Aldi

34 Comments

Central West Shopping Plaza, West Footscray.

Recollections of my only visit to an Aldi outlet – soon after the company set up shop in Australia – are all negative.

They are of a cheapness far beyond the admirably low prices, produce on palates, produce strewn on the floor and rock-hard dried fruit in the muesli.

Haven’t been back since.

But so many friends continue to frequent their local Aldi that I figure it’s time for another look.

Perhaps my memory is playing a few tricks on me, for the Central West Aldi is spick, span and ultra neat.

What I find a little disturbing, though, is the utter quietness, so conditioned am I to hearing piped music in supermarkets and shopping malls.

This place is bright, silent and a little creepy.

I feel like an extra in The Stepford Wives.

My shopping needs are modest, so much so that I don’t even wield a list as I set off with my $2 shopping trolley.

I am disappointed to find no simple rolled oats, but grab a 99-cent bag of the crushed variety.

Grandessa raspberry jam is beaut at $1.39. The label says “made in Australia” and carries Aldi details, so I guess it’s the house brand.

I figure just about the entire the stock range is likewise.

The Carloni diced, tinned tomatoes, for instance, at 69 cents – the labels says they’re from Argentina! I buy two just to check ‘em out.

Also with Aldi markings on the packaging is the made-in-Italy Remano pasta at 79 cents a 500 gram bag.

Ocean Rise 185-gram tuna in “springwater” is another Aldi product, this time listed as being from Thailand. I buy two for $1.99 each. Thai springwater?

A 125-gram bar of German Mosser Roth chocolate costs $2.49, a litre bottle of Unamat dishwashing detergent 99 cents and a 250-gram bag of Fair Trade coffee $4.99.

As on my long-ago previous visit, the fresh produce situation is skimpy. No herbs to be seen at all, but they do have bananas for just under the $10 mark – cheaper than anywhere else I’ve seen recently. I grab a kilo bag of mandarins for $2.25.

The Deli Originals kilo bottle of giardinera mix looks good for $2.99 – bizarrely, this is a product of India!

My dijon mustard (190 grams for $1.39) and The Olive Tree EVOO (500ml for $5.49) are both marked as being Australian products.


I go up and down each aisle at least twice looking for rice. And fail.

Some of the prices, for various nuts for example, seem little or no cheaper than in the competition.

And $12.99 for poor-quality cushions seems pretty steep.

Look, if our domestic situation involved more people, and if our household budget was subject to greater demands, Aldi would no doubt be a viable proposition for us.

But a big mark against it for us is the lack of a deli counter. There’s no way, in other words, of ordering a half-dozen slices of green olive mortadella or a piece of fetta just the right size for that night’s salad or a handful of olives.

Aldi remains for us not only cheap in price but just plain cheap.

Even something as potentially humdrum as household shopping deserves a richer experience than Aldi delivers.

It’s the pokies pub of supermarkets.

I believe it’s a simple matter to shop as cheaply as can be done at Aldi AND enjoy an enriching experience in doing so. 

Mileage of others obviously varies.

On the way home, I stop by Sims in Barkly St for the items I failed to find in Aldi – and share a chuckle with a young mum who only moments before had been one of my fellow shoppers at Aldi.

For the record, our regular shopping haunts are – depending on our needs, time of day, day of the week and so on – the aforementioned Sims, IGA in Yarraville, various shops at The Circle in Altona. Less frequently we make it to Sunshine Plaza and its Big Fields Fresh Market and even Mediterranean Wholesalers in Sydney Rd.

More specialised, focussed adventures are regularly had at Footscray Market, Saigon Market and Vic Market.

34 thoughts on “Aldi

  1. Sorry that you were dissapointed with your trip to Aldi :(

    But i must say that the items you purchased were not the great one’s. Luckily i have shopped at Aldi for years, so have figured out whats good and what isn’t, you pretty much got all the ‘cheapo’ stuff :(

    For me there is a range of Aldi ‘badies’ and your purchas all belonged in that basket. When i saw what you bought i couldn’t help but think “Oh No!”.

