more »" />

A Sunday Shopping Trip At Aldi

by Meghann on February 17, 2014

You may already know this, but I’m a self proclaimed grocery store nerd.

I get it from my Dad. He loves food as much as I do and grocery stores equally as much. I’ll never forget the time we stopped at a grocery store in Italy just to see what it was like (only my family!), then I did the same thing when I visited Ireland on my own a couple of years later.

Some folks hate grocery shopping, but I love it. Some weeks I spend hours going up and down the aisles, exploring new foods and scoring the best deals. I rarely write grocery lists, I usually have my staples then find inspiration in the store. That method doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for me.

Given my fondness for grocery stores, I was extra excited when Aldi reached out and asked if I wanted to join their ambassador team for a four part series – heck yeah! Where do I begin?

I first discovered Aldi when they started popping up in Florida a few years ago. Aldi stores are a little different than your typical grocery store as they take the “no frills” approach, which allows them to cut costs on their end to ensure savings on our (the customer’s) end. The stores are a little smaller, the shelves are stacked a little differently, and they mainly stock their own branded items, but their savings are also insane.

Derek and I took a mini road trip across Tampa to put Aldi to the test on Sunday. When I lived in Orlando I had an Aldi about a mile from my house, but unfortunately the closest one to us now is across town.

20140216_124344

First up, we needed a cart.

20140216_124237

20140216_124242

Yep, you need a quarter for a cart, but don’t worry, you get the quarter back at the end. The quarter acts as a deposit, once you return the cart, you’ll get the cart back. It’s Aldi’s way of encouraging customers to return the carts once they’re done with them.

20140216_124305 20140216_124310

20140216_124321

Alright, time to shop.

20140216_124436

First thought, the aisles are really wide. Considering how much smaller the location is than what I’m used to, I never felt squished or packed in. I think the lower shelves may have also helped with that open air feeling. Instead of traditional shelves, most items are stacked in their original boxes, which keeps the shelves low and up keep minimal.

20140216_125514

20140216_124915

I was immediately drawn to the produce section as that’s typically my favorite part of any grocery store. Granted, the Aldi produce section wasn’t particularly large or full of exotic fruits and vegetables, but it did cover all the basic needs and offered some great savings.

20140216_124946

Exhibit A:

20140216_124958

Ummm… yeah. Hella great deal. We’re at peak strawberry season in Florida and all of these babies came from up the road in Plant City. Still, I haven’t seen that price anywhere else. That’s worth the trip right there!

20140216_125001

There were also the blackberries and blueberries.

20140216_125837

20140216_125840

And, yes, they have organic options.

20140216_125710

20140216_125713

I rounded out the trip with some hummus (a priority!)

20140216_131227

And meat. Aldi carries “Fit & Active” brand, which reminds me of  what you would see from Jenny O.

20140216_130109

We easily filled our entire cart. Mainly with veggies and fruit. I still can’t get over that strawberry deal!

20140216_131011

Check out time!

 

20140216_131526

Be warned, Aldi does charge for bags so be sure to bring your own to save a few cents.

20140216_131743

 

The cashier loaded all of the groceries directly back to the cart.

20140216_131750

 

Then there was  a bagging area to load up our bags ourselves.

20140216_132055

20140216_132102

20140216_132505

 

 

Once everything was loaded in the car we returned the cart

20140216_132638

 

And got that precious quarter back.

 

20140216_132645

 

Sweet.

Honestly, I was really impressed with the quality and price of Aldi’s produce. I loaded our cart up with fruit and veggies and can’t wait to cook with them this week!

Have you ever shopped at Aldi? What do you think of the store? 

This post is sponsored by Aldi. As always, all opinions are my own.

 

{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Beth @ Running with the Sunrise February 17, 2014 at 9:16 pm

I haven’t done much shopping at Aldi. When I lived in South Carolina, I had a friend who liked to shop there, so I tagged along once or twice, but I honestly didn’t think much about it. Those are some great deals on produce, which can be really expensive, and I had no idea that Aldi had organic options! I think I’m going to have to check out the one by my house.

Reply

2 Rebecca February 17, 2014 at 9:21 pm

We have similar stores in Canada that are “no frills” – bag your own groceries, quarter carts that sort of thing – one of them is called No Frills haha. Here in Ottawa we pay for bags at almost every single grocery store. Toronto has a bag law (for all bags – even clothing stores) so many companies took up paying for bags. But some have been charging for years

I love grocery stores too!

