Grocery

The 9 Best-Kept Aldi Secrets You Didn’t Know About

Grocery-store whisperer Katie Workman, at it again!

July  8, 2019

My latest grocery deep dive takes place at Aldi, a discount-priced chain of supermarkets found all over the country. There are actually 1,600 Aldi stores in 35 states—way more than Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, if you can believe it. If you have an Aldi in your area but haven’t swung in, I highly recommend that you do. You may be surprised at what you find.

I hit up the Danbury store, chatted with a few of their employees to collect a few insider secrets on the things to know and what to buy, and left with a trunkful of supplies.

Here’s what I learned:

1. Long-Lost Relations?

Aldi is kind of a cousin of Trader Joe’s—or some sort of half-removed relative. The backstory is complicated, but the short bits to understand are that the two chains are independently run by two brothers who had business differences a while back, yet they are connected by a tiered company ownership structure. Clear as mud? In short, one brother runs Aldi, and one runs Trader Joe’s, and if you’ve noticed some similarities between the two stores, then you’re probably right.

2. Pay Attention to the Deals

Aldi Finds are limited-time premium buys and on-trend seasonal items, and while, yes, many of them are food, many are not. The prices are amazingly low, either way. One employee told me that if there was something I liked in the Aldi Finds section of the store, I should buy “like, 10” of them because they go fast and aren’t stocked for long.

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Top Comment:
“The nearest Aldi to me is more than 30 miles away and there's one in the town where my mother lives. I go every time I can get close. Have tried and loved so many of their items and prices. Being disabled on limited income we need all the bargains we can find. Especially love their spaghetti sauces and goat cheese and being able to find guyere shredded as none of our local stores, i.e. walmart, Food LION, INGLES carry guyere and their goat cheese are priced astronomically. Wish wish wish Aldi would build one in Elkin, NC. Lots of surrounding communities , 25 miles down mtn to walmart. Residents here would love to have an Aldi here please.”
— Karen M.
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Recently, I bought two summer sleeping bags there for $8.99 each (which sounds absurd, I know). My kid is testing it out as we speak—fingers crossed. Foodwise, this week there was a 3-pack of multi-colored bell peppers (orange, red and yellow—no green!) for an amazing $1.49 (roasted pepper antipasti!), blackberries were $1.29 for a 6-ounce package (sparkling berry sangria, here we come), and extra-large Hass avocados were 99 cents each (guacamole festival—incoming).

3. Bring Bags and a Quarter with You

To keep prices low, Aldi doesn’t offer bags at checkout, so make sure to bring your totes along. Also, to make sure their carts don’t go missing (which I guess is a problem), and to cut down on the labor needed to collect stray carts in the parking lot, you have to “rent” a cart for a quarter (like how those carts at airports work, but much cheaper!). You get that quarter back when you return the cart to the dock.

4. Their House Brands Rock. Here’s a primer.

Like some other favorite stores, Aldi has house brand offerings. But while Costco, for instance, sticks to Kirkland, Aldi has loads of them. In fact, about 90 percent of what they sell are one the Aldi labels. Here are a few of their lines, and the standout products within each one:

