Another Chance for Aldi

Many of the frugal websites I frequent sing the Aldi praises.  I did shop a bit at Aldi when my boys were younger and was never overly impressed.  Yes, the produce was cheap but the bananas were green enough to star in a Saint Patrick’s day parade!  The rest of the produce didn’t look very pretty and I seldom bought it.   I bought mostly milk,  maybe the chips, and some frozen meal components like French toast sticks.   The store was not dirty but certainly didn’t have a sparkling clean feeling either.  Most people in there were stocking up so no go get a few things and get out trips were going to happen.   I also struggled with the whole grocery cart system and I’m not talking about paying a quarter to get a cart out.  That oddly doesn’t bother me all that much.   I disliked how the stuff you were buying was thrown into a new cart and your now empty cart was whisked around to be next once you were almost done.  I can remember being incredibly upset one time when the cashier decided to move the cart over by her while my child was still in the front.     I decided long ago that I was better off just simply getting everything I needed at one store.  I prefer that even though “big city” living gives me the option of 2 Hy-Vee stores, 2 Price Chopper stores, 1 Sun Fresh, and 2 Aldi plus the grocery sections of Target and Wal-Mart.  I like to keep things simple and a few cents off on a pound of bananas has never been equal to the value of my time.    I mostly shop at just one Hy-Vee.   However, grocery prices have started rising and my boys have started growing and eating like mad!  Geez, are any of those things ever going to stop?   The Aldi 101 series over at Gimmesomeoven really inspired me to give Aldi another chance.  I actually went to both Aldi stores in our area within a week after a friend mentioned she preferred the store to the west of me.  I think I preferred it as well.  It seemed a little more spacious.  Here are my likes and dislikes from my Aldi Adventures:

What I Liked About Aldi:

  • Improved and Pretty Produce.  I bought a pineapple for $1.39, a bag of Washington apples for roughly $1.19 a pound (although one does have a worm hole in it–bah!), a cucumber for 59 cents, and I certainly would have bought a 99 cent eggplant had any been left.  I think the bananas were around .33 a pound and not green, so yes I did buy some.
  • Both Aldi stores seemed to have better lighting and be cleaner than I remembered
  • They added a fresh meat section (I bought the pork chops we had last Tuesday at Aldi and they cooked nicely)
  • The prices

 

What I Did Not Like About Aldi

  • The grocery store traffic flow.  I decided to go back and look at something in the first aisle and oh boy, it was no easy task to get there as everyone was going ONE direction.  I really felt like I was going the wrong way down a one-way street.
  • Long lines to check out with only one or two cashiers.  I realize this is probably how they keep their costs down but I don’t have to like it.  I also had trouble figuring out where the lines ended.  I am simply used to Hy-Vee where they keep things moving (well, at one of our Hy-Vee stores.  I don’t shop at the other very often for that very same reason:   they always have long lines).  They still do the cart thing at Aldi so I was happy to no longer have kids in the front of the cart.
  • The limited selection.  While they did have more items than I remember, I still do not think I would be able to go there and get everything for my weekly menus without needing to visit a second store. 
  • The people didn’t seem as friendly.  I don’t mean the employees.  They were fine.  Maybe I just never recovered from the whole feeling of having to go against the flow to go check out the pancake syrup but my fellow Hy-Vee shoppers just seem more accommodating. 

THE BIG QUESTION:  Will I Go Back? 

The answer is probably but it will be for specific items.   Interestingly, the prices and merchandise seemed to vary slightly between the two Aldi stores I visited.   The prices vary between the two Hy-Vee and Price Chopper stores as well but I didn’t expect the prices to vary at the Aldi stores.   I will return for the pineapple even if for whatever reason the store on the west side of me had slightly higher produce prices (I’m talking $1.39 at one and $1.99 at the other so not huge but still slightly higher…).   Things that I purchased at Aldi that were a good deal and would be worth a return trip:  milk, eggs, I forgot to check on the price of butter!, flour, chocolate chips, and vanilla for baking, pineapples, and bananas (not apples).   The pretzels were okay but are the same price at Hy-Vee so I would not go out of my way for them.  I also picked up some 99 cent dinner rolls at the west side Aldi which we all thought were pretty good.  Things that I tried that were not hits:  a can of cashews.  Seriously, how do you mess up cashews?  They were supposed to have sea salt added but I think they forgot the salt part of that.  Hopefully, they’ll be okay in my Cashew Chicken on Friday.   The chocolate covered granola bars weren’t really a favorite by any of us either.

Do you shop at Aldi?   What is your favorite grocery store?  For now, I’m going to stick with my coupons and “smile in every aisle” local Hy-Vee store.

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14 thoughts on “Another Chance for Aldi

    1. Jean Post author

      I need to do a little research on the cheapest place to buy cat food. I just kind of get it whenever run out depending on what store I am in at the time. Reminds me…we’re almost out of cat food as well 🙂

      Reply
  1. Bonnie

    You should check out the price of butter at Aldi’s, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Yes, I agree, I can’t get everything I want at Aldi’s so it does call for a trip to a 2nd store. I guess I justify it by the amount of money I save. Other items I like are the chicken and beef broth,tuna (55 cents per can), frozen fish such as salmon fillets and shrimp, and speciality items they get from time to time.

