When I mention to people that I started an Aldi blog I get one of a few reactions:
- I love Aldi!
- The Aldi near us is gross! The food always spoils super quickly.
- What’s Aldi?
- I’ve heard of Aldi but I’ve never shopped there. What should I buy?
Aldi a low cost, German-based, grocery chain has been around in the Baltimore area for a long time. Personally, I never lived close enough to one before that it made sense to shop there (although we did shop at some similar no-frills, bargain, bring your own bag stores in the ’80s like Kash N’ Karry) so I had little experience with them.
Aldi sells mostly their own store brand food, like Trader Joe’s, that is made for them by another, mostly national company for sale by Aldi. Aldi stores are much smaller than a typical American grocery store and have a “warehouse” like feel to them–no special displays, no fancy sample tables–everything is stacked on shelves in the shipping boxes similarly to Costco or other big box stores. Click here for tips to help prepare for you first Aldi trip.
In the last few years, Aldi has made a big push into opening and renovating stores in the US. A new Aldi opened up about 15 minutes from us in a strip mall last year out in the county. I was excited to go check it out because I had heard it was a good place for affordable European foods that can be hard to find in the Baltimore area. Who knew I’d be shopping there every week?!
It is a smaller store that is nice but not super fancy or anything (my husband works near a “fancy” Aldi that is nearly the size of a “regular” grocery store and sells more items–it even gets mattresses and things in stock) but it is always clean, has good expiration dates, the produce is always fresh and the store is well organized. It was even renovated in the last year to add a refrigerated section for produce.
On the other hand, there is another Aldi that is much closer to me but seems to be really poorly managed, things are dingy looking, everything is picked over and beat up. Lots of food near the expiration dates/bruised. I drive out of my way to go to the smaller, cleaner Aldi even though they have the same ads and items because while both are bare bones like all Aldis, I have a lot more success shopping in the further away location.
I think like most grocery stores it really depends on who the management is running it and since they are small stores, poor management or oversight and really kill it. It isn’t like a larger store that would have a manager for each department like seafood, meat, grocery, produce etc that might have a few weak points but have some departments that are so good, it carries the whole store. Aldi only has one manager that covers the entire store and if they and their staff aren’t good at cleaning, keeping up with food turnover and organizing, the while store suffers. So if you don’t love your Aldi, it might be worth checking out another location. Hopefully, since Aldi is making a huge push to move into many states and renovated older, outdated stores (that refrigerated produce case is a game changer!) a well-run Aldi will soon be near you!
As to what to buy at Aldi, I get most of my canned goods, basic baking supplies and spices, meat, basic produce and dairy products at Aldi. I really haven’t found anything I dislike at Aldi and most of what I buy elsewhere are things I want a specific brand name of, want to buy in bulk, more varied produce (although Aldi’s produce section is just about as a good as the regular supermarket–I just like going to farm stores and farmers markets for more varied produce) and fresh seafood. Here are 6 things I buy every week at Aldi.