Thursday, May 15, 2014

My Latest Trip to Aldi

Aldi's cute design on their paper bags
Before last year, I hadn't been to Aldi in a long time.  Here's my blog post about my last shopping trip at Aldi. When I went last February, I was impressed by the selection, quality, and general nicer feeling it was to shop there.  They have really cleaned up in the 10 to 15 years since I was there previously, so I was quite willing to go back.  The only drawback is that it's slightly inconvenient to go to Aldi since I know they likely won't have everything I want. Plus it's a lot of convenience food and not a lot of real food.  I was curious to see if it had changed, so I went to Aldi over lunch on Tuesday.

What I Thought

I was surprised to see so many brand name items available -- General Mills cereal, Oscar Mayer lunch meat, Boca vegetarian burgers, Nabisco crackers, Jif peanut butter to-go cups, Taco Bell taco kits.  And more food variety than I remembered, this time I saw things like steel-cut oats, frozen pierogies, whole refrigerated ducks, 4-5 flavors of deli mustard, specialty cheeses, agave nectar, and K-cups.  They also had a good number of diet, gluten-free (they're currently having a big sale on gluten-free items), and organic items. And a lot of the produce looked pretty good.  I was also impressed with their knock-off package design, if you didn't look closely, you wouldn't notice that it wasn't the big-name product you're used to seeing.

This time I was sad to find they didn't have some of the things that I liked last time, in particular the marinated mushrooms and veggie-enhanced pasta. I suppose items come and go, but if I find something I like, I want to keep buying it!

I was annoyed by the other shoppers.  The store was relatively empty, but it seemed like there was always someone standing right in front of an item I wanted and completely oblivious that someone else was even next to them, so they rarely moved over to share the space. Complete tunnel vision.

I was slightly in a hurry so I pretty much skipped over the fresh meat, plus I was also a bit hesitant about buying something so perishable.  But after seeing their weekly specials/flyers and noting that it's USDA Choice (check out the beef grades to know what it means), it's likely the same quality of meat you buy at your regular store, so I shouldn't be so worried. 

Our kitchen table loaded with what I bought (click for larger version)

What I bought (and price, if notable) 


  • French vanilla non-dairy creamer (Sonny D & I use it for a "milk" float on our oatmeal, Jeff uses it for coffee)
  • 2 half-gallons unsweetened original almond milk (we go through this pretty quickly since it's the only milk we have in our house)
  • 4-pack of strawberry Greek yogurt cups for Sonny D's school lunches (I had to search to find the ones that were already blended, he doesn't know he needs to stir it.)
  • country style chicken breakfast sausages (was surprised at the minimal ingredients, I think it was pretty much just chicken, salt, sage, and thyme. This is their SimplyNature brand, it tends to be organic or not loaded with chemicals/preservatives.)

  Fresh Produce

  • head of cabbage
  • three multi-colored bell peppers
  • bag of Gala apples ($2.99)
  • mango ($.99)
  • sweet potato
  • 2 grapefruit ($.49 each)
  • 2 avocados ($.79 each)
  • pint of blackberries ($.99)
  • sliced mushrooms (these might even be the same brand I've bought at the regular grocery store)

Dry Goods

  • ground fair trade coffee ($3.99)
  • ground decaf coffee (Husband Jeff mixes regular and decaf to get a half-caff blend)
  • cheddar cheese rice snacks (for Sonny D's lunches again)
  • 2 cans mandarin oranges (these were popular last week when I opened some for Sonny D's lunch, so figured might as well get more)
  • can sauerkraut (canned isn't as good as homemade but I figured sometime soon we'll grill hot dogs or brats and I'll really want sauerkraut with mine.  Eventually I'm going to try to make my own.)
  • can pumpkin puree (on clearance but the price wasn't that great, $.99)
  • crushed pineapple
  • canned pink salmon (it's motivation to make salmon cakes/patties)
  • pure vanilla extract ($1.99.  I'm pretty liberal with my vanilla for recipes and this is a good price for real vanilla.  Don't ever buy imitation vanilla, it's made from wood by-products. Yuck!)
  • loaf of 12-grain bread ($1.89, amazing price for something nicer than generic white bread.  It has a variety of whole grains as the first ingredients and it tastes good.)
  • chocolate and peanut butter protein bars (for Sonny D's lunches or a weekend snack)
  • Glutino pretzels (the best pretzels ever! $3.49)
  • package of 6 100-calorie bags of light microwave popcorn (good afternoon snack when you're hungry at work.  I split the box half, some for me and some for Jeff to take to the office.)
  • high-fiber multi-grain crunch cereal (I'm hoping this is similar to Sonny D's favorite Trader Joe's 9-grain crunch, I think both are knockoffs of the Kashi Go Lean Crunch)
  • bottle each of tempranillo and Chianti wines for Jeff ($4.99 each)

My total for this trip was $67.83.  The most expensive item was the bottles of wine for $4.99 each and the cheapest items were the grapefruit and mango at $.49 each. 

It wasn't until I looked back at my blog post about last year's shopping trip that I realized I had bought a few of the same things on this trip -- the Chianti wine, fresh avocado, canned mandarin oranges, and mushrooms.  


Once again, I was impressed. I think everybody should take a look at Aldi to check it out and pick up a few items.  They might not have everything you need, but the stuff they do have seems to be good and the sale prices are cheap!  If you come to our house for a party this summer, don't be surprised if you find that most of the food came from Aldi.

It's nice to find quality items at Aldi, but the selection is limited.  Think of it as a trip to a store like TJ Maxx or Marshalls.  You can have ideas in mind for what you want to look for, not an exact list.

Tips For Shopping At Aldi

  • Go with an open mind, you might not find what's on your list, but you might find something you'd like to try.
  • Take a quarter, you'll use it to get a shopping cart.  Return your cart to get your quarter back.
  • They only take cash or debit cards, not credit cards or checks.
  • Take your reusable bags, grab the empty cardboard boxes you see while shopping, or buy plastic/paper bags when you get to the checkout lane.  
  • You'll bag your stuff yourself at the counter past the checkout. Bagging was difficult for me since I'm so obsessive about how things are packed, but it's nice to know that it's exactly how you want it, like cold items together, bread and tender produce not squished, etc.

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!