Archive for the ‘Aldi’ Category

I’m Heading to Savvy Blogging Summit With ALDI

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

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I’m so excited to be heading to the Savvy Blogging Summit again this year! I am very excited to be speaking and teaching a class on How to Grow Your Blog One Pin At a Time, sharing in a hands-on session assisting people with getting great pictures for their food photography,  and also working this year as a spokesperson for ALDI and assisting them with their Snack Cart during the session breaks this year.

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As I am sure you know, I have been a longtime supporter and super fan of ALDI. I had the unique opportunity to get a behind–the-scenes tour of ALDI and learn more about the unique offerings the store has available as well as to sample their products.  I have been shopping at their store for many years, first out of necessity due to our family’s financial situation, and now because I am truly addicted to their products and love the savings that our family experiences by shopping there. I am excited to be sharing more about my own personal experience at the conference and excited to be working with ALDI again to share about the great value that they offer to their customers.

If you happen to be attending the conference, please be sure to stop by the Snack Cart to say hello! I would love to meet you and answer any questions you might have about the store and their offerings. I would like to thank ALDI for sponsoring me for this conference and giving me the chance to learn more about how I can take my own business to the next level at the amazing Savvy Blogging Summit!

This is a sponsored post. ALDI will be covering my travel expenses for the Savvy Blogging Summit.  My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

 

Behind the Scenes with Aldi Supermarket

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

This past week I got the unique opportunity to step behind the scenes and find out more about Aldi Supermarket and the products that they offer their customer. As a longtime fan of the grocery retailer, I could not wait to see how this company operated and, frankly, how in the world they can offer food for such a low price.

During the trip I got to do a wine and cheese tasting, got a grocery store tour to learn more about how their stores were set up, and then I got to participate in a blind taste-testing of the products to see how they compared with other national brands.  There was truly not a single element of this trip that I was not fascinated with.

The first question on everyone’s mind was how do they get their prices so low?

This is an answer that we were told would take years to explain, but the main points all pointed to simple cost-cutting measures, employee training that goes beyond other grocery stores,  a limited selection of items, smart store design, and in-house private labels. The savings are in the big things like having baking items on pallets and dairy items on rolling carts so the employees don’t need to stock shelves and then are reflected in the smaller things like the quarter deposit for your cart and bagging those groceries yourself.

All of these little and big things translate into great prices for their customers.

If you have ever stood in a line at Aldi, one thing you will see is that these cashiers work at lightning speed and can wait on customers quicker than any other store I have ever been to. You may not know it, but Aldi offers smart packaging that can speed up your wait time at their store. In this picture is a single bag of chips, simply held at all different angles. Practically every corner of their bags and boxes have a UPC code that can make scanning your items that much faster.  Go ahead and take a peek in your pantry at your Aldi items and you will see it too. It is one of those things that you may have never noticed, but translates into saving time for you.

The typical Aldi store only has between 6-8 employees and it is common for their employees to celebrate 15, 20, or 25 years of service. They pay their employees significantly higher than the national average and with 20 hours a week, they give their employees full health insurance benefits. Employees go through extensive training and they do everything from putting out the new pallets of food to ringing up the customers to tidying the store. It is this efficiency and the smaller pay rolls that translate into big savings for their customers.

Perhaps, the most surprising thing for me was discovering the amazing wine selection that Aldi offers. I admitted that I walked by the wine section of the store because the low prices on the bottles made me question the quality of the wine. I will never look at their wine section the same again after their wine tasting.  Don’t believe me? Aldi has received many awards and accolades for their wines.

Here are just a few of the accolades that Aldi has received. Did I mention these bottles are all under $6?

Wine Spectator

Sunshine Bay 2009 Marlborough (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc
Best Values Award
Received 85 points

2009 Gonfalone (Italy) Chianti
Received 85 points

Beverage Testing Institute

Landshut (Germany) Riesling Mosel 2010
2010 World Value Wine Challenge- Top 10 White Wine $8 and Under Exceptional Value
World Wine Championships Award Silver Medal (2009)

Landshut (Germany) Sweet Red Rheinhessen 2010
World Value Wine Challenge- Top Dessert Wine $8 and Under Best Value German Dessert Wine
World Wine Championships Award Silver Medal (2009)

Toca Diamonte (Argentina) Malbec Mendoza 2009
World Wine Championships Award Bronze Medal

2009 Gonfalone (Italy) Chianti
World Wine Championships Award Bronze Medal

Of those wines that I sampled, I fell in love with the Sunshine Bay 2009 Marlborough (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc, the 2009 Gonfalone (Italy) Chianti, the Toca Diamonte (Argentina) Malbec Mendoza 2009, and the Landshut (Germany) Sweet Red Rheinhessen 2010.  Most of the bottles were $4.99, which make them quite affordable both for entertaining and for giving around the holiday season.

