Wanna hear about my Aldi trip???

by Kristen on October 18, 2011 · 55 comments

in Aldi

A few weeks ago, I got an email inviting me to visit Aldi’s test kitchens in Batavia, Illinois.

My first thought: “Ooh! I love Aldi! That would be fun to go to if I lived less than 12 hours away.”

Then I read further down, and saw that Aldi was offering to fly me out to Chicago and back and put me up in a lovely hotel and take me out to dinner.

Squee!

Blogging seriously rocks sometimes, people.

I hurriedly arranged childcare, and RSVPed a delighted “yes!”.

I get a lot of email from companies that want me to blog about their company and/or product, and I say no to a lot of them…some just aren’t a good fit, and some are selling products or services that I downright cannot endorse.

But Aldi? Aldi is pretty much a match made in heaven for me.

So, last Thursday I hopped on a plane for the first time in about 16 years.

Actually, first I waited in the airport for 2.5 hours because the plane that was supposed to take me to Chicago was, uh, stuck in Chicago. Yes. But it finally arrived, and I flew to OHare.

Aldi had a driver waiting for me right there at the airport, and I had a lovely VIP ride to my hotel…the Omni on Michigan Avenue.

Oh yes.

I could get used to staying there, I think.

Since I was pretty late getting to Chicago, we headed right out to dinner at The Paris Club, where I ate a number of fancy French foods that I can’t properly pronounce, but which were delicious.

Two buyers from Aldi were at dinner with us bloggers. So, we got to chat about all things Aldi and that was just so much fun…I peppered the buyer at our table with questions, and he had questions for us too, since this is the very first time that Aldi has worked with bloggers.

(Am I honored? Yes, indeed!)

Oh, I wanted to show you what I wore my first day because those of you who have bought my ebook will recognize my sweater.

My pants are Old Navy clearance, as is my white shirt, and my lace-trimmed tank is from Goodwill.

After dinner, I hopped right into my luxurious bed and went to sleep (I’d been awake from 4:40 am-12:15 am, so it was kind of a long day!).

What I wore the next day isn’t that interesting, but since in-the-mirror pictures are the only ones of me on my trip, I’ll throw this in there. You can see that I manage to turn out some duds when I try to get my face out from behind the camera. ;)

(Black velvet pants: $10 on Target clearance. Red shirt: $2 on Target clearance. Black sweater: $10 on clearance at Old Navy. Black camisole: $2 at Goodwill. Mmm-hmmm.)

After a delicious breakfast at the Omni, we were all were driven to a newly-remodeled Aldi store in Chicago.

When we walked in, every one of us was certain that this store was bigger than our Aldi stores at home, but it’s actually not! Aldi is remodeling their stores with higher ceilings and windows that let in natural light, but they’re still keeping their small, efficient store footprint.

The windows are amazing, and I’m hoping maybe that particular improvement will make its way to my store one day. The store feels so pleasant and cheerful with the outside light pouring in…so different than shopping at a big box store like WalMart (Walmart’s acres of flourescent lighting make me feel depressed, actually!)

Two Aldi managers gave us a detailed tour of the store. At first I thought I might be slightly bored because hello! I’m already an Aldi fan-girl and I visit my Aldi store multiple times every month.

But even I learned a lot about how Aldi manages to cut costs behind-the-scenes so that they can provide us with high-quality food at low prices.

This is getting kind of long already, though, so I’m going to tell you all about that tomorrow, and I’ll also tell you about my visit to Aldi’s test kitchen, where I got to do some blind taste-tests.

Stay tuned….

____________________
Today’s 365 post: He doesn’t usually let me

Joshua’s 365 post: I don’t know what to call this one.

Leave a Comment

{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Monica October 18, 2011 at 7:53 am

WOW! So exciting! And thanks for taking us along with you. Cannot wait to hear about the rest of your Aldi’s experience. :)

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2 Ellen October 18, 2011 at 8:33 am

Cool!!! sounds like you had a good time so far!\

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3 Elizkat October 18, 2011 at 8:56 am

Hey, you need to start blogging about some store in Paris or Hawaii. Free trips are a nice perk!

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4 Kristen October 18, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Now there’s an idea!

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5 Jackie October 18, 2011 at 9:07 am

Kristen that’s awesome. Thanks for sharing with us readers. We don’t have an Aldis where I live, but I keep hoping for one sometime soon. Take Care.

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6 EngineerMom October 18, 2011 at 9:09 am

How awesome! I’m so excited you got to visit Chicago! My in-laws live there, so we’ve been several times. :-) Isn’t downtown Chicago awesome?!

Love that you’re among the first Aldi chose to work with! You’re right – it’s a match made in heaven, and I’m glad they recognized that!

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7 Kristen October 18, 2011 at 9:58 pm

I know! I’m so honored.

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8 shari October 18, 2011 at 9:12 am

I had never heard of Aldi until I found myself living in Niagara Falls for 5 months and during that time I shopped there regularly. They were great! Glad you had such a fabulous time!

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9 WilliamB October 18, 2011 at 9:12 am

I hope you got some time to see Chicago, too. It’s one of my favorite cities in the US.

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10 Kristen October 18, 2011 at 9:57 pm

I was in Chicago for slightly less than 24 hours, so nope! Not much sight-seeing. But that’s ok. :)

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11 morrison October 18, 2011 at 9:55 am

Aldi’s just opened up in my area. Now, I have to go and check them out!

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12 Brittany @ TheMamazine October 18, 2011 at 10:07 am

So exciting! I’m glad to hear that Aldi recognizes recognizes the benefit of forming relationships with bloggers. Who better for them to include in their first group!? Those improvements would be great at our store.
And the Omni? Swoon! I stayed at an Omni once for a doctors appointment that required travel and thought I may never want to get out of bed again. : )
Looks like you enjoyed your trip. Can’t wait to hear more!

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13 Brittany @ TheMamazine October 18, 2011 at 10:10 am

Oops, it appears my keyboard has a stutter. That should have been one recognize!

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14 adventuresindinner October 18, 2011 at 10:13 am

Fantastic! So glad to see you getting some well-deserved spoiling.

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15 Rebecca Kipe October 18, 2011 at 10:39 am

I adore aldis and love that you write about them so often! I am eating up every part of this post and excited for the next part :)

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16 Amy October 18, 2011 at 11:05 am

Our Aldi got destroyed by a tornado several months ago and they have a temp store in a vacant store. I can’t wait for them to rebuild. I love Aldi and I’m slowly turning my husband into a fan. :)

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17 Megan October 18, 2011 at 11:08 am

JEALOUS! Glad we get to come along though!

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18 Laura October 18, 2011 at 11:17 am

Hey Kristen, I have a somewhat related question: have you ever heard (or confirmed) that Trader Joe’s is owned by the same folks as Aldi? I also LOVE Trader Joe’s and am just curious if this is true. Glad you had a great trip!

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19 Molly October 18, 2011 at 1:59 pm

I can confirm! :-)

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20 Kristen October 18, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Yes, that’s true. However, they are completely separate companies.

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21 Tina October 18, 2011 at 10:19 pm

I was just wondering the same thing. We don’t have Aldi here so I have no idea what the store it like. Trader Joes’ are tiny and great prices so I was wondering if they had the same philosophy? We are getting a new store called Fresh and Easy but I have a feeling it is prepared food. They are building 12 new stores in Sacramento.

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22 Amy October 19, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Yes, actually reading about Aldi reminded me of Trader Joe’s business model. They’re similar.

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23 Laura October 19, 2011 at 11:56 am

Thanks! Obviously there are lots of differences between the two but I do love Trader Joe’s prices on wonderful, healthy products! And they are great with customers as well. Did you know you can ask to sample anything in the store and they will open it for you?

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24 Corinne October 18, 2011 at 11:34 am

I actually live in a suburb about 30 minutes south of Chicago (Tinley Park) and when my husband and I first got married we lived very close to Batavia. Of course, this was before I thought Aldi was “cool” and was just for old people. Sorry!!!! But……I am a transformed woman and do shop there — actually going to go in about an hour. Can’t wait to hear more about it. Love love love the City!!! Wish I would have known you were coming — I could have met you for some much-needed advice on how to shop for 5 when 4 of us are extremely picky!! :) Can’t wait to read more.

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25 Corinne October 18, 2011 at 11:34 am

Oh, and thanks for blogging about this!! One of the Aldis by me (we have a few here!) is brand new and is beautiful!!!

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26 Kelly October 18, 2011 at 11:34 am

Oh em gee I love Aldi. I want to go!

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27 Amanda October 18, 2011 at 11:46 am

What a fun trip. After reading your blog, I keep hoping that Aldi will come to my area. We recently got a Winco which has the best prices in our area by far, but I’m certain that Aldi would still beat their prices.

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28 Glory Lennon October 18, 2011 at 11:46 am

Who knew spending so much time in front of a computer screen writing bit and pieces about your life would get you places??? How cool is that!

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29 Nicole October 18, 2011 at 11:53 am

Wow love that you got the inside tour. The people at Aldi are amazing. This spring we had a week long power outage that affected the local Aldi. Within an hour of the outage, Aldi had refrigerator trucks lined up to unload the perishables from the store and take them back to the warehouse. Talk about saving the company money. Love to hear about all that you did there.

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30 Jo@simplybeingmum October 18, 2011 at 11:54 am

Blogging seriously seriously rocks! That’s fantastic! I’ll be really keen to hear how it went as the post progress. Two weeks ago I had an Aldi comparison post planned for my blog as one of my readers had recommended I try it out now I have reduced my weekly grocery spend by 50%and stopped grocery online shopping. My second born was poorly on the designated day and the trip delayed… Perhaps those US Aldi Buyers could point the UK ones in my direction :) not that I’ve done a major shop there yet. Impressed with the eggs and OJ so far!
Kudos to you Kristen for having such a genuine, well respected and read blog that brands sit up and take notice! Plus the pictures are amazing!

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31 Beccy H. October 18, 2011 at 11:57 am

Wish we had Aldi in the PNW- so sad!

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32 janet October 18, 2011 at 12:00 pm

what fun! i love chicago! please tell the aldi people that we’d love to have a few on the sf peninsula. i’d never heard of them till your blog. (but if they are anything like trader joe’s, i’m gonna love ‘em).

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33 April October 18, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Love this! Just found your blog, loving what you are doing here! Keep up the fantastic work! Aldi here in Central Kentucky (at least in my town) has way better quality meats than Walmart or any of the other big chains, as well as higher quality prodduce. Congrats on the trip!

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34 Kristen October 18, 2011 at 4:23 pm

I know! I especially love Aldi grapefruits. So yummy!

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35 Kelli October 18, 2011 at 2:35 pm

How great!! I love Aldi– can’t wait to hear more about your trip!

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36 Tracey Hand October 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm

I’m loving reading about this.
We do our main shop in Aldi here in Portugal. I have a big shopping list for tomorrow because they have baking goods in as specials starting tomorrow morning :-)
Looking forwards to part 2

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37 Angela@MyYearWithoutSpending October 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Good for you, Kristen! So happy you got the royal treatment!

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38 Alice S. October 18, 2011 at 6:11 pm

I am so jealous! I LOVE Aldi and I would have loved this trip. Can’t wait for all the details.

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39 Kay October 18, 2011 at 7:05 pm

I am so excited for you and the other bloggers.. I love love love Aldi’s, I shop there at least once a week. I can’t wait to hear about the taste testing and the rest of the fun stuff.. I will be looking forward to tomorrow to see what else you all did. I also love your Blog, I get so many great deals, coupons, tips, crafts, and many free things, thank you so much for your blog.

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40 Snapper October 18, 2011 at 7:55 pm

How fun! Can’t wait to hear more. :)

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41 Alicia October 18, 2011 at 9:26 pm

I’m so glad you had the chance to visit Aldi’s test kitchens and will be blogging about it soon! Your blog introduced me to Aldi, and I absolutely love it. My boss made fun of how happy I was to discover that there is an Aldi near our workplace. Looking forward to your next post!

