For year's I've heard about ALDI from my pals in other states. I envied their awesome scores and grocery bill savings. I was pretty excited to hear that they were expanding into Southern California. We are getting one in my town but I guess that's not until next year. In this first wave of SoCal store openings, one opened a few towns over and I was given the opportunity as a local area blogger to check it out, buy some groceries on ALDI and share my thoughts on my fun shopping trip and finds.
Some facts for the ALDI newbies like me:
- ALDI operates in more than 1,500 stores in 34 states
- More than 90 percent of the products they offer are ALDI exclusive brands, they regularly buy the most commonly purchased grocery items in the most common size generally purchased, which secures sizable discounts for purchasing in volume.
- The store hours are typically from 9 AM to 9 PM, which also helps keep labor costs down.
- ALDI does not provide grocery bags – you must bring your own or buy reusable ones at the checkout stand. Everyone should use reusable bags it's an easy way to help the environment. This is law in some states (and *jumping on soapbox* should be in California too, Senate Bill 270 was signed into law but out of state plastic bag companies have given a ton of money to get it on the November 8, 2016, ballot in California as a veto referendum - P.S. Vote YES to uphold the ban *jumping off soapbox*).
- Carts are available for use but you must deposit a quarter. When customers are done using the cart, they return it and get their money back. I great big puffy heart love this idea! (*OK back on soapbox*) It drives me batty at other stores to see carts stuck in parking spots, flower beds and especially the ones left in the paths designed for wheelchairs. Hello?! Where are people's brains? What if wheelchairs can't pass or are unable to physically move them out of the way? One of my favorite Random Acts of Kindness ideas is running those back to the store. (*off soapbox again*) With the ALDI cart rental system that rarely needs to happen and if it does well you'll score their quarter. Reminds me of that old Tom Hank's movie in the airport.
Find an ALDI near you.
The store is smaller than traditional supermarkets - 4-5 aisles so if you are looking for a can of diced tomatoes, you will have 1 or perhaps 2 choices instead of 10 different flavor and size varieties but that sort of focused purchasing is another way you save $. I love reading labels and I was jazzed to see so many organic, free of hydrogenated oils, no colors or MSG items, look for their SimplyNature® line of products. If you are gluten free look for the liveGfree® products.
My haul... I bought some great organic spices, you know how expensive those can be. SimplyNature® organic red and green lentils too (lentils are packed with iron). They had a super price on Carlini Olive Oil No-Stick Cooking Spray. I got some nuts for future recipes. I bought a bag of their SimplyNature® organic popped popcorn for our next movie night. I bought a box of their Barissimo coffee pods and they make a delicious and rich cup of Joe. Slurping it as I type.
FYI I bought my Mum a bag of their Benton's Caramel Coconut Fudge cookies that she said tasted exactly like the ones the kiddos sell. They also had a great wine section, lots of award winners and many from our Southern California local wineries for those reading who like to sip the vino.
In the Meat section, I scored a great price on chicken. In Frozen Foods, I tossed a bag of Sea Queen Jumbo Cooked Shrimp in my cart. When I got home placed about 1/2 the bag in a bowl of cold water in the the fridge to defrost and within the hour they were perfected defrosted. We had them for a late lunch, they were delicious. I also picked up a bag of Speciality Selected Mahi Mahi Fillets. They had Sea Queen salmon, flounder, huge scallops, super prices.
I love to have frozen seafood on hand in the summer. I put a couple of fillets in the fridge in the AM and by dinner time they are defrosted. I just cut up some zucchini, maybe some green onions, a piece a fish, a sprinkle of seasoning, drizzle with a Tablespoon of olive oil wrap in foil and toss on the BBQ grill for 20 minutes or so. It makes a great protein-packed healthy dinner without heating up the house and there's hardly any clean-up.
Some Foil Packet Dinner Recipes
Speaking of healthy meals... once I picked up the bag of Sea Queen Jumbo Shrimp I knew I what I was going to make for lunch. In the Produce section, I bought all the ingredients to make some killer guacamole: fresh avocados, cilantro and limes. Over to the refrigerated section for Pueblo Lindo Cotija Cheese (shhh my secret ingredient) and fresh Little Salad Bar Salsa. The Little Salad Bar Salsa is ahhhh-mazing seriously best I ever had and that bag of cilantro was 25 cents?!
More Healthy Mexican Recipes
I was jazzed to see big bags of Honeycrisp and Fujis for literally what I have paid for only 2 apples in other stores. I bought 3 bags. I sliced a few and cooked them with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a squirt of Sugar Free Syrup till they were fork tender but not falling apart for toppings on Ricotta Pancakes, Greek yogurt or cottage cheese this week.
The Cheese section was awesome. I think I spent the most time here. You know how I love cheese. I was good I only bought a couple. I stopped myself from getting a 2 ball container of BelGioioso Burrata because although it was an awesome deal and HEAVEN (worth every. single. fat gram), it is limited to a once a year treat near my birthday. So ALDI, I will be back for it next month! I usually grill some peaches or saute some apples and top with a ball of burrata. It's better than birthday cake.
Recipes for Birthdays and Other Celebrations
Oh... non-food related... the middle aisle is like this random collection of awesome deals called Special Buys. I bought a gorgeous outdoor picnic blanket that would have been $39.99 in stores for only $9, a 2 pack of super cute garden gloves for $2. I was really tempted to get buy this outdoor fire pit they had. I saw practically the same one at the local garden center just the other day for $149 but the ALDI price was $69, still not in my budget right now because practically everyone in my family was born in the next few months. I hear these go fast so if you see something in this section don't expect it will be there when you return.
Speaking of returning, the nearest store is about 20 miles away but that fresh salsa is worth the drive alone. I will be back and looking forward to the future opening of the Temecula, CA. ALDI store.
Want to learn more about ALDI? Let them know you want a store in your 'hood... more are coming. Head over to their Facebook page to find out all the 411 on the stores and let them know The World According to Eggface sent you over.
Did I miss any of your favorite ALDI finds? Let me know for my next trip.
Thanks for the opportunity and groceries ALDI.