My Aldi trip, part deux

So, yesterday I told you about the first part of my trip to Chicago/Batavia, and I mentioned that the district managers who gave us an Aldi store tour had told us all about the ways that Aldi cuts costs behind the scenes. This allows them to maintain a high level of food quality while still keeping their prices low.

Here’s one of the ways they accomplish that:

Aldi doesn’t remove its products from the cases they come in…instead, they just stack them up, right on the store shelving (which, by the way, is so durable that when they remodeled this store, all they had to do was put some fresh front pieces on the 18-year-old shelves. Yay for re-use!). The milk stays on the metal carts it comes in, as do the eggs.

Because of this, a truck that would typically take 50 man-hours to unload takes only 10. This means that Aldi can keep their stores stocked even with a minimal number of employees.

Aldi sells almost nothing but private label products, and they design these products to have bar codes all over them.

Why? Because the employees can scan the products faster this way, and that gets customers through the line in a speedy fashion. I know from experience that a single employee can get even a long line of customers rung up in seriously short order (where as a long line somewhere Walmart usually means a long wait!)

Also, all the Aldi employees are trained to do every job in the store, which means that they’re remarkably versatile. And because Aldi maintains a small staff (7-8 employees is the average per store), they can treat their employees well.

In Chicago, a starting Aldi employee gets paid almost 50% more than they would at a typical grocery store. Plus, any employee that works more than 20 hours per week receives full-time benefits, including dental, vision, and retirement.

Isn’t that awesome? I love to support stores that take good care of their employees.

How else does Aldi save?

Well, their small store size keeps their rent low. That, along with the doors on their freezers and refrigerators help keep their energy consumption to a minimum.

Aldi stocks only products that move quickly, which means they keep their food waste under control (you know that blows my hair back!).

And, they don’t offer free bags…you can bring your own or buy bags from Aldi. This makes me happy because not only does it reduce Aldi’s costs, it also motivates people to bring their own bags to the store (woohoo for less trash!)

There are a lot of other smart ways Aldi cuts costs too ( for example, the quarter system for their carts eliminates the need for a cart-fetcher, the debit-or-cash-only payment systems helps them avoid credit card fees), but I think you get the idea.

The bottom line is that Aldi finds creative ways to avoid unnecessary expenses so that they can spend their money on procuring quality food.

Speaking of quality, that’s what the next leg of our trip was about!

We took a ride out to Batavia, Illinois, home of Aldi’s headquarters. We bloggers got to be the first non-Aldi-employees to see the Aldi test kitchen.

What’s the Aldi test kitchen? It’s the place where Aldi products are tested every day to make sure that they meet or exceed the standard of the national brand. Aldi knows that to be a sustainable business, they need to provide products that satisfy their customers, and they go to great lengths to make sure their food is high-quality.

We got to try being taste-testers of all sorts of Aldi products, which was super fun.

All of our tests were blind sampling, which means that the national brand and Aldi’s brand were presented without packaging. We had no idea which was which until after we’d tasted the two products.

We got to sample wine…

(the Aldi version was definitely better, and as you can see from the Switch and Save sign, it’s significantly less expensive.)


(the Aldi cocktail sauce is REALLY good! And so are the shrimp.)

And even a full dinner like you might serve for the holidays.

The savings are really incredible, and the food tastes just as good as the national brand does.

The chicken prices aren’t on that sheet, but let me tell you! The Aldi chicken breasts beat Perdue by a mile…waaay more tender and juicy.

We also had some dessert…brownies made from a mix, chocolate chip cookies made with Aldi ingredients, and frozen apple pie. In almost every case, the other bloggers and I agreed that the Aldi product met or exceeded the national standard, and all for a far lower price.

We didn’t get to see this until after we tasted, of course, but check out Aldi’s Riesling labeling as compared to the major brand. Isn’t Aldi’s (the one on the left) much sleeker-looking?

I also think it’s funny that the Schmitt Sohne label says, “Pick Me! Pick Me!”, but we all picked the Aldi brand. Sorry, Gentleman-In-A-German-Hat.

I was a big fan of Aldi before I went to Chicago, but after my visit, I love them even more. Their commitment to food quality, wise cost-cutting, and ethical employee treatment is impressive, and I’m so delighted to have had the opportunity to visit.

So, I totally think you should give Aldi a try if you haven’t yet. What are you waiting for?? They’ve got great food at prices that can’t be beat.

Aldi is so sure that you’ll be satisfied with their products, they offer a double-guarantee…you can bring back what you don’t like, get your money back AND get a replacement product for free. You have absolutely nothing to lose.

After the test kitchen visit, I was driven back to the airport, where I proceeded to sit for several hours again. Are planes ever on time??

After many snafus, I eventually got on a plane (going to a less-than-ideal airport, but at least it was vaguely near my home!). And the nice thing about going home a bit late is that the view from my window was so beautiful.

I haven’t flown for more than a decade, so I’d forgotten how beautiful cities are from the air at night. I tried to take pictures, but they’re all kind of blurry.

Despite my airport issues, I feel overwhelmingly positive about my trip. I felt spoiled rotten, I had a fabulous time hanging out with my fellow bloggers, every single Aldi employee I encountered was knowledgeable and pleasant, and I love Aldi even more profusely now that I’m well-informed about the company.


If you’re new to Aldi, here are some posts to get you started.

What to Buy at Aldi (see also an older post: What I buy at Aldi)

Why I don’t shop at Walmart (and why I prefer Aldi)

Aldi: Not just for groceries!

Some people say (a photo essay about Aldi produce)


Also, if you guys have questions about Aldi that I didn’t answer in these two posts, leave your question in the comments, and I’ll try to answer either there or in a separate post.

