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Aldi a supermarket to save your pennies
Member Name: chrisc92
Advantages: Their fresh meat and veg is much cheaper and I love their range of yoghurts & fools
Disadvantages: Their products are not all of a high standard - particularly washing liquids
Less than a year ago I would have been unable to make any comment on my "local" Aldi store which in fact is some 5 miles from our home, but with our shopping bills rising we needed a way of bringing down our weekly payments. In fact, we were spending over £100 a week at ASDA on a shopping trolley that was only ¾ full, and our last straw was when we spent over £80 at Sainsburys on shopping that just about covered the bottom of the trolley. ASDA had been our main shop for nearly 3 years as our previous home was literally at the bottom of the road and it was quite obvious just by walking round the shops that generally their prices were lower than Tesco, Sainsburys or Morrisons.
Before Christmas my wife and I had been tempted by the Morrisons promotion to shop for 6 weeks or so and spend £60+ to get £20 off the week before Christmas but in reality their prices were significantly higher than ASDA but, did offer better quality meat, and we're always being given discount vouchers with til receipts at Tesco or Double Nectar points at Sainsburys in attempt to lure us in.
Aldi and Lidl are both shops I tended to avoid especially as I had a poor experience many years ago at Lidl with a drink I'd bought and the fact that neither shop offers credit card facilities although they do accept debit cards.
Of the two, Aldi offers much lower prices than Lidl but, most products in their stores are brands that are not stocked in any other supermarket. What did (and still does) surprise me is that a significant amount of stock is actually produced in the UK - and their meat, veg and eggs are significantly lower than other supermarkets.
We decided just after Christmas 2012 that our weekly shop was unsustainable and to be honest what we buy didn't include significantly high quality although we do try to buy the odd tin of Heinz baked beans or spaghetti. With mid-week top ups our shopping bill could often top £150 per week - and for what? Well, that is a very good question and one we still find hard to answer. We tried initially to limit our shopping by using a combination of Aldi and Lidl that had stores within a few hundred yards of each other which brought our shopping bill down to around £85 between the two per trip, but after only a few weeks our two stores became three as quality issues had a significant impact on our weekly shopping habits.
I find Aldi an odd supermarket to shop in because although it is well laid out with relatively narrow aisles staff make it a relatively poor shopping experience by leaving stock or cardboard rubbish containers in the aisles causing a great deal of hold ups around the store and more irritating is the lack of checkouts and the way their staff put your goods through the checkouts as if they really don't care about them. What I find difficult to digest in the store is the aisles containing non-food items and my question really is who the hell chooses them? As examples, current products in the non-food aisle in our Aldi include a 3ft long axe, chainsaw, chainsaw extra chain and 3ft long crowbar! Now I know Plymouth does have a lot of trees, but probably 99% are in the woods surrounding the city and not in customers back gardens! So all I can think of is that they think everyone is a mad axe murderer, involved in a chainsaw massacre of burglar.
Walking through the entrance of our store you walk into the essentials aisle where you can find bread, cakes, biscuits, tea, coffee, jam, cereals, chocolate etc. The cereals are branded Harvest Moon and are of better quality than most of the own brands offered by the other supermarkets and at times very close to the branded Kellogs and Weetabix varieties. Prices are around the £1 mark and our experience of their Frosted Flakes, Honey Loops and Weetabix alternatives is they are as good as the real thing. We have tried the coffee and although cheaper, the taste was poor and after only one cup each for me and my wife, the jar quickly found its way in to our bin. The tea however is reasonable and price is okay. We've tried the chocolate cream bars for 89p and they are as good as the better known versions. We don't tend to buy jam, biscuits or cakes so cannot comment on the quality but again they are reasonably priced. My wife however has bought several loaves of their toastie bread loaf which for 75p she has said is as good as Warburtons equivalent selling at £1.35.
Their fresh fruit and veg is exactly that, and because they don't use the waxing techniques of the larger supermarkets it doesn't last as long but when it first arrives in the store is probably fresher than others. Their prices are however much lower and Aldi have 6 items per week known as the super six which are sold at a significantly lower price - last week 39p, this week (6 October 2012) 69p for pears (6), plums (500g), Granny Smith apples (6), pineapples, kiwi fruit (8) and oranges (6). Cabbages and cauliflowers are at least 30p each lower and they do have a reasonable range on display. The only downfall is also its strongpoint - its freshness which because the fruit and veg lacks the waxing means shelf life is a lot shorter.
We very rarely buy tinned fruit or veg but again prices are lower but we do buy boil in the bag rice for less than 80p. What we do buy quite often is their meat which again is significantly lower than the main supermarkets with minced beef (800g) for £2.49, small chickens for under £3 and steak for under £5 which was much better value than the 3 for £10 on offer elsewhere. The quality of their meat is good and is 100% British.
Toilet and kitchen rolls are of a good enough standard and their crisps are of a good quality although we find many cheese varieties unpalatable. What we do not like in Aldi is the washing liquids that we have tried for a while and although nearly half the price of competitors does not stand up to the rigours of our washing machine and does not clean our clothes well enough and my wife has used nearly a whole bottle of their fabric conditioner on one washer load.
The next area of our store contains non-food and Christmas products with plants, shoes, spanners, willies and the odd clothing item among the items on sell. Spanner sets were selling for £7.99 and seemed to be of a reasonable quality as did the axes! (Which I was a little worried by when I saw one guy in his early 20's pick one up and walk towards the til with what we assumed was his girlfriend), but without any trees in our garden we had no intension of buying one.
Among items on sale in their fridges were a range of cooked meats including German and Polish selections including kabanos which is one of very few sausages I eat and comes in a pack of 5 for around £1 and sadly is very rarely on sale in other supermarkets. Their standard cooked meat such as ham and garlic sausage are of better quality than the plastic versions on sale elsewhere and for less (garlic sausage 59p per pack).
Despite being endorsed by tv chef Phil Vickery we do not buy freezer food from Aldi and our Christmas experience of their 4 bird duck in a duck in a duck in a duck roast has pretty much put us off for life as we had it as part of our main meal on Christmas day for 6 of us and not one eat it! They are however selling turkey crowns at the moment for £10 which I take it can't go wrong. My wife however has for 4 years been hunting Aldi for our daughter's favourite Christmas Day pudding - orange sorbet which Aldi no longer stock, still we have found a shop where we can get it which is from a local ice cream factory.
In the dairy section milk is actually dearer than some supermarkets because their packaging is in litres and not pints. I also buy regularly their yoghurts and fools which are of high quality. Fools are 39p each and available in strawberry, rhubarb, gooseberry and lemon. They have yoghurts of the same quality as Tesco finest that are full of cream which sell at 49p, my favourite being lemon curd and are at least 11p each cheaper than Tesco.
Their eggs (free range) are 99p for 6 and sugar (especially caster is about 50p) a pack lower.
We haven't tried their soft or alcoholic drinks although they do appear a few £'s lower than the more known versions. We have however tried their sherry for cooking and that has definitely been fine.
There are many products which we don't look at because we are wary of the quality such as razors etc that I'm sure are fine but we just have to buy the branded versions.
So what do other customers think? Well, obviously I can't answer that, but the fact the shop is always packed when we go in suggests that it is certainly popular especially as our experience of Lidl is that we see at most a dozen people in the whole shop - in fact in Lidl often there are more staff than customers.
Aldi is definitely a store I would recommend as part of your weekly shop and even if you don't do a full shop it will have a significant on your pocket. I am however at a loss to accept that Aldi has been voted as the UK's best supermarket.
Summary: Aldi is the perfect shop to keep your weekly shopping bill down