Reply

3 Martina @ snapshotsandwhatnots February 17, 2014 at 9:40 pm

I loved Aldi at home in Ireland and I’m really curious as to which grocery shop in Ireland you popped into?
The ALDI here in SC is ok but not as good as my local one back in Ireland :(

Reply

4 Meghann February 18, 2014 at 9:14 pm

It was a Tesco :)

Reply

5 Maria February 17, 2014 at 9:42 pm

No Aldi’s out here in CA, but when I’m home in VA, I always go there with my mom. Their prices cannot be beat and I absolutely loved some of their products. The store never felt cramped and was clean with a lot of space to move around – just a great shopping experience overall. Also, a lot of their own brand items really are very good. Come to California, Aldi!

Reply

6 Heidi February 17, 2014 at 9:58 pm

I had no idea it was strange to check out grocery stores whilst overseas, this is a must do on every trip for me!! I must say though, I loathe Aldi. There is one about 5 minutes walk from my house (in Australia) which I avoid, I find it doesn’t have a great range, the fresh food is poor quality and its full of imported stuff which I would never buy. I have no problem with no frills but I still want quality local food.

Reply

7 Casey February 17, 2014 at 10:10 pm

I discovered Aldi in college and it saved me from going completely broke. I absolutely cannot say enough good things about it! Also, I noticed that the workers were ALWAYS friendly, which was rare to find in upstate new york :)

Reply

8 Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution February 17, 2014 at 10:14 pm

I love Aldi! The best part is the prices. I can’t do all of my shopping there, because there are certain things we always get that they don’t carry or I don’t care for their brand, but it’s so good for a number of things. One of which is fancy cheeses. They always have goat cheese, feta, blue cheese and others at a fraction of the price. The meats are also well priced. They are also great for frozen veggies and their Fit and Active line of products are great because I find that they don’t have as many weird ingredients as healthy brands at the regular grocery store. However, the produce goes bad SO quickly and the breads too. I am always tempted to stock up on veggies because of the price but I end up throwing a lot of it away.

Reply

9 Cheri @ Overactive Blogger February 17, 2014 at 10:39 pm

See, I used to be a little overweight, and I’ve always been a food snob. But your trip to Aldi might make me a believer. Your trip looked fun and I am impressed by the produce section. I will totally try it :)

Reply

10 Megan @ I Run For Wine February 17, 2014 at 10:41 pm

YAY!!! I LOVE Aldi. If we are home on Sundays, I make a grocery trip out to Brandon. We stock up at Costco then head to Aldi for fruits, veggies, canned goods and treats. I have been pushing Aldi on so many people so I am glad to see this post!

Reply

11 Afton at My Virtual Mission February 17, 2014 at 10:50 pm

I shopped at Aldi when I lived in Europe. Great deals to be had! And it’s surprising how amazing their produce is. Great post!

Reply

12 The Many Thoughts of a Reader February 17, 2014 at 10:57 pm

We don’t have an Aldi in town but we have a Save A Lot, unfortunately our produce section isn’t that great. And I am jealous of those prices. SO jealous.

Reply

13 Lisa February 17, 2014 at 11:01 pm

I recently started shopping Aldi about a month ago. It’s my first stop on my Sunday grocery trips. I usually get only my fresh produce because like you said, you can’t beat the prices. I’m in PA so we don’t have a great seasonal selection, but I take what I can get cheap :)

Reply

14 Liz February 17, 2014 at 11:08 pm

It’s the same company that owns trader joes so the “no frills” thing makes sense. The produce at Aldi looks better than at TJs though. And just for your info, I looked up the company that produces those strawberries and they look like they have good labor practices and support the migrant community – they even have a tennis tournament to raise money for education of children of migrant workers! Awesome! From the little I could find about Sun Belle (the other berries), the outlook was less than positive. Just thought you might want to know!

Reply

15 Meghann February 18, 2014 at 9:16 pm

The strawberry place (Wish Farms) is right up the street in Plant City. We actually know a few people who work there and are very happy with the company.

Reply

16 Sarah February 18, 2014 at 1:00 am

Aldi in the US looks exactly the same as in Germany. I’ve always wondered. Though we do have them at every corner, there are usually several in each city.
Funny how the cart thing seems to be so foreign, over here it’s the norm at every store and people often have to ask the cashier for change because they don’t have the coin they need.

Reply

17 Julie @ A Life Exotic February 18, 2014 at 4:04 am

They do the same thing with the grocery carts here in London (except you use a pound coin – which is about $1.70!). I think it’s a great idea since you never see carts scattered around the carpark!

Reply

18 Eleonora February 18, 2014 at 4:45 am

I always check out grocery stores when I travel :-) and, at least here in Italy, a “deposit” coin for your cart is the standard, as well as bagging your own groceries!

