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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.
7 thoughts on “Selective Bargains”
As a long term resident of Lawrence Township my typical weekend grocery run includes: Food Bazaar, Aldi and Shoprite (Ewing). Notice that Aldi doesn’t take Credit Cards, cash or debit only. I would like to point out Aldi’s middle-of-the-store-bargain-area. Here you find all kinds of toys, tools, clothing, plants and gifts items. It’s fun just to stop by and see what they offer there. I have found many fun items here that make great last minute presents. Full disclosure: I was born and raised in Germany and as such should be considered biased in opinion 🙂
FYI – the Aldi on Olden no longer exists!! They opened a brand new one on South Broad in Hamilton. Coming from Trenton, it’s right after 295. Nice, updated interior & shopping experience, as the location on Olden was a little tired.
Actually, I believe Aldi is renovating the Olden Store. So it is closed right now but is supposed to reopen as an Aldi.
Same parent company as Trader Joe’s…
Interesting, and based on my research on Wikipedia triggered by this comment, not quite true. Aldi’s was originally owned by two brothers, who inherited their mother’s single grocery store in Essen in 1946. together they grew it to one of Germany’s largest chains. In 1966, they split into two companies, each controlled by a different brother: Aldi Nord and Aldi South. They are now completely independent companies. Aldi Nord owns Trader Joe’s. Aldi Sud operates the Aldi’s chain described here.
I’m actually disappointed in Aldi, especially after experiencing what Bottom Dollar (who they bought) offered. As compared to BD, Aldi’s products seem lower quality, there’s less variety, and more of the store is taken up by junk than groceries. The BD on Broad St. in Hamilton was great, the Aldi, not so much.
Fair enough. But since (I guess) Bottom Dollar no longer exists, those of us without your perspective have to judge Aldi as it stands. I understand your perception of lower quality: as I mention in the review, Aldi carries a lot of items which I would never consider buying. Not that what they carry is “bad” for what it is. Simply that there are a large number of highly processed food items that I wouldn’t care to buy. There are however, imo, enough items of quality (at extremely low prices) that makes it worth checking out.