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Published July 7th 2012
Aldi supermarkets are springing up all over Melbourne
A trip to Aldi is like the Hunger Games. It is the survival of the fittest.
Such as my first experience. Tentatively I offloaded my goods onto the long conveyer belt and then delicately pirouetted my trolley into place besides the register. "Not that way. Narrow end in" snapped the check-out lad.
Then he began shooting items at me like one of those automatic ball machines that tennis pros use. I struggled to catch my groceries and place them in the boxes I had strategically placed at the bottom of the trolley. "Pack later" he barked as he shot the eggs at me.
The long queue of customers shuffled their feet and collectively looked at the ceiling. You could almost read their thoughts. "Novice, greenhorn, Aldi virgin."
I felt I had probably grown a tail between my legs as I backed out. Never again would I set foot in an Aldi supermarket.
Famous last words. One retrenchment in the family later and cutting down on shopping bills became a matter of survival. I learnt to love Aldi.
It was a love that dawned slowly, as love sometimes does. But has become so passionate I now look forward to my weekly shop.
The first flush of romance arose when I noticed that my shopping bills were at least a third to a half off what I normally spent. My heart beat faster, when I realised I didn't have to go out every second day to top up on supplies thus saving yet more money.
You see a lot of staples at Aldi are in respectable lots. There is no buying one onion for example; you buy a bag; or a tray of chicken fillets rather than a solitary breast. The freezer became my new best friend.
Love finally conquered all objections when I realised that each week the shopping bill came down $5 or $10 dollars on the previous week's total, because of the quantities of food still at home in the pantry.
Talking to my friends, I found a closet full of Aldi shoppers who all had tips on the best items to purchase. Pretty much all are sold on the Moser Roth chocolate ( European quality), the creamy yoghurts, pureed apple in little containers, the amazing skincare range, Melting Moment biscuits, the premium grade mince and curly fries. One young mum even keeps her own Aldi's blog where she reviews their products.
Note how goods are stacked in their boxes. Another money saving device.
Aldi is also fantastic for Easter and Christmas shopping, particularly their European chocolate range.
The company is also moving along with the health conscious times. Aldi now stocks an ever increasing range of affordable organics and has embraced the use of the Heart Tick foundation approval ratings. Items sporting the tick include fruity filled bars and baked rather than fried potato wedges and most of their bread range is low in salt.
Once you get accustomed to the brands, there are also some great gourmet finds - restaurant quality potato gratin from the freezer department, smoked salmon, coffee ice-cream, pilsner beer, some excellent cheeses and frozen German strudels that bake up like professionally-made pastries from a bakery.
Sure shopping at Aldi has its problems, amongst them having to insert $2 into the shopping trolleys (although this is starting to happen everywhere), packing your own groceries and checkout staff who get to sit down on the job while you do all the work.
But there are other compensations besides saving money. Less range means that the whole shopping experience is simplified. A quick whisk around and you are in and out. And while there can be queues, the no packing at the counter rule means that these queues move quickly. Well at least if there is no greenhorn to hold them up.
So that you don't become one here are some tips to help you bravely venture into your first Aldi store.
BYOB which means bring your own bags or boxes in your boot to put your items in when you take your trolley out to the car.
Buy a trolley token for your key ring. Saves having to fish around for a $2 coin every time.
At $2 a pop noone is going to leave their trolley lying around for you.
Aldi occasionally sell enormous sturdy bags that snap onto the side of the trolley. These then unclip and you can put your shopping straight in your boot without having to do any packing.
Beware the man trap in the middle of the store. This is an ever changing array of amazing goods such as screwdriver sets, ski gear, barbecues and computers. This is where Aldi can get people to part with their money.
At the checkout place your heaviest items on the checkout first and that way the eggs and bread will end up on the top of your trolley.
While queues might seem long, remember there is no packing and items have multiple bar codes which means they can literally be whizzed through. Stand in line and count your savings.