Reply

19 Abi@AbsofSteel February 18, 2014 at 5:40 am

I love grocery stores, grocery shopping is seriously one of my favorite types of shopping. I always tell people I don’t really like shopping unless it’s for food or fitness items. dork alert :)

Reply

20 Danielle @ It's a Harleyyy Life February 18, 2014 at 6:55 am

we have one of these near me.. so much cheaper! I buy a lot of spices there!!!

Reply

21 owen February 18, 2014 at 10:01 am

Grabbing spices in bulk is like my dream thing to do. I’m such a dork but oh my does adding flavorful spices to your dishes just send me to heaven!

Reply

22 Courtney February 18, 2014 at 6:56 am

You’re definitely lucky to have a nice Aldi’s around you. The couple here in St. Pete and Pinellas Park are not great – no produce and mostly prepackaged foods. The one in my hometown a couple hours north is the same. It seems like a good Aldi’s with fresh produce is a rare find.

Reply

23 Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork February 18, 2014 at 6:57 am

In noticed one of those near us and had no idea what it was! Good to know!

Reply

24 Julie @ Running in a Skirt February 18, 2014 at 7:24 am

We just got an Aldi in Asheville closer to where I work. I stopped by the other day and was pleasantly surprised at the produce. Nothing fancy…but what they had looked pretty good and covered most basic recipes!

Reply

25 Jelena@ThoseLittleThings February 18, 2014 at 7:53 am

As you can imagine, here in Germany Aldi is the most common store. It is good for a lot of things: basic fruit and veggies, organic meat and dairy, canned things, coffee, baking goods (nuts, chocolate, trail mix) and snacks (they have their own granola bars, twix and snickers). I like a lot of Aldi brands and after a few weeks you realize which kind of food works for you and for which you have to pick up somewhere else. I go to “normal” market once/twice a month to get special things.
Also, in any shop in Germany you have to have a coin for the cart (even fancy organic shops), you will get charged for the bags and you have to pack your things by yourself. Let’s say that lady in Walmart thought that I am weird when I started packing my own things 5 years ago in the States :)

Reply

26 Angie February 18, 2014 at 7:59 am

We just moved to KS from CA and I have noticed Aldi’s but haven’t been there yet. I do hear that its own by the same people as Trader Joe’s though.

Reply

27 Sara @ LovingOnTheRun February 18, 2014 at 8:00 am

We have an Aldi but to be honest we have never been. Now after you posted this I just may have to make a trip and see if I can find some of these great prices!

Reply

28 Heather February 18, 2014 at 8:42 am

Maybe I’m a food snob, but the Aldi store in our area is kind of gross. It just doesn’t have the best reputation – it is for low income. I tried to give it a chance but the no frills was too much for me. Having to bag everything yourself isn’t worth it to me.

Reply

29 Liz February 18, 2014 at 1:34 pm

I totally understand if the quality of the food at Aldi isn’t great or if bagging your own groceries is a large enough barrier to not go, but I want to respond to the comment here that gross = bad repudiation = low income. I don’t actually think we need to comment on the population that shops at a store to comment on its quality. This comment just really rubbed the wrong was as judgmental to those who don’t have enough to shop somewhere more expensive.

Reply

30 Sarah February 18, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Thanks Liz, you took the words right outta my mouth.

Reply

31 Maggie February 18, 2014 at 9:14 pm

110% agree. And well said Liz! My words would not have been so eloquent, or kind.

Reply

32 Chelsea @ Designs on Dinner February 18, 2014 at 8:44 am

I love Aldi’s! I definitely notice that certain locations seem to be much nicer than others. The one in Stevens Point, WI is nice, although the produce they have is either abundant and fresh or nonexistent. I love that they keep expanding to carry things like hummus, pita chips, wine, and different kinds of cheeses. I also stock up on frozen shrimp while I’m there because it’s so much cheaper.

Reply

33 Lesley February 18, 2014 at 8:48 am

There are a couple Aldi’s in my area, but if I want to go to a different place other than the grocery store, I go to Sprouts. I love their bulk bins where I can get some good trail mix and dried cherries, and the produce is very good and the prices are low.

Reply

34 Lisa @ runnermamablogger February 18, 2014 at 8:50 am

I have an Aldi’s by me but it isn’t very large and it is disorganized. I never have cash on me so Aldi’s doesn’t work for me. I do love Whole Paycheck (I mean Whole Foods).

Reply

35 Laura@SneakersandSpatulas February 18, 2014 at 8:51 am

We have an Aldi near our house but I’ve never tried it-I assumed it was on par with the Food Lions around our area-aka not a nice grocery store. I’ll have to give it a try to see what their organic offerings are!

