I know people who love Aldi, and I know people who cringe at the mention of it. Which one are you?
Gerry was very wary of Aldi when I first dragged him into one. He reacted to the unfamiliar labels and inexpensive prices the way he would to a "Rollex" watch or a "Burburry" raincoat. To him, there was a taint of second-rate about the place, and he was in no hurry to go back.
It took a trip to Ireland to change his mind. Lidl was new in town. Knowing we a) love to visit grocery stores and b) love a bargain, all the cousins were urging us to check it out. Off we went, expecting a store along the lines of Costco. Instead, we found a store quite like Aldi!
And this is when Gerry experienced his conversion. We were walking through a store full of unfamiliar labels, but it didn't feel weird, because you expect things to be different in a foreign country. The labels in conventional supermarkets were different too, and we didn't automatically assume there must be something wrong with them, so why did we assume something was wrong with the products at Aldi?
I read Amy Dacyczyn's Tightwad Gazette books years and years ago, and there's one thing that always stuck with me. In speaking about brand name foods, she said (and I can't believe I was able to find this quote), "Just because a brand tastes different, it doesn't mean it tastes worse."
The thing we like best about Aldi is that it's easy. The store is small, selection is limited, and it's quick. We are in and out in fifteen minutes. There are no coupons to worry about, and everyday prices are good. We've been happy with the quality of almost everything we've tried.
So what do we buy at Aldi?
Snacks. I love my salty crunchies, and junk food is junk food. I might as well save some money when I get the urge for cheezy doodles.
Cereal. A dependable place for reasonably priced cereal. We avoid anything containing high fructose corn syrup.
Cheese. All kinds.
Selected produce. Citrus doesn't grow in Pennsylvania, so our lemons and oranges usually come from Aldi. (The oranges have been absolutely heavenly this year, too.)
Frozen vegetables and fruits. Fresh and local just doesn't always happen. For the sake of convenience, there are usually a few bags of frozen veg in our freezer. Gerry loves the broccoli and says the corn and peas are always good too. The bags of frozen fruit are great for smoothies.
Breads. Now that they've removed HFCS from many of their breads, we sometimes grab a loaf if we're craving mushy peanut butter sandwiches. The take and bake loaves are also nice to have around, because they have a long shelf life.
Non-foods. I like their tissues, and their dishwasher detergent is phosphate-free.
Specialty/holiday items: The windmill cookies they get at Christmastime are wonderful, and Ger has enjoyed some of the German specialties they get twice a year.
Others: White sugar for when raw sugar won't do, masa, canned pinto beans, saltine crackers, frozen french fries, real-fruit frozen pops.
You can see this still isn't everything we need, as there is no mention of milk, eggs, meat, fresh produce, etc. Again, it's all about saving on some things so we can spend on others. Yes, there are still a few more links in our food chain! Up next: Shopping local.
How about you? Are you an Aldi shopper? What are your favorite products?