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Aldi

Just wondering what everyone thought about the Aldi. I went several weeks ago and ended up feeling I had wasted my gas and my time. First, I had to go dig in the floor board of the jeep to dig up a quarter to get a shopping (refundable) cart.

When I got in the store I swear there weren't more than 4 isles. The brands looked like something you would find at the dollar store and their overall selection was poor. It was crowded with kids running up and down the isles and the freezer where they kept frozen food was not working properly and all the packages were sweating profusely from not being at the right temperature.

Finally after making myself pick up a few items to not waste the trip all together I get to the check out where I was charged 10 cents each for paper bags, which btw, broke in the yard on the way up to the house.

I was expecting more I guess. Not sure that I will be going back. Walmarts everyday prices were right in line with their prices so I just don't see what the big fuss is about. Hopefully it's just the location I was at. If not, I don't see a long future for this new food chain. Thoughts?

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  1. Liveitloud wrote, "The brands looked like something you would find at the dollar store and their overall selection was poor."

    Ha, that is what I thought too! I found myself a couple of doors down from the one in Rowlett last week so decided to go check it out. To say I was not impressed would be an understatement, and in fact you could not pay me to shop in such a trashy looking place. I knew already the selections would be limited but did not expect the mess.

    When I got home I told my wife that if a dollar store was a grocery store it would be an Aldis. I too doubt they last very long in this market.

    Rob

    1. Perfect description! "Aldi is the Dollar Store of grocery stores".

      1. I'm willing to put up with narrow aisles and limited selection due to the money that Aldi's saves for me. For example, I was making a dessert where I needed 2 cans of cherry pie filling, 2 cans of crushed pineapple, a box of graham crackers, and some of that spray type whipped cream. I easily saved $5 on that dessert alone shopping at Aldi's. Would I shop there every day? No. Most of their goods are either in a box, bag, or can, and my family and I just don't eat much of that type of food. But, when the opportunity arises where I need a bunch of that type of food, I wouldn't hesistate at all going there (especially since I carry a re-usable shopping bag in my car).

        1 Reply
        1. re: planojim

          planojim, you rule for bringing your own shopping bags
          meanwhile, that sounds like a helluva dessert you were making...

        2. Even with all the advanced publicity concerning their operations, people still complain about the "quarter issue" and most stores today have their own reusable bags. Aldi is definately NOT a major grocery. We stop in to get basics that we have tried and like especially for their prices! There are certain items we will never try again. Milk at $1.79 a gallon cant be beat. I can't tell the difference between a premium cow and a generic cow anyways!

          6 Replies
          1. re: battman1_2000

            EVERYONE should take their own shopping bags,everytime they shop in any store!

              1. re: J.R.

                Cuz' we don't need more plastic bags floating throughout the environment. Stated from a True Treehugger.

                1. re: JerryMe

                  Sorta getting off the topic, but I take my own re-usable bags to the grocery store, and one time the cashier bagged my groceries into a plastic bag and then put that bag in my canvas bag, oops :)

                  1. re: Essbee

                    I reuse my damn plastic bags! And I carry my food home on my back, mostly. (except for monthly costco runs). Why would I get my bookbag messy?

                    1. re: Essbee

                      Essbee: I was a pedestrian for 20 years and that drove me crazy to have to say with knapsack open every darn time "no bag, but thanks".

            1. When I lived in Michigan I shopped Aldi monthly. The nearest store that I was aware of was a good 30 minute drive from my home, but worth it every time. It was excellent for snacks for my four children and items for school lunches. I gathered empty boxes as I walked through the store to cart my goodies home in. Milk was one thing I learned quickly not to buy there. It tasted like it had been frozen at some point. Produce was the other thing. Granted, this was almost 10 years ago, but I always found great deals there.

              1. Pretty sure this was my prediction.

                1. Either their advertising is failing miserably, or many folks are just not paying attention (or doing any research): ALDI's is a discount food store, it's a tick above a gas station convenience store with Walmart-ish prices. They stock basics most average people buy (full or 2% Milk, white and 'brown' bread, common fruits and veggies, frozen food, cheap wine, no brand names).

                  DISCOUNT=cheap.

                  They compete on price, nothing else, not quality, not 'atmosphere', not 'brands', not service.

