What should I look for at Aldi?

I just found out that Aldi is a sister company to Trader Joe, about which people rave all the time.There are no Trader Joe’s nearby, but there is an Aldi.

So what should I hope to find at Aldi that you love at Trader Joe?

Their blueberries have been cheap and delicious (sweet, not tart) in the last couple weeks. They advertised cheap avocados but I haven’t been able to find them.

I hear tell their ham is worth seeking out.

I just got a 5-pack of might-as-well-be-Kool-Aid packets for 99 cents.

Their frozen fruit is cheaper than the big grocery store.

I just got some energy drinks and they tasted like Monster.

I hear their brownie mix is to die for.

Every once in a blue moon they’ll have frozen whole lobster for a crazy low price.
The only caveat is to use them right away, they don’t keep long.

Aldi is similar to TJ’s in that they have their own house-labeled brand(s), but with the occasional name brand here and there. You can sometimes find interesting offerings, but it’s definitely aimed much more squarely at providing the basics. Expect lots of house-brand canned goods, cereals, beans, pasta, spices, etc. They have carts which require a quarter to be inserted (and returned later) to get a cart; this keeps people from leaving carts scattered all over the parking lot. Also, they charge a small fee for each (fairly sturdy) plastic shopping bag that you buy, so bring your own or make sure to get the bags from under/next to the checkout line. Finally, you’ll have to bag your own stuff.

Random stuff I’ve found that you might find worthwhile:

  • frozen Cornish hens
  • house brand of Crystal Light drink mix
  • alcohol! (wine, beer)
  • German-made chocolates/cookies, especially around Christmas
  • cheap bottled water

Check out the frozen foods - sometimes they have nice frozen pasta dishes. You might also find some good, cheap spice blends or spice grinders in the cooking/baking section.

You won’t find the same things at Aldi that you find at Trader Joe, but there is plenty at Aldi to love.

I just bought some AWESOME cheese slices – blue marbled jack. Fabulous on a grilled burger.

Their bagged salad greens are always $1.99, and the “Artisan Lettuce” that has the four little heads in a pack is also $1.99. The exact same thing at our other supermarket is $3.99. Extra virgin olive oil is always a bargain, too.

I just moved to an area where I’m close to an Aldi for the first time ever, and I am excited to go there, and glad this thread came up because I had no idea about the carts and the bags. I’m hoping it’s good enough to take the sting out of not being close to a Trader Joe’s anymore.

Aldi is often the “we got a great deal on this so grab it now!” kind of place and other than milk, things often get shuffled around week to week as they sell out of one item and bring in another.

They may be sister companies, but I’ve never seen any overlap of brands.

They have a lot of chocolate bars, good imported ones, cheap! There’s an apple-raisin cookie that tastes a lot like the Sunshine Raisin Biscuits from the past. There are occasional flurries of German food, like frozen weinerschnitzel and delicious canned fish fillets in mustard sauce, spaetzel, etc. There are sometimes frozen trays of Mexican lasagna or corn tamales complete with corn husks. Chinese New Years brings noodles, sauces, condiments, and frozen General Tso’s, eggrolls, fried rice (wait, they have that all of the time). Rye bread, seeded or unseeded, in fact all their breads and pastries, ridiculously cheap! Marzipan candy bars from, I guess, Germany, to die for. And they sell a European makeup line, and something like Olay products, inexpensive but highly regarded from what I’ve read online. Oh, I just love the place! I really have no major complaints. You can bring your own bags or buy paper bags at the checkout counter for 6 cents apiece.

I’ve found some very good but intermittent deals on frozen seafood, notably on whole salmon.

I’m a Sam’s club member and Aldi’s prices are rarely better. With their much poorer selection, I rarely go to Aldi unless I know they have something on sale that want.

Also, bring cash or a debit card, because they don’t take credit cards. (at least the one by me doesn’t)

Hamburger and Hot Dog buns are 79 cents per pack, but today that had a bunch marked down to 49 cents. Great quality and good price.

The following are the items we get as well:

  1. Milk - $1.69 currently per gallon.

  2. Shredded Cheese

  3. Sour Cream

  4. Eggs are usually $1 a dozen.

Orange Chicken!

If it isn’t the same as the famously well reviewed TJ’s Mandarin Orange Chicken, I’d be very surprised.

I’ll go to Aldi just to buy this item and nothing else

They have recurring deals on really good English cheeses like Red Leicester. Their finely shredded sharp Cheddar is $2.99 for a 16 oz package, nearly half the price of Kraft or Sargento.

The ones in Kansas City and Chicago have excellent ground beef at a great price, though it is 80/20 rather than the leaner (and dramatically less tasty) stuff sold in more upscale markets.

In frozen foods, they have broccoli florets, a family sized portion for $.99 sold in a microwavable bag. Steamed broccoli without the hassle of the steamer for insanely cheap.