We paired these wines with some of Aldi’s cheese offerings which included a delicious goat cheese, a Havarti cheese, and Brie cheese. All of the cheeses were equally delicious and I am looking forward to offering these with these wines around the holidays.

I am a longtime customer and super fan of the products that Aldi offers, but the blind taste test that I participated in surprised even a super fan like me.  Aldi is challenging shoppers to switch from national brands to their private label Aldi brand for the holidays, to save their families up to fifty percent on their shopping.

We sampled many items from their holiday line and compared them to the national brands. Even though I love Aldi, I can be a bit of a food snob when it comes to certain foods like high quality cheeses and meats.

When we taste tested Tyson chicken versus Aldi chicken, I truly loved the Aldi brand better. I knew the meat that I had tasted must have been the Tyson meat, but I was dead wrong. It goes to show that sometimes we are just conditioned to believe one brand is better than the other.

Another surprise was the difference between Mrs. Smith’s apple pie versus the Aldi Belmont Deep Dish Apple Pie.  The Aldi pie is pictured on the right and you can tell just by looking at the bottom of the crust that the pie cooked and browned more evenly.  The difference in the taste was significant and the price was 28% lower.

Even being the Aldi fan girl that I am,  I came away feeling validated that the choice that I had made to shop at the store, out of necessity due to the financial strain we had been under, for our family was a good one.  The cost-cutting measures of the store do not cost-cut on the bottom line of the quality of the items in the store. In fact, the company does their best to offer a better product that the name brand.  After doing this blind taste-testing, I believe they have exceeded the standard.

If you haven’t checked out the store before, you really are missing out on so much.  I can feed my family of four for $220 for three weeks by shopping there. I do not clip coupons. I do 95% of my shopping at this store. I am rarely disappointed in the quality. If I ever was disappointed though, they offer a double guarantee and I could bring the item back for a refund and get it replaced. I don’t know very many places that offer that to their customers.

If you want to learn more about shopping at the store, I have several resources that you can check out on the site:

Aldi Supermarket

Aldi Menu Planner

Aldi Fall/Winter Menu Planner

The Aldi Queen Blog

If I was a fan girl of Aldi before, this trip took it to another level for me. I can confidently say that this store is THE place for families on a budget.  I promise, you will not be disappointed.

Let’s talk! Have you shopped at Aldi Supermarket before? Did anything surprise you about the behind the scenes look? What is your favorite item to buy at the store? Please share!

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Eating Healthy at Aldi Supermarket? Yes, You Can!

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Eating healthy is a hot topic in America right now and of great concern for so many parents. With the growing epidemic of diabetes and obesity that our children now are facing, what is a parent to do?

The common thread that I see  with families is that they want to eat healthy, but they just don’t feel like they can afford to. It often feels like the fast food choices and convenience foods are a better deal than the fresh produce and good-for-us foods that are available in the supermarket.

There is also a common misconception that shopping at lower priced grocery stores means that you eat food that is bad for you. In fact, I refused to shop at Aldi because of what I remembered about the store from when I was a child. All I remembered was a sea of junk food and soda.  What a surprise to later discover in my life that healthy foods abound at the store and that I am still able to maintain a healthy diet on a budget. In reality, I just needed to maintain an open mind and learn to navigate the store better!

The truth is, you can eat unhealthy in any supermarket in the nation. All stores contain processed convenience foods that don’t do your body justice and that can be potential spending traps in your grocery budget.  Navigating the outskirts of the store and venturing into fresh produce, low-fat dairy, and the frozen sections for out-of-season veggies, fruits, & fish, and delicious whole grains are what will keep your grocery budget and diet on track.

Here is my deep and dark secret as a frugal gal. I love to stay under budget on my grocery shopping, but I am a horrible coupon cutter. For me, coupon cutting equals spending more money  and I usually end up buying things I don’t really need or eat. Call it lack of discipline or call it pure laziness, but I will take bagging my own groceries over coupon cutting any day of the week.  I am still frugal and thoughtful with planning, list-making, and making affordable meals, but I am just not a fan of coupon cutting for groceries. Between the store being much smaller than the superstore (which equals less opportunity to stray away from my list) and the fact that I don’t have a to clip a single coupon, I remain loyal to Aldi!