                  And honestly, it is about time everyone took their own bags to shop, enough of this waste and garbage for no reason other than being too lazy to keep a bag or three in the trunk of your car with all that other junk in there.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: dfwdean

                    tom thumb is selling some great reusable bags these days. i already have a slew of canvas bags (from Trader Joe's no less!) but the tom thumb ones are real comfortable and practical and i think they're only 99 cents each

                    1. re: teegee

                      I went a couple of weeks ago to check it out and wow, what a dump. i guess I'm not there target market. Won't step foot in that joint ever again. Didn't really understand the concept.

                    2. re: dfwdean

                      oh but there ARE brand names in there...just not very many

                      1. re: dfwdean

                        they compete based on logistics, and selling what's profitable. That said, they call it a Trader Joe's if it's not "discount discount." -- TJ is ALSO a discount place, and runs on the same principles. just more yuppized

                        1. re: dfwdean

                          Aww. Aldi sells wine too? Bah. Stupid stupid Penna system. Is the wine any good?

                          1. re: givemecarbs

                            sometimes.

                            It can be nasty cheap plonk, or it can be respectable low-priced house wine.

                            Problem is, it's all but impossible to figure out which one you've got. (so buy one, try it, then go back if it's any good -- wine tends to stay more-or-less consistent.)

                        2. hey, anyone who has ever lived in an area where Aldi existed knows that
                          Aldi is not a "foodie" place. It is a basics place. I shopped there to economize when i was in law school, and thank goodness for it. it saved me a lot of money back then.

                          their TX locations are much nicer than the ones i shopped in IL, btw.

                          there's not alot i would buy there now. most of it is overly processed for our family's taste. but if i was on food stamps, i would definitely shop there. and that is more their target market (along with institutional purchases, very large families, others that live on very, very tight budgets.)

                          they also have specials every once in awhile that are truly .... special. you just have to watch.

                          p.s. i use plastic bags from the grocery store for my garbage bags. it avoids buying super-strength triple-ply non-puncturable-non-degradable bags, which i think is actually a beneficial use of grocery bags. i also own a number of reusable bags...but can't use them for garbage.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mlschot

                            "i use plastic bags from the grocery store for my garbage bags. it avoids buying super-strength triple-ply non-puncturable-non-degradable bags, which i think is actually a beneficial use of grocery bags. i also own a number of reusable bags...but can't use them for garbage."

                            I have some of the Whole Foods reusable bags, but like you, I have always used plastic grocery store bags to take out the trash. Now I have to pay for Glad Bags or their brand-X equivalent. How's that helping the environment?

                          2. Aldi's prices on pantry staples are on a par with the big-box club stores, but you don't have to buy 20 pounds at once. As another poster said, it's a place to pick up basics, although the stores in my area also always have a selection of "special purchase" name-brand items. I also routinely buy bananas, eggs and some canned products like tomato sauce there. The quality of their cheese and German chocolate bars is good. In the stores in my area I haven't encountered the kids of maintenance problems the OP mentions: the stores are generally clean, well lighted, neat and well maintained.

                            Aldi is not a substitute for other grocery stores, but you can definitely save money on decent quality items by shopping there consistently.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Emm

                              Hey Emm the day I went was the 1st or 2nd day that they had opened so hopefully the mechanical problems they had were just new bugs that needed worked out. For me though, it was about driving all the away across town to get the same deal I could have got 2 blocks away at Walmart.

                              I have been thinking about giving them another try but just haven't worked up to needing to.

                              1. re: Emm

                                I like to try their "special purchases" !

                                I buy my milk and eggs there almost all of the time. My husband prefers their yellow mustard and bagels. I hosted my in-laws and served some of their salsa, and kettle cooked potato chips... BIL thought they were name brand. For staples the places is great... salt, sugar, sandwich bags etc.... then you try their other products and it can be hit or miss, for me though quite a few hits. I am also lucky that my nearby Aldi is super clean.

                              2. In my experiance they pretty much beat Wal Mart in most staple items. IE tomato paste , sauce, cheese, pickles, tuna (by far) Wal mart doesn't even have a house brand tuna...
                                basically, anything that would compete with Walmart's GV brand.
                                Their produce is usually better than WM's and cheaper. Cheaper bananas, blueberries, pineapples, strawberries, baby carrots, pretty much all the time. And the quality is fine (usually Dole , or jersey bluberries or Driscoll berries).Their cold cuts are cheaper and taste the same. When they have name brand items, they usually beat most name stores. i rotate between Wegmans, Wal Mart, Aldi..and a local grocer. All grocery stores have something to offer, but Aldi usually can't be beat head to head on 90 % of the items. Not everything is stellar, you just need trial and error to decide.

