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ALDI Stores: Quality Products at Deep Discount??

  • d

Hi, Hounders,

With the holiday cooking season approaching, perhaps you have some opinions...?

I made my first visit to our local Aldi's (after an absense from Aldi's shopping since we lived in Europe many years ago) and was amazed at the low prices for staples compared to Kroger's.

I thought the prices were too good to be true, but maybe not? So I ask: What is your experience with the quality of your food purchases at Aldi.

I would like some comparisons especially for butter, eggs, bacon, cereal, crackers, spices, bottled sauces.

What would you specifically recommend and what would you stay away from?

Thanks so much.

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    1. I like shopping at Aldi and think the quality of a majority of their products is fantastic. Butter is the cheapest and no issues in using it when coooking. The cheeses are no different from the name brand basics - as good as if not better than Kraft. They carry a thick sliced bacon in plain as well as maple flavor that my husband loves. I use some of their crackers and cereals but have avoided any sauces - mainly because we use very little bottled products in our home. Sugar and flour are great for baking and I love their fiber bars. Sometime they will have some "one time purchase" items such as honey wheat pretzel sticks and they are GREAT! I have rarely been disappointed by purchases there - have fun shopping and saving money!

      3 Replies
      1. re: cooking4watts

        I so hope someone from Aldi ever reads this. I used to live in New York and was addicted to Aldis, especially for baking items. Their dark German chocolate bars are just heaven and I sorely miss them.

        also their Appleton hams are the best supermarket ham I've ever had. Not surprising since Aldis is a German owned chain. I desperately miss always having one of those hams in the fridge. There is certainly no equivalent here in Washington state.

        Bottom line the best thing about Aldi's is the attention to quality. And it's so inexpensive that if you don't like something you try out, it's no big deal.

        Aldis and Trader Joe's are owned by the same people. I just wish that Aldis had the same commitment to less preservatives and additive that TJ's has. I am extremely allergic to MSG and it's in way too many things at Aldi's.

        But for staples that would be my first stop, if only they would ever open in Washington state. If I ever get back to teh East Coast again, I am saving space in my suitcase for Aldis.

        I wish someone from Aldis would explain why they have no West Coast presence at all and so many close together back East. . We really,really need one here. And they'd make a fortune over night.

        I'd like to suggest Aldis form a partnership with Costco on the West Coast and work with that.

        1. re: gala

          Once again, I find myself correcting an incorrect assumption about Aldi and Trader Joe's. They are not owned by the same people or corporation. Trader Joe's is owned by a German family-owned company, Aldi North. Aldi stores in the U.S. are owned by a German family-owned company called Aldi South. While the two companies are owned by Karl and Theo Albrecht, they have had separate operations since 1960. Karl owns Aldi South and Aldi USA. Theo died in 2010 but his family owns Aldi North and Trader Joe's in the US. Karl Albrecht is the richest person in Germany with an estimated wealth of over $25 billion USD.

          1. re: gala

            Did you used to get the Appleton Farms Spiral Sliced Half Ham, the Half Butt Portion or the Ham Shank portion? The shank is very cheap at $1.19/lb over the holidays.

        2. I live in the UK and generally prefer Lidl to Aldi amongst the cheap supermarkets.

          I find that many of their prices are now pretty much in line with the discounted prices at the more mainstream supermarkets and, of course, Aldi tends not to stock premium products that I normally buy, such as free range bacon and eggs or organic butter.

          Where I do use them is for their tinned or jarred products. Often they will have products not available at more "British" supermarkets or, alternatively, have similar but at heavily discounted prices - their jarred sundried tomatoes are half the price of my normal supermarket.

          So, difficult to answer your question specifically. We probably visit about three times a year and tend to make a shop at both Aldi & Lidl (as they happen to be within a couple of kilometres of each other). We just look for whatever bargains are available at the time - probably spending around £50 at Lidl and perhaps half that at Aldi. Neither are shops I would want to vsiit regularly.

          This thread on a money saving forum may be of interest:
          http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/s...

          1 Reply
          1. re: Harters

            Living in England I visit my local Lidl in Gloucestershire at least once a week.

            average shop, £10.

            Cycling there makes you focus on what you want. Prices are great, quality is great and they run surprise opportunities, the other week it was 'Danish week', the best sausage and crisp bread you could ask for, oh, and hot mustard to go with the sausage.

            Holy Moly.... Off topic as usual.

            Here in Gloucestershire, but not not in Cirencester, Aldi are pretty good too.

             
          2. I've been happy with basic products. Their corn chip is the closest to Fritos I've found
            Produce has been fine and very reasonable. I tried a frozen dinner and it was not so good (even for a frozen dinner).

