A virgin food shopper at Aldi

There’s no doubt about it – Aldi has a difference ambience to your typical Waitrose or Tesco. Visiting our local one this week, there was no soft lighting and no Sinatra playing. Even the trolleys weren’t free – you had to insert a £1, which puzzled one old lady on the forecourt. A sign in the window deterred charities from collecting funds outside the store because it might cause ‘congestion’.

But as your blog comments this week have revealed, it wasn’t just pensioners shopping there, but reasonably affluent-looking people of different age groups. As I browsed the pasta, two women crowed about the cheap prices, and how delicious the pasta sauces were. I noted though that while pesto was cheap at 59p it was 9p dearer than in our farm shop where you get two for £1.

Stumbling across cut-price toiletries, I was like a kid in a sweet shop, bagging an anti-wrinkle cream (one of my female friends has got me into this nonsense) for £1.89! Bargain!

I’d half expected to dislike the fruit and veg, but I was pleasantly surprised. Much of it was locally produced, from Kent and Essex and good quality (although I did pick up some Peruvian asparagus for just £1.39). And it all looked much more palatable than the stuff served up in our local Somerfield. I didn’t buy any, but bread was 89p while 4 pints of milk was £1.40 – 4p cheaper than our Asda. Even the meat looked appetising, so I picked up some sausages for £1.39 and salami for £1.29 (DJ loves it but will he eat it?). It’ll be interesting to see if the bangers are tastier than the £1 ones I recently bought from the farm shop which tasted like the ones you get in tins of baked beans…eek…

By the time I got to the checkout I’d forgotten I was in a discount store, until I realised I’d forgotten carrier bags and had to buy some for 9p each, which was annoying. The cashier was the most miserable one I’ve ever met and the quickest – if he doesn’t get RSI I’m a monkey’s uncle – so I had no time to pack anyway. I noticed other shoppers put the items unpacked back into the trolley and then stood at the exit packing them, after paying, into their own bags. Was this was to save money on Aldi bags or so their neighbours wouldn’t know they’d been shopping there? How ridiculous, I thought.

But when I arrived home a funny feeling hit me. As I unloaded the car of the bags which screamed ALDI, I found myself hoping my neighbours were out. My heart sank when John the Poacher pulled up in his van to get some eggs. My gut reaction was to run into the house to hide the bags. How ridiculously childish! He probably shops there anyway!

Here is my Aldi food shopping list by the way – tell me if you think you can beat it.


4 pints milk 1.40

1kg plain flour 0.43

ginger nut biscuits 0.39

1kg Penne pasta 1.09

1kg spaghetti pasta 0.85

1kg onions 0.69

1kg onions 0.69

410g red kidney beans 0.17

425g premium baked beans 0.22

425g premium baked beans 0.22

326g sweet corn 0.39

326g sweet corn 0.39

290g mild cheddar 1.30

6 butchers choice sausages (400g) 1.39

6 vine tomatoes 1.09

3 mixed peppers  1.29

250g asparagus 1.39

bag celery 0.65

350 closed cap mushrooms 0.79

200g spinach 0.79

125g mozzarella 0.49

100g salami 1.29

Total: £17.40


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19 Responses to A virgin food shopper at Aldi

  1. Tattyhousehastings says:

    Hello Piper!
    You\’ve made my laugh (again), I know exactly what you mean about sort of hiding the bags. Although I have noticed people in Lidl packing their trolley\’s in to bags at the exit, I actually think it is because the checkout operators go so fast they don\’t want to be tutted at by all the other people in the very long queues.
    We don\’t have an Aldi here, yet I guess, but do have a Lidl, and to be honest I think nearly everyone does some of their shopping there. It\’s great for jam, kidney beans, frozen pizza\’s, and yoghurts, ice-cream, biscuits and meat (so I\’m told). Definitely not so good for all vegetables (although think they do now have an organic section), and their value type Krusty Krok crisps do taste like the cheap supermarket crisps from the 1970\’s. Remember?
    Hope you\’re well anyway??