Reply

36 julia February 18, 2014 at 9:07 am

I love Aldi. We just moved to Ohio and I’d never seen them before moving here. The prices are great, workers are friendly and the food is equal quality to other big chain grocery stores. The only thing I can’t get there is deli meat for lunches. I like the fresh sliced stuff rather than pre-packaged.

Also, aren’t both TJ’s and Aldi’s owned by the same company? Do you know anything as to if they are similarly managed?

Reply

37 Meghann February 18, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Yes, TJ’s and Aldi’s are owned by the same companies. I’m not sure with how they’re managed though. I can definitely see the similarities when I’m in the store though. Such as mainly stocking the store’s name brand.

Reply

38 Nikki February 18, 2014 at 9:10 am

I was there yesterday. Love!!! 4 full brown paper bags of groceries for $35.

Reply

39 Rebecca Jo February 18, 2014 at 9:13 am

I’ve never done it, but always heard great things… now seeing the price of the strawberries, I definitely want to go!!!

Reply

40 Nicole February 18, 2014 at 9:39 am

I just can’t do Aldi. I’m perfectly fine with no frills, but their produce is always rotten at my local store! I’ve picked up rotten produce too many times in that store. My thumbs have completely gone through rotten avocados as I’ve picked them up! Also, I bought some things that looked ok, only to get them home and find that they had gone bad the next day. It may be cheap, but we only go to the grocery store once a week, and having things go bad so quickly isn’t saving us any money. I’m a Wegmans girl…best grocery store ever!!!

Reply

41 Laura@SneakersandSpatulas February 19, 2014 at 8:36 am

LOVE Wegmans! I wish they would come to NC!

Reply

42 Mel February 18, 2014 at 9:58 am

In terms of a regular grocery store trip, what was your total savings? Did you get more food, the same amount of food etc. There are several specific items pictured with costs but it doesn’t really give an idea of an overall cost savings, especially if you don’t purchase those things. The main point this makes is that you get your quarter back, what about actual savings and quality?

Reply

43 Chelsea February 18, 2014 at 10:31 am

Great post about Aldi! I used to live very close to one and shopped there all of the time. I would like to note that at some locations (perhaps yours did not have anything like this) they will regularly carry certain brand name items at lower costs. The one I used to live near always had Jennie-o meats and Fage yogurt for very low prices. They have great seasonal items as well!

Reply

44 Ashley February 18, 2014 at 10:35 am

I saw a bunch of Aldi’s in Florida when we were living there, but never went into one and now I wish that I did!

Reply

45 Natalie @ Free Range Human February 18, 2014 at 12:15 pm

I absolutely love the idea of a quarter for a cart. People in my area are notoriously bad for just leaving their carts in the middle of the parking lot after they’ve loaded their cars. It is one of my biggest pet peeves!

Reply

46 Laurie February 18, 2014 at 12:32 pm

My husband and I are currently living in Munich, Germany (transplants from Wisconsin) and this reminded me so much of how grocery stores are here – which makes sense, since Adli is a German-based company! Here you pay a Euro to get a cart and stores always charge for their bags. It does make a lot of sense and I wish more U.S. stores would adopt these small changes.

Oh, and I totally understand your fascination with grocery stores! We’ve traveled to over 15 countries in the last 18 months and I’ve been sure to visit a grocery store in each and every one! :)

Reply

47 Elizabeth {Positively Healthy} February 18, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Aldi is my go to store! It is typically the only store, plus Kroger for some items, I shop at. We have a location about 1 mile from our house and another one pretty close to where I work, so it always works out!

Reply

48 funfitgirl February 18, 2014 at 2:32 pm

oh my gosh Aldi!! I haven’t been since I lived in NY, but I use to love it. My favorite find was the Mercer animal crackers (weird, I know)…but I couldn’t find them at any other store and they were one of my favorite treats.

Reply

49 Betsy February 18, 2014 at 3:25 pm

I LOVE Aldi. When I lived in Ohio, my husband and I went all the time, but now that I’m in Chicago, I find it hard to get to one. It’s impossible to beat their prices.

Reply

50 Sarah February 18, 2014 at 3:29 pm

I totally would not mind bagging my own groceries. I have actually dismissed the baggers at Safeway on more than one occasion for doing a crummy job (they are poorly trained and understaffed, I blame the management). I do not want my toilet bowl cleaner on top of my lettuce!

Reply

51 Aishah @ Coffee, Love, Health February 18, 2014 at 3:55 pm

I’ve never been there and I’ve never heard of the store. I’m gonna see if there is one in the DMV area.

