A year and a half ago our hometown had an Aldi open. I'd heard from a few friends that it was really great, but had my doubts.
How could they sell food so cheap? Wasn't it just a discount food store with half expired stuff? It couldn't be as good as it's Austrian cousin, Hofer? And how is it connected to Trader Joes?
If you're really interested in all the details, you're more than welcome to go read the Wiki page all about it. I certainly did. I'm a nut for research. If you'd rather not, the condensed version is:
Two brothers in Germany grew their mother's grocery store into a chain of 300, at which point it was split into 2 companies that still exist and run Aldis, Hofers, and Trader Joes all around the world. When you see an Aldi in Germany, it's related to our Trader Joes, but the Aldis here are connected to Austria's Hofer.
The other big question was how their prices could be so low and I looked into that because I really strive to provide our family with good food. I found that they cut costs by running things so efficiently that the savings are drastic for the customer.
Brands: They only sell a few brand name products, the rest are their own label.
No-frills: Aldi only offers 14,000 products as opposed to 40,000 like larger stores.
Stores: Aldi is only open during peak shopping hours. Only 2-4 employees work at one time and can keep the entire store functioning due to a streamlined restocking and check out process.
DIY: Customers take care of tasks such as wrangling carts and packing groceries themselves which cuts down on the number of employees the store needs.
If you're still a bit hestitant about Aldi, here are some of my favorite things to get at Aldi. I would say we can get 90% of our groceries at Aldi and that they are 60-80% cheaper. I'm a total convert.
This was the first thing I ever associated with Aldi. It was the only place that had anything resembling real chocolate that we were used to from Austria. In fact I recently looked at one of their Dark Chocolate bars and found out it's actually made in Austria. I currently love the Dark Chocolate Coconut Almonds, but all the other treats have been super yummy too.
Brie (and other cheese).
I'm a pretty big cheese lover. I would eat it for every snack and meal if I could. One of my favorites is brie and Aldi has it for $2.99 a round, which is close to half what it costs at a regular grocery store. We also get Parmesan and other types that they have on occasion. Usually I'd only get brie as a treat or when it's on sale, but I love the option to get it more often.
I was pretty suspicious of the produce, but it has proven itself over and over. I've never had any issues with freshness or quality. They can sell it for such a discount is because it's been pre-weighed and packaged. Nothing needs to be messed with once it comes to the check out.
We developed a slight addiction for sparkling water a couple years ago when we were in Austria. Over there they drink "mineral wasser" more than tap water. When we got back we got hooked on La Croix. But that habit can get a bit pricey, so I as thrilled when I saw Aldi's version of the stuff both in cans and bottles. The bottles are $0.69 and 12 can's are $2.99 which is way easier on the pocket book.
Super Premium Ice Cream.
5 ingredients. Pure. Bliss.
Fair Trade. Organic. Artificial Free.
Aldi recently removed certified synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils, and added MSG from all its private-label products. Every time I go I see more and more organic staples such as flour and sugar. Organic and Natural products seem to be taking over the store.
We go to Aldi once a week and buy most of our groceries at once. It took us a while to learn the layout and how to best shop there, but now that we're used to it, we wouldn't go back.