So I've always been curious about the grocery store Aldi. We had two locations relatively close to us, but I just never got there. But I always meant to because I have friends who couldn't stop raving about the deals.
Well, a third relatively close location just recently opened up, and it happens to be the closest of the three relatively close locations. :) My neighbor and I decided to brave the unknown together (with our collective four children) and made our debut Aldi appearance on Thursday afternoon.
Since I had already done my "big" shopping trip for the week, I decided just to pick up a few things that we would normal buy and eat to compare prices and tastes. Aldi carries mostly their own brands of everything. Once in a while, they get a big shipment of some overstock of a name brand item. For instance, when we went on Thursday, they had big bags of M&Ms and jugs of Arizona iced tea. But otherwise, everything is an off brand. Now, I happen to buy mostly store brands anyway (unless a combination of sale and coupon gets me the name brands for a better deal). So the idea of off brands was just fine with me.
Just walking around the store, I was extremely impressed with the prices. A loaf of sandwich bread was $.99 (comparable quality to Cub's store brand loaf of sandwich bread, which is closer to $2). A pound of butter was $2.49, which is, unfortunately, a really great price right now. (Just yesterday, Target's store brand of Market Pantry had butter for over $4/lb). The trip was mostly to browse, but I did pick up a few things. Here's the rundown:
Cheese Sharks (like goldfish) $1.29
Honey Nut Cheerio-look-alikes $1.59
Fruit snacks $1.79
Graham crackers $1.19
Flour (5 lb) $1.63
Mandarin oranges (4-pk bowls) $1.49
English muffins (6) $.99
Tortilla chips $1.19
Hot dogs (10) $.75
Hot dog buns (8) $.79
Fruit strips $1.99
Brats (5) $2.99
Strawberries (8 oz) $1.59
Frozen corn $.65
Frozen green beans $1.49
GRAND TOTAL: $23.53
For comparison, I entered all comparable products on the Coborn's Delivers website. Now, Coborn's is generally a little more expensive than Target or Cub, but I did pick their store brands whenever I could. The total for the same 16 items was over $51. I'd say I did pretty well!
So far, the things we've tried have been great. The English muffins are gone (thanks to a 5-year-old who decided he loved them), the cheese sharks are awesome, the brats were very similar in taste to Johnsonville, and the hot dog buns were amazing for being $.79. Fruit strips, tortilla chips, mandarin oranges, and hot dogs were also all very comparable to other store brands.
Since I'm a person who already shops at Cub, Target, Sam's, and occasionally Trader Joe's, I don't really want to add another store to the list of places I need to go to get what I want. But after just one trip, I'm fairly certain I can cut my Cub trips (which is great, since it's not exactly my favorite place to shop. And don't let Amy Garvin tell you differently). :)
I'm excited to go back with my actual shopping list and try more things. If you have never tried Aldi and would like to, there are a few things you need to know:
1) You have to bring your own bags and bag your own groceries.
2) You need a quarter to get a cart. You get it back when you return your cart.
3) You need either cash or a debit card with a pin. Now, my receipt says that they are now accepting all debit/check cards, but I don't know if that includes check cards that are issued by Visa (like my check card from Wells Fargo, for instance). I'll have to ask next time.