                                1. Just a couple of thoughts.

                                  For those of you who don't think they will survive, you should know that the founders of Aldi, two German brothers, are the two richest men in Germany. They got that way because Aldi is extremely successful, and knows very well what it is doing. Between the two Aldi groups, one for each brother, they have over 8,000 stores worldwide.

                                  Yes, Aldi is strictly a discount operation. Everything they do is to make it as CHEAP as possible, consistent with decent quality merchandise. Their house brands are pretty much like store brands anywhere, but always pretty good quality.

                                  The quarter for the cart is to get you to return the cart, so they don't have to employ people to go out in the lot and bring them back. In fact, Aldi stores typically operate with two people--one to check out and one to stock and manage--again, save cost = low prices.

                                  You may have noticed that all produce is prepackaged and bar coded. Again, that is to ease and cheapen the checkout process. There is no scale at an Aldi checkout like other stores. Fast (one cashier line only) and cheap. Did you notice how quickly you were checked out when you shopped there?

                                  Other cost saving practices include no coupons, use of pallets rather than shelves to save stocking costs, only one or two brands of any item, etc.

                                  You may be interested to know that one of those brothers owns Trader Joe's (through a family foundation). TJ was started by others but has been Aldi-owned for years. If you look closely you may notice some similarities in how they operate.

                                  Certainly it is not the store for everyone, and probably not the exclusive store for anyone. But what they they do they do well, and their prices on many things can't be beat.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: johnb

                                    You are dead on with everything you said johnb. I went to Aldi yesterday and got my usual staples. I always like to pick up a couple of new things to try as well. Got a chocolate bar with 60% cocoa and it tastes great! I guess I'm lucky because my Aldi has great produce. Who can turn down 89 cent avocados??? And a package of tri-color peppers for less than what a normal grocery store charges for one red pepper? I'm usually in and out in 15-20 minutes. Can't beat that with a stick!!!

                                  2. ALDIS FYI.....
                                    I knew someone, that worked for one of the "Chesty" potato chip plants....She said Chesty makes many of the ALDIs chips....She would actually watch, as they changed the production line over from Chesty brand bags to a "knock off " ALDI's brand chip bag...

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: bkshook

                                      Gee, I haven't heard anybody remark on Chesty potato chips for a long time--I remember them in big big cans as a kid. But I believe they've been out of business for many years. What was the time period your friend referred to?

                                      But that aside, what you described is pretty much how private branding works across the board. Very few food retailers have their own production facilities. Many if not most private label items are made by the same companies that make name brands, and are really the same product. Most people seem to find that Aldi's store brand items are decent quality.

                                      1. re: johnb

                                        WOW....I don't remember Chesty chips in a can, but I did check on who bought Chesty...Frito Lay....Who also makes Krunchers...That may explain why Aldis kettle chips are so tasty.....I LOVE Krunchers!!

                                        1. re: bkshook

                                          Their kettle chips are fantastic!

                                      2. re: bkshook

                                        Beings that they are owned by the same family that owns TJoes, not surprising in the least. Maybe Chow can do another taste test for us. I for one am 100% certain that the pizzas at Aldi are Tombstone brand. Same picture, different name. It's like a game I play every time I walk in there to find another look alike.

                                        1. re: mlipps

                                          Not quite that simple. Actually, there are two completely separate Aldi's (North and South)--they split many decades ago. TJ's is owned, through a separate family trust, by one of them (I forget which--you can look it up), but it is the other one that has stores in the US. So Aldi (US) and TJ are actually not connected through any common ownership. That said, it does appear that they cooperate to a degree in some ways. But the ownership is entirely separate.

                                      3. I'm happy to do the "quarter to get a cart" which is how Europeans have been doing it for years. It saves on paying a person to do that for a living. I think it's ingenious. Also, the chocolate is fabulous. I will go back again and again.