Hi, Only lived in Australia 6 yrs so far (born in UK), and noticed Aldi has come a long way in the past 8 yrs. Love lots of their products, the organic produce is really good, bread, biscuits, vegetables, toiletries, I could go on and on; although the comment about the cleaning products is true, they could be much better. The main problem I find is not the $2 coin for the trolley it's having to take the trolley back to the store which is a long, long way from the car park. The weekly savings are a tremendous help though, and would love to ask the cashier to slow down just a little, it's manic!!! Overall 8/10
Aldi is a tried and tested supermarket philosophy that has been operating in Europe for many years - and there are many other supermarket chains like them in Europe aswell - I just hope that they also come to Australia b/c that is when we will finally see the stronghold of our 2 supermarket juggernauts finally come undone
Great article, thanks.
I also discovered Aldi after a retrenchment+divorce and had to cut back and I can relate to the Aldi virgin comments as it reminded me of my first tentative visits. I now love my weekly Aldi shop and while I mainly going for the wonderful organic range, I have some additional favourite products to share:
The bocconcini (for homemade pizza), the Palazzo dask chocolate biscuits, the organic butter (best value organic butter in Australia), organic pastas/honey/yoghurt, great fruit smoothies, curry pastes, olive oil and the cheapest bananas, red capsicum and grape tomatoes around. There is also a wonderful range of very healthy crispbreads including natural spiralina flavour that I can't remember the name of. One of the things I love about Aldi is that there are products available there that you can't seem to get anywhere else as they source great items form all over the world and I also love the fact that they are more health concious than the big Australian supermatket chains. Happy shopping...
I have been an ALDI customer since it opened in PRAHRAN. Being over
80 yrs. and slightly handicapped I cannot pack up my stuff so fast.
Why don;t they have a larger area near the checkout???
I don't seem to be the only one, who complaints about this!!!
I enjoy buying at ALDI, but would enjoy it more, if the staff were a bit friendlier and not so much under pressure! RUSH, rush, rush OFF YOU GO!
( I already shopped at AldiS Iin GERMANY!
Helga B.(Windsor, Vic.)
I was tokenless, trolley ignorant but under pressure to go to Aldi due to the arrival of our new baby & loss of my income in the process. Once I had overcome my initial wariness & gotten over the unfamilair packaging I realised Aldi was my household's saviour. Shopping takes half the time as I'm not mulling over 2 for one deals or trying to figure out which brand is best or which size is more economical. From an hour & a half at Safeway, I'm in and out of Aldi in 35-40mins. I know what I want, have a quick browse at the freezer items & biscuits & back on the road with toddler, baby & a bootful of shopping that's taken about 40% off my month end grocery bill. We also have a teenager whose demands range from sultanas to nuts, wraps & tuna so I my demographic demands sometimes take their toll on our budget! Cleaning & laundry items are a steal there too if you don't mind cheap washing powder & a choice of 3 fragrances in fabric softeners. That's where our biggest savings has come from so thank you Aldi for opening up in Drysdale as the Surcoast needed it!
I am a massive massive fan of Aldi - it took 12 months to get used to specific brands. But I am fully converted now and its about time Australian consumers had a choice - rather than the monopoly of the other two!!. The quality is top of the line and I save at least $50-$70 per week on ALL of my items. I have a family of four and we always spend between $130-$150 per week,which to me is a huge savings as we get everything that we require from the one place. I have gone back to Wollies and Coles a couple of times due to location, however have been time and time again bitterly dissappointed with the final bill - even using home brands as well which was poor quality in comparison. Great article, well written Nadine!
Great advice - I wish I'd had your tips sheet the first time I shopped at Aldi! Like you, I was bewildered at the checkout and held up the queue. I love their European biscuits - they have these wonderful Dutch biccies in the shape of a windmill. I can't remember their name. Mmm, delicious.
I'm an Aldi fan from a long way back. Being of German heritage, I was more familiar with some of the European foods that Aldi seems to get in more often than the "other two". I have to say though that I'm not a big fan of their cleaning products (I seem to have to use more of their product for the same result) or their mince and meatloaf. Sorry, but I found it way too fatty and totally tasteless! I'll never buy it again. Their fabric softeners and paper products (paper towels, loo paper etc.) are just as good, if not better than the "big" brands. Their sanitary pads are good value as well. If you want the good quality fruit and veges you have to get in early though. They tend to run out pretty quickly now that more people, especially pensioners do a majority of their shopping there now.