Their salmon is disappointingly thin, but the tilapia filets are fine and crazy cheap. They are individually packaged, so I always have a bag of them in the freezer, pulling two or three out at a time to thaw in the fridge with no hassle.

Their teabags are quite decent, a damn sight better that Lipton bags and cheap as well.

With some of their stuff, it is obvious why it is cheaper. They have chicken leg/thing quarters that are smaller than the ones sold in a lot of markets. But they are individually frozen and sold in a zip-lock bag. Hard to complain about five lbs of chicken for $3.99.

I have a CostCo membership, but my local Aldi has become my go-to store.

Not exactly sister stores with Aldi; more like distant cousins.

I can’t say I’ve ever been really disappointed in anything from there. I’ve found some exceptional cheeses from time to time, some cookies I’m very fond of, pita chips, cheesecake slices, Winking Owl wines. Other stuff is often utility grade but so cheap it doesn’t matter. Frozen foods come and go and are often national brand names. I’ve never tracked the USDA plant numbers, but many things look like they are made by brand-name companies.

Aldi has a lot going for it. I don’t use it for regular shopping because I’m generally disappointed by their produce. They tend to tray up their veggies, which often has the effect of hiding flaw or soft spots on the veggie, or fruit; and since I live alone, those trays often push what I will consumer before they go bad. Also the closest one to me is about five times the distance from me of my regular market. Not far, just sufficiently less convenient that I only go when I’m looking to stock up on specific items.

However, they have a number of canned and frozen goods I like to keep stocked. In particular I find their canned salsa is a steal at the price. Is it as good as fresh homemade? No. Is it even as good as refrigerated premium salsa? Nope. It is at least as good as most brands of canned salsa (including a couple of organic brands I’ve tried), and you get 24 oz for less than $2. In general I find their canned goods to be as good as anyone else’s and usually at about 3/4 the price.

Their sometimes products that they get as availability dictates can be surprisingly awesome. I picked up some imported pesto there that was absolutely awesome, and again, cheaper than much less impressive products I’ve gotten elsewhere.

They have some very good cheeses, and I generally like their frozen seafood. I find that their chicken causes gout flares for me, so I have to stay away from that; similarly, the beef is a bit of a crap shoot for the same concern. One thing about size and chicken parts: generally a smaller chicken part is going to be more flavorful than the larger ones. So there’s some reason to think that smaller parts is a boon, not a flaw. (Of course I believe it also affects the ratio of meat to skin and bone adversely, compared to those larger pieces. You makes your choices and you pays your money.)

I like a number of the cheese they offer, though the shredded cheeses aren’t among those for me. I’d like their cream cheese better if they didn’t have consistent problems with the packaging being a massive challenge to open.

In general I wouldn’t want to have to do all my shopping there, but as a way to stretch grocery money they’re great.

My favorite Aldi buy is a box of 6 frozen 1/4 lb hamburgers-Angus, with chunks of cheddar cheese and bacon in them. OMG they are soooo good! I can also get a bag of fresh baby spinach leaves for 99 cents, never seen it that cheap anywhere else.

We always bought their veggie chips - only other place that really sells good tasting veggie chips/straws is Costco and I don’t want/need gigantic bags. Cheap too, sometimes only $1.

Aldi also has good frozen chicken strips (unbreaded). The other grocery chains only ever seem to sell huge breast pieces that are mostly fat anyway that I have to cut up so I buy a giant bag of nothing for $10 but at Aldi’s its a large bag of mostly all good smaller, more manageable to use strip pieces.

I don’t go often but I do also really like going there before stocking up to cook for a party. Cheap buns, basics (condiments, paper goods), cream cheese, shredded, sliced, etc (most of the food items I make for parties involve cheese so I like Aldi’s good prices here), eggs and milk are super cheap. I could never do all of my shopping here, but it’s a good stop every once in awhile. They also will surprise you sometimes with the awesome random stuff in the frozen section. We’ve seen Skinny Cow ice creams 30% cheaper, they’ll have lobster, crab, and all sorts of name brand stuff. And my coworkers have been discussing how the produce, at least locally at Aldis, has been improving greatly, and how cheap it is.

A couple of other tasty recent finds: precooked pulled pork, ready to microwave; and raspberry sorbet.

The spiral ham is really, really good. Way better than whatever you usually get from the regular grocery stores, and much cheaper to boot. It’s usually more moist and has more flavor.

Also, their generic puffy cheese puffs are the best I’ve found…but I don’t eat them anymore.

The big tub o’ butter pretzles are so very very good.

They have good snack stuff: peanut butter & crackers, potato chips, mini chocolate eclairs and so forth. I have seen some of their store-named stuff match up to some of the stuff that Trader Joe’s sells, but I can’t think of anything offhand right now. We don’t just go there for snacks, so you know…