Oh, and I should tell you that although Aldi provided me with transportation and lodging, they did not pay me to write this post or to say positive things about Aldi. In fact, they didn’t give me any instructions when I left…they just trusted me to do my own thing, and I love, love, love that. Mwah to Aldi!


Today’s 365 post: Big teeth, little teeth



  1. Michelle says

    I always feel so good when I shop at Aldi. It isn’t so big, so I can keep track of my kids, I never feel like it’s crowded when I go there. I love coming home with my bags heaped with produce and other good things we should be eating in large quantities, and I save an average of $30-40 on a week’s worth of groceries by shopping there. I am grateful to have one so close to me! I have to admit that I tried Aldi maybe 5 years ago or so and wasn’t impressed (moldy produce, rancid meat) but I feel like they have changed their business model and now it works so well. If you have been underwhelmed in the past, definitely give them another try!

    • Elaine says

      I tried Aldi’s, too, several years ago and was very disappointed. It sounds like they’ve improved a lot. I’ll have to give them another try, if I can ever figure out when they’re open. I like to grocery shop at 7:00 a.m. on Saturdays, but I might be willing to change the time if I’m happy with the store.

  2. says

    I am so impressed!!! I haven’t shopped at Aldi because the nearest one is pretty far. But I think I might try to make the trip at least twice a month now. I have friends who love it, so I forwarded them the link to this. I especially like how they treat their employees! That’s unheard of in this day and age!

  3. Danielle says

    How exciting, Kristen!! Someday when you’re uber-famous I’ll be excited to say, “I knew her before she was The Frugal Girl!!” ;0)

  4. says

    I have grown to Love Aldi’s! The prices are wonderful and the food quality is great. I rarely step inside a Publix or Winn Dixie anymore. Still go to Walmart for Powerade. But that is about it. Love your behind the scenes infor about Aldi’s!

  5. Suzan says

    We do shop at Aldi for our basics. But Aldi in Australia, or at least my part, cannot sell alcohol as it is a supermarket and doesn’t have some of the other items. I am blown away by how low some of the prices are. Now if I could convince Aldi to sell spiral ham at the price here I would be so happy.

    The other thing I like about shopping there is that it is quicker and simpler. I truly dislike having to choose between many products. I guess I like simplicity and if they can keep high quality I do not miss having the choice.

  6. Ellie says

    Oh, I do wish we had an Aldis in the Houston, Tx area. Maybe they will read this and get a store here. Wish wish! Love your blog.

  7. Kelly says

    I love Aldi, the smaller size makes it easy to get in and get out. I always find the employees to be very friendly and accommodating. Great place to shop with kid(s) in tow too!

  8. says

    Where does aldi stand on organic foods? I shopped there for awhile but decided I’d rather switch to things I know are 100% chemical and pesticide free.

    • rebecca says

      Aldi almost never carries organics, but then all organics are not chemical and pesticide free. They just have to be organic pesticides and herbicides, some are just as bad as the non organic ones.

      I don’t do much ALDI shopping anymore, we eat gluten free and mostly whole grain, which Aldi doesn’t carry much. I can’t even get brown rice or whole wheat flour there.

      • says

        Keep asking for them. They do sell a decent range of organic stuff in Germany and in Ireland so they are obviously open to the idea if the demand is there.

      • Amanda @ Gluten Free Detroit Metro says

        Aldi has gotten much better with their GF labeling. I have also found GF EnviroKids cereals there. If you are gluten free I would give them a try again.

  9. WilliamB says

    “Are planes ever on time??”

    Yes. But you flew from one of the US’ busiest commercial airports and one that is subject to what is quaintly called “weather.” (As if weather existed in some places but not others.) Since United schedules O’Hare[1] within an inch of it’s capacity, there’s no room to adjust for problems. Ergo lots of delays.

    My question for you is what did you see that you didn’t like, or struck you as having room for lots of improvement?

    [1] Since the pix is of United planes I’m assuming you flew from O’Hare and not Midway.

    • says

      Yes, O’Hare is United’s big hub so probably not Midway, though either would be fine for getting downtown to the hotel. Speaking of which, I’m glad they put Kristen up there rather than in Batavia. No offense to Batavia, but that wouldn’t be a very exciting or interesting hotel stay. :)

      We weren’t subject to “weather” recently, so it was probably something else causing the delay.

    • Kristen says

      Yep, I flew to and from O’Hare. I didn’t really like that airport…WAY too big and way too crowded (I seriously had to walk like a mile to get from the B United section to the C United section!).

      I am SO never flying United again if I can help it. They seemed very disorganized, and all but one or two of their employees were rude, unfriendly, and unhelpful (not to mention un-knowledgeable. Four employees told me four different things about where I needed to go to change my ticket and find a new flight.)

      I’ll answer your Aldi question in a new post next week!

      • WilliamB says

        I’m sorry to say that your experience with another airline isn’t likely to be any different.

        O’Hare is a tough airport because it is so big. I consider it a good airport to be stuck in, which is good because it’s so easy to get stuck there. I also like that the EL station is part of the airport, making public transit a piece of cake.

        Sorry your experience was bad.

        • Paula in the UP says

          We just flew from our Green Bay, WI to Denver, CO. We had United Airlines on the way there and Delta on our way home. Delta was by far a better airline in our experience. We also had to change planes in Chicago on the way there, next time I will avoid that airport for future trips.

      • Alison says

        We have a “No United” policy at our house too because of the way they treated and cheated us a few years ago. They have HORRIBLE customer service. My husband will fly them if his employer requires it, but for personal travel we prefer Southwest or any airline except United.

  10. Rachel says

    I love Aldi and was very happy when we got a store in my town this summer. There are still a few things I have to get at a bigger grocery store because we’re vegetarian (would love to try Aldi tofu and tempeh, if they make it) and drink almond milk. I wish our Aldi had some of that inexpensive wine, too! But overall, Aldi is great, and I was really happy when I saw how cheap some of their seasonal items were this week, like canned pumpkin!

  11. Lucy says

    I’m another with no local Aldi’s, or I would certainly be there. The nearest is 28 miles away down a nighmarishly dangerous highway with a traffic light at every cross street. So I cherry-pick the local store’s loss leaders and stockpile, filling in the gaps with a trip to the local WalMart, which I must go to anyway for prescription medications. The whole Aldi’s concept intrigues me, though.

  12. Kathy says

    How much fun that was for you! I would have loved the chance to do the same. I live not that far from Chicago and Aldi’s is my number one store to shop at. Thank you for sharing your experince with the Aldi Company and shedding a really pretty picture of a great company. Trying to save us consumers money at the check-out. How much better can that be for us. Thanks and God Blessyou!

  13. says

    I LOVED this post! Thanks so much for sharing about your trip! We had an Aldi where I used to live, but none here and I really miss it! :(
    When I went I would just find an empty box (which there’s lots of, because like you said they just stack the boxes of food) and that’s what I would use to carry my groceries to the car.

  14. Allison says

    I don’t shop at Aldi often (it doesn’t seem to have some of the things we buy), but I LOVE them at Christmas for all the German goodies. I was wondering if part of the reason for why they treat their employees so well is their German roots. Glad to hear they are so Eco-conscious and employee-conscious. I will have to make a point of going more often.

      • Kerri says

        I have worked at Aldi and I can tell you they do NOT treat their employees well. They hire the Managers straight out of college so they don’t know anything about the business and all they do is talk on their cell phones all day. If you google search “how does Aldi treat employees” you will be overwhelmed with poor feedback. They pay well but require you to work so much that you don’t actually have time to USE the benefits they give you. They are so understaffed and refuse to hire more. Almost every shift I have worked after training I was forced to work at least two hours over the time it is supposed to end or be fired. Its horrible. I left because they refused to give me time off two nights a week for me to take a college class to get my degree. Trust me it is better to get paid a little less so I had time to earn my education.

        They don’t tell you EVERY way they save money. One way is keeping employees understaffed and overworked. It really is terrible google search “how aldi treats employees” and you will see exactly what I am talking about.

        • Kristen says

          I’m sorry to hear that your experience was so bad. All of the Aldi employees I’ve talked to have told me that they’re happy with their jobs, though. And they don’t have a reason to lie to me, since they don’t know I’m a blogger.

          I just spoke to one last week who told me that her manager was really flexible with her so that she could have time off to be with her grandson and to travel to Germany.

  15. Emmy Jo says

    I have shopped at Aldi for years. I laugh when people turn up their noses when I say that. They can’t tell the difference when I cook food from there and serve it them though! At the beginning of summer I bought a huge trampoline there. Saved about 50% not buying it from a big box store. I like to see behind the scene stuff and how employers actually treat their employees. Haven’t stepped foot in a Wal-Mart in over 2 years and don’t plan to ever again! Go team Aldi.

  16. Jill says

    I love to shop at Aldi’s. I can’t buy all my groceries there, but
    aldi shopping does save me money. Just out of curiosity, who were the other bloggers that you mentioned?

  17. Molly says

    A few questions/comments, since you seem to have the “in” with the HQ:
    – nutella equivalent. Please please PLEASE bring this back on a regular basis. Please. And thank you.
    – canned pumpkin. I tried this a few years ago and was not a fan. It’s the only thing I really don’t like, so I stick to Libby’s. Sorry, Aldi.
    – the plan on the Clybourn store in Chicago was quite well-executed. I LOVE that Trader Joe’s is right upstairs for my tofu and yogurt starter needs. Good call, Aldi/Trader Joe’s management.
    – everything else – huge fan. I wax poetic about the store to my coworkers. I write thank you letters about things like their ketchup bottle and soymilk container redesigns. I ask about the nutella and the spinach and the seasonal items. I always get a personal letter back.

    Aldi, thank you for what you do.

    • Molly says

      Oh, and the joke is that one way to or from O’Hare, your flight is screwed up, but the other way it’s fine.
      So maybe this weekend I’ll get two good flights since you had two late ones.

  18. says

    I wish I had an Aldi in my area. This is the kind of store I would love shopping in. I love that they don’t unpack the boxes. That is genius. I actually work doing similar things for a manufacturing plant; we are always looking for ways to reduce non-value added time.

  19. Mary Kay says

    My parents live in the Midwest and my mom loves Aldi. I am in the Mid-Atlantic region but not near an Aldi, at least not yet. I know they want to build one that would be within a few miles of my home. I’m not sure if the county zoning commission ever granted approval or not; I haven’t seen any sign of building at their chosen site. I hope they come, I’m even more hopeful after learning from you how well they treat their emplyees and how eco-friendly they are (a win- win)

  20. Diane says

    Loving this series! A few questions:
    What’s the connection between TJ’s and Aldi’s?
    What other bloggers were in attendance?
    Did you get to see/meet any of your blogger friends?

    On the West Coast, we have no Aldi’s (alas), but we do have WINCO. They are employee owned and are well provided for. Their model is the opposite of Aldi’s in that they are HUGE and seem to carry everything, including hard-to-find items. Their prices are excellent in almost every category. Of particular interest is their extensive bulk foods section. If you hate excessive packaging, you’ll love Winco! They started in the Pacific Northwest and are now in six states: CA, ID, OR, NV, UT & WA.

    • Cara says

      I believe Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s are owned by the same parent company if I’m not mistaken. There are no Aldi’s here in California, but there are plenty of Trader Joe’s in the SF bay area where I live. I absolutely love Trader Joe’s!! You can’t beat it!

  21. Lisa Janisch says

    I have one thing to say…SHHHHHHHH! I live in fear that everyone will discover the Aldi secret and they will raise their prices. Or maybe they will focus-group it to death and everything will become sweeter/saltier! I love Aldi, and I have my own personal list of what to get and what to avoid. My only wish, as others have stated, is that they start to carry more 100% whole grain products and brown rice. I have seen brown rice there, but only as a special purchase. I also miss their clothes, which they don’t seem to carry at our stores anymore- I got my daughter a really great coat for $5 on clearance! I second the mwah to Aldi, but let’s keep it under our hats, ok?

  22. Tricia says

    I wish there was one closer to me than 10+ miles. I typically shop Trader Joe’s and love the smaller size concept but alas Aldi is too far for me to travel on a regular basis.

  23. Jill says

    This may seem random, but I think as a mother of four, you’ll understand. I have two children under 3 with a third on the way. One Aldi close to me in the Kansas City area has double shopping carts where you can fit two children (think Sam’s Club or Costco kind). The other Aldi’s shopping carts are single. At this point in my life, I choose the store with double carts because it makes my life SO much easier! Do you know if Aldi plans on implementing the double carts everywhere? What a blessing it is to have a safe place to sit children while shopping!

    • Jill says

      Also, I love that Aldi was ‘green’ before green was cool. Even if it was being green to save money and pass on savings. The smaller floor plan/footprint, bring your own bags, reusing the structure they have, etc. I remember shopping there when I was a child some 20 years ago and they still have the same consistent model. That is an extremely admirable trait in a company.

  24. Kathy says

    Aldi does so much right – from ecofriendlness to good service and of course, those great prices. But much, much of the packaged snack food contain hydrogenated oils, which of course, extend shelf life and are much cheaper as an ingredient. But hydrogenated oils are on the don’t buy list according to ALL the major health organizations.
    Trader Joe’s, not as inexpensive but still has bargains galore, won’t stock anything with hydrogenated oils, so I’m stinking with T.J. For now. I am optimistic that Aldi soon will join the trend and ditch the hydrogenated fats!

  25. says

    I’ve never heard of Aldi before (not sure they have one out west). Since they only do private label, do you get to know where the ingredients and foods are sourced from? Do they try and source local ingredients/foods? Do they have an organic selection? Their business practices sound great, but for me, it comes down to the food.

    • says

      I’d love to know the answers to these questions too. Recently, I’ve been modifying our grocery lists to purchase more organic and local foods, even if it means getting/eating less. Aldi’s prices are enticing and I’ve eaten some of their food (it is good), but where do their meat and produce come from? My oh-so-skeptical side wonders if they can achieve low prices without compromising nutritional quality?

      • namastemama says

        I am an organic/local foods shopper that has fallen in love with Aldi – for what Aldi carries. You will NOT find every item on your list and they say on the website you won’t. This is what we buy. Chips – no trans fats and no MSG. Hubby likes Aldi Sun Chips knock offs better than the name brand. Wine, olive oil and some baking goods. Almonds. Next, my son heads over to see if they have any Kefir. If so, it is a good $1.50 less than another grocer. We’ve also gotten almond milk there. Mozzarella balls for pizza. Last trip I also found some organic tomato sauce. Looks to be their private label and not a ‘special buy’. Maybe some canned fruit. They also carry a ‘Fit’ label. Some ww pastas. Cereal, they have a GoLean knock off. We tried some tomato soup last time. A case of Ramen for the hubby. I rarely buy produce and never meat there. Aldi is not a health food store and they don’t claim to be one. You can purchase your non- dirty dozen produce there. I buy our meat,dairy and eggs on farm and purchase other goods from a co-op. Aldi is able to fill in the rest.
        Hope that info helps. I would just give them a try and see what you can find.

  26. Megan says

    Gotta say, I read your track back about furniture not being high quality- I have to disagree- but that is good I think :) I wanted 4 bar stools for my counter top height breakfast bar. I priced them and they were 30-45 a peice. Nothing I loved. Then I found a table set at aldi for $150. I waited, and it went down to $100.00. Those things are SOLID. They are actually the same mfgr as other stores sell, just packaged differently. I am SOOO pleased with this purchase. And I sold the table that I didn’t need for $10. 22.50 bar stools, no shipping? I think so!

  27. Renee McD says

    I would love to know what you didn’t like about Aldi or what needed room for improvement. The Aldi by me in Crestwood, MO is a nice store but really old and could use some updating.

    Also, what other bloggers did you get to meet?

    By the way – I love this post. I just moved by mine about a year ago and make a few trips per month now. This will make me more inclined to go there more often. I wish their hours were longer though.

  28. says

    The closest Aldi is 35 miles away in the next county over. However, I’m going to plan a shopping trip to check it out. It might actually save me more than the gas to get there. If it is cheaper to go there and it saves me gas and time (Plus there’s a butcher shop nearby that is supposed to have great deals on local meat.) and if the butcher shop works out, it might just be worth the trip.

  29. says

    I love Aldi! I love that it’s inexpensive, the food is great, the produce at my Aldi is always fresh and you can find the seasonal produce you want, and it is tiny so I can finish my entire trip in 10-15 minutes.

  30. Renee says

    It was a very smart move on their part to invite you and the other bloggers. Would it be possible to find out who they were?

  31. Michelle says

    Waah! No Aldi’s in Portland, Ory-gone!

    We have WinCo, which it sounds like is comparable in price, but their store brands are often nasty. They do similar things with not removing product from its shipping boxes, and they don’t have tons of employees (the check-out lines can get long at times!), and I don’t know how they treat their employees. I rarely buy produce and never fish there. Still, overall, their prices are better on some things. I try to go every other week, in addition to my regular Fred Meyer (a Kroger subsidiary) trip.

    • says

      I have recently started buying sandwich meat from WinCo’s deli and it’s been fine. And it’s so much less than Safeway or Fred Meyer. I have also bought shrimp from their fish counter and it’s also been fine. Lots of people are lined up to purchase fish while I wait, and a couple have said it’s always been good. I also get my “peel-able” produce at WinCo now as well and have no complaints. I’m very picky but I really save there. And I love, love, love WinCo’s bulk section. You can buy Bob’s Red Mill products for less than you pay down at the mill!

      I wish we had an Aldi’s here in Portland . . . .

  32. Kathleen says

    What a great experience for you! Thanks so much for sharing it with us. I love Aldi for many of the reasons already mentioned and I am one of the lucky people that has a new store model in my area. The employees at my store are always kind and helpful and since I go so often they know me and my kids :)

  33. says

    I had never even heard of Aldi until your blog, wish we had one out here. I shop Walmart and you have to be really careful what time of day you go. Otherwise you’ll spend more time in line then you did shopping. It’s frustrating but given the amount of money I save over Safeway…well it is what it is.

    It’s refreshing to hear about a company that takes such good care of their employees. My son works for Walmart, he works full time hours as a part time employee. With no benefits. Since he’s on our healthcare at the moment he’s keeping his mouth shut, he knows if he says anything they’ll cut his hours and he needs the money!

  34. Linda H. says

    That was very interesting! I’m glad you had such a fun time too! I just got back from Aldi this morning picking up a few things. I would have loved to do the taste testing!

  35. Judy says

    Sounds like a wonderful trip! I would love to shop at an Aldi’s
    but we don’t have one. Kristin, do you have any pull with Aldi’s to
    suggest they move into NM?! Thanks for the tour though.

  36. says

    Kristen you have done Aldi proud – what a fantastic and informative blog post. I hope they are going to send some freelance photography your way, cause your pictures beat anything I’ve seen on a billboard around here. Seriously your pictures ooze quality.
    On another matter, I’m not sure how Aldi differs in the UK, whether the management structure and strategy is the same. The reason I throw this out is that Aldi do not accept credit card in the UK. Now I know a lot of frugal shoppers don’t use card but I do FOR EVERYTHING (well almost) as I find this is a great way of not spending a few coins here and there, it means I can see every purchase on a bill at the end of the month and I am accountable for every pound I spend. It also means I get cashback as we ALWAYS pay the bill on time, and once I year I get a cheque with a % back. Win win eh? Something that is putting me off shopping in Aldi UK is I can’t use card – this could cost me (based on 2% cashback from my card company) around 50 a year – which doesn’t sound a lot, but is a serious downside for a frugalista!

  37. says

    I LOVE Aldi, but just like anywhere, I think you need to be an educated consumer and read labels. I recently stopped buying their shrimp when I noticed that they contain sodium tripolyphosphate- a chemical that is also used in cleaning products. This may not bother everyone, but it was a deal breaker for me.

    Aside from that, I have found many products at Aldi that are comparable in quality to their prestigious cousin, Trader Joe’s, and am a dedicated Aldi shopper!

  38. Dianna says

    I grew up shopping at Aldi in Illinois. I do wish we had them here in Arkansas.

    What a great experience Kristen. Thank you for the great posts about your trip!

  39. Claudia says

    I would LOVE to try Aldi. I’ve heard nothing but raves about them from multiple sources! I hope they come to Brooklyn, New York.

  40. Karen says

    What a great trip! So glad you had that opportunity! I had never tried Aldi before reading your blog, but you recently convinced me to try it and I am now a convert. My boyfriend, who is frugal in all the right ways, is also shopping there now.

    We love that, because Aldi really only stocks the basics (ours is pretty small), we find exactly what we need, quickly, and don’t have to wander through aisles of stuff we really don’t need or want. I’m saving a ton on groceries and so far have liked everything fine. Two things I especially love from Aldi: milk and iced coffee! The milk is noticably better than other brands and the iced coffee was only $1! My one very un-frugal vice is stopping past Starbucks from time to time, which adds up fast, but I haven’t even been tempted to stop finding these coffees!

    I loved hearing about your experience and finding out that there are even more reasons to love Aldi, namely the decent wages and benefits they are providing employees. Thanks for the post. I’ll be sharing with friends and family!

  41. says

    I LOVE Aldi! Our closest one actually isn’t that far away, but I don’t go as often as I should, simply because Kroger is literally about 2 minutes away. But I need to utilize Aldi much more, especially now that our grocery budget is feeling tighter and tighter thanks to rising food prices and our daughter’s growing appetite!

    After my parents divorced, my mom discovered Aldi and would take my sister and me with her on her Saturday trips. It was less stressful for her because she wasn’t trying to haul us through a huge store and opportunities for impulse purchases were limited (and inexpensive!) We really liked going because we knew our mom could stock up on SO much more food than she would have been able to at a store like Meijer or Kroger. Saying something like, “Aldi kept us from going hungry” would be a little dramatic in my case, but it definitely kept us better nourished and happier than we otherwise would have been during a difficult financial time.

  42. says

    I LOVE Aldi’s! One just opened a few miles from my house this past summer and I was so excited because the closest one before that was 100s of miles away. I’m also super jealous of your tour/trip–how fun!!

