An Aldi store tour, some guacamole, and a prize for me (whaaat?)

On our second day in the Chicago area, the other bloggers and I had a tour of an Aldi store with a regional vice president.

I figured I probably wouldn’t learn much, since I’d had a similar tour last year, where we learned about all the ways that Aldi cuts costs by being efficient. Efficiency is a large part of what helps them provide low prices without skimping in quality.

But the vice president pointed out something I didn’t know before. I knew that Aldi saves manhours by displaying items in the cases they come in, but I hadn’t noticed how the cases are color-coordinated to go with the product.

See?

This greatly improves the store’s visual appearance and helps to keep it from feeling too much like a warehouse (imagine if you were greeted by rows of brown cardboard cases!). And it also makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.

There are cost-cutting, efficient systems in place all over Aldi stores. A few examples:

  • The milk is stocked on rolling carts to save manhours (the milk comes off the truck already on the carts)
  • The freezers have doors to save energy.
  • The store footprint is small to save on rent
  • The lighting has been redone to reduce energy costs.
  • Aldi’s packages have multiple SKUs so that cashiers can ring up groceries quickly, thus saving manhours.
  • Aldi stocks only the most commonly purchased grocery items so that their stock rotates quickly (this reduces food waste!)

This is pretty much my favorite part of any Aldi store…the unpackaged produce area. Love, love, love.

I’ve had such great experiences with Aldi produce (see my photo essay about that), and the prices really cannot be beat.

(You can read about how I handle produce packaging at Aldi in this Q&A post.)

I also want to add a word about how Aldi treats their employees. Though Aldi employees are expected to work really hard (there are usually only 2-3 employees in a store at a time), Aldi pays significantly more than other grocery stores and they have an excellent benefits package (which start at the 20/hr/week level!)

On an anecdotal level, the employees at my Aldi (who have no idea I’m a blogger and thus have no reason to fake it) all seem happy and friendly. I’ve asked many of them what they think of working at Aldi, and every response has been positive.

Oh, if you want more details about Aldi’s cost-cutting strategies, you might want to read what I wrote about my store tour last year.

After our store tour, we headed back over to the Aldi test kitchens for a little contest. You see, when we took the Aldi store tour, we were told to pick out a secret ingredient to add to a bowl of guacamole, which we were each going to make at the test kitchen.

I’m not a very creative cook, so I was coming up totally dry as far as a secret ingredient goes. But fortunately for me, the vice president who gave us our Aldi store tour had an idea for me (which sounded crazy, but I just decided to trust him.)

The test kitchen cooks had prepped a whole bunch of guacamole ingredients for us.

So, all of us chose our preferred ingredients and got to work making some guacamole.

Once we were done, we lined up all of our bowls, tasted each one (oh, the hardship!), and wrote down which one we thought was the best overall and which was the most creative.

Guess what? My guacamole won Best Overall! I was very surprised, because I never win anything. ;) And I was super happy because the prize was $100 in Aldi gift certificates.

Oh, yes, please.

Mine’s on the left, and Briana’s Most Creative guacamole is on the right (she added Craisins and chocolate to hers.)

Want to know my secret ingredient?

Green grapes (I know! I was skeptical too.)

I also added chopped pineapple, onion, and sweet peppers, so it ended up being kind of a sweet guacamole. And it was surprisingly tasty.

After our guacamole contest, we had a super delicious buffet of Mexican food prepared by the Aldi test kitchen staff using Aldi food (naturally). I adore tacos and guacamole and all the rest, so I was a happy camper.

And then it was time to say goodbye and head off to the airport. Happily, though, this time I got to fly on Southwest, so my flights were perfectly on time, unlike last year, when I had some terrible flight SNAFUs.

I lurve Southwest so much.

I had a marvy-fab time on my trip, and just like last year, everyone at the test kitchens was delightful.

And I was super happy to get to see Briana, from Bargain Briana, who I met last year (she’s become a crazy Aldi fan since our trip last year!)

I also got to meet Meagan Francis from The Kitchen Hour (who knew me because she reads my blog, so that was fun!), Tara Kuczykowski from Unsophisticook, Liza Corbo from Buy-Her (I think she also blogs for 5 Minutes for Mom), and Kelly from KCMamas. And I know there were more bloggers there too, but their names and blogs escape me at the moment.

Alrighty. I think that’s all I have to say.

Oh, except this: If you have an Aldi store near you and you haven’t given it a try yet, go! I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised by the quality and the prices.

_______________________________

I suppose I should put another disclaimer in here, ey? Aldi paid for my trip to Illinois, but I wasn’t otherwise compensated. And since I’ve been a faithful Aldi shopper for years, any and all glowing remarks about the company are heartfelt.

Comments

  1. says

    Here in The Netherlands both Aldi and Lidl (same concept) are HOT! Since Lidl is closer I usually go to that store. I only go to the regular supermarket for some specific items. I probably get 90% of my groceries at Lidl.

  2. Beverly Petersen says

    I wish the Aldi’s here in Berlin, Germany where I live where as nice as the ones there in the US they sound so amazing there.

  3. says

    Aldi *is* awesome!

    I have heard from a friend who is just starting a job at our local Aldi, that the focus on efficiency is *very* stressful as a new employee. Every moment, movement, and action is timed in the name of lower prices for customers. That’s great to hear that they have a good benefits structure though! I am glad your Aldi employees are friendly, upbeat people. :)

    Just a friendly reminder that we should be extra friendly to the employees we encounter at Aldi because they work REALLY hard!

  4. Molly says

    Yay for you! Now two questions – when are you going to feed your guacamole to your family for their review, and are you going to get anything different from usual with your prize?

