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.