The Frugal Girl, she has been to the Aldi headquarters again.

I had such a fun time on my trip to the Aldi blogger event last year, so when I got an invite for this year’s event, I was super excited!

And of course, I have to tell you all about it.

Last year, we stayed in downtown Chicago. And though the Michigan Avenue Omni is lovely and all, I was so delighted to stay in a gorgeous little town outside of Chicago.

(Kristen and cities don’t mix that well!)

Isn’t it beautiful?

Even in the rain, it’s lovely.

Once all the bloggers had arrived in Geneva, we headed off to the Aldi test kitchens to sample some new holiday products.

The apple cheddar is really good. I’d never have thought of such a thing, but it was surprisingly tasty-keep an eye out for it.

We also got to sample some of Aldi’s wines and sparkling beverages.

I’m pretty much the lightest lightweight in the world when it comes to alcohol, so I don’t have a terribly well-developed wine-tasting palate. But, they did taste good to me, and a number of Aldi’s wines are award-winning (since the awards are given out by people who aren’t lightweights like me, you can trust them!)

After we finished our taste-testing, we got to see this amazing table display, made entirely with food from Aldi.

We also got to hear a presentation by Janice Stahl, a food stylist who’s worked with Oprah, Extreme Home Makeover, and Tyler Florence, among others.

And know what? She’s an avid Aldi shopper! I love it. She has all these fancy-pants catering/food styling jobs and she uses Aldi food.

She talked to us about ways to keep our holiday celebrations simple (something I’m obviously quite on board with!)

She suggested keeping decor rather minimalist, letting the food provide visual interest. And she recommends simple white dishes, which show the food off and which can be used all year round.

(White dishes are also fabulous for photographing food!)

The berries really dress up this sparkling juice, don’t they?

Janice told us that large desserts aren’t really in vogue right now. So don’t spend hours making a 5 layer frosted cake for your next gathering. Instead, go for something bite-sized because small desserts are really popular right now.

(these bite-size desserts are made by spooning pecan pie into dishes and topping them with whipped cream)

Ooh, and for table decorations and centerpieces, Janice recommends using food.

Check these out:

The lime/cranberry one is my favorite. And once your celebration is done, you can just use the food. Lovely.

I love these apothecary jars with candy in them too.

We got to eat all of this delicious food too. The roasted turkey breast was SO good and very moist, which is not what I typically expect from turkey breast. I’m definitely going to look for this at my Aldi store.

I have more to tell you about my time at the Aldi test kitchens, but I’ll save the rest for a part two so that this doesn’t get too long!

If you’re interested in making any of the tasty food I ate at the Aldi dinner, you’ll be happy to know that the recipes are all available on Aldi’s website. There’s a virtual booklet with photos of every recipe and you can print out any of the recipes you want to make (the Roasted Turkey Breast and Individual Au Gratin Potatoes were my two favorites!)

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Aldi paid for my trip expenses, but I was not otherwise compensated. If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know that I was crazy about Aldi before the company ever knew who I was. So, all fan-girling is 100% authentic. ;)

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Joshua’s 365 post: Underwater Snow

Comments

  1. Bethany says

    I was wondering why you weren’t with all the bloggers at ALDI HQ this fall! I saw all the other bloggers’ stories about it and yours wasn’t one of them (and that made me sad). I guess you managed to stay out of every single photo and to not get mentioned by any of the other blog posts about the trip!

    ps… long-time lurker, first-time poster! Not a mommy, just a broke grad student who would starve to death if not for ALDI :)

    • Kristen says

      Well, there were two separate trips this year, so it’s possible that you saw that first round of bloggers posting about their trips (I don’t know how many from my group have written about their experience yet.)

      Oh, and yay that you delurked! Love it. ;)

  2. Terri S. says

    Wonderful and simple, my favorite combo! Do they have tours of their test kitchen for just the general public?

  3. says

    Love Aldi ! Thanks for these great holiday tips and recipes. I’m with the grad student. If it weren’t for Aldi, my family and I would starve! Thanks to Aldi, we have a decent, affordable (and edible) lifestyle. Yay!

  4. says

    I am a huge Aldi lover too! I was so excited at their prices in my town this week. $1.29 on all baking chips (I totally stocked up!) $1.49 on 8 oz blocks of cheese, $.99 big beautiful pomegranites and $.99 crescent rolls!! LOVE IT!!! If you have an Aldi nearby, you are throwing money away by not shopping there!!

    • Kristen says

      And I’m super excited to see that Aldi is now carrying blocks of Swiss cheese as an everyday item (it used to be special purchase only). I love me some Swiss cheese!

  5. Katherine says

    My sister lives in Geneva and takes the train every morning into downtown Chicago for work. Thanks for the sharing the pics, I miss my sis and the pics were great to see this morning. I do love Aldi, and luckily we have two close by our home in NC. I cannot wait to try some of the holiday recipes.