    • Hah! Fair comment! So what’s the good stuff? In a paragraph I’ve just added, I opine that it’s quite possible to shop as cheaply as can be done at Aldi AND have an enriching experience in doing so. It’s not the prices that bug me – it’s the whole experience. I take your point, though, that it would take a few visits to work out what’s what.

  2. Oops besides the chocolate hehehe. Also, Aldi isn’t the all rounder supermarket like the big guys. It’s pretty much meant for pantry basics. The Aldi i go to is over flowing with vegetable and fruit stock, and is always bustling. Maybe it was just one of those days in Central West.

  3. Kenny, As someone who first bought staples from Aldi in the early 1970s when living in Berlin, I wonder if you understand the store’s philosophy. It has never pretended to be a full-fledged supermarket. It stocks a range of staples, usually identifying the best product of its type on the market. It then goes to that producer/manufacturer and arranges to have the product produced for Aldi under its label. Thus you will have, for instance, the wonderful Ashgrove cheeses from Deloraine, Tas, repackaged under the Emporium Selection label. They are exactly the same – only the name has been changed – and I know this for a fact because my neice told me she had worked on the production line during her university vacation. There are some things I would never buy from Aldi – cleaning, personal hygiene and laundry products being three of them. Their fruit and vege range also leaves a lot to be desired but then I would not buy fruit and veg in any supermarket if I could help it. With a little patience and trial and error, you may find you can save quite a lot of money by carefully earmarking things to be bought there. For me, some of the things are their mushrooms – excellent quality and a lot cheaper than elsewhere – mineral water, staple cheeses, salmon steaks, pork chops, no fat bacon, tomato paste, chocolates, they do a wonderful frozen apple strudel/mixed berries dessert that always gains raves when I serve it. Ditto their sirloin steak in a marinade – where else can you get a good roast for about $10? I shop there about every fortnight, but only for set things. For my culinary experiences I go elsewhere. My latest discovery is the LaManna supermarket at Essendon Fields? Now that is an experience that might tick your boxes!

    • Hi Kay! Yes, I understand where they’re at. But as I say above, we are able to do just as well at various locales in our extended neighbourhood, and have a lot more fun, and meet more colourful characters, in doing so. Each to his/her own, I guess. La Manna? Posted some time ago on it here. Sad to say I had similar feelings as I have for Aldi. I guess what it means for me is that some form of human interaction is essential. I got none at either place. Also, I’m not bulk buyer – we shop every day, or every other day at the least. Thanks for visiting! (Weirdly enough I’ve been bombarded with La Manna-related search engine terms today – many of them from NSW! Go figure!)

    • Keep up the good work Kenny. Your blogging is most interesting and I almost always read the reviews – even if they are for the wrong side of town. I get what you mean about personality shopping. As a recreation I love to wander around exploring new places and discovering new products etc too. Unfortunately most of us don’t have the time to do that on a regular basis and just have to shop well and as economically as possible. Hence visits to Aldi.

      • Thanks, Kay. As you’ll be aware, the blog has become more fun than I ever expected, especially with Bennie’s involvement and all. I wasn’t surprised that you and I differ on the Aldi matter. I recall a conversation at our former mutual place of employ that went along similar lines! And I know from my rare forays eastwards just how had it can be getting to the “other side of town”.