I hit Aldi last week and thought I would share with you the prices on some of those foods that I buy and the prices here. Dairy, sales, produce, and prices can vary between stores, but it showcases how well you can eat while keeping your budget low.

1 Gallon Skim Milk- $2.19
Low-Fat Vanilla Yogurt (32 ounces)- $1.59
Celery- $1.39
Carrots (32 oz)- $.99
Lemons (4 ct)- $1.49
Navel Oranges (large bag)- $1.39
Russet Potatoes (10 pounds)- $1.99
Bananas (per pound)- $.37
Bagged Flat Leaf Spinach (9 ounces)- $1.69
Mushrooms- $.99
Broccoli- $1.49
Grape Tomatoes- $1.89
Brown Rice (2 pounds)- $1.29
12 Whole Grain Bread Loaves- $1.69
Wild Caught Salmon (Frozen- 1 pound)- $3.99
Tilapia (Frozen- 1.5 pounds)- $3.99
Boneless Chicken Breasts (Frozen- 3 pounds)- $6.29
E-Z Peel Shrimp (Frozen/Medium 300 Count)- $3.99
Hand Selected Jarred Fruit- $1.99
Frozen Green Beans- $1.49
Frozen Blueberries- $2.69

This is just a handful of the items that I purchased, but showcases the healthy options that are available and the affordable prices that can be found.

Whatever store you choose, here are some important tips for staying under on your grocery budget!

Good Research Goes Far

Keeping track of prices is the best way to insure that you get the best deals on the items you buy regularly. I know that this seems like a time consuming process, but it is definitely worth your time if you are trying to stay on budget. Start tracking the prices on the items that you buy regularly and keep this information in a little price book that you can take with you to the supermarket.

Don’t forget to include prices from your wholesale club. For Sam’s Club, for example, you can look online and check the pricing on the items that you buy regularly on their site as well. Armed with this information, you will be able to see if those bigger boxes really pack a better punch or if they actually are costing your family more money and more space.

When you see the prices dip, stock up and up and up on the items you use regularly. If you are a coupon cutter, couple this with your coupons and you will have some killer deals to help to keep your pantry stocked when the deals are leaner. As a side note though, Aldi does not accept coupons so their current prices are their “bottom line” pricing.

Crush the Condiments

Condiments can be a huge drain to the grocery budget and don’t add any real benefits to your diet. Skip the condiment aisle altogether and learn how to make some simple dressings, homemade meat marinades, barbeque sauce, croutons, and even your own special ice cream sauce for a fraction of the cost. A quick search on the internet should yield some great results for making all of these yummy additions for pennies versus dollars. Not only will you be helping your grocery budget, but you will also have control over the quality of the ingredients and the amount of sugar and salt you put in them. It is a win-win situation!

Hold the Meat

Plan one or two days each week to skip the meat or at least focus a little less on meat in your entrees. We try to plan one night where we do breakfast for dinner and have waffles or pancakes instead of our usual meat and potatoes type of meal. If your family is not open to going meatless one night, try finding dishes that take the focus off of the meat. Pasta dishes or casseroles might have meat in them, but one pound of meat will stretch a lot further than one pound would as a main dish. Stretching or eliminating meat can have a truly positive effect on your grocery budget and you might be surprised that with a little creativity, you won’t miss it at all!

Grow Your Veggies

Gardening season is just around the corner and in some parts of the country, it has begun! I am a novice gardener and began gardening last summer. I had low expectations for what I would be able to grow, but my garden did surprisingly well for a black thumb like myself.

Growing your own herbs and vegetables will save you a ton of money at the supermarket. If you are just beginning gardening, like me, start with a small garden or even just a container garden before making a large investment. Check out books from the library and spend your winter researching ways that you can improve your garden each year. Involve your children in the whole process, as it can be an invaluable teaching tool for them, and make your gardening a family event. It is amazing how much you can the save and learn from just a few plants.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Research proves that we lean towards buying the brands and products that we have grown up with. It is also known that we tend to gravitate towards stores that are the easiest or most familiar for us because we think it saves us time. Are we really saving any money though when we just pick the most convenient or buy the brand that we have always bought? Probably not! With the grocery prices going up, now is a great time to begin exploring other stores in your neighborhood and trying generic or cheaper brands on the products that you buy. You just might find a new favorite store or brand- you only need to be open to trying it.