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42 Tasmanian Minimalist October 18, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Could you be any cooler ? Nah, don’t think so ! I got that feeling when Grazia Magazine asked if I would fly to Melbourne ( from Tasmania ) to be made up, photographed and dressed for a 3 page spread. Wowzers ! Blogging does rock !

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43 Kristen October 18, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Niiice! Blogging does have some lovely perks every now and again. :)

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44 Condo Blues October 18, 2011 at 10:59 pm

You’re so lucky!!! I am one with my Aldi too. I can’t wait to hear more about your trip!

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45 KimN October 18, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Looks like an awesome trip. Unrelated but, didn’t you just have a post up about making wheat bread? I swear you did and it was recent b/c you said it was 5:30 and you were just making bread. I know I’m sleep deprived with the little one, but I’m pretty sure it was here and now I can’t find it :)

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46 priskill October 19, 2011 at 12:30 am

So, so cool! Congrats!

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47 machen und tun October 19, 2011 at 12:36 am

this is kind of funny: i read your blog for quite some time now and am still surprised about your praise of Aldi – except for the prices of course – here in Germany where the company origins they still have a rather bad reputation.
They are known for a very strict, reluctant way with the media, allegedgly pay and treat their staff, well, not too nicely and put extreme pressure on local farmers/produce companies to keep their prices that low.
That said the general acceptance of Aldi in Germany changed over the years as far as i can see in my environment, due to the finiancial state lots of folks are in: it now seems to be ok to shop at Aldi, at least for some things (their organic food still seems a bit suspicious to the general public..).
So reading your constant praise of the company is kind of strange.. :-) maybe they ARE doing their business different in the US. This nice blogger meet-up seems like it!
Thanks for your blog, i appreciate especially your baking posts and enjoy your wonderful pictures!!
Claudia

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48 Angela Warren October 19, 2011 at 1:06 am

This post makes me happy! What a thrill to get away for a day to hear more about a place you already love. I bet that was such an honor. You got to see Aldi US headquarters all up close and personal. I am looking forward to hearing more about your trip!
I love your classically modern clothing outfits you wore while away. Great buys!
My husband wanted me to tell you that he has been a “conservative” spender. He saw you on the CBN show and told me to look at your website. “Honey there is another person out there like you.” He thought I was a bit of an extreme saver. For some reason seeing you on CBN and hearing from someone other than me, gave him a renewed sense of thrift and saving, local buying, budgeting etc. I subscribed after reading the first post. Now I read every day but sometimes from my email.
Oh and I have homeschooled my children for a while. I bought some books with my swagbucks this year from you example. Thanks!! I saved tons of money.

Blessings,
Angie

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49 Dee October 19, 2011 at 1:13 am

Our closest ALDI is 19 miles away…just a little too far away for me. I loved it when I lived in Europe though!

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50 Sabrina October 19, 2011 at 9:02 am

Hope you enjoyed your brief stay in Chitown (my city!)! I love your recap on Aldi and how you explain how great they really are. I’m constantly trying to convert my friends and I am sending them all links to these posts. Great eye opener even for me, a seasoned Aldi’s shopper! I was always leery about their meats and wine, but now I’m going to try out that Riesling!

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51 Emily October 19, 2011 at 10:29 am

“Squee” — I am totally going to work this into a conversation today, Kristen :)

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52 Karen October 25, 2011 at 11:23 pm

I am wondering how Aldi fares on organics?

I’d love to visit them but this is a big consideration for me. Please enlighten.

Looks like your trip was fun!

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53 Jim November 28, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Very interesting reading about Aldi’s. I went to one for the first time this weekend and loved everything about it. So much so I wanted to check into a franchise, but could not find any information (during my search I found your blog). Would you happen to know if they sell franchises? Thanks for any information and your articles.

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54 Kristen November 28, 2011 at 8:13 pm

As far as I know, they don’t do franchises, but I could be wrong.

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55 Ivey April 8, 2013 at 6:50 am

Aldi is building a store near me and I thank you for the information on them. I think I will visit them after they have been open for awhile.

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