Reply

52 Danielle February 19, 2014 at 4:46 pm

There are several in Northern VA and at least one in DC! I go to the DC one occassionally and have found it to have great produce!

Reply

53 Christy February 18, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Let’s just be honest…Aldi is not a true grocery store. You can not get everything you need there. The Aldi in my hometown of Athens, GA was great at first but more recently the shelves are never re-stocked in a timely fashion and the produce is never fresh! For me its not a convienient place to shop personally. The items change and come and go. I stopped by there recently and was in the middle of shopping and a clerk began pulling the covers down over the refrigerated items and informed me they were closed. I spoke to managment after leaving my .25 cent buggy with the clerk and the manager quickly apologized and stated it would not happen again. This incident was the icing on the cake for me…not impressed with Aldi!

Reply

54 Sarah February 18, 2014 at 5:08 pm

i love Aldi! it’s the best way to not go totally broke as a college student. their produce isn’t great here but luckily we have an awesome local store that has seasonal produce at a great price!

Reply

55 Samantha February 18, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Wow, all i can do is be stuck on the price of strawberries. On our base in Japan, the strawberries are 5.99/pack (same size). I’ve shopped at Aldi a few times in the US when visiting friends/family. We usually do most our shopping at the commissary and fill in locally, depending on where we live. In MI there was no base, Meijer was our store of choice and like Aldi, the produce was great! We also had TJ’s and WF’s there though which made buying specialty items much easier.

Reply

56 Sarahf February 18, 2014 at 6:25 pm

We’ve had Aldi in the UK for a while, along with needing a coin for a cart. The bargains to be had at Aldi make it worth it, I think. My parents combine Aldi, a similar store called Lidl, and Costco. All I need now is for Aldi to expand into rural Japan!

Reply

57 Holly February 18, 2014 at 7:46 pm

Interesting review but it would have been helpful to see more than just produce and meat…like what other products do they have and at what prices? I didn’t get a good feel for what’s at the store.

Reply

58 Jackie February 18, 2014 at 8:24 pm

I’ve always seen them around but I’ve never been in. What an awesome deal on strawberries… that’s worth going, for sure!

Reply

59 Tara February 19, 2014 at 1:10 am

I just recently checked out our local aldi’s for the first time in many years. I was very impressed with the selections and definitely the savings makes up for the little longer drive to get to the store.

Reply

60 Becky @ RunFunDone February 19, 2014 at 10:03 am

I’ve heard that Aldi is amazing! They don’t have Aldi where I live! Side note: Where I grew up (Minnesota) bagging your own groceries is the norm at the major chains. I remember how great it was when I moved and realized that I didn’t have to bag my groceries anymore!

Reply

61 Jena February 19, 2014 at 2:53 pm

I’ve been once, it was terrible. It was several years ago; the store was brand new, but it was just bad. Could be due to the area I lived in, but I’ve never been back to another Aldi. We don’t have one where I live now, so it’s not even an option, but if it were – I highly doubt I would go back.

Reply

62 Danielle February 19, 2014 at 5:44 pm

I’ve only ever been to two different aldi stores – one in very rural PA and one in urban DC. I love both of them, the produce has always been just as fresh as other stores, but much cheaper. It would definitely be very hard to shop only there though!

Reply

63 Elle February 20, 2014 at 5:44 am

Great post! I’m also an Aldi devote here in Ireland. Also I’m Italian and your comments about visiting the Italian grocery store in ITaly made me laugh – it’s true they’re little heavens!
I was also surprised that you don’t normally need change to get your trolley?!? That seemed obvious to me!!

Reply

64 Tricia February 20, 2014 at 1:18 pm

I literally love these posts. I just read Caitlin’s post and had to pop over here to check your experience out, too. I have an Aldi around the corner. Literally, I could walk there. But I have all these stereotypes about it, so I’ve never gone. WTF is wrong with me? I’m going there for my next trip!

Reply

65 Hope February 20, 2014 at 1:53 pm

I have an Aldi’s right near my house but have only been in once or twice to grab an item or two. This past weekend I went for a full shopping trip and was pleasantly surprised.

My only issue with the “no frills” approach is that I can’t use my bank card as credit, it’s debit only.

Reply

66 Ashley February 20, 2014 at 7:03 pm

There was an Aldi’s really close to where my husband lived in Chicago but we never went . . . we also saw them just recently while we were in Europe! Made me wish I had branched out a bit more while we had them!

Reply

67 Mollie @Sprinkles of Life March 7, 2014 at 9:56 am

I LOVE Aldi!! I’ve been shopping there for years! Can’t beat the price of their produce and other staples. More and more people are catching on tho, and the Aldis in our area are getting more and more crowded.

Reply

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: