Monday, 11 July 2011

Aldi–The Good, The Bad and The Crazy

Everyone is feeling the squeeze of increased grocery prices and the world of blogging as been abuzz with talk of budgets, meal planning and … Aldi. I have to admit, Aldi has always freaked me out a bit. There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to some of the product placement and the fact that there is a mini department store running through the middle of it selling a different random theme every week is just weird. I can safely say I have never walked into a shop hoping to buy my milk, bread and an air compressor in one transaction. For many years I have stayed in my Woolworths and Coles comfort zone. I know where things are, I can get all my meat, fruit and veg and baby stuff in one trip and the quality of generic brand products has improved dramatically.


Despite all the positives, the costs have soared and its not unusual for this family of 3 plus dog to spend an average of $200 each week just to feed ourselves. Hearing so many stories on the virtues of Aldi including this one recently from Muddled Up Mumma convinced me that I should at least give it a try.

I knew I would have to go in with a detailed list, preferably without my pint-sized assistant or I would never make it. Once I had written my list and dropped Skye at Day Care, off I went ready to tackle the speedy check outs, pallet shelving and foreign brands. I hadn’t even parked the car yet and I was beginning to feel frazzled, parking was tight and since I had the genius to go in the middle of School Holidays, on a Thursday when the crazy random theme sales start I was lucky to find a space.

Things started off well, I was most pleased to find that I could purchase imitation Tiny Teddies in honey flavour only multi-packs for much less than the originals. Unfortunately, they contain eggs so they aren’t an option for Day Care snacks. Pasta Sauce and soft drinks were well priced and the Toothpaste was an absolute bargain. Enter crazy random sale section which just happened to be all about kids toys and I wasted about 20 minutes looking at all sorts of wooden toy sets before settling on a cute little Tea Set (which Skye is totally in love with).


I continued through managing to find most items I needed until I reached the fresh produce section and I have to say that the quality of most things was seriously lacking. Most people I have spoken to can’t speak highly enough of the fruit and vegetables at Aldi, but obviously none of them shop at this particular store. I could not find a single potato that wasn’t green and I wasn’t keen on buying large bags of things I couldn’t see clearly through the packaging.

I had been so engrossed in trying to work out where things were and being one of those annoying against the flow people every time I realised I had already past something I needed, that I hadn’t noticed just how loud it was in there. It was great to not hear the store jingle on repeat or worse still the announcement of 1/2 price BBQ chickens at the Deli, but as I swanned around in my child-free smugness I looked around to seek out the source of the ruckus. In the absence of overhead shelving and subliminal store jingle brain-washing I could hear every other person in there! I know that no mother voluntarily takes her whole tribe to do the groceries if she can avoid it, but I swear if I heard Jimmy get told to get out the freezer one more time I was going to throw a packet of frozen peas at him!

Satisfied I had everything I could get, I went through the checkout relatively unscathed and paid my total. It was about half my normal grocery bill, but honestly there was only about half the groceries I usually buy. I did not get any meat, nappies, cleaning or beauty products and due to the poor selection, minimal fruit and vegetables. I had such high hopes of becoming an Aldi fan, but I just didn’t feel the love. It looks like I will be a Woolworths snob for a little while yet.

For those who are Aldi converts, how long did it take you to come around? Was it love at first sight or did it take a few weeks of getting to know each other before you were willing to make a commitment?


  1. It took me a while. Seriously try the cleaning and beauty products. I am a huge fan of the Lacura range (and this is coming froma girl who uses Chanel makeup!). Meat is pretty good also. I don't buy much fruit and vege there as it is poor quality, but the packet rocket and spinach etc is excellent and triple washed - super convenient. It does take a bit of trial and error... will be interested to see if you sway a little further!

  2. Love this post!

    Firstly a dear friend termed that middle section as the 'kill zone'! Totally.

    I didn't feel the love completely straight away. And like you I felt I should try and get out of my comfort zone. it is a big shift. The first time I went I couldn't stop biting the inside of my cheek because the whole thing seemed to serious and hilarious for my liking. I got an ulcer from the biting. That scanning mentalness was too funny.

    I do a big stock up on essentials every three weeks to a month and for the most part the products are good. There is a lot of trial and error and there are some things I won't compromise on. If you find a few things you like, you will probably go back. The woggy pane di cassa bread is truly sensational. The pizza cheese is good. There are lots of things I like from there.

    Mostly for me is how ripped off I feel by Coles and Woolies. Mr Nutshell used to do some secret work for Woolies and he is convinced they are pure evil from working on their project plans and implementation. his stories are staggering and he hates me shopping there unless I can go in an get out with a loss leader. They kill their competitors brands too.

    Once you get over the 'different' feeling. You might like it. My west coast cooler aunty just couldn't do it and now after persistence she is quiet a fan.

  3. It took me awhile to get used it, when I first walked in I was a bit freaked out and when the check out chick started practically throwing things at me I admit I was a bit nervous (and I did have my trolley the wrong way around at the checkout) which showed me up as a total Aldi Beginner! We do about half our shopping at Aldi and half at Coles and sometimes buy a few things from Woolworths. We don't buy meat from Aldi anymore due to a bad experience but we usually find their produce to be good in our local store, the strawberries in particular have been delicious and cheap lately!

  4. It took me a while as well to convert but I swear by Aldi for things like wipes, washing powder, dishwashing tablets, toilet paper, their mince, their party pies, sugar, biscuits, olive oil and I absolutely love their "kill zone" have picked up some great toys for the kids that last so much longer than others. I don't do my everyday shopping there but shop in bulk about every 3 weeks and stock up on essentials. Hubby loves their scotch finger and choc chip biscuits.

