Saturday, April 18, 2009

Aldi Recession Dreams

Earlier this week, my mom and I were headed to a quilting class together (so much fun!), and before the class we decided to check out the new low-cost (recession friendly) grocer, Aldi, on Schaad road, just off Clinton Highway in Powell. We didn't know much about it, except that you had to bring your own bags. We took in one big bag. We were both pretty confident that we wouldn't find much that we couldn't find somewhere else.

Boy, were we wrong! It's not that they had unique items or anything, but it seemed like every item I saw, from the moment I walked in the door, was the cheapest I'd ever seen!

I was pretty skeptical. I mean, cheap isn't necessarily good. If the food is crap, it doesn't matter how cheap it is, I don't want to eat it. And practically everything at Aldi is an Aldi brand - which I am not familiar with at all. So the first trip with my mom, I bought a couple of items in which quality is very important to me:

-Butter - I always.always. buy Land o Lakes butter. I even did an experiment once where I used two different butters (WalMart vs. Land O Lakes) to make the exact same cake and buttercream recipes. Land o Lakes won hands down, in both categories. I think the WalMart butter had more water in it or something, because the texture was just all wrong. Anyways, so far with the Aldi butter, it's not exactly the same as Land O Lakes, but it's no where near the awful quality of WalMart generic butter. And at $1.49 a lb. rather than $3.79 for Land o Lakes, I think it's a fair trade.

-Parmesan Cheese - I use Parmesan all the time - mostly because I really love Alfredo sauce, but I also have a soft spot for plain noodles with butter and cheese. yummm. So the flavor of Parmesan is very important to me. Kraft Parmesan has a very strong, distinct flavor, and is light on fillers and "anti clumping" type agents. Aldi's flavor was a little milder than Kraft's, and the texture was just a little more powdery, but overall, I think it's a good bet.

-Bacon - Okay, this needs a bit of an explanation. I really don't eat bacon all that much, but whenever I cook bacon, I'm sure to save the bacon fat for gravy and sauces. You'd be surprised at how the bacon fat renders off of various grades of bacon. Some bacon fat (better bacon) is white and solid, and others (cheaper) are browner and more soft. I definitely prefer the whiter, solid fat. I don't really know why. ? The Aldi bacon was definitely as high a quality as Oscar Meyer, in my opinion. The fat rendered practically identically.

So, after tasting these items, I was sold on Aldi's quality. I read some more about them and found that most people came to the same conclusion I did. All of their dairy products are extremely reasonably priced, and of very good quality. The dry grocery is also very good, but some may prefer their old familiar standbys from another grocer. The frozen foods are also good. I have heard mostly good things about the meat dept. and mostly bad things about their limited produce selection.

I heard especially good things about their chocolate bars. hehe. I grabbed a dark chocolate bar for 25 cents on the way out the door, but I've yet to taste it.

As you can surmise, Chase and I excitedly went shopping at Aldi's this afternoon for our weekly groceries. Listed below are some items on which I found Aldi's had exceptional pricing. These are not all the items we bought, and we had to make a second trip at Kroger for our produce, but it was incredibly worth it. We only spent $50.00 on groceries this week. UN-believable. I thought it was honestly unachievable to stick to our grocery budget AND eat three meals a day.

Aldi Price Kroger or Wal-Mart Price $ You Save % You Save
Nacho Tortilla Chips $0.99 Nacho Tortilla Chips $3.00 $2.01 67.00%
Eggs – 1 Dozen – Large $0.49 Eggs – 1 Dozen – Large $1.39 $0.90 64.75%
Butter – 1 lb. $1.49 Land o Lakes Butter – 1 lb. $3.79 $2.30 60.69%
Corn Flakes $1.59 Corn Flakes $3.59 $2.00 55.71%
Crispy Oats Cereal (Cheerios) $1.59 Cheerios $3.59 $2.00 55.71%
Macaroni & Cheese $0.35 Macaroni & Cheese $0.79 $0.44 55.70%
Pure Vanilla – 2 oz $1.99 Pure Vanilla – 2 oz $3.99 $2.00 50.13%
BBQ Potato Chips $1.29 BBQ Potato Chips $2.50 $1.21 48.40%
Croutons $0.95 Croutons $1.79 $0.84 46.93%
Can of Peas $0.49 Can of Peas $0.82 $0.33 40.24%
12 Grain Bread- 1Loaf $1.69 12 Grain Bread- 1Loaf $2.68 $0.99 36.94%
Parmesan Cheese – 1 canister $2.39 Kraft Parmesan Cheese $3.69 $1.30 35.23%
American Cheese – 16 slices $1.49 American Cheese – 16 slices $2.29 $0.80 34.93%
Pasta Entree $0.79 Pasta Roni $1.19 $0.40 33.61%
Sugar – 5 lb $1.99 Sugar – 5 lb. $2.99 $1.00 33.44%
Bacon $2.49 Bacon $3.49 $1.00 28.65%
Milk – 2% - 1 Gallon $2.19 Milk – 2% -1 Gallon – Generic $2.99 $0.80 26.76%
Small Pizza $0.99 Totinos Pizza $1.19 $0.20 16.81%

Average % Saved: 43.98%

So most of our groceries were an average of 44% less!!! AMAZING!

Here are some things you need to know before you go gung ho at Aldi's:
- Bring your own bags. I heard they have them there, but they charge 10 cents a piece for them. I never even saw them at the checkout....
- Bring a quarter to rent a grocery cart. Don't worry - you'll get it back once you return your cart to it's home.

Have fun!!! And save money!

Edited to Add: The chocolate bar. was. amazing.! It tasted like a $3.00 gourmet chocolate bar...with those wonderful fruity notes. and for just 25 cents!! unbelievable!


Anonymous said...

We made the switch to Aldi 4 weeks ago and love it. We bought 3 of their reusable canvas bags for $1.99 each. Every week, even when we've FILLED our shopping cart, it's never been more than $70.00 and we can always fit all the items into the 3 bags. We need to make a joint trip one weekend, just to increase the fun factor!

michaelCODY said...

Wow!! I'm so going to try Aldi's!