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:
“I love the products, especially the bakery and fairy products. Meats and produce are always fresh. I try to tell people about how good Aldi's is. Most are as thrilled as me. But over the years a couple have turned up their nose and won't even try it. Great! More for me, ha!”
— Silver B.
Comment

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.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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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.

76 Comments

hemingwaylake October 10, 2020
What I love about Aldi is all through the pandemic they did not raise their prices and their stores were pretty stocked. Lots and lots of grocery stores raised a lot of prices.
 
Wendy C. September 22, 2020
All of Aldi's products have been fantastic. Haven't tried them all yet, still in the freezer. I fear they'll be sold out before I get back there.
 
FS September 22, 2020
Aldi sells out quickly. Stock up on your favorites because chances are you won't find them again. Guess how I know! :(
 
DLanthrum September 22, 2020
They buy limited quantity. You DO need to get in at the beginning of the sale for super deals, or something you especially want.
 
SpudUk August 19, 2020
I'm so surprised that you complain in the USA about having to use a coin (in your case a ¼, in the UK a pound coin.),we've been doing it for years. You call them carts, we call them shopping trolleys.
 
2tattered August 19, 2020
So what?
 
DLanthrum September 22, 2020
It does NOT bother me --- ALL you need to do, is BRING it BACK to get your coin (whatever, where ever) back!! NO ONE should complain, but I know they do and will...
 
Carole G. July 13, 2020
I love so many Aldi products. Love the Pecan Shortbread cookies, the German fruit strudel, the everything brioche hamburger buns, the 1pound rolls of 85/15 ground beef is very good for under $4. Their ice cream is delicious, the best butter pecan ice cream I've ever had, the chips and snacks are all good and much cheaper than other stores and also the eggs are super reasonable. I found some amazing raspberry preserves. The only product there that I don't like are the jars of peanuts. Too much salt and seasoning on them. I prefer Planters. Overall I love Aldi. I buy everything I can there.
 
Ana M. June 28, 2020
I do my shopping at Aldi only, being an age Pensioner, always within Budget and very happy old soul 😊
 
Deborah B. June 21, 2020
Their Bentons cookies taste just like Oreos!
 
Silver B. May 29, 2020
I LOVE Aldi's. I discovered it about 10 years ago. My store is very small - perfect for me because I am disabled. It is always clean, well stocked and the employees are super friendly and helpful. I love the products, especially the bakery and fairy products. Meats and produce are always fresh.
I try to tell people about how good Aldi's is. Most are as thrilled as me. But over the years a couple have turned up their nose and won't even try it. Great! More for me, ha!
 
Gaga4 May 26, 2020
Aldi's is great. On another article there was talk about their produce not being good. On the contrary, Aldi's produce is much better than many groceries I have been to. And cheaper too.
 
Flo May 7, 2020
I love aldi's. Most of the stuff I buy for my family is from there. Some stuff tastes better than name brand. I dont have a problem with the produce at my store.
 
Judy F. May 3, 2020
The last time I was there which was years ago even somebody with one item had to stand in the same line as somebody was a cartful which didn't make any sense and there's usually ridiculous lines most of them
 
DLanthrum May 3, 2020
I think the operative phrase there is that is has been years since you have been there. While they do not have self-check outs like many of the modern stores, at least in my area, they are prompt to open check out lines when the lines start to back up.
 
Ana M. June 28, 2020
Aldi opens lines very quickly and efficiently... And if I am waiting with one or two items behind customer with full trolley, they usually let me get ahead of them. 👍🏻
 
Sandra R. April 19, 2020
I love Aldi, but agree you have to really be careful with their produce. Several times right after checking out I have spotted an item in the bag completely covered in mold. They did tell me to get a [email protected], which was quite a walk for these 73 year old legs and a challenge to find a bag that had no mold. When I returned to the cashier there was no refund guarantee as they promised as an acknowledgement of the trouble I went through. I am in the Dayton, Ohio area and after experiencing this four times, I can tell you I never got the promised refund. Only the replacement I had the challenge to go through to find non rotten replacements.
 