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Don’t forget that if you need a little Aldi inspiration you can get inspired through our site. Here are a few of my favorite spots on the site to help with your planning and shopping at the store:

Aldi Supermarket 101

The Aldi Queen Blog

Aldi Menu Planner

35 Ways to Reduce That Grocery Budget

How do you eat healthy and stay under budget on your groceries? Please share your tips, techniques, and strategies for eating the best you can on your budget!

Pot Roast Italiano

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Pot Roast Italiano

3 pounds beef chuck roast
1 can diced tomatoes – drained
1 can tomato sauce – 12 oz
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 medium onions- sliced (I omitted these because of personal taste)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon basil
6 oz. can tomato paste
Grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Place sliced onions on bottom of crock pot. Place roast in crock pot. Season with salt and pepper. Pour diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, vinegar, and spices over roast. Cook on high for 1 hour, and then low for 8 hours. Transfer meat to cutting board and cut into chunks. Meanwhile, whisk tomato paste into the gravy in the pot roast and add parmesan cheese to taste. Gravy will get thicker after a minute or two. Add meat back to gravy and serve.

Leftover Tip- If you have any meat leftover (which will be highly unlikely), shred it for sandwiches. Serve the shredded meat on hoagie rolls with chips and fresh veggies. Yum!

Deliciously Spiced Pumpkin Waffles

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Deliciously Spiced Pumpkin Waffles

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pinch salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 2/3 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl. In a second bowl, add eggs, sugar, pumpkin, milk, and butter; beat well. Gently fold in the flour mixture. Spoon in about 3/4 cup of batter into the waffle iron. Cook each waffle for 4-5 minutes. This recipe makes approximately 5 waffles on my waffle iron.

Additional Notes- I double this recipe to make an extra batch to freeze or when entertaining. Make sure to spray your waffle iron well with nonstick spray or these will stick to the waffle iron and make a big mess. Also, be sure to leave these on at least four to five minutes. If you try to take them off sooner than that, they will not taste as good or set up as nicely.

Banana Cream Pie Smoothies

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Banana Cream Pie Smoothie (Courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine, makes 2 servings or 4 smaller servings)

1 cup sliced ripe banana (about 1 large)
1 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
2 tablespoons whole wheat graham cracker crumbs (about 1/2 cookie sheet- we have been omitting this ingredient)
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ice cubes (about 1/4 cup)
Graham cracker crumbs (optional)

Arrange banana slices in a single layer on a baking sheet, and freeze until firm (about 1 hour). Place frozen banana and remaining ingredients in a blender. Process until smooth. Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs. Serve immediately.

Sinfully Sweet Cornbread

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Sinfully Sweet Cornbread

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal (they have white at Aldi and I have used that!)
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray or lightly grease a nine inch round cake pan. In a large bowl combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk, and vegetable oil until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.

Fresh Blueberry Pancake Syrup

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Fresh Blueberry Pancake Syrup

1 pint (or two cups) fresh blueberries
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup water

Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Allow it to cook for 12-15 minutes and give the berries a little smash with your wooden spoon to break them up into the syrup. This syrup can be served warm over The Best Waffles Ever or you can serve the syrup cooled.

Best Waffles Ever

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Best Waffles Ever (Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 egg whites

In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center. In another bowl beat egg yolks slightly. Stir in milk and oil. Add egg yolk mixture all at once to the dry mixture. Stir just till moistened (should be lumpy). In a small bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight up). Gently fold egg whites into flour and egg yolk mixture, leaving a few fluffs of egg white, Do not overmix. Spoon waffle batter into your waffle iron, making sure not to overfill it. Side Note- I doubled this recipe for my family of four and we had enough for three extra Belgian waffles.

Lemony Blueberry Muffins

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Lemony Blueberry Muffins

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cups sugar
4 t baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 beaten egg
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup cooking oil (I like canola oil)
1 lemon (zest & juice)
1 pint blueberries (two cups)
Sugar for dusting

Mix together all dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix together beaten egg, milk, and oil, lemon zest, and squeeze in the juice from one lemon. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just moistened. Try not to over mix your batter- I know it’s hard! Fold in blueberries. Place in prepared muffin pan and sprinkle the tops with a little sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for about 22 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Be careful not to overcook these- they cook quickly!