Wait, let me give you the five-second intro to Aldi. It's a small discount grocery store with limited selection and pretty much no name-brand items. Instead of 50 flavors of soup, they've got 7, and they're all Aldi brand. Sometimes they will have some name-brand items you're used to seeing in your regular grocery store, but they're few and far between. And you rent a grocery cart using a quarter (not $.25, an actual quarter) and you either bring your own reusable bags or you can buy plastic or paper ones there. Once you get done paying your cashier (cash or debit card), you bag your groceries yourself on a counter.
Back in the 1990s, Aldi used to be dirty and gross. Husband Jeff and I like to joke that for vegetables they only had cans of dented peas and creamed corn, so if you wanted something else, too bad. But in the last few years, they've done a good job cleaning up the stores and making them much nicer. They've even started to bring in some organic items and fringe things that I consider essential to everyday life, like almond milk.
Oh, one other thing that really tempted me to shop at Aldi... The German parent company that owns Aldi also owns Trader Joe's. I love Trader Joe's, so I figured they couldn't have multiple suppliers who made two different versions of their private label goods, so I was banking on the fact that some of the Aldi items were good quality like Trader Joe's (or the exact same).
I tried to do some research online before I went so I could find out what things were good to get there. It was good to know that some things are quite tasty, others aren't worth the money. With all of that in mind, I shopped away.
When I started, I wasn't going to fuss with a grocery cart, mainly because I didn't plan on buying much, only a few things to try it out. But only a few feet from the door my arms were full and I had to run outside to get a cart. I was tempted to buy multiples of items that interested me, but I figured I would wait until I had tried most of the products to know if they were good quality or not.
What I bought
|What I bought on a recent trip to Aldi|
- marinated mushrooms (these are normally really expensive, only $2 for these)
- canned pumpkin (this is like the brand-name version, pumpkin only, maybe $.59 each)
- blackberry spreadable fruit
- artichoke hearts
- sweet potato tortilla chips
- mandarin oranges (used for the orange fluff recipe)
- Hormel turkey pepperoni
- light whipped topping (used for the orange fluff recipe)
- sausage & peppers frozen pasta entree
- frozen chicken noodle soup
- no tail, no shell shrimp (I figured shrimp is shrimp, plus it was really cheap!)
- yogurt covered raisins
- gummy bears (Husband Jeff loves them!)
- twisted elbow pasta (has a serving of veggies in 2 oz, but that's not important, they were the right size for the Italian wedding soup I was planning for dinner that night)
- 2 bags of mixed salad (I think butter lettuce and a spring mix, and the expiration date wasn't the next day!)
- bag of spinach
More Aldi purchases
- chianti wine for Husband Jeff
- Cutie clementines
- avocados (I love avocados and eat a quarter avocado smashed on a rice cake every day for a morning snack. These were only $.59, when at my regular grocery store they're on sale for $1)
- mushrooms ($.59, way cheaper than my regular grocery store)
- spray canola oil (I love the Trader Joe's version, it's better than the one from my regular grocery store, so I was hoping this was exactly the same)
VerdictI've already used a few things like the mandarin oranges and the light whipped topping, and they both seemed perfectly fine. Sometimes when you buy cheaper canned goods, you find that the quality-control is a little more lax, so you'll find pieces of corn husk in your sweet corn. That wasn't the case here, the mandarin oranges were great. And the light whipped topping tasted like the not-real-food-product that it is.
I can't wait to try some of the other items to see if they're just as good. If they are, Aldi might be on my regular shopping route.