In October….before my life went completely out-of-control (which is why it has taken me so long to get this post up!), I had the opportunity to head just outside of Chicago to the ALDI Corporate Headquarters. I was able to sit in on a food styling class, a food photography class, and a tour of an ALDI store, and it completely changed my thinking about the store.
Let me tell you a little bit about my background with ALDI. Back when John was in vet school, we shopped at ALDI quite a bit. It was a great place for us since money was tight, but after we moved, there wasn’t an ALDI anywhere around us. I kind of forgot all about them…
Over the past few years, I’ve heard quite a bit more about ALDI and several of my blogging friends shop there, but since the closest one is about an hour away, I never went out of my way to go there. I think I maybe even harbored an aversion to it–just because I related it to that very difficult financial time in my life!
But no more.
The store we went to outside of Chicago was beautiful, and I learned so much about how they keep the prices low and quality high. You can find out a little bit about how they do that here.
The day before the tour, we actually did a blind taste test of various products and I picked the ALDI brand as my preference about 2/3 of the time. The tastes compared to “name brands” were very similar, but the ALDI prices were so much cheaper!
I was also excited to see some natural and organic products. It sounds like they will be rolling these out to most stores in 2014.
Organic produce is available, too!
If you purchase K-Cups, you know they can be a bit pricey. ALDI has the lowest prices I’ve seen on them. I don’t have a Keurig, but if I did, I would definitely purchase them at ALDI!
The week after my trip, I headed up to my closest ALDI store and did some shopping–just to see how it compared to the store we went to in Illinois. It was way nicer than I remembered the stores being when I shopped them 9+ years ago! I picked up quite a bit of produce (the “Special Buy” on pomegranates was amazing that week–like $.39!!), a few gluten-free products, and a few organic items. I was super-impressed with what I got for the price…and I didn’t even have to worry about clipping coupons!
Let me say that again. I was super-impressed with what I got for the price…AND I DIDN’T EVEN HAVE TO CLIP COUPONS!!!
There are a few unique things you should know about shopping at ALDI:
1) You pay a deposit (a quarter) for the shopping cart. Once you return it, your quarter pops back out!
2) The “shelves” are actually specially designed boxes that stack on each other. This is a time (and money) saver for the company since they don’t have to hire as many people to stock shelves.
3) You’ll need to bring your own bags–they don’t offer plastic bags.
4) They don’t take credit cards–you’ll need to bring cash or a debit card. (Update – some stores do take Visa credit card now)
5) Be sure to check out the “Special Buys”. You can save a ton of money with them!
Overall, my trip was amazing! I was inspired to start shopping at ALDI again and have now added them to my must-stop store list when I head to the *big town*. I just load up my cooler, check out the weekly deals, go shopping…and save a ton of money.
If you have an ALDI near you, I highly recommend checking them out!
On a side note, we had these Beyond Compare Brussels Sprouts on the trip, and they are amazing! I later made them at home and the girls (and even John) ate them up! You can also find them on page 11 of The Happier Holidays Recipe Book from ALDI! The print version is in stores.
Disclaimer: ALDI sponsored my trip to Chicago to participate in this event. I am thrilled to participate with them and happy to share with you another way you can save on groceries and get more for your money (I’ve found that to be true just from my past few visits to the store)! All opinions are my own.