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Aldi first came to my attention from my host at a dinner party. She’s a wonderful cook, and entertains on a budget. She was serving some fabulous gluten free crackers, and, later in the meal, some incredible European chocolates.
“Where’d you get them?”, we asked.
“Aldi”, came the reply. She then expounded for 10 minutes on the strengths and weaknesses of the place. I was impressed, and made a point of visiting it within a couple of days. I’m still impressed.
Aldi is a German retailer that is a major player in Europe. It also operates some 1,500 stores in the US (who knew? I certainly didn’t). It operates relatively small stores selling carefully selected merchandise at rock-bottom prices. It provides private labeled or off-brand staples, a limited selection of fresh produce, plus an ever-changing range of close-out items. All have been tested for quality (with Teutonic obsessiveness). Aldi offers a “double guarantee” for every item it sells: return it, and get both a replacement AND your money back. Based on my own, limited shelf survey, the close-out items are typically 3-6 months away from their sell-by date.
Many of the items are packaged food targeting a low or middle-income American consumer: taco mix, cake mix, and other highly processed food items I would never purchase. Sprinkled in, however, are some serious bargains that appeal to quality-conscious consumers: e.g. the gluten free crackers my friend served us. When I visited recently, there was a good assortment of organic nuts and grains, all at bargain prices. Also a few exotic looking European cookies, sprinkled among more conventional American offerings.
And don’t forget the chocolate (see header image)!!! A pretty good selection of German and Swiss made chocolate bars. Not any brands I’ve seen elsewhere, but given the countries of origin, that’s no problem. In the event, I purchased a German-made bar of dark chocolate with chiles: 125g (4.4 oz) for $1.99. 5 months before the sell by date: the chocolate tasted perfectly fresh, smooth, and delightful. Quality (to my taste buds) equaling the famous Swiss brands like Lindt, at 50%-60% off.
Definitely a place worth checking out, especially if you’re on a budget.