Whew, we survived! We hosted our family holiday party at our house this year on Christmas Eve. We had rushed to get our kitchen done in time for the party (with just a few finishing touches not completed yet). I come from a pretty large family and all totaled we had 19 people in the house.
We opted not to do a big dinner but to have everyone over later in the evening for appetizers and desserts before opening presents. I got everything I needed for the party from ALDI this year. My dad and stepmom also brought over quite a bit of stuff too so we had plenty of leftovers.
If you’ve never been to an ALDI store, it’s quite a different shopping experience. The store near me is quite small, and I will say for shopping the day before Christmas Eve (yeah, kinda last minute) I was surprised to see it wasn’t busy at all. Every other store we went to was packed but the ALDI store had only a few cars in the parking lot.
When you first walk up to the store you get your grocery cart from outside underneath a covering. The carts are all locked together and you put in a quarter (25¢) to unlock one to use. Once you’re done shopping and return your cart you get your quarter back. This is quite a unique concept and may seem like a big hassle, but it eliminates carts in the parking lot (less car dings) and saves the store money by not losing or having to replace carts as often.
Once you walk into the store it’s quite a different feeling from other stores, you can only go down one aisle and then work your way around to the checkout, where you have to provide your own bags for your groceries or pay to buy some at the register. I think if it’s your first time ever going into an ALDI it may feel a little weird. Here’s a little snippet from their website about the store layout:
You’ll find it easy to navigate only four or five wide, short aisles, a layout that saves on energy, rent and your time. Smarter shoppers know the wide aisles and big price signs at ALDI make shopping easy, while the select assortment and self-displaying cartons cut costs—and prices. You’ll never see prices driven up by shelf space leased to manufacturers. We don’t need more space, because we only sell about 1,400 of the fastest-moving items. And because we buy in large volume quantities, we get them at lower prices—and pass the savings on to you.
I was definitely able to get everything I needed for a holiday party, but I wasn’t able to get all the original items from my list that were shown in their holiday ad. Some of the products had sold out. Out of what I did find, these were some of my favorites (most everyone else thought so too). We were even able to try some new foods:
Most of my family had never had hummus before ($1.69 for 8oz.), neither had I, but everyone that tried it ended up liking it. Another product most had never had but liked was the Havarti Cheese ($2.99 for 8oz.)- it was light and delicious. And pairing both with the Pita Crackers ($1.99 for 5 oz. box) went over really well. I think one of the favorite desserts by far was the Petite Cheesecake Sampler ($5.99 for 24 pcs.)- perfect for any holiday party.
For beverages, ALDI had an assortment of wines to try as well as a small selection of pop (yes I’m from the north), milk, egg nog, juice, etc. The only pop available at the store by me was a version of coca-cola and we opted not to try it. For wine, I went with Villa Malizia Pinot Grigio (an Italian dry wine- $4.99) and Winking Owl White Zinfandel (a sweet wine that was on sale for only $2.69). The pinot grigio from Italy had the hardest cork I’ve ever seen in a wine bottle, and that’s not a good thing. It was a chore to open (slightly embarrassing if hosting a party) and the cork wouldn’t fit back in the bottle once opened. The wine itself wasn’t terrible but not the best I’ve ever had.
All in all my ALDI shopping trip was ok, I got what I needed to host a great party. I’m not sure I was overly impressed with all the prices, it seemed to be hit or miss- some were better but some prices were the same or even more than at other stores. I think I would probably only go in when I seen a great sale price on a specific item rather than try to do my regular shopping there. I do like that they have a double guarantee though- if you aren’t satisfied with something they’ll replace it and refund your money.
Do you have an ALDI near you- what’s your experience been?
Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of ALDI and received a gift certificate to facilitate my review.