Grocery shopping. Sometimes I feel like I live at the grocery store. I go to several different ones a few times a week. Harris Teeter and Lowe’s are closest to my house, therefore the ones I frequent most. But Food Lion and Walmart are cheaper, so I go there too. Because let’s face it, convenience is great, but we all want to save money.
My mom has been talking to me about this grocery chain for years. There isn’t one near to me (closest is 13 miles) and I’ll admit, I just thought it was a store of “cheap, knock-off brands”. I had no idea what the store was actually about.
Two weeks ago, I had the chance to attend an event at ALDI’s headquarters and test kitchen in Illinois. It was the first time ever I ever set foot in their store.
Each store is around 10,000 square feet and range between 4-6 aisles depending on location. Right there you can see it’s significantly smaller than most other chains. They keep their store operations as efficient as possible so they can allow the prices that they do (and y’all, they are LOW).
Their team curates the products based on what people buy the most frequently. They don’t stock items that you might only buy once or twice a year. They want to stock what is at the heart of each grocery visit.
The product layout is similar at all stores so that loyal customers know where to go no matter what store they are in. Most products are displayed in the cardboard case that they came in…again to save you money and to save them time on stocking the shelves.
As for the products, most are ALDI exclusive brands but you will see a few familiar national brands as well. I saw Cheerios, Bolthouse Farms and a few others in the store I toured. If you aren’t happy with an ALDI exclusive band, they’ll refund AND replace what you bought.
They bring in special buys every week – high quality items that are seasonally relevant. Right now is an awesome time to shop. There are all sorts of yummy special buys from chocolate and holiday cookies to fancy cheeses and spreads.
Want organic or gluten-free?
You’re in luck. They feature two brands – SimplyNature, a brand without 125 artificial ingredients and preservatives and liveGfree, their gluten-free brand. Also, ALDI has committed to have all ALDI exclusive products be free of synthetic colors, added MSG and partially hydrogenated oils by the end of 2015.
How do their brands compare?
At the test kitchen event, I got to do a taste test on several items – orange juice, guacamole, yogurt, Havarti cheese, chips and crackers. Of the three, I preferred the ALDI brand of orange juice (a 46% savings over Simply Orange), the ALDI crackers and the Havarti cheese. For the chips and the yogurt, I could barely tell a difference, but did end up picking the brand name. But for such a huge savings, I could make the switch.
All in all, it was a worthwhile trip for me. I promptly came home and drove the extra few miles to ALDI to check out my local store. Yes, it was different than the one we toured, a little older and smaller, but the products were roughly the same. I got the Millville Frosted Mini Wheats for more than half the cost of the Kellogg’s and the kids didn’t even blink. Score!
Now because I have to drive a bit, I don’t know that this will become a weekly shopping place for me, but it’s definitely worth a monthly trek especially for holiday sweets and treats.
Do you shop at ALDI? What do you like most about it?
Never been? What other questions can I answer?
This post is sponsored by ALDI. All opinions are my own.