DLanthrum April 19, 2020
I live in Central Illinois, but-- let's be honest... I Will ALWAYS check what I buy if it is not in an enclosed container! I have seen avocados that are either too ripe, or not ripe enough, and I pass them up. I have seen cabbage recently that have spots on the leaves, now with that, I know-- and even if it was my own garden-- I can peel them off, and the product is not "rotted or spoiled". I am one who also tries to look at COOL labeling. I don't care as much if the price is a real bargain, if I am buying the salmon that comes from Chile-- nothing against Chilean seafood-- but that makes a different to me. I also look at those things with produce, and much of Aldis produce IS imported... but I still look at quality, and rate theirs as well above average... But, as with all purchasing decisions-- it is personal. But I advise-- inspect before you leave the store.
 
DLanthrum April 19, 2020
Aldi's Eggnog Ice Cream--- only during the Holiday Times, is one of the BEST EVER! I am a Food Geek, and a Culinary Instructor, and I make a lot of things from scratch. I make a Freaking Good Eggnog, and Aldi's is Right Up there with Home Made. Many of their Belmont Ice Creams are Top Notch... "Real Strawberry" is another one. And-- Their produce is second only to Farmers Markets and Local grown.
 
DLanthrum April 19, 2020
Aldi's Egg Nog Ice Cream--- only during the Holiday Times, is one of the BEST EVER! I am a Food Geek, and a Culinary Instructor, and I make a lot of things from scratch. I make a Freakin Good Egg Nog, and Aldi's is Right Up there with Home Made. Many of their Belmont Ice Creams are Top Notch... "Real Strawberry" is another one. And-- Their produce is second only to Farmers Markets and Local grown.
 
Phyllis B. April 19, 2020
Watch out with their produce. Not always freshest or best quality. Some not bad just be careful with fragile items like strawberries and such. Otherwise some great buys.
 
Linda D. April 19, 2020
Aldi has the best brioche especially brioche bagels and hamburger/hot dog buns, plus yummy cheese & caramel popcorn, chocolate covered biscuit cookies, brownie & chocolate chip cookie mix, and chocolate almond milk. They used to sell a private label brand called "Priano" that had amazing holiday baking mixes though I haven't seen them the past few years. I also buy a lot of produce, cheese and meat there now.
 
Carol C. April 19, 2020
Love love Aldis!! I start my shopping there. All their staples are lower priced and the same if not better quality than the big chain grocery stores. My weakness is the Fusia line of Asian foods. When they have them I store up! The potstickers are better than the Asian markets! Same with the spring rolls. The orange chicken has a good balance of chicken to breading and sauce. Some I’ve tried are all sauce and almost no chicken!
My complaint is they don’t always carry the products. Also their seven layer dip is decadent! The people who work there are friendly and helpful. All in all a great place to shop!!
 
Jane April 19, 2020
Aldi is giving their employees a salary bonus going back to the first days of our quarantine. 👍
 
Jules R. April 15, 2020
Eggs 48 cents . half priced compared to all other storesinc . walmart .
 
Sandra R. April 19, 2020
In the Dayton, Ohio area, this price is history. The $.48 price is now double that with a limit of two.
 
Dinna April 22, 2020
Is that for a dozen eggs? That is amazing, I live in NYC and have paid up to $6 a dozen
 
Nexeida N. January 20, 2020
Aldi Lactose free milk is steal very cheap compare to regular brand ! Also Aldi cheese is real good buy and quality I personally buy all the cheeses in Aldy ! There breads and specialty bakery it’s also real good price and quality !
 
Kathy R. May 24, 2020
I enjoy the Lactose milk, German noodles & choclate from other countries. Great store!
 
ptabbaa January 19, 2020
I love their dark chocolate anything. It is really very high quality. Also like their small brie wheel to bake with honey and nuts.