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Any Aldi shoppers here?

According to this article (from 2009) Aldi has the best prices in the Twin Cities on conventional grocery goods. http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/article/...

But I've also read that their produce varies wildly by location.

Do you have a favorite Aldi in the Twin Cities for produce and also cleanliness and friendliness of staff?

Surprisingly, at the time this article was written, Whole Foods had the best prices on organics in the Twin Cities. (I'd be curious to see how Aldi compares to WF on organics since Aldi didn't have organics at the time this article was written.)

If you have yays orr nays on Aldi products in general, I'd love it if you'd please add them to this thread on the chains board: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6629...

~TDQ

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  1. I'll jump in on this one.

    With a grad student budget, it's a time in my life when I am choosing affordability over organic/local/etc. Living next door to Whole Foods makes this difficult, when I get home from the hospital at late-o-clock and am HANGRY.

    I also go through a LOT of produce, so Costco and Aldi seem to be my primary shopping spots. With Aldi it seems like there isn't as much leeway before you need to use the produce up, but if you have a plan to use/eat it, you're fine. I occasionally buy meat, salsa, cheese, etc. I've never been disappointed with anything I brought home.

    In terms of a price differential, it IS noticeable. Doing a "regular" weekly trip I notice I spend ~$20 to $40 less for pretty much the same items, when compared to either Super Target or even Cub.

    If you are going for the first time, make sure you have a quarter somewhere in your car/purse/pocket. You need one to use a cart. You get it back when you're done. :)

    6 Replies
    1. re: C6H8O6

      Also bring you own bag unless you want to pay for them . The Organics are sometime priced less. Bananas were $1.29/lb now they are 49 cent/lb. Quality????? see above... The newer stores seem to be cleaner.

      1. re: ibew292

        Which are the newer stores, Ibew? I have easy access to the one on Lake St. and the one on Franklin St. in Minneapolis. Are either of those "new", relatively speaking?

        I have easy access to the one on University at Lex, but shoo bee doo gives it the thumbs down below.

        ~TDQ

        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          I don't know about Lake St. but Franklin Ave. is a dump. Columbia Heights is a new one. None are wonderful but sometimes they have interesting things. I bought Organic Chicken Broth almost salt free for 89 cents. Once you go in one you will know if you ever want to go back. They are a great place to watch people...

          1. re: ibew292

            OK, funnily enough, but the Franklin Ave and Uni/Lex locations are the only locations I've ever been to and, yes, I thought they were both (to borrow your observation) dumps. Maybe I need to try a different location, but the only other one that is very convenient to me is Lake Street. I kind of worry about whether that one will be nice or not.

            ~TDQ

            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              I think Lake Street opened in 2011. I don't know if it is the "new" design. Go anyway the people watching is worth it. Also bring cash.

          2. re: The Dairy Queen

            Yeah, you pretty much couldn't pay me to go in the Aldi's on University, but I also don't go to the Cub or the Rainbow on University. I know - grocery store snob - but I've seen meat in the cereal aisle one too many times at University grocery stores and you KNOW that's just going right back into the meat case. Blech.

      2. I like the one on Rice Street and off Hwy 35. I hate the one on Lexington and University.

        I don't go very often, but I like their chocolate and their roasted mixed nuts. I've already expressed that on the Chains thread.

        I like to read the Chains thread because I would like to buy more things from Aldi. When I go for the chocolate and nuts, I like to explore and try a few other things. So far the results have been "meh" on other things.

        1 Reply
        1. re: shoo bee doo

          This is "my" Aldi as well. The staff is super friendly and efficient yet I have noticed and appreciate their kindness and patience with elderly and handicapped shoppers.

          I came to Aldi late, by way of a Pioneer Press article about chips. I bought corn and potato and found I liked them better than their brand name counterparts and was pleasantly suprised with the price difference. Then I tried the Little Schoolboy knockoff cookies and liked them better too. Ditto with the "Ritz" and other crackers and the fiber bars. The produce turns over so quickly I have never had a problem with any I have purchased. Yesterday I bought a head of iceberg lettuce, fresh and light weight, for $.99, compared to the rock heavy head I saw earlier at Byerlys for a little less than twice that. Hot dog buns for $.89 are great for a single household that never gets through a full package. Decent cheese choices for sandwiches and snacks. I have not ventured
          into meat/poultry or the hardgoods areas.