            1 Reply
            1. re: meatn3

              I think their quality and prices on staples are unbeatable. In my area, produce can be hit or miss. Overall I've been happy with their store brand canned and frozen prepared items, except the chicken pot pies which were inedible. They also offer weekly "special purchase" specials on name brand products at excellent prices. Even the fresh meat has been fine. Worth noting is their "double money back" satisfaction guarantee. All in all, Aldi's my first stop before shopping at a conventional grocery.

            2. I made my first trip to an Aldi's last week too. It was about a 35 mile trip, but I wanted to pick up the Crofton convection oven (the Flavorwave clone) that they had on sale for $40.

              I was surprised at how small the store was. I don't think it was even 10,000 sq. ft. I don't know why, but I pictured a huge cavernous warehouse. The layout and registers made the place look like a no-frills supermarket from 25 years in the future. And it was awesome that the cashiers had chairs! (I cashiered for 15 years, and always thought this was a great idea. It reduces fatigue and increases efficiency!) The place was super clean, unlike other bargain supermarkets in the area. Lines at the register got long, but moved quickly.

              So, here are some impressions on some of the items I got (don't remember all the Aldi brand names):

              Crisp Rice Cereal Treats w chocolate drizzle: OK, but vastly inferior to the original Kellogg's prepackaged ones.

              Egg Nog: Very good. Comparable to brand name egg nog.

              Jello cups (unrefrigerated): So-so. No Jello.

              Toffee chocolate bar: Outstanding. As good as the best stuff at Trader Joe's.

              And the convection oven is great. I used it for the first time last night, and cooked a 6 lb chicken perfectly in exactly an hour. The skin was crisp and the meat was moist inside. It is pretty large though, so clean up is a bit of a challenge. Still, I will definitely use it again.

              I didn't find the prices to be earth-shattering. They were comparable to sale prices at the major supermarkets for the most part, with a couple of very good bargains in the mix. (For example, the convection oven, and I also got some 100W equivalent CFC light bulbs for around $3. The 60W equivalents were around $2.)

              Did I enjoy the trip? Sure! Is it worth driving 35 miles every week for? Not really. Will I return? Sure, when I have the time!

              10 Replies
              1. re: zhelder

                Those cashiers get a lot of practice, considering a lot of people I saw at the local Aldi's had two or more carts full! My family always went to do one big shopping trip to get canned goods and other staples, basically filling the pantry. I actually prefer their boxed stuffing to Stove Top. I find the cereals to be pretty good, too. Ketchup, bbq sauce, the canned soups are good. I love the clam chowder. It's been a while since I've been there, the nearest one is 45 minutes away. The place seems kind of dismal but the deals are pretty good.
                ETA: The sodas are decent as well, if you're into that.

                1. re: spellweaver16

                  I like their stuffing too, especially the cornbread. Ketchup, mustard, salad dressings and steak sauce are good, nix the bbq sauce though. Too sweet! Some of the other condiments are hit or miss. I also love their turkey bacon and some of the lunch meats. Husband loves their bagels. I live 5 minutes away from two.

                2. re: zhelder

                  "And it was awesome that the cashiers had chairs!"

                  I take it that this is generally not the case where you are.

                  In the UK (and, I suspect, most of Europe), checkout staff have had seats for as long as I can recall (which is a long time). IIRC, it was enshrined into health and safety law under the 1963 Office, Shops and Railway Act. As you say, why would any employer want tired and inefficient staff when they can easily avoid it.

                  1. re: Harters

                    Not at all common in the USA, Harters. In fact, in some cases actively discouraged. Makes the staff look lazy, I guess.

                    1. re: Harters

                      Aldi is the only grocery in the US I have seen where the cashiers have chairs.
                      This might be possible since they don't bag groceries - just place them in an empty basket. At most grocers the height and arrangement of the check out station make it very difficult to cashier and bag from a seated position. Very seldom do I see a grocery where a cashier is guaranteed a bagger.

                      1. re: meatn3

                        In Europe, shops don't generally bag your purchases. In non-discount places, the checkout operator usually asks if you want them to bag but it's very rare you see anyone take them up on the offer. In discount places, they don't offer.

                        1. re: Harters

                          Yes, In much of the states the grocery is more of a once-a-week stocking up experience - so a bit of space is needed along with bagging while ringing. Or else the line gets bogged down...In urban areas without much private auto use it seems to be more as you describe.

                          1. re: meatn3

                            Yep. Usually once-a-week here as well. Most major supermarkets are on the outskirts of towns so a car is pretty much always needed.

                    2. re: zhelder

                      In Germany all the cashiers have chairs. I think it's great too!