My family has one shared experience over the holidays: sitting down over an amazing dinner together. We eat, we talk, we laugh, we share stories. The food is spectacular. Holiday meals are one area where I don’t spend a lot of time being careful about my spending.
This year, I decided to check out a local Aldi store. Aldi is a natonally branded discount supermarket chain. I had heard about it, know people who shop there, and I’m always looking at it as I drive by and see people taking the carts out of the “corral” with their quarters. I decided to give it a go.
Aldi vs. Hannaford Brothers
My grocery store of choice where I live in Upstate NY is Hannaford. The Hannaford Brothers Company is a New England regional supermarket chain with about 189 stores and superstores. I love the Hannaford stores in my region…they are clean, bright, the produce is great, and the people who work there are always really friendly. I started shopping with them in Maine in the 1980’s when they were called Shop ‘n Save. They have grown a lot since then, and also now have the “Hannaford To Go” option which I love now – they do all your shopping for you and bring the groceries right to your car. What could be better?
So, off to Aldi I went. My first impression of Aldi was that it was cramped and impersonal..sort of a mix between your corner grocery store and a Sam’s Club environment. I took my time in the aisles just checking out what they had. The brand names are kind of comical for a brand loyalty shopper like myself, but I tried to overlook all the really different sensations I was having in the interest of being open minded.
I tried a number of items: some canned goods, household items, baking goods and produce. Once I got home I compared the prices to my local grocery store, and this is what I found:
You can see that the overall savings is significant…well over 30%. The catch was the quality…how did Aldi measure up to Hannaford?
Some of these were surprises…the Giardelli Brownie Mix was just cheaper at Aldi’s, and of course the same quality product. The Veggie Straws were fine, the Brie cheese was good also. The two great surprises were the meat and the asparagus. The meat was really good, and the asparagus was ridiculously fresh, with the nice tiny spears, and the price was incredible. Their produce overall seemed really on the high end of quality, at least on this visit, although they didn’t have a ton of choices. The lowest quality were the canned gravy and the kalamata olives, which were just not good at all, and I wouldn’t but them again. Overall, most of the products were good.
The checkout experience, if you have never done it, is a bit of a cluster. They don’t give you bags, you have to buy or bring your own. They just throw everything into your cart and off you go. Fortunately I knew this so I brought my own bags. There were some first-time shoppers there who didn’t know, and it was funny watching their reaction at the checkout. Compared to my grocery store where the check-out people do all the work, or the Hannaford To Go experience, where they bag everything beautifully with nice paper bags with handles, there’s no comparison.
Overall, will I shop at Aldi again? Yes, for sure. Will I shift the bulk of my grocery shopping from Hannaford to the Aldi brands? Absoutely not. It’s definitely worth a shot if you’ve never been there, and I do like me some Hannaford!
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