    Reply
    1. Jean Post author

      I will have to do that! Which one do you visit? The one further west or the one closer to Price Chopper? My problem with going to 2 stores is I seem to spend more than I intend in one or the other or both which is sad, LOL.

      Reply
  2. Patty@homemakersdaily.com

    I have shopped at Aldi’s a couple of times but didn’t really like it. I don’t have a lot of time so I prefer going to one store – the one where I can get everything I need. I was trying to shave my grocery budget recently and tried Aldi, Wal-mart and Hyvee. I ended up sticking with HyVee. But lately I’ve been going to Wal-mart. I do a lot better there and I can get everything I need. In all honesty, I miss HyVee. I like going to a grocery store. But you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.
    Patty@homemakersdaily.com recently posted..Bathtub Toys After a Bath: What Now?My Profile

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    1. Jean Post author

      My husband loves Wal-Mart. My mind just has a hard time coping with groceries and paper/cleaning goods on the same trip 🙂 I know what you mean about doing what you have to do though…

      Reply
  3. Hannah

    My husband keeps telling me that I should shop at Aldi’s because it’s so cheap, but I haven’t been a fan of it in the past for the reasons that you brought up. “Stealing” my child with the cart was kind of a big no-no for me!
    Hannah recently posted..Blooper ReelMy Profile

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    1. Jean Post author

      LOL, glad to know it is not just me. Of course, now that my boys are older, I might say “take ’em” 😉 LOL. I can also see where the cart was still within my arms reach but I still did NOT like that one bit.

      Reply
  4. Anna@stuffedveggies

    I LOVE Aldi! I don’t go there every week, because as you say it’s an extra trip. And I have to make sure I have cash in hand (which I seldom do). I probably go there every 2-3 weeks.

    The lines are longer, but they move faster than our regular grocery. Aldi has lots of tricks (like multiple bar codes and no bagging) that add up to very fast lanes, despite their length.

    Our Aldi is clean, new and roomy – so no traffic problems. But where I used to live, we had an ancient Aldi, but I still made a habit of going there for the price & quality benefits.

    Recently our regular grocery had tomatoes at a record-high 2.59/pound. A few days later, Aldi had GRAPE tomatoes (usually even higher!) for 69cents/12oz!

    I save about 30% off my total bill at Aldi – I buy mostly fresh produce (I’m vegan) and coffee and lots of everyday items (olives, artichokes, frozen fruit & veggies,Breakfast cereal etc). I also buy meat and cheese for the family. I am always floored by how much cheaper it is. It only seems like a few cents here and there, but it adds up to a huge savings percentage-wise.

    I’ve been shopping there for more than 20 years, and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve seen an item with a higher price at Aldi’s than ANYWHERE else in town.

    (oh, and mine has never stolen my kid with my cart ; )
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    1. Jean Post author

      Yikes, that is a crazy price for tomatoes! I will probably go back for their produce especially the pineapple. I think I’m just one of those people who gets edgy at the very thought of having to wait, not good I know. Thanks for your input, I think maybe that would be the key to go every 2-3 weeks 🙂

      Reply
  5. Elizabeth

    Your Aldi store sounds like our Save-A-Lot stores. Though I find it funny you don’t like green banana’s. Once a banana gets a spot on it I refuse to eat it (it’s one of the few things I’m picky about) and banana’s turn so fast that I prefer them to be pretty green.
    I think I’d carry everything by and though if I had to pay for a cart! My word!
    I tend to shop at Kroger these days. I use to do the drug store coupon shuffle but found out that half the time the promotional stuff was gone and later I found out they’d only get maybe 5 or 10 items total for the promotion. I used to try to go to Save-A-Lot but the produce would go bad … I mean BAD within 24 hours and Meat couldn’t last 2 days and my husband complained because the bread would just crumble apart. I still go there for frozen good but I after doing a price check I found out their canned food was actually MORE expensive than Kroger.
    In the end my thought is whatever store works for you the best and with the least amount of stress because I don’t know about anyone else but I become nascar driver with that cart zooming around tight curves into aisle my feet sliding across the floor as I feel like a record skipping as I say, “Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me” in my desperate attempts to get in and out as quickly as possible so knowing where things are, being assured of the quality and not having other little annoyances spring up are worth a lot in my book.
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    1. Jean Post author

      Actually, I don’t like bananas at all unless they are baked in something like banana bread but the rest of my family likes them. Oh, I guess I need to clarify that you don’t actually have to buy the cart. You just need to have a quarter to unchain it from the front and then you get the quarter back when you return it. We have a Save-A-Lot store around here as well although it is slightly out of my way so I don’t know that I’ve ever gone to it. Definitely, need to know the prices no matter what. Our Big Lots is like that with some great deals and then things that are way over-priced. I actually prefer to take my time in the grocery store but that’s probably because I use it as my “mini-escape” at times 🙂

      Reply
  6. Danuta Allen

    why dont they have the Southern Grove cashews with sea salt, love them.

    Also how come no more dried mangos

    Reply
    1. Jean Post author

      My crew definitely likes salted cashews. I’ve never tasted the dried mangoes but I bet they’d be good!

      Reply

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