  2. Kenn says:

    I\’ve enjoyed reading your blogs since finding them. I have realised that our local Aldi is "hiding" behind our big 24hr Asda but like you, my partner is less than enamoured by the idea of shopping there and reckons we won\’t be able to get everything we require. I have never had much of an issue and my dad used to shop there (and Lidl) when I lived at home. They\’re building a new Lidl (due open next year) on the outskirt of town in what used to be an old Kwik Save.
    It\’s also a common factor with the checkout thing; they throw the stuff through and there\’s not much room beyond the scanner like in other supermarkets; most people just put everything back into the trolley and then go over to the "shelf top" things near the door to pack or take the trolleys to the car and pack straight into boxes/bags in the boot. Sure for some this has an element of "snobbery" so they can pack into their old Asda/Tesco bags to decieve the neighbours, lol!
    I think I\’ll be trying it though as I\’m on a seriously tight budget this month.

  3. Christine says:

    Your Aldi had stuff in that wasn\’t in ours yesterday – no wonder I wasn\’t impressed.

  4. Kenn says:

    Also just out of curiosity went to mysupermarket.co.uk to check out the comparison price for what you\’d bought; I got the weights/measures and "quality" as near as damn it from the descriptions and total trolley price was as follows: 
    Tesco – £19.57
    Asda – £19.86
    Sainsburys – £20.83
    Ocado – £26.55
    Some things were on "offer", but generally Aldi seems cheaper – it\’s whether the quality/taste/freshness is up to par though.

  5. Unknown says:

    I can assure you that lidl is cheaper than this.

  6. Rena says:

    I just love your writing. My dear, I had to learn what everyone \’obviously\’ knows… you are not suppose to pack your goodies into bags. The first time I went there I was told, \’\’no lady, you just put it in the trolley and then pack your purchases into boxes/bags – over there…\’\’ also did not know they only take cash cards and cash…but now know like the rest of the Aldi shoppers. Still think Asda is a bit cheaper on some goods though as well as good old Netto and Lidil. Anycase keep on writing and I will keep on reading.

  7. Jacquie says:

    Piper, thank you for writing this blog – I love it! I have just graduated and am used to having to live on a tight food budget.  My boyfriend and I are capable of surviving on a food bill of £16 per week for the both of us.  We do shop at Lidl occasionally, but find that we can do it at Tesco as well.  It just involves eating things like cereal or toast for breakfast, and buying frozen vegetables, and lots of tinned foods. It can be very nutritious as well. For more expensive things (mainly alcohol!) we work out what offers are on and where, by using mysupermarket.comAlso, we sometimes compare the ingredients on the higher brand item, against the lower brand, and find they are exactly the same.  Its bonkers, really, paying so much more for the same product! Its more about careful planning, and not being snobby about packaging. 🙂

  8. Rob says:

    Im a student and usually shop at Tesco and Lidl. I find with Lidl that most of their stuff is about the same price as Tesco Value products but a bit better quality.
    Some of the things i usually buy from lidl that i think are good value are:
    Fresh pasta (ravioli type ones) 250g – 59p
    Frozen pizza – 2 for £1.89
    Plain milk chocolate – 100g – 23p
    OJ – 99p for 1.5litres
    Magnum type ice creams – 6 for £1.99
    Tins of baked beans/rice pudding/tomato soup – between 18 and 21p each
    Some things are cheaper with Tesco Value tho eg.
    500g spaghetti – 21p
    Boxes of tissues – 27p
    Toilet roll – cant remember
    Tinned sliced peaches – 16p
    400g custard creams – 24p
    Tesco 3ltr cider – £2.45
    As you can see i don\’t really go in for fruit & veg or things that require much/any preparation lol.
    You just have to remember which things are cheapest where and shop accordingly. If you just want cheap stuff tho, look for the own brand stuff wherever you can eg. value/basics/smartprice. And Waitrose will never be cheap lol.
    My favourite cheap, easy meal is pasta, using dried pasta and sauce from a jar. I use about 5 or 6p\’s worth of pasta and a 1/3 of a jar of sauce which costs 72p, so the whole meal costs about 30p. Takes about 10mins to make and i could quite happily eat that about 5 times a week. It\’s low fat too and you could always add things to the sauce for a bit of variety.

  9. Louise says:

    I live in Ireland and shop regularly at Aldi and Lidl, they are both cheaper than our other supermarkets including Tesco.  The quality of the food is the same and in some cases better than many other supermarkets.  In Ireland it is the norm to pay for shopping bags in all stores and that includes Tesco.