  4. Sorry to hear you don’t like Aldi! I love it – I agree with Marine – there are “goodie” and “baddie” products. They have improved markedly in the last few years, improving basics (eg laundry powder) and adding lots of new lines including sustainably-caught tuna. They now have absolutely no artificial colours in any of their lines. I personally never buy the packaged cold cuts or the fruit & veg apart from the odd bag of onions, but standouts are the Westacre cheese (just normal cheddar but so delicious), organic soy milk and bargain Australian olive oil (in 4L tin). I do challenge you to find cheaper tinned fruit, decent nappies or cheese anywhere – it can’t be done! Yes, they only have the gross crushed oats and you have to watch the country of origin as it changes around but the label stays the same but on the whole, I am a huge Aldi fan. And the rice is in the first aisle, top shelf, between the tomato paste and the soy sauce, above the pasta. ;)

    • Hi Lauren! Obviously, I’m outnumbered here – and that’s OK. Tinned fruit and nappies? Never buy ‘em! Are they as good as Huggies? Don’t buy much cheese, either, come to think of it. We do use crushed oats in our muesli, but only in 1(crushed)-to-2(rolled) proportions. And personally, I’d much rather buy our bulk rice at one of the Barkly St Indian places, as we did at the weekend, and grab some spicy munchies while we’re at it. I DEMAND shopping with personality! :)

  5. I love Sims, and I reckon it must be among the cheapest supermarkets in this area. It never fails to deliver an interesting shopping experience… Among its many charms I love the umpteen kinds of pickled veges, the 69 cent mineral water, the deli and cheese section which are better than they appear at first glance, the great range of beer in the bottle shop and the friendly staff. It also attracts some real characters among its customers. The only thing that frustrates me is the ad hoc layout: the canned food and fresh food aisles are separated by several unrelated aisles, for example.

    • Ha ha, Juz, I’m with you! We do a lot of doubling back at Sims! But it IS good – we find it just about the right size for us. Not as big as the Coles/Woolies behemouths, but bigger than our local IGA. Yes, the deli section is good. And yes, always interesting characters – the contrast with Aldi, just up the road, couldn’t be greater. I wonder if it’ll change because of the new housing sprouting up on its arse? Sims is just about at the top of our “to do” list.

  6. I’m with you Kenny! Aldi is joyless. What’s with the lack of music? And the queue is always a mile long and then they scowl at you! For ultra cheap groceries there’s the food clearance place on Ballarat Road in Sunshine – they’re friendly and they have interesting things, like Polish spices and good couscous …

      • Sunshine Food Clearance, 456 Ballarat Rd opposite VU Sunshine Campus. I don’t think it’s depressing, unlike other NQR-type places, but maybe I’m deluded because I found good things there? It’s a fine line perhaps!

        Have you seen the big discount grocery place behind Harvey Norman in Sunshine, and the continental food and wine warehouse on Ashley St just up from Central West? (It’s always completely empty!)

      • Thanks, James! More mill for the grist. Or whatever. :) Yar, the Aldi absence of music is weird. Not that all we hear is good. But sometimes it is good. Or just so out-there weird as to verge on psychedelia. I’ve been known to boogie down the aisles to James Last AND Richard Clayderman.

  7. Aldi is not the place you go to to chat and talk to staff about where produce comes from. Aldi is more of a place to grab what you need and leave. I agree with Kay, some of us (me included) just don’t have the time to wander around, chat and do all those nice things (though i wish i could on a daily basis!). For me, Aldi is a place where i get the staples and then i do the more ‘fancier’ shopping elsewhere.
    And when you know what is good and what is bad you will save quite a bit of money :) There are some hidden gems in Aldi, you just have to discover them through experience.

    I will do a list for you of my Aldi favorites for you sometime in the week, as i got to get up at 6am to go to cookery school.