One other minor criticism I have of Aldi, is that they should have a register open for people who only have a few items. If I see other people in line with only a few items I let them jump in front of me for which they are very grateful for, especially when you have a trolley full. I think it would save alot of aggravation for people who only have a few things and are short of time.
If you haven't been to Aldi, give it a go. Yes, it is nerve wracking the first time you go and have an aisle full of people breathing down your neck it you're an Aldi "virgin", but it doesn't take long to get in the swing of things and be prepared before you get to the register. Buying an Aldi token for $1 or $2 is definitely worth it! I know I can never find a $2 coin when I need one!
Absolutely love Aldi, and look forward to those 'Man/Woman Traps' as we and Aldi are celestially synchronized. I only need to think 'I really need a <- insert item here' and lo and behold withing the next two weeks it shows up at Aldi, at a fraction of the cost of anywhere else!!! It is weird, 'real weird', but I love love love it!! and we have the checkout olympics mastered, leaving the rest of the lineup in awe at our prowess!!!! Haahah :)
I despaired when one opened on my uk high street. Now if I ever go to another supermarket I gasp "how much, are they having a laugh". The lack of choice is a bonus. The lack of bogof's save you money. Best of all they are breaking the duopoly in OZ that crippled us buying food when we were there. They constantly win awards for their products in UK including ones for their wine.
Whaha, so funny to read this. I'm from Holland and this is always how it goes in supermarkets.
''Sure shopping at Aldi has its problems, amongst them having to insert $2 into the shopping trolleys (although this is starting to happen everywhere), packing your own groceries and checkout staff who get to sit down on the job while you do all the work''
Every trolley needs money to take it, feels strange to just take a trolley.
I was soo surprised to go here to Woolworths or Coles and see the checkout staff standing all the time! And that they pack everything for you in those grey bags. In Holland everyone packes their own groceries and you always take your own bag or take one of the empty boxes from the supermarket, since the government has marked the small plastic bags as 'not nature friendly'..
Finally found a 'normal' supermarket in Australia :) Love Aldi!
Aldi is awesome!!!!! Once you "get" the register protocol you'll love it. Some customers let you go ahead of them if you only have 2 items v their trolley-full! Better yet, the food and beauty items are consistently very high quality. I save at least $40 per week. I shop here to avoid the Coles/Safeway monopoly. Who needs a dodgy Flybuys con/promotion when you can buy just about everything you need at seriously cheaper prices.
My daughter & I always laugh when it our turn to go through the checkout. It's checkout Olympics! I only shop at Aldi for specific catalogue advertised items or items like the white, coconut, cornflake crisp chocolate & sundried tomatoes. I'm a little disappointed about the catalogue specials though. Things like paella pans for $5.99. I usually end up travelling to three different stores across town on the very day the special starts and I always, always get told "sold out". So if you want any catalogue "steals", line up before the store opens & maybe bring a picnic chair.
I refuse to shop at Coles/Woolworths and now also ALDI. I much prefer my money go to Australian companies and I prefer buying Australian produce!! IGA stores are the only real Australian supermarkets left.
Where have you been shoping where you don't put in $2.00, that has been entrenched for at least 10 years now!! But I agree that mantrap is to be avoided at all costs as it will cost! But I have plenty off amazing kitchen eq. especially love my espresso for the stove top. Looks good too. I do wish they bought back the delicious goat fetta as I am lactose int. I also love their very reasonably priced Moscato and liquer wine. Their reds are for my cooking, can't get better for less. You save your money, the planet through recycling and the cashiers' feet. They have had this set up in Europe for at least 25 yeaqrs we are way behind, and other Supermarkets want you to scan and pack your own bags and who pays us, you have got to be joking, our kids will loose the jobs, they all need a part time job when studying, but then the Big Ones only have them working no more than 4 hours and the staff who have been there umpteen years only get 4 hours now, no more communication with other staff, no loyalty and this is spreading to schools now too, don't get me started...