  43. Ginnie says

    I’m new to your blog but am loving it. I do have a question about Aldi that maybe you can answer (maybe you already have and I missed it). I shop at Aldi fairly regularly but one thing that really bothers me is how they package their produce. It drives me crazy how some things (like peppers) are packaged on a styrofoam tray and then plastic wrapped. I hate buying anything that has styrofoam since it is so bad for the environment. I also see a lot of waste when one of the peppers in the container is bad but the other two are fine. The perfectly fine peppers go to waste because they are plastic wrapped to that terrible tray with the bad one.
    I’d also like to see organic dairy, meat and produce options at Aldi. On your tour did they say anything about heading in that direction?

  44. Amy says

    OH, this post made me wish we had an Aldi but there isn’t a single one in the entire state of WA! :( Ah well at least we have Winco which based on your description sounds kind of similar. Glad you had a nice trip!

    • Lilypad says

      I’m in the Seattle area, and I’ve never seen a Winco that I can remember. Aldi people, if you’re reading this, bring Aldi to Washington State! I’m already a dedicated Trader Joe’s shopper (along with my hippie co-0p) and would love to try Aldi. Hey, I’m German too—does that help?? ;-)

        • Lilypad says

          Yes, apparently there are some north and south of Seattle, but the closest one to me would be 25 miles one way. And I’m not going to waste time and gas on that…

          • says

            I’m in WA too and have shopped Winco. Eh, I didn’t find it to be all that great. It’s not well laid out, you have to do a lot of backtracking, I don’t save any more money shopping there over Walmart. And at Winco I have to bag my own groceries. Not happening.

            I have issues with Walmart’s employee practices (my son works for them) and numerous other complaints. But there isn’t anywhere else that I’ve found where I can get a weeks worth of groceries, household and personal hygiene items for $100. Often times a lot less. We live in the sticks too, which limits the shopping options.

          • Diane says

            Oh, you’re so lucky that you don’t have to travel! My closest WinCo is at least 15 miles from my house. The one I shop at most often is forty miles from home, but I go right past it when I visit my family. I throw a cooler in the car and stop on my way home. Sometimes I shop for the family event I’m headed to on the way up and for myself on the way back. It helps that a number of them are open 24 hours. As to SM’s comment below, I don’t find them to be poorly laid out at all. All the stores are virtually the same, so I know where things are in whatever WinCo I find myself in. Also, SM’s comment about bagging groceries cracked me up. I use my own bags and pack things the way I want them. Nothing to it! I assure you that WinCo employees are much better compensated than WalMart employees. WinCo employees are OWNERS, and it shows the first time you ask a question in their store. If you care about supporting businesses that pay their people a living wage, consider giving WinCo another look.

  45. KimN says

    We have two Aldi’s near us but both are not in the best neighborhoods. Nevertheless I decided to try it out after reading all of your recommendations and I didn’t care for them for that reason. Also, I don’t like the debit card/cash only aspect. I never ever carry cash (except on vacation) and we get a fee when we use a debit card. This is a much bigger deterent than the neighborhoods (we use a credit card exclusively and pay off the balance each month in full b/c we get 2% cash back at the end of the year which is awesome). This post almost makes me want to see if I could find another store and maybe try it again though.

  46. Elaine Shannon says

    Ditto about Winco Foods. They are an employee owned store and have great selection and prices. I would give an Aldi a try in a heartbeat if there was one in Idaho, but alas that is not the case. Sounds like your trip was both fun and informative.

  47. Tasha says

    I hate to say this, but there is an Aldi a mile or so from my house but I never shop there because it’s dirty and smells. It’s in a not so nice part of the neighborhood, and I worry that they think that because it’s surrounded by apartment buildings and lower income folks they don’t have to keep the store nice. Also the whole cash only thing is a huge hassle for me.

  48. says

    I actually started shopping at Aldi based on a blog post that you wrote, so they were very smart to pick you for this trip. I LOVE Aldi, but there isn’t one conveniently located near me. However, I do make sure I plan Aldi trips anytime I’m going to be in one of the local cities that has one. I always make a point to stock up on their toilet paper, so we’ll have enough until I can get back again. Their toilet paper is cheaper than name brand on sale with a coupon! AND it’s just as good as Charmin in my family’s opinion. LOVE their cheese, eggs, milk, snack foods, etc, etc, etc. I do wish they had a little bit bigger meat selection, but other than that, I can’t think of anything they don’t carry that I would need.
    Thanks, Frugal Girl, for introducing me to Aldi. Now that you have an “in” with them, will you PUUUULEASE ask them to open a store near me??? :)

  49. says

    I saw a lot of comments about Aldi not accepting credit cards. I’m not positive, but I would assume that it’s a way for them to keep overall costs down, because credit card companies charge stores every time they accept a credit card payment. The other day, when I picked up my car from our auto mechanic, he actually gave us a $50 discount, because it costs him when people use credit cards. I may be wrong…just my guess. It actually works out better for me, if that is the case, because I use cash for everything.

  50. Emily says

    I LOVE Aldi! The prices are what drew me in, but I haven’t found one Aldi brand item that I’ve been dissatisfied with. I love how well they treat their employees and the fact that the same measures they employ to keep costs low are also efficient and adding to Earth sustainability. My question is: What about their meat? I have never purchased meat from there and I’ve heard other Aldi regulars say the same. I guess I assume maybe it’s lower quality, but maybe I just need to try it and see what I think. Second question – Is it true they’re owned by Trader Joes?

