Friday, 4 October 2013
ALDI - cheap prices or just plain cheap?
This week, an ALDI store opened up just the road from us. We live just outside a very pretty, historical market town, where supermarkets are a relatively new concept. The town has been resisting planning applications from McDonalds for years. The town is lovely, but known for its snobbish air.
The ALDI has been under construction for weeks. As much as I'd like to say it's a bad fit for our self-confessed highbrow town, I know more people who have been excitedly waiting the opening than are of the new Debenhams. It opened this week to queues around the block.
Yesterday, I dared to venture out. It was ace. Loads of free parking, spanking new trollies (including twin ones), and a peaceful atmosphere.
I did one of our usual twice weekly shops and, overall, the total was quite a bit lower than it would have been at our usual Morrisons. I am thus far impressed.
I wasn't sure about the practice of scanning the items at top speed and having to pack them on my own at the packing bench, especially with two fractious toddlers grabbing everything, but we managed. It was ok. I'll get used to it, as well as remembering to bring more bags, as ALDI don't give you them for free.
Anyway, my biggest concern was around food quality. I don't want to be saving money if the food we will be eating is going to be minging. So, we set ourselves a bit of a taste challenge.
First up, we had fromage frais. ALDI sell their own brand 6 pack for 69p. The equivalent at Tesco or Morrisons is usually £1, unless they are on special offer. The twins liked these. I don't know if they were much different from our usual brand but the twins ate them and asked for more. So, they've passed!
Next up, we got some own brand soft cheese. 200g for 53p. Tesco's own brand equivalent is 49p, but we compared it to our usual Philadelphia brand (usually £1.85). Well, I didn't try it as I hate the stuff but The Dad did, as did our nanny who is a soft cheese connoisseur. They liked it and said it was very little different to Philadelphia. It's a pass!
Golden Puffs - ALDI's own brand is 99p for 375g. They have gone down a treat this morning at breakfast. Sugar Puffs are £2.29 for 320g at Tesco. That's twice the price for less volume. This one's a no-brainer.
Apple juice 1 litre is 72p per carton at ALDI. I tasted this myself and liked it. It was just the same as our usual Morrisons apple juice. Tesco sell their own brand at £1. A nice saving, especially as we drink about three litres a week.
Titan chocolate bars - now I'm a chocolate fan, though I'm just as happy with cheap chocolate in volume as I am with nice chocolates, if you see what I mean. Titan are the same as Mars Bars in that they are nougat, caramel, and chocolate. They are in packs of 6 (38g each) for 69p. Tesco's own brand 'Crazy Caramel' are £1.14 for 8. ALDI = 11.5p per bar, Tesco = 14.25p per bar. I liked em. They are not Mars Bars but I enjoyed them anyway and would eat them again. Naturally!
The big test for us was ALDI's cola brand. Our buying point for either Coca-cola or Pepsi is 25p per can. Once the price gets somewhere near this, we buy in bulk. ALDI's coke works out at 21.5p per can. As cola snobs, this was the one product I was keen to compare. Actually, it was pretty good. Pure brand experts would be able to tell it wasn't proper Pepsi or Coca-Cola, but it's the nearest thing I've found to it in an own brand. Given the choice between ALDI full-fat and branded Diet Coke, I'd take the ALDI any day of the week. It was a pass. Great product for the money. Not sure it's enough of a saving to draw me away from the real thing, but great as a back-up when the special offers are not forthcoming.
So, there we have it. We got lots of other stuff too. Their fruit and veg was a bit cheaper than Morrisons and is good quality, but I can't tell you if it lasts longer yet. Been ok so far. Trying the meat out later, and am hoping it's good because the prices are much lower than Tesco or Morrisons.
I think ALDI could become a regular part of our lives. Depending on what we think of the meat, we may well start using it a bit more rather than our usual shopping centre butchers.
And apologies for the rare post about domestic trivia. Normal service will be resumed shortly.