    But i will leave with one hint, that the whole, un-marinated chicken is incredibly tasty and not freakishly huge! And as Lauren mentioned, the cheese! Marinated feta (goats milk) is just to die for :)

  8. Ok here it goes…

    1: BELMONT Melting Moments
    2: Cafe Bistro Palazzo cookies
    3: Ashwood Chocolate mud cake
    4: Ashwood Madeira Cake
    5: Portview Sardines in tomato sauce
    6: Ocean Rise Tuna slices (i like the chili flavour)
    7: Ocean Rise smoked oysters in vegetable oil
    8: Ocean Rise Yellow fin tuna in olive oil (chilli again)
    9: Sweet Valley peach slices in juice
    10: Sweet Valley Morello cherries
    11: Carloni Whole peeled roma tomatoes (Italian style)
    12: New Season beetroot
    13: New Season Pulses
    14: New Season Corn kernals
    15: Deli originals stuffed green olives
    16: Deli originals European style gherkins
    17: Deli style Kalamata olives
    18: Beautifully Butterfully butter
    19: Emporium Selection Marinated goats/cow feta
    20: Emporium Selection Danish Feta
    21: WestAcre farms Tasty cheese & vintage
    22: Farmdale thickened cream
    23: Farmdale full cream & light milk
    24: Farmdale Sour cream
    25: Inner goodness Full fat soy milk (however, not as good as Bonsoy of course)
    26: Asia specialties fresh noodles
    27: Casa barelli fresh lasagne sheets
    28: Deli originals continental fresh dips (LOVE the green olive, sweet potato & cashew & eggplant)
    29: Just organic yogurt with fruit
    30: Lyttos Greek yogurt
    31: Blackstone slow cooked chips
    32: Sprinters plain & salt & vinegar chips
    33: El Tora plain corn chips
    34: Damora sea salt & black pepper VITA GRAIN crackers (also love the spirulina and garlic flavour)
    35: Sweethaven strudels
    36: Monarc ice cream
    37: Frozen chips
    38: Frozen peas
    39: Hairspray
    40: Toothbrushes
    41: Flour
    42: San Benedetto Italian moneral water
    43: Rice
    45: 98% of the chocolate and lollies are great!

    Enjoy!

  9. No problem :) I know alot of Aldi products are the same brand as some supermarket brands, just with different labelling :)

    Enjoy your next shop :)

  10. We have ALDI all over Scotland but then we also have TESCO,.ASDA[K-MART] SAINSBURY AND BEST OF ALL MORRISONS THEN SOMERFIELD,MARKS&SPENCER FOOD HALLS.LIDL,SCOTTISH CO-OPERATIVE.and many more so my wife and I are happy to get away from shops thumping out meaningless music as we try to hear ourselves speak but most annoying is the greed of places like TESCO getting larger by the minute and gullible shoppers oblivious to the fact
    “own brand” products come from the top producers[only the labels are changed]OceanRise TUNA SLICES from ALDI for instance are from SHAFER-HAGGART a top company with Canadian roots
    from the 1930s they are imported to SHAFER HAGGARTS’ UK DEPOT IN MANCHESTER.Also
    there is not a fussier people than the Germans when it comes to cooking and the quality of food so Aldi and LIDL HAVE TO satisfy the people.IFyou ever have a LIDL GRAB THE FRESH LASANGE
    better than the any shop you might expect to be better!! We have a doctor friend in OZ who has moved from Toowoomba to the hospital in Sidney and he loves to bring his wife and children home to
    his mum for the good food#we do most of our shopping st MORRISON# GOOD BRITTISH FAMILY
    COMPANY VERY CLEAN GREAT STAFF AND SERVICE AND A VERY FAST GROWING FIRM
    FAST CHASING TESCO IN OUR HOME TOWN OF GREENOCK ON THE BANKS OF THE RIVER CLYDE~HAPPY SHOPPING AND EVERY BLESSING FROM T&B WATSON IN SCOTLAND!!

  11. Boy, what a whinger. You should be grateful that you come out of the store with a little more money in your purse. I have shopped at Aldi here in Taree since it opened 12 months ago this month and have bought some great items. Nothing wrong with them. If you don’t like, go to Woolworths or Coles and pay double.

    • Lee, thanks for that. I’m coming around. Some of the items I bought were good. Some were not. I don’t want pickled vegetables that have listed among the ingredients “pickle flavour”. We’ll be returning. And frankly, I don’t see it as a situation of Aldi OR Woolworths/Coles. We have other options, for which I am grateful.