  • L’Oven Fresh is but one of their bakery lines, and the English muffins were $.99 for 6, which is crazy cheap. If you have teenagers in your house, then you can make a load of English muffin pizzas and feed the masses cheaply.
  • Pueblo Lindo, along with Casa Mamita, is one of their Hispanic food lines. One employee singled out the mango nectar as a favorite buy. Casa Mamita taco shells were 89 cents for a package of 12, and since my kids’ favorite thing in the world is taco night, I stocked up.
  • Clancy’s is an Aldi snack line, and one employee told me her family thought their original potato chips were better than name-brand. $1.79 for a big family-size bag. I’ll be pairing these up this summer with my slow-cooker pimiento cheese dip.
  • Another employee (I spoke to a lot of folks) said that Aldi Mama Cozzi’s refrigerated pizzas were her very favorite, and she brought one home every week. These are a fan-favorite for sure, and I could not believe the prices: A 16-inch five-cheese pizza (mozzarella, provolone, Monterey Jack, Parmesan, and Romano) was $4.99, and the supreme (with pepperoni, sausage, peppers, black olives, onions, and thee cheeses) was $5.99! Also, in the same line you can find a biscuit-crust sausage and cheese breakfast pizza.
  • LiveGFree. From croutons to brown rice pasta and baking mixes to chicken nuggets, Aldi offers their own line of well-priced gluten-free items. This is a house brand that seems to be growing rapidly to meet market demand.
  • Never Any! is their house chicken and pork line, made from animals raised with no antibiotics and no hormones, fed a vegetarian diet. I saw a spatchcocked peri peri seasoned whole chicken, which is a pretty cool little marinated item to make into an easy dinner. Other items were deli meats and a wide range of chicken sausages with flavors like Cranberry, Italian Spinach Feta Chicken Sausage, and Tomato Basil. An easy way to keep shaking up a pot of Leek, Chicken Sausage, and Split Pea Soup or a Chicken Sausage and Sautéed Greens Sub.
  • Deutsche Kuche is their German line of products, which are all actually made in Germany—and which were singled out by an Aldi employee as one of the hidden gems of the store. She pointed out the Uncured Bavarian Bratwurst for $3.99. I am heading back for the Bavarian Soft Pretzel Sticks which were on sale for $3.49 for a six-pack. Paired with Hot Cheese Beer Dip and one of Aldi’s many imported beers, I can’t think of a better game-day snack.

5. Load up on grains

Aldi prices on all sorts of grains were stunningly low. Simply Nature quinoa was $3.99 per pound, Specially Selected White or Brown Basmati Rice was $2.99 for 2 pounds, Earthly Grains Long White Rice was $1.99 for 3 pounds.

6. A Twice as Nice Guarantee for skeptics

Aldi is so confident in the quality of their products that (with a few non-food exceptions) if you’re not satisfied with the quality of one of their items, you can have the item replaced AND get a full refund. Pretty nifty.

7. The Fish Is Fresh, Never Frozen

That’s what a number of their packages were labeled, some even preseasoned. A fresh Atlantic salmon side was $7.69 per pound, and a fine reason to make Salmon with Tarragon Vinaigrette. Fresh tilapia filets were $5.79 per pound, and you can bet I’ll be sautéing up some Tortilla-Crusted Tilapia with Sriracha Sauce shortly.

8. La Croix Fans Rejoice!

The “it” water of the past few years is sold here, and for a very good price: a variety 24-pack was $7.99 as part of their Aldi Finds program, which is about 33 cents per can, which is nuts. A 12-pack of single flavors was on sale for $3.99. And guess what? If that’s not cheap enough for you, grab a pack of their house version of La Croix, called Belle Vie, which is $2.69 for 12 cans.

9. Fun, Surprising Miscellaneous Items

Aside from a selection of produce and their wide array of branded items, you can find some intriguing products, like Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Mix—who knew? One of the store workers immediately grabbed this when I asked him what his favorite product was. I had already been eyeing the package, as I had never seen this before, and had no idea that Red Lobster even made supermarket products. I tasted them and they were delicious (if a bit salty).

Another item I’m sorry I didn’t buy was a Funnel Cake Kit, complete with pitcher pouring spout. It was only $2.69 and I hope it’s there next time. Until then, I’ll have to live with my decision.

What are your favorite Aldi products? Tell us in the comments below.

For more unsponsored grocery-store love letters, click here.

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Author of The Mom 100 Cookbook and themom100.com blog. A New Yorker, cook, and mom, I don't sit still very much.

40 Comments

Diane D. July 17, 2019
Pita crackers and pita chips, jalapeno artichoke dip, organic broths, coffee, paper towels, whole milk Greek yogurt, butter, bacon, stuffed green olives, salami, organic olive oil, organic apple cider vinegar, grass-fed ground beef, German riesling...I could go on and on!
 
SophieL July 14, 2019
Their baby gem lettuce, avocados and mini peppers are bargains. Specials on meat and fish, too, such as boneless skinless chicken thighs and salmon. Aldi Finds are great, especially the specialty cheeses. I've gone back to buy an Aldi Find, only to learn they've sold out. Lesson - this is where you can buy on impulse and not regret it!
 