  5. We had our first go last fortnight and were surprised at how something a small as shopping at different store can stuff with your head! Couldn't bring myself to experiment with the big ticket items like nappies and formula but was really pleased with produce and meat. Was unprepared for packing my own stuff, but recon we saved about $50 for the fortnight.

    The biggest problem I have is I can't see myself doing a whole shop there, I still had to go to Woolies for things afterwards so it comes down to time and how ratty the kids (three under three) are.

  6. Kate Nicholson11 July 2011 at 13:49

    I'm not a huge fan of Aldi but we do save quite a bit of $ getting a few items there. Ben on the other hand would like me to do our weekly shop there, but considering half my dinners come from a packet or jar, until they start selling Maggi and Continental packets, it's off to Coles I go. I go to Aldi about once a month or two and stock up on muesli bars (for the hubby), dishwashing liquid, sponges, makeup remover pads, cotton tips and laundry soaker. Oh, and laundry liquid. It's only around $1.50 for a big jug and it keeps our clothes stain free! Biggest bargain I've found there so far! And also their version of 'Listerine' is only a fraction of the price at Coles. I dislike packing my own bags and waiting forever in the queue. Perhaps it's only at my local Aldi, but there is only ever 1 person on the checkouts when there are loads of customers with their trolleys overflowing. I much prefer Coles, but there are a few things that are great value for a tiny price at aldi.

  7. Haha, yes it is a transition going from the safety zone of Woolies or Coles and it probably took me a good 3 months of stubborn determination to get used to it. There is a fair bit of trial and error. Most of their products are fantastic!! although I do steer clear of the mouthwash. Washing powder and cleaning products are great, nappies are fine too, baby wipes are the best I've tried, umm..I could go on all day and let you know what we like. You do get used to the "style" of shopping and I find it immensely rewarding to be able to keep pace with the check out chick. Keep at it and I'm sure like myself you'll come to love it in time.

  8. I am totally in agreeance with you about the poor quality of fruit and veg. There were some mouldy tomatoes and VERY limp lettuce in our local store a few weeks ago. I really want to love Aldi because I know there are savings to be made but as a part time worker and mum to an 18 month old I really can't go past the convenience of online shopping. I do it on Sunday afternoon/night and they are delivered on Tuesday night (pay day!). I shop fortnightly and have been saving heaps on money with a meal plan. Tomorrow's delivery will be $186 and then I will spend another $50 or so next week getting fruit, milk and bread. No nappies this fortnight though so that always brings the cost down! x

  9. I am not sold yet, but go in every couple of months to stock up on nappies and little boys. Yep they have they only gluten free cocktail frankfurts I can find and they are CHEAP!

  10. @Lee
    Hans has gluten free cocktail frankfurts in little cryovac packs. I buy them at Woolies, Coles and also IGA, so I'd say that they're pretty widespread.

  11. @Muddled Up Mumma Hi Jodie, which Lacura products do you use? I currently use Dermalogica and Payot but its not exactly budget friendly so I'd love to hear your recs :)

  12. I love Aldi, but we don't shop there every week. I used to be a big fan of the nappies with dd1, but I've noticed with dd2 they aren't as good.

    I love the fabric softener, yummy biscuit selection and my DH loves their flying power energy drinks. I've recently started buy meat their and was pleasantly surprised. We love the kill zone and my daughters winter coat gets so many comments and for less then $20 I'm happy. the casa del ... Spagetti sauce is excellent too.

    It's definitely worth trying again, now you know what to expect and not to go on Thursday you might find next time isn't as daunting.

  13. Thanks so much for all your comments, you have convinced me that I need to give it another shot, preferrably not on Crazy Sale Thursday.

    I have to admit I do love the kill zone in theory. My mum lives for the kill zone, and we do get some quite good items from there.

    I feel better that most of you buy selective staples in bulk rather than a weekly shop, that's a little hard core for me I think :)

  14. We've made the switch to mostly shopping at Aldi this year and I am a definite convert! Have you seen the Aldi Mum blog and Facebook page? Good reviews of different Aldi products.

  15. Thanks Madeline, no I hadn't come across these yet, but I will definately check them out. I think Aldi should come with some kind of manual, LOL.

  16. Just read your post. I have gone quite a few times but am never totally satisfied with the products and often come out with hardly anything. With two little ones it is often quite difficult to get to one shop so getting to Aldi as well as Coles/Woolies is near impossible. They do have these amazing biscuits called Ginger Kisses which are so much cheaper than the Coles ones but sadly they are not always in stock. Still not a Aldi convert but happy to go every now and then

  17. I wonder if this is the same Aldi we have here in the US. It sounds similar (minus the air compressors, perhaps). I don't generally venture in as our food prices are still pretty reasonable and I like my local shop -- know where everything is and the produce is great. But when I was in Sydney a few months ago I was shocked at the food prices. I don't think I could afford to eat there!

  18. We don't have an Aldi in Adel. Although we do have Rite Price, which is similar, I think. Hubby is a die-hard supermarket, get-it-all-in-one-place kinda man, so the cheapskate within just goes along.


  19. we have been to aldi a few times. Mainly for nappies or the sales. I find it all a bit daunting and its so much smaller than the big stores and it has the other bits and pieces aswell. Maybe we should try it are u going to try it again? Btw The tea set is cute :)

  20. for me it was love at first sight. But I have learnt to only buy certain things from the "fresh" fruit and vege section. But the nappies, face cream, chicken, mince, steak and frozen fish are awesome. I get most of our groceries there and get a few things from woolworths. We have saved heaps of money.
    and I LOVE the strange stuff in the middle.
    Try the chocolate. seriously.

  21. @mummysundeservedblessings I agree, I don't want to have to go to multiple supermarkets to get my full shop done, will have to try out the Ginger Kisses though, thanks!


Come on, gimme some sugar xx

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