                                        1. I can't believe that, in this day and age, there are still those who complain about having to take their own shopping bags to a grocery store. The quarter for a cart is also something that i would love to see other retailers subscribe to.
                                          Having lived in Germany, I was familiar with Aldi which has somewhat of a cult following over there. As many posters have already said, Aldi competes on price. As far as their selection, i don't get fulfillment from 70 choices in the cereal aisle. My Aldi list consists of the basics as well. their chocolate, however, is superior to anything Hershey makes. They have great produce, in season, 59 cent avocados, etc. Their diary products are affordable, even offering fresh mozzarella. I love the prices on the frozen fruit for smoothies. If you haven't tried their frozen fruit bars, you're in for a treat. Try the spinach and zucchini strudel when it's on offer. My favorite Aldi brands are Deutsche Kueche or Grandessa. My aunt in Germany turned me on to their Lacura brands of facial products, also good quality for a great price.
                                          I still shop Publix for many items, but hit Aldi weekly for items that I use most often. I love the size of the store and I am in and out in a flash. With Christmas just around the corner, I look forward to all the German specialties that I miss out on otherwise.
                                          I also appreciate the fact that the cashiers get to sit....

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Pischi

                                            Does Aldi do appliances in the US? Believe it or not, their own-brand appliances almost always rate very highly in quality tests conducted by independent consumer agencies in Europe.

                                            Toilet paper, paper towels...yep, they're basics, not a destination store...but I shop at Aldi regularly, as well as the similar (but much more aesthetically pleasant) Lidl, which is also a German-owned discount chain.

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              They have small appliances with the Crofton brand name. I have not tried them. I have, however, purchased their version of the Silpat liner, only 6 bucks a piece. They are terrific. I have also purchased their cake pans, also very nice.

                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                We bought a Crofton deep fryer, for the money it's an OK appliance but a little flimsy.

                                            2. I thought it was pretty much common knowledge by now that the generic brands sold in Aldi basically come from the big name-brand manufacturers. It's just that they change and you can never be sure which one made what at any given time. Same as store-brand generics.

                                              I seriously wish I had one closer to me. Would seriously cut my food budget by probably 50%!

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: yfunk3

                                                Nothing is "common knowledge" because their sourcing information is proprietary. There's nothing that would suggest it's "brand name manufacturers." Much of what they, or other discounters, do is emulate brand name products but that doesn't mean it's the same supplier.

                                                1. re: ferret

                                                  I meant the fact that the same facility that cans those Glen Muir diced tomatoes or makes the same ketchup for Heinz is probably the same facility cranking out the generic brands. THAT being common knowledge, not the "proprietary information" of the actual recipes.

                                                  Yeah, some generics merely imitate other name brands...just like other name brands imitate other name brands. It's just that you never know which facility will package what, which is the crapshoot you get when buying generics most of the time. e.g. When the Bausch & Lomb recall was going strong due to ecoli in their saline solutions, they named a number of generic brands that were in the same batch and manufactured by B&L that were possibly affected. But the stores that carried the generics later announced that they were going to start sourcing their generic saline solution from another facility.

                                                  1. re: yfunk3

                                                    I know what you meant. What I meant about it being proprietary is that Aldi won't share information about their sourcing so you can't really tell who makes what. So you'll just be guessing to say "it's all the same companies" which is what they're trying to convey. In all likelihood it's not. And the generics and house brands at larger chains are generally produced by the Canadian private label megafirms.

                                                    1. re: ferret

                                                      They are no different from any other supermarket chain in that respect---nobody will tell you who is manufacturing their private label stuff.

                                                      1. re: ferret

                                                        there are also companies in existence whose sold purpose is to manufacture own-brand products for large retailers -- they don't sell anything under their own name.

                                                        Many of them are bold enough to advertise to retailers with such things as "compare to XXX"

                                                        As has been discussed ad infinitum, a major brand does not equate with superior quality.

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          "As has been discussed ad infinitum, a major brand does not equate with superior quality"

                                                          That was my point, really. The OP was complaining about Aldi having "dollar store" quality stuff. My point is that it's all basically the same stuff you find in any supermarket, so why is it suddenly so much more horrible and not worth buying at Aldi just because it's cheaper?

                                                          1. re: yfunk3

                                                            EXACTLY.

                                                            Wasn't aimed at you, incidentally.

                                                2. Shoot, I'm an unabashed Aldi FREAK. They do carry a lot of processed foods, which i ignore, but they also have things like extra virgin olive oil, vinegars, etc. that are cheap and decent. There's also a revolving door of odd lots like artichoke hearts and stuff that you normally don't want to pay full price for. Being a german chain, many of their "discount" cheeses are actually better quality than the Kraft bricks you can buy at a regular grocery store. Granted, not all of it, but check the ingredients. Their cheap plain havarti is good, they always have gorgonzola and feta crumbles that are more than serviceable in salads, etc., their bagged greens are cheaper, AND they now carry things like soy milk, etc., that are just as good as any of the big brands. In fact, rumor has it that a lot of the aldi brands are actually Trader Joe's in a different package. Aldi's might not look like much at first glance, but dig a little deeper and you can find some treasures that make it worth a regular trip if there's one in your area.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: dingey

                                                    OH! And lest I forget! Discount German chocolates, east German beer, and cheap South American wine. Not high class wine, to be sure, but drinkable, and certainly worth cooking with!