  6. says

    Firstly if Aldi UK are reading this – please do a UK version of this event (and invite me!!!). How fantastic! The food photo’s are stunning Kristen :-) really beautiful.
    Secondly – I got a little confused and thought you’d gone to Geneva (Switzerland) via Chicago – Duh! But regardless, how pretty was the town you stayed in? Gorgeous Fall/Autumn photo’s.
    Thirdly – I’m not proud of this fact, but I’m not that light when it comes to a few glasses of wine – I can recommend Aldi UK’s wine selection also. We recently had a wine-tasting night at a friends and she chose a German wine for me to contribute as she know’s I’m an Aldi shopper. Ironically they only had 1 type in the store that day! My favourite great value red wine is ‘Grapevine Merlot’ at 2.99. Everyone who has tried it after, I’ve raved about it, has agreed. It’s a great bottle of wine – at about half the cost of typical reds.
    p.s – The candy jars are lovely… okay going to stop gushing now….just love the photo’s, the food styling etc…

    • says

      I love those candy jars. But I always wonder…if you buy them, wtf do you DO with them the rest of the year? I feel like they’d just end up being clutter…

      • says

        Reese – I’ve been collecting regular jars (that I’ve used). I’m going to put some ribbon round etc… to make them look Christmassy. Probably won’t look quite so good but a token gesture! Candy Canes are going in there.
        p.s a friend of mine has her candy jars out all year round (with sweets inside for the kids) and makes a feature of them in her kitchen!

    • Kristen says

      Ohhh, a trip to Switzerland would really have been something. ;) But Geneva, Illinois is still pretty lovely.

      We need to get you in touch with the PR people for Aldi UK. They do have a Twitter presence now-did you check that out? U.S. Aldi doesn’t have Twitter yet.

      • says

        Thanks Kristen – yes I have seen them on Twitter lately. They are quite active on Facebook also – in fact it’s quite a good page, lot’s of great info. Aldi UK kindly did a giveaway on my blog Easter for a hamper of goodies – which was fantastic! So I’m hoping that should they do a bloggers event they remember me…fingers crossed eh?

  7. says

    I’m an avid Aldi enthusiast too! Most people seem to think it’s only canned and prepackaged products – but we hardly buy any of that, and we do 80% of our shopping at Aldi.
    Your photos are lovely. Thanks for sharing this; I’m looking forward to part 2.

  8. says

    Once again I wish we had an Aldi! Everything is so pretty. If we had an Aldi, I would shop there all the time. I would do almost anything to give up Walmart.
    I grew up and lived outside of Chicago until I was 19. Chicago is a wonderful place to visit, but I do like living in the country more.

  9. Laura says

    Oh, I’m sooo sad yearning for Aldi after reading your post. We moved to Little Rock 3 years ago and have SUFFERED with no Aldi in a 120 mile radius. I miss it so, so much! If anyone wants to open up an Aldi in Little Rock, AR, I’d be first in line…

  10. Laura says

    Oh, I’m sooo sad yearning for Aldi after reading your post. We moved to Little Rock 3 years ago and have SUFFERED with no Aldi in a 120 mile radius. I miss it so, so much! If anyone wants to open up an Aldi in Little Rock, AR, I’d be first in line…

  11. says

    I love ALDI. We had a couple of them when we lived in the DC area….now that we’ve moved I’m missing it terribly. The ones in Germany are really great, too. I wish they’d build one close by.

  12. Becky says

    Enjoyed your summary. We don’t have any Aldis in our part of Poland.

    But I had to kind of laugh at the lady who said that “small desserts” are in style. I really didn’t know that desserts were something subject to the whim of fashion. I thought it more or less had to do with the size of the meal and what actually “goes with” what.

    But, it doesn’t matter what is “in style”, my husband’s favorite will remain a rich dessert–baked cheesecake, and my own is Boston Cream Pie, and my kids’ either Boston Cream Pie or home made chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.

    It just struck me as funny…

    • Kristen says

      Ah, I think she was talking about what’s in style as far as hosting parties goes…basically that bite-sized desserts are more popular at holiday gatherings now (as opposed to, say, whole pies or cakes). Bite-sized desserts are easy to carry around at a party, and then too, you can also sample multiple things instead of having to pick just one.

      • CathyG says

        IMHO, you can also just cut a small piece of cake/pie and only eat a bite-size piece. I do like it when other people provide small desserts, but if I am making them, I find all the individual filling/frosting/decorating to be just too much. I’d much rather make a big pan of something and cut it into smaller pieces.

  13. says

    Jealous! I’ve been bugging my husband to help me figure out when we can get back over the border (into NY state) so that I can hit Aldi’s again.

    Love their food and their prices! I wish they would come to Canada already :) But until they do, shopping there a couple of times a year gives us an excuse to visit our American neighbours.

    Lovely post today. I love reading about your trips to Aldi :)

  14. says

    The people at my Aldi’s are so friendly, too! And rush to the back of the store to get you something you couldn’t find when you are in check out. I’m sure they don’t have to work out–they get paid to!

    This summer my husband and I were on a ministry trip and needed food in Austria (tough, I know) and when we saw an Aldi’s we were thrilled. Even though we couldn’t read the German, we were familiar with the products and liked the size of the store for what we needed.

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