Sam M. July 14, 2019
OMG, I have made Aldi my top grocery store... instead of Whole Foods. I have been trained to cook and rely on super fresh and healthy items for my meals. Aldi's produce is incredible, organics are reasonable, almond milk is delicious (and down right cheap) and meat/fish are wonderful. I've cut my grocery bill by more than 1/2. Sure. There are some fill in items I purchase at the Kroger and Piggly Wiggly but, in time, I will probably be changing that also.
 
Jill July 14, 2019
Aldis offers a respectable selection of organic produce, as well as other organic items in canned foods, spices, eggs, meats etc .My particular favorites are the produce where I usually find organic apples, berries, broccoli and lettuces. My other “go to” are the organic eggs which are about $2.00 cheaper than the regular stores. On another healthy note, Aldis has been remodeling their stores with an environmental upgrade which uses less energy and reduces its footprint. This I read in an article. The article also stated that their employee levels are more equal, less tiers, and everyone is trained to do all the tasks, including stocking shelves. My only complaint is the absence of hand wipes in the meat section. Meat packages often leak and then we touch other items throughout the store. So, take your own.
 
Timothy E. July 14, 2019
Organic bananas cost less at Aldi than do the non-organic at the other grocery stores!
 
Mary R. July 14, 2019
The chocolate is excellent, and very reasonably priced.
 
Timothy E. July 14, 2019
Aldi is now my primary grocer. Considering that there are no GMOs in any products sold there and you can find healthy products such as the "Fit and Active" line as well as the "Never Any," for reasonable prices makes other grocers just fill in stores for products Aldi does not carry.
The frozen Sea Scallops are amazingly good. I had stopped buying fresh scallops at other stores as they usually were gritty and/or smelly. On the recommendation of another Aldi shopper that I met in the checkout line I tried them. Aldi's frozen Sea Scallops at $9.99 for 12 oz. never disappoint. They taste and smell fresh and I have yet to get one with any grit. The package averages 9 sea scallops/12 oz. package.
You also cannot beat their organic unsweetened vanilla almond milk. At $2.69/half gallon I prefer it to any of the national brand almond milks.
Last week's Aldi weekly meat special was organic grass fed boneless rib eye steaks for $9.99/lb. This type of special is offered in limited quantities so it pays to sign up for their weekly email to learn about such things before the casual shoppers.
Need a summer sipper? Aldi is currently offering a peach wine at $3.49/750 ml bottle that is effervescent and satisfying with spicy food on these 90+ degree Florida days.
Aldi definitely does not carry every product that I need (lemon juice, yes, lime juice, no). That is not their business model. They carry items that move. I can live with that because they do carry most of the items I need or want which are of high quality and very inexpensive. For what they don't have I'll happily stop by my previous main grocers Publix and Winn Dixie to buy.
 
Jordan P. July 14, 2019
Their organic almond milk is the besttttt
 
FS July 10, 2019
Aldi carries great German and Belgian chocolate, as well as good Italian pasta. Spinach fettucine, anyone? Around christmas the stores carry a really nice assortment of fancy cookies, truffles and even good German stollen. Sometimes it's amazing what incredible stuff a little Aldi store carries!
 
Sharyn D. July 10, 2019
The 10th thing should be the pet food at Aldi, especially the canned food. I buy a couple cases of each size of cat food cans and even my finicky felines have never refused Aldi cat food.
 
E. S. July 10, 2019
Trader Joe's is owned by the "Theo Albrecht Charitable Trust" (T.A.C.T. Holdings). Your article would lead readers to believe that there is some ownership or operational relationship between the two (Trader Joe's and ALDI in the US) and there is none.

Theo Albrecht’s sons, Berthold Albrecht and Theo Albrecht, Jr., are each 50 percent shareholders of TACT. There has never been any operational (nor direct ownership) relationship between Trader Joe's and Aldi in Europe or the U.S.
 
Gayle July 10, 2019
Ice cream! Specially Selected Super Premium Ice Cream. Comes in Vanilla and Chocolate, though we always get vanilla. Cream, skim milk, sugar, pasteurized egg yolks and vanilla. Nothing else! Great treat every now and then. Get a lot of things from ALDI and have been very happy with them. Retired - so every penny counts!
 
