April 30, 2010
Aldi stores have finally come to Texas! We’ve been looking forward to their arrival for a while, partly because we heard Trader Joe’s stores are owned by one of the Aldi brothers. We hoped that TJ’s would follow Aldi here, but we’re hearing now that is only wishful thinking. Boo!! For now, we’ll have to settle with exploring Aldi stores.
Aldi stores are marketed as being basic, no-frills, and low-priced grocers. I visited a new North Dallas store, and found those claims to be true. The store was very small, with concrete floors, and products stacked in their shipping cartons instead of arranged prettily on shelves. These are not warehouse club stores, but that is the feeling you get: bare and stark. Prices are clearly marked on tags above the product.
No frills also means you bring your own bags and bag your own groceries. You must deposit 25 cents to get a grocery cart, refundable when you return the cart to its home. You should know too that Aldi brands eliminate the use of coupons, and Aldi only takes cash and debit cards – no credit cards or checks.
Another important note is that you’ll see very few familiar brands at Aldi. During my initial 15 minute breeze-through, I only saw 2 or 3 identifiable brands. That means you’re going to need to spend some time looking at products and reading labels to figure out what you’re buying. You can’t just grab your favorite granola bar and know exactly what you’re getting. You’ll have to do some research in the aisles when you first shop at Aldi.
On my first trip, I spent $14.59 on 7 items, an average of just over $2 per item. That’s already a good sign, right? It seems like everything I buy at the Wallymart or SuperTarzhay is $3-something or $4-something. When’s the last time you bought something that was $2?
Here’s what I got (I know it’s an odd random list!) and how it worked out:
- Tuscan Garden Large Black Olives $1.19 – Perhaps on the medium-ish side, but good flavor as far as canned black olives go.
- Fit & Active Instant Brown Rice $1.35 – I’ve always made regular brown rice so this was my first taste of an instant version. It wasn’t quite done after 5 minutes of simmering and 5 minutes of steaming, as the directions stated. After another 3 minutes of simmering and steaming, it was fine. Not fabulous, but ok.
- Benita Guacamole $2.99 – Wow! Great! Just like the Wholly Guacamole two-packs; it tastes like it might have come out of the same kitchen.
- Fit & Active Dried Cherries $3.49 – The best dried fruit I’ve ever had. Really! These cherries were plump and full of tart sweet flavor; not dried to leathery death. Next time I’m grabbing a bag of the dried blueberries too.
- Grandessa Garlic Vinaigrette $1.99 – Slightly sweet for me, but a high quality dressing.
- Millville Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola Bars (10 pk) $1.69 – That’s not a typo…you get 10 bars for $1.69. Granted, they are small bars. Very small. But they’re tasty little guys that my coworker says are a dead-ringer for Quaker’s chewy granola bars. They weigh in at 100 calories-3 grams fat-2 grams protein-7 grams sugar. These are too candy bar-ish for me, so even though they were yummy, that’s not what I want from a granola/energy/protein bar.
- Fit & Active Mixed Berry Fruit & Grain Cereal Bars (8 pk) $1.89 – These tasted exactly like Nutri-Grain bars to me, but may be a touch smaller. A great value for an 8-pack of bars. They have 130 calories-3 grams fat-2 grams protein-13 grams sugar. Delicious, but I don’t want this much sugar in a bar so I wouldn’t buy them again.
Overall, I thought these products were a fabulous value for the money. The quality was consistently excellent, even though the prices were sometimes unbelievably low. Will Aldi be a weekly stop for me? Probably not. I don’t buy a lot of processed foods, and the majority of Aldi’s offerings are not what I routinely buy. I do see Aldi as an occasional stop for a few items from time to time, like that amazing guacamole and the scrumptious cherries!