          No "Nays" so far and my only "Meh" so far was a frozen pizza. There was nothing wrong with it; it just wasn't to mt taste.

          I went for the corn chips and stayed for the quality (and the prices.

        2. Dedicated Aldi shopper here. I will go to the link and post my favorites. I primarily shop at the HWY 13 (Burnsville) and the one on Robert in West St. Paul. I have only encountered friendly, efficient staff at any Aldi location. I have converted many friends and family into Aldi shoppers and save at least a third of the money I would spend anywhere else.

          1. Not in Twin Cities area, but will stop in Aldi about everytime I'm in "the area"... it's not on the WAY for majority of errand running trips. It's a great place to get the basics... not 10 different potatos, maybe 3... red, baking, and sweet.

            1. I love the cheese at Aldi and have found everything I have tried to be good quality and tasty. I have not personally pruchased their meat but have friends who rave about them. I don't care if my grocery store is a "dump" or not. I go for the good values and produce. I can get allot more and I love the quality. Since they go through so much so fast its always fresh which I can't say at other stores. I don't do all of my shopping there. But when I want something that I know they do well I go there first

              1 Reply
              1. re: liney714

                Watch out in the winter. Onions that have been super chilled(frozen). Rotting within a week. If the store is a dump that is also the way they treat the merchandise. Clean store almost always mean a manager that cares...

              2. TDQ out of your way but woodbury is the newest and nicest. Like trader joe that is owned by the same company, you cannot do all your shopping there. Love the basics. Dairy, chocolate, fruit, produce, bread, and some other basics. Cheap and fresh due to turnover. You have to be a bit picky but worth it imho. Some frozen things okay and things like chicken broth etc. Many items are way cheaper. If you use a juicer aldi is your friend. Like trader joe they will not always have the same things. Recently bought a trio of spanish cheeses for less at aldi than trader joe for the same item.

                5 Replies
                1. re: ssioff

                  The Aldi that owns Trader Joe's is not the same Aldi that owns the U.S. Aldi stores.

                  1. re: John E.

                    It isn't? I know almost every time I read an article in any of those "how to save money on groceries" sites, they are always quick to add that Aldi's and Trader Joe's are the same company with different labels.

                    1. re: sheepy

                      I read an article once that said the owners are either related or used to be partners or something like that.

                      1. re: sandylc

                        Brothers actually. They had a battle and divided the company trust.

                        Folks, including CH's having been discussing it forever:
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/677647

                        Forbes:
                        http://www.forbes.com/sites/walterloe...

                      2. re: sheepy

                        The short version is that a German grocery firm founded decades ago was passed on to the Albrecht brothers. They separated into two, separate firms in 1960. Theo owned (died in 2010) Aldi North and Trader Joe's. Karl owns Aldi South and Aldi USA. They are Germany's version of the Walton family except that they have two, completely separate companies without shared operations.

                  2. I posted to the Chains thread, but I'll just post the question because it came up here: what makes a particular ALDI a "dump"?

                    I've shopped the University Ave. ALDI several times (as well as the one near 36 and Rice) and, honestly, I can't tell the difference. Both have always appeared clean to me -- no filthy floors, no broken packages on the "shelves", no rotting produce, no smells. Sometimes it's even hard to find an empty box to use for packaging. Have I just been lucky? Or have I spent enough time at tiny ethnic groceries that my standards are very different?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: steve_in_stpaul

                      I have not been back to Franklyn Ave store for at least 3 years. Then it was dirty and the checkers were surly. Maybe they got a new manager. The one on University seems cleaner to me..

                    2. I was just at Aldi yesterday (62 and Penn), so I took a couple photos for price comparison.

                      The organics that I saw were bananas, apples, tomatoes, spinach, and romaine.

                      Avocados 0.89
                      Lemons 0.15
                      Limes 0.39
                      Strawberries, pint 1.29 ** THIS is always my comparison!! Within the last week seen for 2.50 at Rainbow, 2.75 at Target, over 3 at Lunds. **
                      Cauliflower 1.69
                      Broccoli 1.49
                      Asparagus 1.69
                      Cucumbers, 0.49
                      Zucchini, 3 good sized 1.29
                      Peppers, 3 red, yellow, green 2.49
                      Peppers, 3 green 0.99
                      Lettuce, head 0.99
                      Sliced/whole mushrooms 0.89 - same brand at Lunds for 2.69
                      Baby carrots, 16 oz bag 0.99

                      Obviously that's just produce. I also bough Fage greek yogurt, frozen grilled chicken strips (Tyson knockoff), and a bunch of condiments. They have an artichoke salsa in the refrigerated section that I always get... bought 3. Hah!

                      One last note: They are awesome if you do a lot of baking. Chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit, baking mixes, etc. all extremely well priced.

                      1. Another thing to remember about Aldi is they do not refrigerate their produce (except for bagged lettuce). I imagine this is a cost saving measure, but like C6H8O6 said, you better use it up as fast as you can because you never know long it has been sitting there (although I have never seen anything obviously rotten).

                        Also, while their poultry is OK, their red meats and hamburger are suspiciously a little too cherry red in color.

                        But as others have mentioned, for pantry items and dairy, they are far cheaper than Cub or Rainbow, and the quality is just as good if not better. And don't forget to look in their cheese section; you never know what surprises they might have on hand (last week they had Dill Havarti, and while I was skeptical, this cheese made some of the best grilled cheese sandwiches I have ever had.)

                        As far as location, I live out in the suburbs, and am lucky to have 3 Aldi's within a 2 mile driving distance (yes, really!), and all 3 of them are very clean and well organized, but I tend to stick with the Mounds View location because they have a more reliable selection.

                        And that leads me up to the one thing that I DON'T like about Aldi. None of their locations have their phone numbers listed (not even on their website). So you can't call ahead and ask to see if they have available what you are looking for. Since the availability of items at Aldi are always a crap shoot, it is really annoying to make the drive over there (even if it is only 2 miles) to find out that they are out of something that they had one day before.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: jeff55432

                          >>you can't call ahead and ask to see if they have available what you are looking for. <<

                          That runs completely in the face of running the place as efficiently as possible. I understand the complaint -- I've gone to multiple ALDIs on occasion to find something I really wanted. But, like cart "rental", not bagging, and not placing most goods on shelves, it's one more reason why ALDI can be way cheaper than any other grocery store. I've never gotten the "we don't want you here" vibe from them, but I sense they're not losing much sleep over customers whose wants don't fit their sales model.

                          1. re: jeff55432

                            Hi fellow Aldi shoppers!

                            If you're interested Aldi's has a smartphone App that displays their weekly advertised specials for your specific shopping location in a handy shoppers menu. And, if Aldi's is out of an item advertised they will honor the item and price when the stock is replenished.

                            I'm surprised to hear your comment about produce refrigeration, since the Aldi's in NJ keep all the produce in a chilled display stand. The produce is not at room temp in the back warehouse room or in display. I just noticed this week that the store I frequent had been re organized (again) with new chill boxes and several new displays so maybe your location will be experiencing some remodeling as well.

                            It's always interesting to compare how varied locations can be within a chain!

                            1. re: jeff55432

                              Their red meats are that color because the container has CO pumped into it to retard oxydation. You will find the same thing with fresh red meat at Target.

                              I too mostly shop at the Mounds View location. During the winter I went out of town and when I came back, nearly everything in the store had been moved.

                              They don't have a phone because they don't want to have to employ someone to answer the telephone.

                              1. re: John E.

                                Yeah, I don't understand why they moved everything around. To me, the new layout is confusing, and it doesn't appear to make the store any more efficient. But I like that location because it is exceptionally clean and the employees are friendly (minus one certain manager :).

                            2. I have had mixed results with Aldi's. I was surprised to see that they have a frozen piecrust with better ingredients than your typical national brand (I don't buy piecrust, but my mother was interested in this).

                              I have purchased butter there at great savings. I am convinced that, excluding imported butter, it all comes from the same giant vat!

                              I am afraid of their produce. Every time I have looked at the fruit, there has been a cloud of fruitflies hovering above. I DO NOT want a fruitfly infestation in my house!

                              I will take another look at the cheese, snacks, and baking products after reading this thread.

                              1. I shop at Aldi's on occasion. Their prices are good in my area (near Cleveland), though their selection is limited. Their spices for example, are only 99 cents and are large containers - whereas they're like $4 at Whole Foods and smaller in size. I've read that they are owned by the same company as Trader Joe's. I also read somewhere that many of their products are actually made by big brand companies, but just re-labeled under another brand name. I don't really buy produce from them though, since there are several farmers markets near me which always have better prices.

                                1. TDQ, I thought you might find this Aldi review blogger interesting:
                                  http://aldishopper.blogspot.com/