20 October, 2008

A New ALDI in Town

ALDI Food Markets seem to be readying a big push into my area. There's a brand new distribution center just a few miles south of here, and the first ALDI in the area has just opened on State Route 83 in Vernon.

As modern supermarkets go, ALDI isn't very big - the size is closer to the market buildings of the 1960's than it is to the giant mega-supermarkets that the chains have been building for the past twenty years. Inside, they're fairly spartan - warehouse-style racks and cut corrugate boxes are the rule; ALDI cuts their overhead to the bone in order to shave a few bucks off your weekly grocery bill.

One of the things that's most noteable is the near-complete lack of national brands in the store. Just about everything is a private-label brand belonging to ALDI. This seems to bother some people, but I've found from experience that name brands and expensive advertising don't always add up to superior quality. So, over the past couple weeks we've tried out a few ALDI items to see how they stack up.
  • Simms Beef Jerky - Quite frankly, this is the best beef jerky I've ever had. 100% American beef, nice big pieces of real beef (no chopped and formed garbage), great flavor, moist and tender. 3.5-ounce package for a staggeringly low $1.99.
  • Happy Harvest Canned Vegetables - Although not quite as good as DelMonte, we've found Happy Harvest to be better than most other store brands and much better than any generic.
  • Cambridge Saltine Crackers - Indistinguishable from Nabisco Premium saltines. However, at 89 cents a box I can buy about four boxes of Cambridge for the same price as one box of Premiums.
  • Fit & Active Raisin/Apple Biscuits - Remember Sunshine Raisin Biscuits? They were a crunchy cookie-like crust sandwiching a thin layer of raisin filling. Although they had quite a cult following, after Sunshine was bought out by Keebler, they were discontinued. These Raisin/Apple Biscuits by ALDI, however, are damn close. They made my wife very happy.
  • Roseland Breakfast Sausage - Frozen links. Horrible. The flavor of sage was so strong, I might as well have been chewing a sage leaf. They were disgusting.
  • Roseland Ready-To-Eat Bacon - I've never been able to find "real" bacon in the ALDI near me, but they have plenty of this stuff. $1.99 for a package containing 15 strips of precooked, ready to heat and eat bacon. The regular is very good. The "maple" flavor smells deliciously like maple-cured bacon, but there is little maple flavor. Over all, however, $1.99 for fifteen pieces of bacon is a good deal.
  • Fruit Dazzle soda pop - They call it a "sparkling beverage" but seriously, this stuff is just colorless diet soda. It's also consistently good.
  • L'Oven Bread - Tastes and feels day-old right from the start. I was less than pleased, but it made good stuffing, so not a total loss I guess.
  • Grandessa Signature Coffee - 100% Arabica beans, fine grind, "German roast." Full pound-weight packages (well, a little over a pound, since they're half a kilo), works out to about $3.60 a pound and it's one of the most delicious coffees I've ever had.
There are a few other things I haven't tried yet - Mr. Pudding instant vanilla pudding for example - but I'm pretty sure anything else we try will be fairly decent. Overall, we've been very pleased with the price and the quality.



Michele said...

I've been a loyal Aldi shopper since I was 18 years old. First visiting them when I lived overseas...then when I moved back home I was very happy to find them all over the place. I still shop there once a month for all my staples for the pantry. The fresh meat is great quality. And I wonder why you have a hard time finding fresh bacon in your Aldi's? We have 4 different varieties in our local store. :-)

Snackgirl said...

This place sounds awesome. I hope they come up to MA soon! I will have to visit one of these magical stores next time I'm "down south" in CT :)

Alex Rushmer said...

Although it isn't possible to do a 'weekly' shop at ALDI, they have some really great stuff at insane prices. Congrats on the find - and check out their cold cuts like prosciutto and salami because they are amazing.

ANDY PAGE said...

The new Aldi Food Markets springing up all across America are awesome.

I love the skylights in the atrium ceiling, the great prices on quality ALdi products, the selection, and especially L'oven Italian bread.

That bread rocks!!!! Shop Aldi Smart.

Anonymous said...

The Simm's beef jerkey is why I stumbled on your page. I have tried many, many kinds of beef jerkey but never had I tasted anything like Simm's; even from a hunting friends fresh out the smoker goodness, Simm's wins best. I had to find where it came from (Mamma sent it my way). Glad I can count on Aldi for another go to!