                                                  2. Give it a try...if you hate it, you don't have to go back...but you just might find you like it, and if you save a few bucks in the meantime -- you can go out and have a truly Houndworthy night out!

                                                    1. While some Aldi locations may be better than others, ours here in Culpeper, VA, was awful from Day one. Aisles & aisles of cheap processed food takeoffs (as in - the box is identical to a name brand, but the name is spelled just a little differently - lol!), 5-pound packages of bologna sitting next to, maybe 2 packages of fresh(?) meat, & the piece de resistance - cardboard boxes of unrefrigerated produce sitting on pallets on the floor with hordes of fruit flies swarming above them. Oh yeah - I REALLY want to shop here to save a few measly bucks. Especially when there's a nice clean Super WalMart right across the street with great prices, name brands, a great fresh bread bakery, & terrific fresh produce.

                                                      I fully agree with everyone who defines Aldi as a "Dollar Store for Food" - although that may even be insulting to Dollar Stores. . . .

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Breezychow

                                                        Ew! Sounds like you DO have a bad one! That may just be a case of bad management, though, and bad decisions about what to stock from what's available in the Aldi supply chain. I have noticed some variation from store to store, and I have to admit when one first opened near our old neighborhood ten years ago or so, I was very unimpressed. It changed sometime over the last few years, though...even the produce isn't bad at the Kalamazoo location. Now that I've moved to the ASheville, NC area, this one's not bad, either, though not quite as comprehensive with some of my favorite items as my old Aldi was.....

                                                      2. While not a huge fan of Aldi, I just bought a 10lb bag of potatoes there for $1.49. That's hard to argue with.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: CharlieKilo

                                                          Not hard to argue with at all so long as those potatoes are fresh, firm, mold-free, & didn't have a swarm of fruit flies as an escort out of the store - lol!!!

                                                        2. ALDI -
                                                          Yea on Chips, Crackers, cheese (mozz., feta, etc) , canned broth, popsicles, dips, some meats....
                                                          Flowers, plants, small appliances (electric kettle!), bottled water, juices esp. for mixers.., and the ALDI "fresh" pizza beats Costco. True story, IMHO. And, you can get pepperoni, mushrooms, etc while you're there to top it off.

                                                          Of course the store is also full of crap - but what store isn't these days??? Even beloved Whole Foods is chuck full of junk. That does not bother me at all.

                                                          Oh, and bring your own bag? Who cares if you forget your "bag" - you can buy one for 6 cents!
                                                          :)

                                                          I am a huge fan as it saves me money for parties over and over!

                                                          1. aldi? new? rofl. They are an AWESOME chain. Try Trader Joe's if you don't like the selection -- got the same owners. And Trader Joe's is far newer.

                                                            7 Replies
                                                            1. re: Chowrin

                                                              "...got the same owners." Thats a common misconception. The reality is: "...Aldi and Trader Joe's, while owned by (the) brothers, have separate and distinct ownership and operations."

                                                              1. re: jla1960

                                                                No, that's not correct either. I already posted this upthread somewhere, but anyway, here goes again. There are two Aldi's,North and South, each owned by one of the Albrecht (sp.?) brothers (BTW one died recently). Only one of those Aldi's has stores in the US. TJ is owned (through a family trust) by the brother/family who own the other Aldi, the one that does not have stores in the US.

                                                                It is correct that TJ is not owned by any Aldi, but rather by a family trust, and that family also owns one of the Aldi's. Got that?!

                                                                1. re: johnb

                                                                  Gosh. Does it matter much? The two businesses are different shopping experiences, offering different labels, different pricing, different hiring practices, difference in every way. Every time I see this story retold, I just don't see what any of it has to do with shopping at either store. My TJ and Aldi experience couldn't be more different.

                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                    Well, no it really doesn't matter much. But they aren't as different as you suggest. Yes the merchandise is different, but the behind-the-scene operating modalities have a great deal in common. I just so happen to be interested in the supermarket business and how things are done "back of the house" as it were. To someone like yourself who presumably doesn't care about that, but focuses on the "front of the house," yes they are very different. No problem with that. Different strokes.....