  10. Angela says:

    Until 2 weeks ago I only shopped in Sainsburys. Price of fuel and food has forced me to try Lidl. The Catford store is pleasantly surprising in terms of quality veg. Though I felt I was walking on someones elses turf going in, also had to drive to Catford which I hate 😦 and silly enough also couldn\’t get the bags into the house quick enough!
    Here\’s some deals I found…..
    1kg onions was on special for 20p/bag
    thick lovelysmelling babywipes 99p
    iceburg lettuce 37p (with no signs of rust as my local sainsburys)
    4 large garlic bulbs 69p
    1.4kg beef tomatoes £1.12 – very firm and fresh – 7 tomatoes
    4 x aubergine – £2.67 – also very firm and fresh
    454g jar crunchy peanut butter – no oiliness at all 79p
    can chopped tomatoes 21p
    mozerella light ball 49p
    pkt italian parma ham £2.19 and delish
    choc chip cookies 33p
    tube tomatoe paste 24p
    bag lemons 99p
    pkt lasagne sheets 98p
    860g corgettes £1.54 (£1.79/kg)
    lg can tuna in brine 64p
    large slab emmental cheese £1.98
    2 tubes pringles £1.46
    haven\’t compared prices to sainsburys but huge difference in what I have spent for family of 4 since the change. certainly not had a trolley go over £100 which is easy to do in sainburys – most spent in lidl on trolley was £73.
    I have started to buy meat from butcher nearby in east Dulwich – Willam Rose on Lordship lane.
    Last week as result of watching Spring Cottage programme on growing your own etc have started asking for cuts of meat never knew about or thought \’from the olden days as my dad would say\’
    sheeps breast – large slab of meat with a few rib like bones – £2.60 – looks like it could feed 3 adults – cooking tonight!
    neck of mutton – butcher got very excited when I asked for this – he cut it into slices – looked like chops – 6 or 7 £2.10
    made a yummy stew from the mutton using whatever veg in fridge – carrots, cougettes, a couple of potatoes, cerlery, fresh mint, oregano and rosemary from our garden, salt and pepper, water to cover and simmer for 2 hours for the afternoon – tasted very very delish and enough for 4 adults! Hardly cost any money to make and we have decided to make this weekly to keep food bills down for a while.
    another cheap meal – made last night and also delish – creamy tuna pasta dish – boil dry large italian pasta from lidl – loks like snail shells so pretty artistic looking! make white sauce base – large tablespoon marg or butter – melt slowly, add large tablespoon plain flour and stir quikly to dissolve flour into butter and not stick dry to saucepan. add 1/2 pint milk (any that you drink, I used semiskimmed) and quickly stir using a large whisk – this will not go lumpy if you use a whisk! simmer the whole time and stir every minute until thick – add more milk until consistency of custard, then add medium handful of fav grated cheese and stir thouroughly, add can flaked tuna, salt and pepper and heat through. drain pasta and stir sauce through – this was a very comfort eating meal in front of the telly, just right for a lazy night in!

  11. Chrissie says:

    Yes, Piper, you are so right and I\’m glad you\’ve brought Aldi to people\’s attention through your interesting blog… At last, someone else is speaking up for this amazing supermarket. I have long considered Aldi the \’Waitrose\’ of the cheaper supermarkets and have been running an unofficial, one-woman PR campaign for them. I love them so much, I am forever driving Aldi head office nuts, with my pleas to open a store in South London, where I daily fume over the proliferation of Tesco and Sainsbury. Why are those supermarkets allowed, with the apparent blessing of our local councils, to set up shop in every derelict building on the high street? We want more Aldis, more choice, more quality… and that\’s what you get at Aldi. I can\’t understand, though, why Aldi aren\’t more \’aggressive\’ on the high street. I live in SE24 but have to drive to either Catford or Hounslow to find one. And for those snobs who think Aldi is all sauerkraut and sausages, think again… try the Beef Wellington (yes, you did read \’Beef Wellington\’ on sale in Aldi), it\’s really good. The pasta sauces are excellent, the range of hams superlative, and the cheese as good as any from the farm shops. The premium baked beans (much nicer than Heinz) and tinned tomatoes (bursting with flavour) are out of this world. And don\’t miss the butter… superb and from Cornwall, and about 30p cheaper than the Big Name supermarkets. Another thing I love about Aldi is the fact that they are so much smaller than the Big Name superstores, but every product Aldi carries is specially selected to count and stand out. And as for the little pots of anti-wrinkle creams at £1.89… they are brilliant. Look forward to comparing notes here often, in the future. Enjoy those sausages 🙂

