Aldi Standards

I’ve never been a regular, loyal Aldi customer. My visits have been few and far in between. Years ago when my friend raved on Aldi I gave it a try. Ok. A lot of generic stuff. Big deal. Rules, like paying a quarter for your cart, having cash, and bagging your own groceries put me in the camp of questioning the experience. Is it worth it? I live in Madison, Wisconsin. There are tons of supermarkets small and large to choose from. I could go to Woodmans, shop all the generic items, and come out with a decent haul for a good price. So why did I need Aldi?

Unconvinced, I used it as a novelty, rarely visiting. Besides the quirky “rules” to follow, it seemed to me that most of the items there were junk food, and sub-standard quality at that. Still, I wasn’t sold. But… in the last couple years I’ve given Aldi another look.

I was no longer a stranger to the rules, so I equip myself with a quarter and cash (and a calculator) before I hit the store. Being a more learned shopper, and not as much of a brand snob, I’m able to navigate the prices and the quality a bit better than I was the first few times I gave Aldi a try. I should note that over the years, I think Aldi has stepped up the quality of their products a bit, too. (Some) of them are not as sodium and sugar-laden as they were 10 years ago.

In my adventures back to Aldi, here are the things I like:

  • No frills. I can leave coupons at the door. I don’t need them. No membership card, no having to have the ad in your hand. They got it. They know the sales, they give you the sale prices. Period. Simple. Stress-free.
  • Marketplace feel. People pay big bucks to shop in specialty markets that are small, hand-basket friendly (Aldi doesn’t have hand-baskets), and simply laid out (Trader Joes). What some will pay for ambiance completely astounds me. But I get it. I do.
  • Variety. It has the staples, it has some of the more trendy items. Then it stops. Kettle-cooked chips, fun chocolate bars with gourmet flavors, wines, cheeses, meats, ready-made pizzas, cold cuts and rock salt grinders. Then basics: flour, eggs, milk, yogurt, processed cheese, canned goods, waffles, ice cream, nuts, peanut butter, cooking oil and more. Staples for both the general consumer and the one who likes a little more flair.

Items I buy on a regular rotation:

  • Milk
  • Eggs (feel like I’m “slumming it” a bit on the eggs, because I like the ones with a little more to them.
  • Chips (can’t go wrong with the chips)
  • Chocolate (the raisin and hazelnut – YUM)
  • Butter is usually decently priced there
  • Cereal – good deals on some of the family favorites – their knock-off of Honey Bunches of Oats replaced the brand name in my house and nobody noticed or cared – they have a raisin bran crunch that is good, too
  • Italian Sausages – taste just fine
  • Tin foil
  • Produce – the sales are hit and miss, but I’ve been really pleased with the quality
  • Their version of Velveeta – again, nobody noticed it wasn’t the “real deal” – so much cheaper
  • Chorizo – cheaper, and just as good

There are some things I don’t buy – mostly the canned foods, only because I don’t buy a lot of canned foods. I have shied away from the household products – another item I don’t routinely buy. In a pinch we picked up some paper towel and it was fine. But it only came in two-rolls, and we need more than that. Haven’t tried the laundry detergent or any of that.

All in all, I will continue to add Aldi to my regular rotation. Even for cereals, chips, produce, milk and eggs, it is an easy stop to shop, with less potential to get me buying things I don’t need.

Do you have any Aldi favorites?

Wanna learn more? Check out Mom Advice for some Behind the Scenes at Aldi.