                                                                    1. re: johnb

                                                                      Whoa, did I just get my hand slapped :)
                                                                      I'll stick to the customer side of getting my $ worth and leave the back of the house issue to you johnb.

                                                                    2. re: HillJ

                                                                      hi! do you know anything about logistics? I respect a business that is Run Right -- and Aldis and TJ and Costco all share that in common. It's true that the labels/pricing differ, but that doesn't mean that their inherent competitive advantage does!

                                                                      1. re: Chowrin

                                                                        hi! My only exposure to all three unique shopping experiences is as a SHOPPER. A busy, budget-minded, value minded shopper. My customer service experience has been mixed at all three over completely different issues. I am loyal to price point and customer service.

                                                              2. So far my only pet peeves remain undermanned cash registers which on a busy Sat can really create a store problem and I've witnessed more than one customer leave their cart full and walk out and two, prices shift throughout the week; although often cheaper than other markets...I've paid three different prices for eggs in one week.

                                                                My last visit I heard an employee talking about an Aldi super store opening up about 30 mins. north of me and my first thought was will they hire more than one cashier for a super store :)

                                                                1. Aldi is a Godsend in Australia - there are certain items I actually prefer to buy from Aldi - the quality is great, and I save money as well. Items that come to mind for me are toothpaste, dishwasher tablets, dishwashing detergent, laundry soak, olives, crackers, chocolate, some canned goods, and pasta (this used to be the case - but the price has doubled in the past year which brings it on a par with your average packet of dried pasta).

                                                                  The honey mustard cooking sauce is pretty good, even if it's a bit calorific. Useful to have in the pantry for nights when I just don't have the energy to be thinking about what to cook.

                                                                  I buy the things I like from Aldi, and get the rest from other sources. The savings really are worth the extra trip for me and I've never had a problem with the quality.

                                                                  To me, the coin for the trolley and the pay for your bag policy is a good thing. It makes people responsible for putting trolleys back where they should be, and it makes people think a bit more about re-using things like shopping bags.

                                                                  Though I'm a bit torn about the trolley thing... I also don't begrudge the trolley collectors a job. I guess there are pros and cons for both.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ursy_ten

                                                                    learn someting new everyday dept..In Australia..shopping carts are called trolleys...never heard that usage before. What do they call them in the UK ?
                                                                    I also enjoy ALDI's .

                                                                    1. re: rochfood

                                                                      They're called trolleys too in the UK. A British term that spread to its colonies. Like tuck shop and flat (remembering from my youth).

                                                                      1. re: yfunk3

                                                                        Some of its colonies, it's a shopping cart in Canada.

                                                                  2. Aldi is certainly not a new food chain. They have been around forever. Maybe you are referring to them being new to your area, if so I apologize for being a jerk. I understand what you are saying though. The first time I shopped there was a disorienting experience. However, the quality of the food is fine, no better or worse than a place like wal-mart. The reason everything looks like it belongs in a dollar store is that everything is store brand. You aren't paying for advertising. You can consistently save money there which few grocery stores can say. Most stores you have to do something to save money like bring coupons, shop at the right time or ask for price matching. Aldi isn't that way, you just show up and it is always cheap. That being said I don't shop there much. That store is inconvenient for many reasons. They have short hours, long lines, and accept few methods of payment. They are just a really stubborn company that expects customers to do things their way in exchange for low prices. If you are willing to do that it's a great store.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: williewill

                                                                      williewill, I had to smile over your comment because the stubborness because that is about the only common link to both business models (TJ/Aldi). As for one reason the prices are lower,I'm happy to NOT pay for advertising or be bound to coupons. Sometimes no frills is worth it.

                                                                    2. I was reading an earlier post about their cheese and it reminded me of something. If you are lucky enough to have one of the stores with alcohol check it out. They have cheap European beer and wine that isn't too bad, better than our cheap domestic beer and wine anyway.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: williewill

                                                                        My husband just bought 4 bottles of "Oktoberfest" mulled wine. Its a favorite of ours on a cold winter night and its around $5 a bottle. Going to heat some up tonight.

                                                                      2. The first time I went to our closest Aldi's, I had a similar reaction about the "dollar store" feel. I guess we're much more conditioned to look for brands than we'd like to admit -- I know I was.

                                                                        But after a friend told me about her Aldi's shopping and I read up on it from 'Hounds, I went back. I'm sold. I don't buy the processed frozen or boxed meals, but I don't buy them anywhere. But milk, canned beans, crackers, condiments, cheese, breads....these have all pleasantly surprised me with their quality and price. There's still a lot I won't buy there, but I'm slowly expanding what I'll try, especially after reading suggestions on these boards.

                                                                        I'm sure the cleanliness and management of the stores vary. Yes, I have to remember to bring a quarter and actually get my canvas bags into the car. But I try to make it there at least once a month with our finances so tight, and it's worth it.

                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: eamcd

                                                                          take a look around while you're shopping -- at least at the European stores, there's usually a stack of empty boxes somewhere that you're welcome to use to carry your groceries home.

                                                                          If not, there's always someone stocking shelves, and they're happy to give you the empties.

                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                            The .99 bags have lasted over a year for me.

                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                              (the boxes are for the days you forget the bags...)

                                                                              And yes, the bags last forever, even when they keep getting swiped for school and work and sleepovers and everything else.

                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                Oh, I leave the Aldi bags in the trunk of my car so I'm sure to have them when I stop there. The insulated bags are a bit more $ but also very handy. I also keep a quarter in my coin tray for the carts and plenty of customers still leave carts in the lot (with coins) rather than return them to the caddy, and I thank them for the convenience and I return those carts when I'm done shopping.

                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                  Ah. That doesn't happen here in Australia (customers leaving their carts in the lot) - at least at all of the Aldis I've been to. I guess it's because the Aldi trolleys here take $2.00 coins rather than quarters.

                                                                                  It would be a nice source of pocket money for some kids, come to think of it.

                                                                          2. re: eamcd

                                                                            somehow Aldi's looks very different from TJ, which is also a discount chain ;-)

                                                                          3. Aldi is one of those places where you get specific stuff. It's not immediately obvious why one would ever want to visit an aldi at first glance.

                                                                            However:

                                                                            The chocolate is good quality and cheap. The eggs, in my experience, are good and VERY cheap (almost if not just as good as the land o lakes eggs I usually get). The milk here is 1.99 a gallon, and it's 3.49 a gallon at other stores here. Even wal mart's milk is over 3.40 here. The Yukon Gold potatoes are cheap also, and they have half gallons of imported frozen gelato. I haven't tried it yet but it looks good. Also, the $4 malbec is drinkable (toca diamonte) and I just used it as both a bev and in a buerre rouge for a t-bone steak. (no, really, I've got my empty tri-ply skillet, the bottle and an empty plate right here!)

                                                                            On the other hand, the fresh squeezed orange juice isn't as good as at other stores IMO - but it's almost as cheap as the from-concentrate juices at most groceries. I've only ever tried it once though, usually I get simply orange, tropicana, or "florida's natural".

                                                                            So yeah, aldi is really good for some things, but not so good for others. If you're buying non-organic milk and run of the mill eggs there is probably no cheaper place to get the stuff. I don't *need* to save 1.49 for every gallon of milk I buy, but after seeing the milk at aldi I have a really hard time buying it at the "regular" stores for 3.49 a gallon. Just seems silly.

                                                                            I'd probably not buy the meats or poultry there....but I doubt that it would kill you or anything :)

                                                                            edit: I also saw a really cheap roasting pan, and a really cheap set of 2 glass "anchor" pie pans at aldi......and a nintendo "Wii" set complete with the Wii. lol

                                                                            1. I have never stepped into an Aldi's and I will share why. When an Aldi's opened up in my neighborhood (at that time) back in the '80s, I was interested until I learned that the store not only solely carried generic items, it charged for shopping bags.

                                                                              A while back, my daughter said she was picking up an item or two for a friend and she was told she could not use the plastic bags she carried with her; they insisted she had to buy one of theirs. And to think most stores welcome people armed with their own shopping bags.

                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                              1. re: GibsonGirl55

                                                                                that's a quirk of a bozo manager at that individual store. Most folks here have never bought a bag at Aldi.

                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                  I certainly hope so. I thought it was quite odd that they wouldn't let her use her own bags.

                                                                                  1. re: GibsonGirl55

                                                                                    probably stupid hypothesis: when buying something heavy, people often complain if bag breaks -- wanting money back, etc.
                                                                                    Maybe manager has seen stupider things happen?
                                                                                    Or maybe clerk was unsure as to proper packing in plastic? (can see it being different,imo)

                                                                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                      here, at least, the reusable plastic bags are exchangeable for life.

                                                                                2. re: GibsonGirl55

                                                                                  I've never had that experience about buying Aldi bags and sometimes I don't "bag up" until I get to my car...even with a full cart load.

                                                                                  1. re: GibsonGirl55

                                                                                    Hasn't happened to me either...I've gone in with a plastic Target bag in my pocket (from walking the dog!) and used it without an issue.

                                                                                    They generally put the groceries in the cart and you wheel it to a separate area to bag; who would check for Aldi bags there?

                                                                                  2. There are specific things that are good (and cheap) at Aldi (just as at Trader Joe's or anywhere else). Unsalted butter, multigrain tortilla chips, all of the European chocolate bars, jellybeans (I love Jelly Bellys, but the Aldi are darn good), we've had their ground beef stay better longer (I'm talking a few days in the fridge) than the ground beef from the regular grocery, marinated artichoke hearts, etc. There are plenty of things I won't buy there--their yogurt has high-fructose corn syrup--and I'm sure some stores are nicer than others. But I'd try more than one location before condemning an entire chain.

                                                                                    1. I used to drive past Aldi's US headquarters in Batavia IL on a weekly basis. Many times I would get stuck behind trucks that I saw leaving the complex. Being a curious person, sometimes I would follow a truck if it was going in the same direction I was. And on a few occasions, the truck's first stop was...a Trader Joe's a couple miles away! While Aldi and Trader Joe's may be independent divisions, it would appear that a a minimum, they share warehousing and distribution operations in the Chicago area.

                                                                                      Has anyone else tried Aldi's limited-availability Route 1 candies? I had some fun with guests and had a bowl of the dark chocolate covered cherries out, along with a bowl of the comparable Trader Joe's product. Well, they're not comparable...they're IDENTICAL.

                                                                                      1. i avoided aldi for years. went a few years ago in a pinch and it was a disgraceful experience, so when recently all the women i work with raved about it, i thought "no way." there's a new one in my neighborhood, so i finally checked it out and i've been going once a week since. mine is clean, brightly lit, and the small staff is so pleasant. i've actually been astounded by the quality of some of the things i've tried (cheeses, crackers, german import products, skin care line, frozen foods). and soooooooooo cheap.

                                                                                        1. Liveit, perhaps it's new where you are, but in my childhood area it was only new in about 1976. they're not going anywhere. (although we might not go there). although three does seem to be a large difference from one to another these days, I'd still rather hit a Kroger or ShopnSave.

                                                                                          Mizer, they're owned by the same parent company although from what I understand it's a sort of blind parallel operation.

                                                                                          1. Aldi is what it is. They save money by the quarter for the cart, no bags (like club stores), no credit cards, minimal employees, and streamlined products with a lot of private labels. If you know about the quarter or bags, its not an issue in the future. You can't do All your shopping there but definitely can get staples. I tried it out cuz its near me and prices are incredibly cheap - they easily beat Walmart. The quality of their private labels is surprisingly high. Of course it's supplied by major brands; you just don't know which ones. Ive never been disappointed. Even produce has been good. Plus they guarantee everything. If not satisfied bring in your recept. They will refund your money & give you a replacement if you'd like. If you have any issues in the store, call the 1800 number and they'll take care of you. I called with a complaint and got an apology and a gift certificate. Like any chain, each location will have differences... But considering it's image (and clientele in my nearest store) as a poor man's grocery, the quality is extremely high and comparable to the major chains. Just up to you if the tradeoffs are worth the savings.

                                                                                            1. Visited my local Aldi last weekend and they had a load of products from Germany on hand. My favorite muesli is back! In addition, I bought butter cheese, Austrian beer mustard, Nuremberg sausages (which I nearly passed out with happiness upon seeing, given that our whole family loved them on a trip to Nuremberg a couple years ago) and a pretty good canned pea soup. Am so happy I will be going back this weekend to re-stock. The 49 cent eggs are now 99 cents, but still cheaper than other grocery store!

                                                                                              1. Oktoberfest has begun.

                                                                                                My local Aldi has packaged dried spaetzle and jarred (not canned) sauerkraut.

                                                                                                The "pop-n-bake" pretzels may not be as great as homemade, but nice to have in the fridge if you have kids/grand-kids and a cold rainy day. Fire up the oven and break out the mustard!

                                                                                                Mums (plants not cut) are 2.99.

                                                                                                And if you want to make your own kraut cabbage is 99 cents a head.