I love shopping with coupons and I love shopping sales with coupons to maximize savings. In fact it is disappointing that I can’t find a coupon to use for everything I shop! Aldi’s, a no frills type grocery store found across the United States in certain key markets, regularly saves me 30 percent or more off regular grocery store prices. I shop at Aldi’s once a month or two to fill in any shopping gaps I couldn’t get handled with my regular coupon shopping at a variety of stores. And yes, I do shop a variety of stores because even with the extra expenditure of gas and time I have found it well worth it when different stores feature different great sales and loss leaders. They say time is money, and indeed it is, so you have to weigh the food savings against the productivity or time lost spent with your family by shopping at more than one store. Aldi’s is one of those stores I love to go to just because it is “different”. It reminds me of my time spent in Europe shopping at little markets and yes even sometimes Aldi’s overseas, where it all got started.
With lots of talk of inflation on the way, reducing grocery bills and sticking to a grocery budget is more important than ever. If you are fortunate enough to have an Aldi’s near you, I hope my product testing will offer you insight to save additional money. Many of the products sold at Aldi’s have a double guarantee. If you are not satisfied with the product Aldi’s will double your money back or replace the product if you return the unused portion back to the store with the receipt. I never returned anything, however I have been unhappy with certain items which I would never buy again. Other products however, I find comparable to any name brand and at a much lower price.
Aldis does not take manufacturer coupons. Aldis is great for someone who wants to save money but doesn’t have the time, desire or organization to use coupons. Additionally I find Aldi’s is best for people who do a lot of meal preparation at home because Aldi’s is great on selection of basic food ingredients.
Let’s take a mystery walk through Aldi’s aisles and I will tell you my opinion of what’s good and what’s not.
As soon as I enter Aldi’s I immediately see snacks, candy, nuts, chocolate, chips, and crackers of many types, flavors and varieties. The candy, chocolates and cookies for the most part are very good, and are the same products they sell in Europe. For example, Ritter Sport chocolates, authentic gummi bears, Bahlsen cookies. In fact I find the candies and cookies great to make inexpensive gift baskets and stocking stuffers during holiday time. I also love at Christmas time how Aldi’s gets the real imported German Stollen, which is a fruited bread-like fruit cake which is far tastier than the Americanized version of fruit cake. The German Christmas Stollen is more coffee cake like. It make a perfect holiday gift because it also has a long expiration date on the unopened package. This makes a wonderful mailable gift too. The imported treats at Aldi’s look exotic because of unfamiliar packaging, foreign words and make you feel like you are travelling and getting a edible souvenir. The snacking chips at Aldi , I find taste fine, however if you are brand loyal to certain brands or addicted to certain brands, then you will have a hard time convincing your family to get on board to switch brands. Adults seem the hardest to get to switch brands, while kids seem more easily satisfied with any kind of potato chip or cheese puffy or pretzel, etc. Sometimes at Aldi’s you will find interesting flavors in crackers and snack items you might not find at your regular grocer. For example, cornbread crackers would be something I consider unique.
Pepperoni , summer sausage, beef jerky and beef sticks are comparable in taste and much lower in price. These are handy to have at your house to serve to unexpected company or if you like to make your own pizza.
The baking supplies at Aldi’s, including cake mixes, cookie mixes, pie shells, sugar, flour, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, pie and fruit fillings, cooking oil, salad oil, dried fruits, etc, all are of fine quality to me. Aldi’s also has a wide range of condiments from mustard, ketchup, salad dressings, mayo, horseradish, tarter sauce, soy sauce and other sauces. All of these items seem of good and tasty quality to me.
There are several flavors of jellies, jams, chocolate hazelnut spread (imitation Nutella), peanut butter, and honey. All these jar items taste fine to me and are of first rate quality. I have also been impressed with Aldi’s cereals, oatmeals, and granola bars.
Aldi’s brand of hot chocolate or instant cocoa I will never buy again, however. It tasted sub par and it didn’t mix very easily. The Aldi’s private label cocoa mix remained lumpy even when properly stirred in boiling water and it reminded me of the military rations of brown packets of hot cocoa mix 30 years ago. In fact I could have returned this item for Aldi’s money back guarantee but I forced myself to finish the 2 boxes I purchased which will be etched in my memory as to why I hate this drink mix so much and will never buy it again.
I do not care for Aldi’s private label tuna fish. I found it to taste extra fishy and will not buy it, not even for my cats. It also seemed saltier.
The canned roast beefs and beef stews I found sub par also and had very little meat and a very low grade meat.
I am not impressed with the Aldi family of canned soups. Again, I felt the meat portions were sub par and not as good as the store brands from other stores. The dry soup mixes, however are suitable and comparable to other store brand dry soup mixes and I indeed would purchase those.
Pasta mixes, stuffing mixes, pasta, all seem fine and a great savings. The jar sauces are good also. Aldi’s brand of instant white rice, although I have purchased it many times I finally stopped purchasing it because it gives me a creepy feeling. I occasionally see black dots which make me suspect about the cleanliness of the rice cleaning process or quality control. Also the instant white rice is not as fluffy as other brands of instant white rice. The actual grain size seems smaller. I prefer the store brand of other stores for instant white rice. I would rather pay 50 cents more a box for instant white rice to have a better tasting rice.
The dry beans and regular rice, however, have all been fine and of good quality at Aldi’s.
The canned beans, vegetables, have all been excellent. I have found their white beans, refried beans, red beans, lima beans, black beans, three bean salad, canned potato salad all very good. The tomato sauce and tomato paste are fine. The canned fruits are all fine except I don’t care for their canned pineapple as much as other store brands. Something about the texture turns me off. It is as if the pineapple is “tougher”.
The bakery goods and breads have all been fine.
The frozen pizzas I have found sub par compared to other store brand pizzas.
The frozen fish and frozen chicken I have found fine and a great value.
The cold cuts, deli style, I have found excellent especially their roast beef.
One thing I absolutely love is Aldi’s chicken salad. I consider it a personal splurge to buy it but a real treat. (I call it a splurge simply because I can make chicken salad myself cheaper, but it is still better priced than any other store deli department)
As for produce I have regularly been pleased with potatoes, apples, squash, zucchini, radishes, pears, avocados, lemons, limes, cabbage. I am turned off however by Aldi’s bagged carrots. The carrots every time I buy them have some sort of funky taste I can’t put my finger on. I tried them many times thinking it was just a weird batch or harvest but eventually came to the conclusion that these carrots just don’t taste as good as carrots anywhere else that I buy.
I am especially pleased with the quality of Aldi’s eggs, milk, sour cream, cold dips, and yogurts.
Aldi’s also gets special products each week that are not regular items. These things can be household items, gadgets or furniture or clothing or bedding or ethnic foods. because of these special item deals, Aldi’s can be a fun place to shop even though it is a small store and a no frills store.
Although I stay away from the carrots, the instant white rice, certain canned meats, canned tuna and soups, I always walk out of Aldi’s a happy customer. A good rule of thumb at Aldi’s is if you are trying something for the first time, just buy one item. If you like that item, then you can buy more than one next time and feel confident about your purchase and actual savings.
I am always amazed at the savings and how much bang I get for my buck. In today’s uncertain economy, and with inflation looming, Aldi’s is a great alternative to supplement your grocery shopping and help your bottom line grocery budget. Additionally, whenever I have family or friends visiting from out of town I always make a trip to Aldi’s to stock up on sandwich items and limes for making key lime pie and a variety of tasty imported cookies and candies. Picking up a few extra baking mixes, such as muffin mixes and dried fruits, generally comes in handy for impromptu baking and salad making too.