As everyone knows, Aldi is one of the fastest growing grocery stores in the world. The grocer continues to innovate, developing new products even as it continually tweaks the products that are already on store shelves. Even for a regular Aldi shopper, it’s a lot to take in.
To wrap our brains around all that’s going on with Aldi right now, we’ve assembled a collection of Aldi bloggers to get their thoughts on the past, present, and future of everyone’s favorite German grocer.
Our contributors are:
- Rachel Rappaport, founder of Attention Aldi Shoppers
- Betsy Steiner, founder of The Amazing Aldi on Instagram
- Diane Youngpeter, founder of The Aldi Nerd
- Rachael Johnston, co-founder and senior editor of Aldi Reviewer
So, without further fanfare, let’s begin!
Joshua: As you know, Aldi is in the midst of a huge expansion in the United States, including remodeling its stores. Some shoppers love the new remodeled stores, while other people claim they’re causing prices to go up. What’s your take on the remodeled stores?
Rachel (Attention Aldi Shoppers): I like remodeled stores. Most of them have started refrigerating more of their produce which I prefer as I think it extends the life of the food.
Oddly, one fairly new store was remodeled and they didn’t add produce refrigeration so I’m not sure what went on there. It seems like an easy choice. I don’t feel like the prices were really affected, they are still a fraction of other stores in the area.
Betsy (The Amazing Aldi): I love the remodeled stores. I have heard people complain about prices but Aldi’s prices are still substantially lower than other stores like Kroger and Whole Foods while still being great quality. The one issue I do have with the new stores is that the produce section is right when you walk in the door and it tends to cause traffic jams during busy hours.
Diane (The Aldi Nerd): I love the newly remodeled stores and am anxiously awaiting for the one down the street from me to be built! I think the fresh image will change a lot of preconceptions about the quality of Aldi products that non-Aldi shoppers have. As much as I’d love to believe that people don’t “judge a book by its cover,” they totally do. I haven’t noticed a significant change in prices, but like they say, “you gotta spend money to make money.” These remodels are going to give Aldi a big boost in sales and people coming in through that door, and those savings will be passed along to us the consumers. I don’t find lower prices in any other grocery store around me.
Rachael (Aldi Reviewer): I have mixed opinions about the remodeled stores. The layouts are a little different in each remodeled store, and sometimes they’re not intuitive and it takes me longer to find what I need. I’ve seen stores where I have to go to a different aisle if I want organic spaghetti sauce versus regular sauce, for instance, or where the cauliflower is nestled among the fruit in the produce section, or where similar snack foods are randomly located in two or three different aisles.
The Aldi location I shop at most frequently recently reopened after being remodeled, though, and I think it has the best layout so far, with a spacious produce section at the entrance with wide aisles to prevent cart traffic jams, and Aldi seems to get a little better at logically organizing and categorizing items by aisle with each remodel.
As for the popular theory that store remodeling is causing prices to increase, I don’t know. I’ve seen prices on some items go up, but it’s normal to see price inflation over time in any grocery store. It’s easy to blame price increases on the very visible and widespread store renovations, but that may not be the only reason.
Joshua: What would you say are some of Aldi’s best Regular Buy products right now?
Betsy (The Amazing Aldi): I first started shopping at Aldi for their meat and cheese selection to build charcuterie boards because they can get so expensive. From there I started branching out to produce and then eventually everything. My favorite regular products of theirs are the organic milk, L’oven Fresh loaf wheat bread, organic eggs, their pre-popped organic popcorn (with M&M’s), the nuts (such a good price), and of course the produce. We’re a family of four so I just love that I can get quality basics at a great price. Plus we eat A LOT of berries and anywhere else that can get pretty expensive. That said, I really get excited when I see new regular buy items. With their organic and meatless lines growing so quickly there’s always a new great product to try.
Diane (The Aldi Nerd): Ranch dressing – stuff is amazing only $0.89 a bottle! Cheese Club Mac & Cheese – $0.33/box and just as good as Kraft. Baker’s Corner Milk Chocolate Morsels – $1.79/bag and the best milk chocolate chips I have ever tasted. Simply Nature Organic Apple Walnut Granola – best granola they carry I will cry if they ever discontinue it!! I eat it hot, cold, on yogurt, oh my!!
Rachael (Aldi Reviewer): They have a competitive selection of healthier foods, including fresh produce and convenience foods like salad kits and deli items. I like their artisan lettuce, and I’ve seen the quality of Aldi’s fresh strawberries improve in recent years. I also like a lot of the seafood options like frozen shrimp (raw, cooked, breaded, etc.), and my family likes Aldi’s Mediterranean Herb Atlantic Salmon from the refrigerator section. Aldi also is a great place to get baking supplies such as flour and sugar as well as spices. And they’re not good for you, but Aldi’s peanut butter cups are amazing.
In the non-food area, I like the Lacura face wash and the new Radiance cleaning sprays.
Rachel (Attention Aldi Shoppers): I love their pesto in a jar, the green onions, the olive hummus, the smoked salmon and the ricotta … all excellent and very well priced.
Joshua: What stands out to you as some of Aldi’s best ALDI Finds over the past year?
Diane (The Aldi Nerd): I did not purchase one myself, but holy wow they hit it big with those darn pineapple slicers. Bravo, Aldi. Bravo!
Rachael (Aldi Reviewer): My personal favorites include the Bremer Gyros Kits, Fusia Asian foods such as crab Rangoon and potstickers, Thomas Farms lamb, Casa Mamita Restaurant Style Salsa, Journey to India Mini Samosas, Friendly Farms Mint Chocolate Chip Greek Yogurt, and Specially Selected Crab Cakes.
Top non-food products include Aldi’s versions of an Instant Pot, the camping gear, patio furniture, the Gardenline Raised Garden Bed, and the Crane Foldable Exercise Bike.
Rachel (Attention Aldi Shoppers): I love when they have the ground lamb on sale. Lamb is hard to find locally and when I do find it, it is expensive. I also like the large spiralizer with the removable discs.
Betsy (The Amazing Aldi): Right now I am obsessing over the Stōke Cold-Brew coffee. It is legit maybe the best cold-brew I’ve ever had and that’s saying something because I’m a big coffee girl. I also loved the pre-made Simply Nature chai lattes. People were going berserk over the Crofton pineapple slicer. I even bought one and I hate kitchen gadgets. I think it was only like $3.99 and it really does work well. Also the Blue Hill Bay smoked salmon poké bowls were popular. They’ll actually be back in stores next week. Oh, and those fake looking shrimp taco and fajita kits in the frozen section. They’re super easy to prepare and delicious. Aldi is such a fun store to shop because you literally never know what you’re going to find.
Joshua: Have you experienced any letdowns or disappointments from Aldi over the past year?
Rachael (Aldi Reviewer): I had high hopes for Aldi’s SOHL Furniture 3 Tier Metal Rolling Cart. It looked just like a cart Ikea sells. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it to stand straight and had to return it. Also, the new ready-to-eat Earthly Grains Cauliflower Meals were gross.
Rachel (Attention Aldi Shoppers): Not really! The only thing I’ve ever had to return was the over the cart grocery bag. It wasn’t very practical and very difficult to carry when full.
Betsy (The Amazing Aldi): I can honestly say that I’m really never unhappy with Aldi. I always have great luck with their produce and meats. There are VERY few things that I use regularly that Aldi doesn’t sell so I hardly ever have to shop another store.
Diane (The Aldi Nerd): Part of me wonders if the smaller, older stores’ needs are being ignored and neglected during all these remodels. The store I used to shop at is older, not as pretty, but I still went there because the products were the same. Last time I went, the cooler with all the cheese and lunch meat felt warm so I told an employee. They told me that the particular cooler broke down every week. It was then I started driving farther to a newer Aldi because nobody wants to take a chance with that. Is Aldi so busy remodeling new stores that they don’t have time to upkeep their older ones?
Also the Quarter Keepers, while cute, are absolutely impossible to get a quarter in and out of. And last but not least … they changed the Journey to India Tikka Masala Recipe. It was delicious and now it is so very disappointing!
Joshua: Any predictions about what you think Aldi is going to come up with next, either in-store or in its overall business strategy?
Rachel (Attention Aldi Shoppers): I think they might add more in-store bakeries. There is one outside of my city that has one and it seems very popular.
Betsy (The Amazing Aldi): Aldi’s US market is growing so crazy fast right now I have no idea what they have in store. No pun intended 😂. No but really, I feel like because of my popular IG I’m kind of on the forefront of everything and I’m so excited to see how the store evolves over the next few years. I know a lucky few have bakeries and I would LOVE to get one of those stores nearby.
Diane (The Aldi Nerd): I think they will continue to grow their line of specialty products, including organics, gluten-free, and vegan. I saw ALMOND FLOUR the other day at my Aldi. I never would have expected that a couple of years back! I don’t know if they will ever be everyone’s 100% store, just due to the physical size of the building, but they are going to try damn hard to shoot for 99%.
Rachael (Aldi Reviewer): Perhaps we’ll see Aldi expand to areas in the western U.S. such as Arizona and Colorado. I also expect them to continue moving toward more sustainability in packaging and other areas of business operations (I appreciated that I could buy tomatoes in compostable containers earlier this year), to remain responsive to food trends such as veganism or grass-fed beef, and to continue to offer products that appeal to health-conscious consumers.
Joshua: Finally, if you could make one request of Aldi, what would be at the top of your wish list and why?
Betsy (The Amazing Aldi): If I could request anything from Aldi it would be more fresh herbs. They currently only carry cilantro but I would love to see a few more. And rotisserie chickens of course. I realize that’s not happening but a girl can dream.
Diane (The Aldi Nerd): I would request that they build more of them. It pains me when I have to go to a more expensive or larger grocery store, because I don’t have time to make a trip out to Aldi.
Rachael (Aldi Reviewer): Bring back the 70-calories-per-serving Journey to India Tikka Masala sauce. It was perfection.
Rachel (Attention Aldi Shoppers): More varieties of fresh seafood.