  12. No deli counter at Aldi I would not go to the deli counter at Coles or Woolworths if they were giving it away.Sliced meats and cheese laying there for days . The fresh fruit been in the freezer for months,no way,have a look at the prices and then your green grocer.Coles and Woolworths top prices crap products the only thing they have going for them is you can get everything there if you are not fussy about what you eat.

  13. just remember not everyone can afford woolies and coles, and not everyone likes interactions and has time to waste and walk about the supermarket smiling at people….some of us have more important things to do, like work, clean, cook, look after kids…plus who cares if you dont like it…i know i dont. go shop somewhere else!

    • Well, that’s a bit of a puzzle … if you “have more important things to do, like work, clean, cook, look after kids”, why are you wasting precious time reading a blog post that makes you cranky? And if you care so little, why post? And BTW, I pretty much detest “woolies and coles” too! :)

  14. Not sure if you’re aware, but Aldi is the crack cocaine of supermarkets. Also, it’s like some weird cult. It’s a cracky cult.

    It’s really strange and difficult to explain to people who don’t go there regularly. People become totally addicted to Aldi, to the point of prosthelytising to others. I have three family members who are Aldi converts, and have had conversations about this odd phenomenon with many people.

    My theory is that it awakens the hunter/gatherer in us. By not being subjected to the relentless brand marketing, we have to discover for ourselves which products are good, what we like about them. And it becomes like this club, where the Aldi insiders trade information with each other – where are the best roots and berries, which ones should you avoid? Then there’s the weekly rotating specials in the middle aisle, where you have to keep a sharp eye and your wits about you if you are to grab that certain thing, because it’s only available for a very short time and might easily be snapped up within a day. Not to mention the checkout adrenaline rush, where you must unload the lightening fast scanned items back into your trolley quick smart.

    Along with this all this comes a certain sense of superiority. People feel that: they are thumbing their noses at the Big Two; they are saving bigtime money; they are bypassing all that marketing nonsense; they have discovered something wonderful and those poor suckers going to Coles have no idea; they have achieved a certain skill level to be able to successfully negotiate the stores. And there’s a social aspect as well, where Aldi-ites brag about their latest weekly bargain, or marvel at how Aldi just happened to have that THING they really needed in the (bi-)weekly special, JUST when they really needed it. (Even though that thing is on the shelves of every K-Mart in town every single day. Makes no difference. Aldi is psychic, guys!)

    So if you’re wondering why this post has attracted all these hyper-defensive-to-the-point-of-rudeness comments, this is why. The cult members are just defending their supermarket saviour. I’m not criticising. I’m totally one of them. Of course, I also love the local friendly chatty shopping as well, but both are fine. Both appeal to different aspects of our humanity.

    Anyway, that’s my theory. And I’ve now shown that I have spent WAY too much time thinking about this.

  15. I’M REALLY DISSAPOINTED ALDI HAS CHANGED BRAND OVER FROM CARLONI TO REMANO WITH THE TINNED TOMATO. I FIND THE REMANO BRAND WAY TOO ACICIC AND BITTER NO MATTER WHAT YOU ADD TO THE SAUSE. CARLONI WAS THE MOST PERFECT TIN TOMATOES I HAVE EVER FOUND ! I WOULD SPECIFICALLY GO TO ALDI AND BUY A TROLLEY FULL OF TINS (BY THE SLAB) NOW I DONT BUY ANY AT AL !!! AND WILL NOT RESORT TO HORRIBLE SAUCE JUST FOR A FEW CENTS. NOT WORTH IT. BRING BACK CARLONI. I’M WILLING TO PAY THE EXTRA MONEY FOR BETTER QUALITY :)))
    PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEE BRING IT BACK

  16. if your not willing to bring back the carloni could I have the distributor’s contacts so I can enquire about this product for myself ?

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