    • Emily says

      After reading the comments, I should also add there is a big downside to Aldi for me and that is the lack of organic/whole food options. I buy as much as I can there and then go to Kroger or Meijer for the things I can’t get there. I do like that they seem to be offering more in the way of specialty foods. If you go, you must try their hazlenut chocolate bar!!

  51. Bethany says

    Thank you for a great post. I hope you enjoyed Chicago! I live in the city and would love to know which Aldi you visted (if you remember). I haven’t been to Aldi in quite a long time and the one on the NW side of the city I shopped at was just okay. I’d love to give it another shot! :)

  52. susanna says

    I don’t have one or Id’ be there! here it’s kroger, HEB, a few Randalls(safeway), whole foods..I’d love an Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s!

  53. Katherine says

    I love Aldi! We save a ton of money for our large family and we eat very well. Most of the meals my family loves can be made with all Aldi ingredients. My sister lives in St.Charles IL very close to where you were at and she loves Aldi too. Thanks for sharing the trip with us!

  54. Rochelle says

    I love Aldis, for the ladies that have a bit of a commute it’s so worth it. I go one a month at the most. I stock my pantry on items like pasta, canned goods, shredded cheeses, chicken, ground beef. Basically things that can be frozen or stocked away for use later. It’s a great place to get holiday baking supplies as well. I promise a bit of a drive is so worth the quality and savings. They have a garlic and artichoke salsa that is to die for(-)

    • Alison says

      I agree with this. The nearest one for me is about 15 miles away in a seedier part of town, but I go once every 1-3 months to stock up. My favorite stock ups are canned tomato products, white rice (they used to carry brown but I haven’t seen it lately), beans, a few Fit & Natural snacks for the kids, olive oil, pasta, spices, green olives, brown sugar. I always end up with a few extra things in my cart, and I always end up with more money left in my wallet.

  55. Doreen says

    Thankfully, Aldi recently opened a store nearby & I have been shopping there since it opened. I can honestly say that there isn’t anything that I have tried there that I have not liked. Their premium bacon, I believe it is Appleton brand, is among the best my family has ever tasted. Their bags of fresh salad are a fraction of the big box grocery store prices. Thank you Aldi!!

  56. Kristen says

    Wow! You guys had a lot of questions! I’ve compiled them so that I can answer each one in a future blog post…that seems better than trying to answer each one here.

    • says

      Hey Jennifer – all cashiers in the UK sit down at grocery stores be that Aldi, Asda, Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons, wherever – and yet in clothing stores they stand – you know I’ve never noticed that before! :) Wonder what the psychology is behind it? hmm probably to do with using a conveyor belt rather than a normal till. :)

    • okgirl says

      So they can work longer with less fatigue. A while back I read a study about that very thing. If workers can sit or lean, they are much less tired and are able to work more efficiently. Workers are happier, store spends less money. Win win

      • Lilypad says

        The cashiers in Germany and Austria sit down too, which I always thought was cool. Although sometimes, they get a little too relaxed, if you know what I mean, and the line slows down!

  57. says

    We love Aldi’s !!!! Shopping there regularly for 2.5 yrs. The cash/ debit works out good for us because it forces us to get cash back when we bank, now we have change for when the kids need a dollar for school or other extra here or there. The leftover dollars around the house has saved me from scraping the bottom of change jars for quarters. That gets old after while and quarters run out!!!

    • Raye says

      Since I hardly every carry cash I have an “Aldi” quarter that I leave in my car at all times so when I go shopping once a week at Aldi’s I always have a quarter handy! Works for me! :-)

  58. says

    I have a question for you. I love Aldi, but have recently become educated about food industries that have high instances of exploitation of animals and people. For example, migrant farm workers who get pennys a day to pick produce, or child slaves picking cocoa beans to make chocolate in Africa. Since I’ve learned about this, I’ve done a lot of research into where my products come from because I dont want my dollars unknowingly supporting something I totally disagree with. Now I get things like canned goods, pop, paper products at Aldi, but pay more for produce, coffee, chocolate, meat, and dairy products because I although I have tried, I have been unable to determine where their products come from. Did they touch on this at all? I wish they had more info about this on their products and their website so I could feel okay about buying those things there.

    PS- For anyone that doesnt know, Aldi and Trader Joes are owned by the same parent company.

  59. Maggi says

    While I love Aldi’s concept, and all of the other positive things you mentioned about them, there is one thing that keeps me from going back with any real regularity: Quality Food.

    Now, that’s not saying that the food they sell doesn’t taste great; I’m sure it does. But so much of their food is highly processed, and laden with trans-fat, HFCS and simple starches. In a traditional store, I do more perimeter shopping than interior shopping and let’s face it, Aldi’s doesn’t have too much of a perimeter.

    BUT! When I do go there, I ALWAYS find a few things that are completely awesome for my gluten-free, healthy eating family like lean protein, dairy and produce. Just not in the variety we need; remember, can’t have gluten and it is a filler in a lot of economically priced foods.

    Making a special trip over to Aldi’s tends not to happen because I don’t usually have the time to cross town to go to yet another grocery store. But when I am in the area, I usually stop by.

  60. Tara M says

    I am sooo jealous you got to go!!!! I’m an Aldi’s addict. I buy everything I possibly can at Aldis every week. I used to strictly coupon to save money but I found I was mostly buying processed/unhealthy foods and I was spending all of my free time couponing. It got to be too much. Now I coupon for personal goods (toothpaste, deoderant, etc) and play the drug store game and buy pretty much all my foods at Aldi’s. Usually the only things I buy at other stores is ground beef and pork chops. It’s so easy to grocery shop now! No planning except for a meal plan. Please tell us more about your trip when you have time!!!!!

