially love when they have their pitted green olives available. Broths are also amazingly cheap and taste great in a variety of health levels (I used to be a Swanson snob). I have been buying the 32oz boxed SimplyNature organic free range chicken broth a lot lately ($1.79/box). I do wait to buy Campbells cream of ___ soups when I get to Walmart though.
I will pretty much try anything there that is the Deutsche Kuche or Specially Selected brands with usual success. I have recently been trying out the Fusia brand, and we LOVE the pork egg rolls (freezer section $2.49 for 4pack) and the microwaveable noodle bowls (specialty item).
And as I mentioned on Instagram/Facebook 2 weeks ago... they had a special buy of never-before-available whole bean-single origin-organic-coffee, and it was AMAZING. I bought about 6 extra bags because I don't know when they will carry it again. I really hope that was just them feeling out whether to carry it permanently. Resounding yes. It was $4.29 per bag.
If you have never given Aldis a chance: Do it. You won't regret it. Give it a couple of chances. I'm glad I did.
Just don't forget your quarter.
This post is purely spawned from my love for Aldi. It is not sponsored, I did not receive anything for it, everything I have written is my experience and opinion.