  12. tom says:

    RE the comment " I noticed other shoppers put the items unpacked back into the trolley and then stood at the exit packing them, after paying, into their own bags. Was this was to save money on Aldi bags or so their neighbours wouldn’t know they’d been shopping there? How ridiculous, I thought. "
    I can barely believe that someone would be so unaware of the need for reducing use of plastic and I thought most people had cottoned on to the BAG FOR LIFE idea . Obviously the author of this article is still in the dark ages of ignorance on this matter.  Wake up love….!

  13. piper says:

    I do normally take plastic bags with me, Tom, but had forgotten and left them behind at home.  Nobody was packing using old Aldi bags though and one of my friends told me she takes old waitrose bags with her to Lidl and Aldi when she goes! 

  14. Frank says:

    I thought the egg and cress sandwiches at 99p were good value only to find Tesco knocking them out for 88p. One thing I don\’t like about Aldi or Lidl is the the soft fruit doesn\’t have a sell by date on it. Where I am the staff are helpfull but worked quite hard. The worst staff I have come across are Lidl in Rock Ferry which is a deprived area. One till open at 15 minutes to closing time with 15 customers in the queue gets a lot of shouts you never hear in the more genteel areas.
    Takes a Tesco bag in when getting a few articles. Never gets a trolley except for Aldi cycling offers.

  15. JAMES says:

    dont you think it strange that aldi and lidl can offer good food at pretty good prices even as food prices are soaring and yet the major stores dont seem to care afterall they are only interested in profit at the end of the day, if more customers were to start shopping at these two stores maybe the major ones would do something about it ( I wish )

  16. Sarah says:

    I tried the local Lidl only last week, the only things that i found cheaper than our asda were the flowers, and they were dying of lack of water. I was very disapointed. There was no choice and the food had to be eated that day or the day after (fresh food), which if you had brought from asda would have been discounted anyway.
    I have reverted back to shopping at asda, and wont be tempted by Lidl again.
    However, Aldi is a diferent story, their fruit and veg are fresh and good quality. There is a bit more variety and prices are a lot cheaper. You han do a weeks shop for 2 people for under £30
    Sarah – Wolverhampton

  17. Sylvia says:

    Surely the economy generated at stores such as Aldi and Lidl is partially arrived at by the elimination of multiple product sizes and variety of manufacturers.  eg only ONE size and ONE manufacturer of baked beans.
    We have a Lidl store locally and many of their products are as good as or even superior to well known brands.  Lidl has proved to be a great competitor to the neighbouring Tesco store, who regularly reduce certain fruits and vegetables in stores where Lidl is a close neighbour.  If you get a Tesco fruit and veg offers leaflet through your door, check the store availability at the bottom.  You will find that the offers are only available where Lidl is in competition!!  (I am corresponding from Gloucestershire, other areas may not be the same as ours.)
    With regard to economical shopping  –  a good size deepfeeeze is an asset plus a willingness to work hard and blanch/prepare food for it when cheap or free goods become available.

  18. Lee says:

    I bought 3 cucumbers in Aldi the other week – i know 3 is excessive but my tortoise its most of them !!! Anyway – i had them in my fridge for 3 weeks and they were still crisp and juicy as if i had bought them yesterday. Aldi fruit and veg is fab!!!

  19. Liz says:

    I am also a big fan of both aldi and lidl, both for different reasons.  Lidl has more unusual products and it slightly more obscure, which is why I like it, and aldi is, like a previous poster said, the waitrose of cut price supermarkets! 
    Favourite products in lidl are – curry sauces (far superior to the big name brands and only 70 odd pence), sliced potzoes with bacon in the chiller section, and the napoli tomato sauce for pasta. 
    Aldi recommendations are – tear and share chocolate chip brioche (amazing!), frikadelen with veg, specially selected pizza with rocket, specially selected frozen lamb shanks, and the frozen king prawns. 
    Both have lots of other great stuff too, especially the weekly specials which i look forward to reading about in the weekly emails they send me!   

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