Karin W. July 10, 2019
My local Aldi is now offering delivery service. My first choice for fresh produce. They are now offering grass fed ground beef, it's great. The fresh salsa is sooo good and at very reasonable price. Get it at least one a week.
 
Mary J. July 9, 2019
We shop at ALDI every week, as it is only 5 minutes away. They DO offer bags, you just have to pay for them at ten cents each. Most people just use empty cartons they glean as they shop. They always have meat specials on Wednesdays, but get there early. Unlike most stores, shoppers are NOT limited in the number of packages they buy. People with big freezers stock up. They also have excellent basic beauty items under their own LaCura label. The skin creme is great, and is packaged in glass, not plastic. We LOVE Aldi!
 
Thea July 9, 2019
I love Aldi organics. Very dissapointed to learn that unlike almost every other major grocer in the U.S., Aldi still has not committed to stopping its pork suppliers from locking up mother pigs in tiny “gestation crates” for their entire life. Almost every leading company in the food industry has listened to public opinion by adopting a policy to phase-out purchasing from operators using gestation crates —from restaurants like McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, Cracker Barrel, and Quiznos to other cost-conscious retailers such as Costco, Trader Joe’s, Kroger, and Walmart.
 
Susanne A. July 9, 2019
Your 1. item is totally wrong. You actually link the Wiki article but apparently didn't read it. The two brothers split the Aldi empire after they inherited it. In Germany, it is Aldi Süd (South) run by Karl Albrecht (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Albrecht) and Aldi Nord (North) run by Theo Albrecht (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theo_Albrecht). Once they expanded internationally, they split the different countries betwen the two companies, so for example Aldi South is present in the USA, Australia, China et al., Aldi North is in Spain, Portugal, France et al. At one point, the brother who owns Aldi North in Germany decided to buy the American Trader Joe's chain, which is now a subsidiary of Aldi North.
 
Kathleen July 9, 2019
Not sure why anyone would link to a Wiki article OR why anyone would believe one that they read. Everyone, do your own research.
 
Kmwelz July 9, 2019
Aldi has become a nice competitor to Publix here in Central FL. They actually have a warehouse near us, and are becoming a valued employer. I love their selection of really good cheeses, not the processed stuff! And all kinds of nuts, cashews, almonds (the wasabi/soy is the best), and other standard peanuts, etc, at terrific prices. The produce is good, would like more options that are not prepackaged in plastic, so I can bag my own in mesh bags. But they do seem to be environmentally conscious. Would love to see Trader Joes' Triple Ginger Snaps at Aldi's!
 
Jeannie July 9, 2019
I love the specialty cheeses and meats, hummus, brioche buns, brioche chocolate chip bread, M&M ice cream sandwiches and organic produce!
 
Karen M. July 9, 2019
The nearest Aldi to me is more than 30 miles away and there's one in the town where my mother lives. I go every time I can get close. Have tried and loved so many of their items and prices. Being disabled on limited income we need all the bargains we can find. Especially love their spaghetti sauces and goat cheese and being able to find guyere shredded as none of our local stores, i.e. walmart, Food LION, INGLES carry guyere and their goat cheese are priced astronomically. Wish wish wish Aldi would build one in Elkin, NC. Lots of surrounding communities , 25 miles down mtn to walmart. Residents here would love to have an Aldi here please.
 
Sue July 8, 2019
The guac is the best!!! All natural ingredients!
 
Patrick P. July 8, 2019
Aldis must pay a decent wage,the 3 locations I have access to have had the same employees since they opened.
 
Maggie M. July 9, 2019
Aldi cashiers here start at ~$13/hr. They have decent bennies, too.
 
Michele July 9, 2019
My local store starts at $13.90/hr.
 
Mary J. July 9, 2019
AND when employees are on the register, they actually sit down on swivel chairs. They don't bag, but they do have to scan the items and put them in another cart after they are scanned. Employees are expected to be real team players, and stock shelves and unload trucks when not on the register. And ALDI does not sell tobacco products.
 
Patrick P. July 8, 2019
The thing I like about Aldi's the most is it's causing a Walmart that sits right above it completion a gal of any milk at either store is $1.49,other items are much cheaper too u just have to take time and look.
 
Patrick P. July 8, 2019
I meant competition.