(Photo credit: Rachael Johnston)
This post originally appeared at our sister site, Aldi Reviewer.
It’s a common question, especially for people who have never gone to Aldi or have only gone to Aldi a few times. What’s good? What products are worth getting, and what products are worth avoiding? There are no shortage of opinions out there, from consumers and bloggers alike. We’re no different; we’ve made up our own lists of things we always buy and never buy from the German grocer.
There are a couple of problems with any list … including ours. One, they’re subjective, based on taste. One person’s favorite is another person’s most hated product. We’ve reviewed products before where people disagreed with us, whether it was objections to our negative review of Casa Mamita Chipotle Lime Salsa or disagreement with our positive review of Parkview Beef Franks.
Two, Aldi products can and do change. Aldi tweaks its products from time to time, and while those changes aren’t always for the better, they often are. So any list is subject to change, because Aldi may change suppliers or have a supplier tweak a formula in a way that changes whether that product ought to be on a “buy” or “don’t buy” list.
With those warnings in mind, though, I want to focus on a few general categories that, over time, we’ve found to be good for purchasing from Aldi. Unless otherwise noted, all of these are Regular Buys, available all the time.
In our experience, the “staple” products — things like bread, milk, eggs, and butter (or spread) — tend to be indistinguishable from any other national or grocery brand we’ve ever tried. They tend to taste the same, cook the same, and last about the same time. They are also often cheaper than what we can get most other places; this isn’t always true, and prices can fluctuate, but prices on staple products is one of Aldi’s most competitive edges.
Aldi cheese has its detractors, but I’m not one of them. Whether it’s block cheese, shredded cheese, sliced cheese, or even cottage cheese, we’ve never found the taste or texture to be any different than cheese you can get other places. The prices are good and the quality is even better.
We’ve covered cereals at Aldi elsewhere, and we’ve found that, for the most part, Aldi cereals taste about as good as other store brands, and in some cases are even hard to tell apart from national brands. (True, Aldi’s take on Cheerios isn’t quite as good as Cheerios, but it’s better than many other generic imitations.) The prices on Aldi cereals are very good, which makes this a solid category for buying.
I should be specific here: there is one line of burger that I think is consistently good, and that’s the generically named “Beef Burgers” that Aldi sells in a clear bag with blue lettering. They’re in the frozen section, they’re 85% lean, and they taste as good as any other burger I’ve ever had outside of a restaurant … and better than a few burgers I’ve had inside restaurants. They have one ingredient, beef, and they do the job well.
Aldi keeps a wide variety of lunch meats, including large bags of standard meats, deli-sliced varieties, and even some preservative-free items. We’ve been eating these for years and have yet to find one we didn’t like. They’re cheap, tasty, and (except for the preservative-free ones, for obvious reasons) tend to last a decent amount of time in the fridge.
Aldi stocks brand-name laundry detergent if you want it, but we’re big fans of the Tandil line, which has done an excellent job imitating the formulation of brand-name detergent at a fraction of the price. We especially like the blue bottle Tandil, which is one of the best cost-value laundry detergent options we can find anywhere.
Girl Scout Cookies
Girl Scout Cookies are an annual craze in the United States, and while grocers have tried to do their best to imitate them, we think Aldi does the best job of it. Especially during the times of year when you can’t get Thin Mints from your local scout, these are wonderful imitations, especially if you keep them in the fridge. They’re also very inexpensive, even more than the Girl Scouts, although I’d quickly add that it’s good to spend the extra money to support your local Scouts when they’re selling the real thing.
What about you? Any specific products that you think are good to buy at Aldi?