  5. says

    Sounds a fabulous trip! Must say, the cardboard boxes I don’t mind at all. Give’s it quite a ‘market’ feel to it, they’re recyclable and brown has very warming and rustic feel to it anyhow!

  6. Kris says

    It’s good to know that a store I love treats its employees well. I enjoy hearing how Aldi’s streamlines procedures to increase efficiency.

    I have noticed that Aldi’s employees fly everyone through the check-out–now I know why they can move so quickly! My store has fantastic, friendly, helpful people working there, and yes, they have to MOVE! Quickly!

    I am not as happy with their produce as you are. I have noticed, both in your blog and other blogs, that Michigan’s Aldi stores don’t seem to have the same quality produce as in other states. Not sure why. :(

    If you are contemplating shopping at Aldi’s … my family of 4 saves at least $4/week on milk/bread/eggs as compared to the prices at other local stores.

    • Theresia says

      I have been eyeing the Aldi’s store that is on my way to work, but have yet to stop in. I will make a point to do that this week. @Kris, not sure where you are in Michigan (I am in Sterling Heights), but I’ll have to check the produce.

      • Kris says

        Hi Theresia!

        I am in Muskegon, so maybe produce is better on your side of the state. :) It has improved over the past 2 years but isn’t of the same quality as my in-law’s store in Illinois. Bananas are good quality and at 33 cents/pound, much cheaper than at Meijer or Walmart. Carrots are $1.19/2 pounds and are good quality. Potatoes are iffy, as are grapes/strawberries. We don’t typically buy meat from Aldi’s, either, but dairy/cereal/canned goods overall seem to be as good or better than competitor’s stores. Have fun shopping!

        • Marianne says

          Mid-Michigan here too…our produce is sometime overripe..but generally speaking a great deal for the price. There are a number of items I cannot find cheaper anywhere else. Trail Mix being one of them. Also the Clancy Veggie straws and chips are very close to brand name at a fraction of the price 1.69 per bag.
          One of my co-workers suggested I try the Butterball smoked turkey, she buys them every year from them and last year she waited till closer to Thanksgiving and was not able to get one. Several of us purchased them..just under $2 per pound..fully cooked. Perhaps not the greatest price but we don’t own a smoker and I can’t wait to try it!

  7. Lisa Hicks says

    I shop at Aldi’s and never payed attention to the packaging of the items matching the boxes,not only that but the Sku’s. How awesome, more stores need to do this. By the way congrats on your 100 dollar certificate! Happy Shopping :)

    • Kristen says

      I need to try to recreate it here at home, I suppose! I know what I put into it, but I’m not sure of the exact proportions.

      • Paul says

        Looking forward to trying it! In the meantime, I will be checking out the produce at my nearest Aldi’s. Unfortnately, being on a tight budget, fresh fruit is often at the botom of my grocery list, so thanks for the suggestion.

  8. Cindy says

    My son works at SWA in flight dispatching and my daughter in law is a flight attendant. They met at work when he was an operations supervisor and he caught HER eye. Eight years later….3 grandkids for me!!! We love Southwest, too. ( Another good employer !)

    • Kristen says

      They really are awesome…the employees are lovely and the flights are on time. I will never fly another airline if I can help it!

  9. Jessie says

    We have an Aldi opening very soon in Traverse City Michigan. I’m very excited to shop there after reading all the great things you’re always saying about Aldi!!

  10. says

    Just about to head off to Aldi here in the UK…and now I need ingredients for Guacamole! lol
    The only issue I have with my local Aldi is staff is that many of them speak their native language to each other whilst working and if I’m asking a question I like to know / hear / understand that it is being properly queried.
    That said they’re always happy to help :-)

  11. ArdenLynn says

    Pumpkin cream cheese from Aldi. We all love it especially my 17 yo son who consumes a whole container at a time. With a spoon. No bread. Weird.

    My first Aldi trip was back in the early 90’s in Huber Heights, Ohio. It was different back then but it helped me so much with my $30 a week grocery budget. I would pour over their little newspaper with the prices printed on it so I could stay within my $30 a week budget. Budget has grown as my family has expanded but I still love Aldi.

  12. says

    I was so thrilled to meet you – and yours really WAS the best guac!

    Also agree about the way ALDI treats employees: it is one of the most impressive things, to me, about the company. They cut costs everywhere, but don’t skimp on pay or benefits. Love it!

  13. says

    I like Aldi but they’re not close enough to shop at regularly, and they don’t have enough variety. So we go there every few months to stock up on things like toilet paper, tinned beans and tomatoes and organic butter.

    Congratulations on winning the guacamole contest :) Yours sounds pretty creative as well.

  14. TracyDK says

    I’ve emailed Aldi’s a few times to get them to move closer to home. We have NO discount grocery store in town now that Sav-a-lot moved out. So for me to go to Aldi I have to travel about 40 minutes away. I do still go there sometimes, but the thing I LOVE about the store, they give their cashiers chairs. I know that might not seem like a lot to many people. Shoot, I bet most people don’t even notice. But I cashiered for a MASSIVELY large retailer for YEARS, and while I was 8 months pregnant, I wasn’t allowed to sit down. I ended up trying to deliver him twice at work at 32 weeks, so I was sent home the rest of my pregnancy. So, seeing the employees being allowed to sit behind the register made me feel even better about Aldi’s than I already did. :D

  15. Susanmcq923 says

    I really do like Aldi’s and have for many years. I just wanted to mentione that I live in New Jersey and almost all the produce in my Aldi’s is pre-packaged so I am not sure why it is different where you are.

  16. says

    Thanks for a great, informative post. I also LOVE shopping at Aldi – but I was completely oblivious to all those details. Thanks for an interesting read : )

    I also HIGHLY approve of the chairs for their cashiers! A sign of a compassionate employer (not to mention the good business sense of keeping their workers’ comp premiums low).

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