3.30.2008

Consumer Experience Review: “You fat cats didn’t finish your plankton!”

GOD DAMN! Between gas and grocery prices, we are officially on a budget!

As I’ve said before, desperate times call for desperate measures -- in a word, Aldi.

Due to circumstances that would take way, way, WAY too long to explain, both Michael and I have prepared Aldi’s food, but have never been to an Aldi’s store before today.

So, for all you Aldi’s virgins out there, first things first:

1)You need to “rent” your grocery cart for a quarter. If you return your cart, you get your quarter back. In some amazing understanding of inner-city microeconomics, Aldi’s figured out that a person looking to steal a grocery cart places higher value on their quarter than on the cart they wish to steal. Maybe those “Freakonomics” guys should look into this phenomenon.

2) Aldi’s does not accept checks or credit cards. They do accept debit cards and, of course, cash.

3) The cashier puts your groceries straight into an empty cart – no bags. If you want to take your groceries home in a bag, you have to buy it – there is a really heavy plastic bag with sturdy handles for .99 cents, and standard plastic grocery bags (but don’t buy these, they always end up in the trees on our block) and paper bags for .10 cents. There are boxes sitting around, but those are a hot commodity and you may have to fight a fellow shopper for one.

And just an FYI, you can buy underpants at Aldi’s. Also wheelbarrows and raspberry bushes. And jogging shorts.

Aldi’s is not the place to look for healthy or low-fat foods. Aldi’s does have a “Fit N Active” line of “health-conscious” products, but it is limited, predominately mango-flavored and weird. Overall, most of their foods are chock full of hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. No wonder their fig bars taste so fucking good.

Another thing -- you need to be a little scrappy to shop at Aldi’s -- this is not your typical Pick N Save crowd. I had to protect our place in line from a guy loaded up with Aldi’s brand energy drinks (I think it’s called “Red Thunder” or "Wild Thunder") and something called “GT Cola.” Despite this line-cutter's caffeine high, I managed to hold my own, thank you very much.

Bargains did abound. We bought a full week’s worth of groceries, plus some extras, for $143. We probably would have spent at least $200 on the same items at Pick N Save. For example, a gallon of skim milk is a dollar cheaper per gallon vs. PNS.

We bought little processed or prepared food – and tried to stick with meat, breads, vegetables and dairy products. The $143 also included household goods such as a large jug of laundry detergent (Tandil brand; “New Improved Fragrance!”) hand-soap refill, toilet paper and paper cups and plates.

Here's a 'lil sampler of what we purchased at Aldi:
But wait, you say – what if this stuff tastes horrible, or has cutworms in it (true story), or doesn’t work well -- then it’s not so much of a bargain, now, is it?

This is where we’re taking one for the team – we’re going to use all of our Aldi products over the next week and report back to you, the consumer, on the good, the bad, and the possibly infectious.

You’re welcome.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Anne, we love you so very much. Who else could document the reality, who will believe the saga and why would anyone want to live, any other way. Not us.
Mickey and the boys are blessed that you are the heart and soul of your family.
G. Rosann
PS. Promise me you won't feed the boys Aldi's Sea Net Tuna.

Brian V said...

Nice article. How did your experience go (the quality of the goods)?

BTW, you don't really have to take one for the team. If something doesn't meet your fancy, take advantage of the double guarantee. Most items are not only eligible for a full refund, you would also get a replacement too. Even if the product is used. I have never experienced a hassle in attempting a return.

Aldi Double Guarantee (Details)

Check out their website, it is really informative and helpful

-Brian in Chicago

Anne Quimby Mathias said...

Thanks Brian!

We made a beef stew/ragout last night with our Aldi products and it was great.

The only thing I don't get about the Aldi Double Guarantee -- if the product is gross, or you just don't like it, why would you want another?

Rosann, I won't feed the boys any Aldi canned goods. Promise.

Anonymous said...

The quarter cart is there to save labor cost as they never have to round them up.

Zach W. said...

Funny story about Aldi's. We had one open up here in South Milwaukee not too long ago, and despite being brand new, it still looked as dumpy as any other Aldi's I've ever been to, no matter how new or old.

Headless Blogger said...

My wife and I had an unnatural fear of ALDI, until we learned it is not an inner-city chain, but a European one. Our ALDI tips:

Their frozen pizzas are really good. Much better that the $2 pizzas at other groceries.

Their 4 for $4.99 chicken pot pies are every bit as good as the expensive ones from Marie Callendar.

Their marinated turkey tenderloins are very good grilled.

Buy a couple of the big shopping bags at IKEA. You can get a week's groceries in them (if you can lift them).

Excellent dark chocolate candy bars at a good price. My wife always loads up on them.

I really like their house brand coffee. Every bit as good as Starbucks, just like the sign in the store said.

Bon Appetit

Anonymous said...

I think that red/caffeine stuff is called "Red Bull"...No wonder you had to fight to hold your place in line. I understand high prices. The $4 for a small tube of toothpaste at Safeway sent my scurrying to a Costco membership. I now won't have to buy paper products or any other non perishables for the rest of my life..

AA

Anonymous said...

The best thing at Aldi's, hands down, is the beer!

They've got a great pilsener and a variety pack (lager, pilsener, dark) both imported from Germany, and a very Heineken-like brew as well, which (I think) is Dutch. All very good, and all considerably less than the name brand alternatives. And, any beer made in Germany has to meet the German purity law, and is only allowed to contain barley, yeast, hops, and water.

Anne Quimby Mathias said...

Wow, thanks for all the Aldi information! The tip about the beer is great -- although I also like Trader Joe's brand beer.

I hope to post some updates tonight about our Aldi brand experiences.

Aunt Ant, Red Bull is the national brand -- Aldi's has hilarious similar sounding names for comparable products.

Anonymous said...

You'll need to take me to this place when I'm back in town in June. Is this store worse than the Wal_Mart in Sheboygan???

AA

Blackjack Strategies said...

It is remarkable, very valuable message