  61. says

    Great information. All I can say is, why isn’t there an Aldi near me. This store sounds great and if I ever see one, I will definitely check it out based on your writings. Thanks!

  62. ErinK. says

    I am an Aldi lover too! I have only found 2 things that I don’t like…the lunch meat…GROSS! and the hummus (but I am a total snob in this area!)


    Produce, turkey meatballs, pita chips and almonds.

    Can’t wait to try the wines…never even thought about it until now!
    Thanks for sharing the experince.

  63. says

    I went to Aldi’s, I tried their products.

    They were awful!

    Most were loaded with toxic chemicals such as TBHQ and BHT which causes hyperactivity in children, especially kids with ADD.

    You should be ashamed of yourself for pushing this crap on your readers.

    I wrote about my experience here:

    (link removed by the management. a.k.a. Kristen a.k.a. the only employee of this here blog)


    • Anon says

      Really? If all crackers have poison in them and TBHQ exacerbates ADD in a family member, then why in the world would you get crackers from anywhere? Completely unprofessional use of resources in your blog and poor writing to top it off. Personal pet peeve – it’s “Aldi” not “Aldi’s”.

    • Kristen says

      Morrison, I noticed that on your own blog, you state that you won’t allow derogatory comments. Would you be so kind as to apply that rule here? It’s not polite to come to someone’s blog and then tell them they should be ashamed of themselves.

      Your statement about TBHQ is broad-brushing and factually inaccurate. Aldi does carry food that I don’t think is healthy, but it’s not true that most of it has TBHQ. And I don’t have to buy the foods I don’t want to eat. I can choose to buy fruit, vegetables, oatmeal, honey, milk, cheese and eggs and walk past the chicken nuggets and cookies.

    • Lanette says

      Is this perhaps a “shameless” attempt to drive traffic to your own site? Appears rather abrasive considering the content is…um…groceries. Here’s hoping that the spelling and writing on your blog (and certainly your manners in everyday life) are better than that displayed here. How in the world did you find your way to Kristen’s blog? Surely there is a hateful blog somewhere begging for your attention. Go find it.

      (How did I do? Feel bad? Offended? I’m sure Kristen did too.)

  64. says

    Hi Kristen –

    What a great write-up – looks like you had a fabulous time! It seems so out of character for Aldi to invite anyone behind the scenes like this – HOORAY to them for seeing the value of reaching out to their supporter base like this!

    I’ve been a big Aldi fan for years, and have just recently started documenting my experiences on my own blog about shopping at Aldi. Over on “The Smart Aldi Shopper”, I have product reviews and other information that I hope will help others get the most for their money.

    How nice to see that you and so many of your readers share the Aldi Love! You’re all cordially invited to stop by my blog to have a look around – I hope you find information you can use…

    Cheers! -Jeff

  65. says

    I don’t think any of us have anything to be ashamed of, especially when it comes to grocery shopping. If you ever start advocating hurting children or puppies or something, then it might be appropriate to use the “shame” word. Life is so much better when people are nice to each other.

  66. Anne says

    I love Aldi! I was just there on Sunday and spend $90 for an entire cart full of groceries. I was able to buy everything I needed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (plus snacks!) for the week. I was incredibly satisfied with myself and Aldi. If you don’t shop there because of brand loyalty, get over it! Everything is just as good!

  67. robbiekay says

    Since we don’t have an Aldi in this area, before finding your blog I only knew about them because of Clark Howard. While he gives them good PR for their prices, it is awesome to read about how their practices reduce waste and that they treat their employees well. Also, I think this form of “advertising”–choosing bloggers who love their store, treating them well, and not asking for anything in return–is wonderful on their part. We actually passed an Aldi on our honeymoon. I wanted to go in because of having heard Clark Howard speak about them (this was before I found your blog), but figured being dragged around a supermarket probably wasn’t DH’s idea of a great honeymoon. :)

  68. aldi_girl;) says

    Not only am I an aldi shopper, I’m an employee too. And everytime someone asks me how I like my job; I get to smile and say I love it and I love the company I work for! The number one concern at my place of work are our customers and I feel so appreciated by the company I work for. Best job I’ve ever had!

  69. says

    Thanks for a great post, it is interesting to read about Aldi’s great products! I’ve been happy with most of what I’ve purchased there, but the chocolate it especially good!! European, high quality, easy melt chocolate, I just love it!

  70. William Torzewski says

    We purchased a spiral cut ham today and we were wondering where Aldi’s farms were located and where are their processing plants?

  71. says

    I just moved to a state that has an Aldi, and I am loving shopping there. I remember from when I lived in Ohio as a young teenager, I babysat for a woman with five kids and that is where she did most of her shopping. Thank you for this post, I really enjoyed it.

    • Kristen says

      That varies-dairy comes from local dairies, produce is sourced locally when possible (local is cheaper) and from produce suppliers that other grocery stores get their produce from, and the packaged food comes from various suppliers (sometimes the supplier is the same one that makes the name brand version.)

  72. Stephanie says

    I live in Iowa and we have Aldi’s here too. I shop there once in awhile, sometimes they have good deals but sometimes I find their prices aren’t that much cheaper than other grocery stores. I do like how they treat their employees and customers though!

  73. Gisela Woggon says

    I too love Aldi. First time I shopped there was with my aunt in Meinerzhagen, Germany at her local Aldi. Then when I went to visit my friend in Milwaukee and then for the last two years, I shopped there exclusively when I lived in Asheville, NC. I wanted to work there too as the employees seemed to really enjoy their jobs. WHEN might I expect Aldi to come to Boise Idaho where I now live. Trader Joe finally got here. Please put a bug in their ear if you can, Boise is a thriving, well to do community ready for Aldi.

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