You all know Aldi, right? That stand alone store with the blue A logo? We didn’t have Aldi in the small town where I grew up, and the first time I saw one was when I was married and trying to do grown-up life stuff. I didn’t go to Aldi because I didn’t know Aldi. I went to Kroger because it was set up the same way as the Kroger back in my hometown, which meant I knew how to find items I needed.
Of course, I got the Aldi advertisement in my Thursday mail every week, but when you have babies, grocery shopping is NOT the time for experimentation. One week, I saw that Aldi had baby trees for $10 each, so I decided to give it a go. It was a total failure. I had a baby and a toddler with me and didn’t know about the cart deal, so I was stuck trying to carry baby trees and manage two tiny people. Then, because you have to walk through the entire store to get to the checkouts, I walked past 800,000,000 things that my toddler wanted to eat. Plus, they are all stacked on the floor so my toddler could totally see the options and help himself.
So, I was carrying baby trees, managing a baby and a toddler, and also carrying boxes of snacks by the time I got to the checkout. I didn’t know about Aldi’s payment rules, so after the clerk had run everything up, I didn’t have enough cash and had to take items off my bill, one at a time, until I had enough to pay. Then, I didn’t have any bags, so I had to try to negotiate all my stuff, and the toddlers, through the parking lot.
When I sat down in the front seat, I was hot and sweaty and tired. I swore that Aldi was NOT a friend of mothers and that I would NEVER EVER go there again.
Fast forward seven years. My friend Jen blogs about Aldi regularly. She shops there multiple times a week. She sings the praises of Aldi – the MILK! The MEAT! The PEOPLE! The DEALS! For real, Aldi should be paying her advertising dollars because I bet she has brought in a million dollars of revenue for them. I have been spying on these posts for a while . . . and then, I heard around the holidays that Aldi was eliminating all artificial dyes from the store-brand foods. This was huge for me – I am constantly trying to dodge food dyes, which show up in the most curious (and unnecessary) places. The peace of mind of knowing that everything Aldi-branded in the store would be free of dyes? So cool! Then, I did a little internet research, and found out that Aldi and Trader Joe’s are sister companies. I LOVE Trader Joe’s, so I started thinking maybe I should give Aldi another chance.
However, the holidays are not a time for grocery experimentation. I was too busy making awesome memories and delicious food and wrapping gifts to venture out of my comfort zone. But then, Aldi struck again – I read an article that the organic and natural food offerings at Aldi are completely awesome.
This was clearly a sign. I needed to get my bod to Aldi and check things out, now that my children are in school and I use reusable bags on the regular and I actually have quarters in my car.
What you need to know before you go: Bring a quarter for your cart. Bring your own bags, and plan time to bag your own groceries. Aldi only takes cash or debit cards. The way Aldi keeps prices low is by not stocking things on shelves – most items in the store are still in a cardboard carton that has been cut open.
The good: I was able to find almost everything on my shopping list. The prices on organics, natural food, and produce were beyond belief. I can’t even process the price on organic milk – SO GREAT. I remembered my quarter so I could use a cart, which has double baby seats in the front. Way to go, Aldi, for making space for multiple kids. I brought cash and my reusable bags, so I was able to checkout with my dignity intact. The beer and wine selection was super; I just hope it tastes good.
The bad: The organization of the store is not intuitive to me. I spent a lot of time wandering, scanning up and down the aisles, trying to figure out where items could be found. Aisles have random cardboard boxes of stuff in them, which makes navigating your double-wide cart around other people and carts tricky.
Overall impression: promising, bordering on great. While I could find almost everything I needed, it was NOT a quick stop. I wandered a lot, and waited for people to move their carts a lot. I am not sure Aldi will be place I go for just a few items right now, but maybe as I become more comfortable, that will change.
Your turn – what items do you love to get at Aldi? Are there types of beer or wine or coffee or something that I should try?