Aldi opened its latest Miami location at 1290 NE 108th St. in Miami a few months ago. The store, located just off Biscayne Boulevard, is situated between a Publix on 90th and Biscayne and Whole Foods Market on 122nd and Biscayne. The chain, a distant cousin of Trader Joe's, claims shoppers can save up to 50 percent on groceries at its stores.
Although the concept of no-frills shopping is new to the United States, this is the way people mostly shop in Europe and seems to be catching on in America. According to a 2015 Market Force poll, Aldi was named the number three supermarket chain, behind only Trader Joe's and Publix. For value, however, Aldi was ranked number one, with 85 percent percent of shoppers polled agreeing they get more bang for the buck there.
There are big savings to be found. Milk, eggs, fruit, vegetables, meat, wine, and cereal are just a fraction of price of most major chains. But the atmosphere at Aldi is different from Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.
There are no friendly people handing out free coffee or cheese samples. You're asked to pay a 25 cent deposit to get a shopping cart, bring your own bags, and then bag your own groceries on the way out. Aldi doesn't accept credit cards — only cash and debit cards. And no coupons are honored.
Aldi stores are also smaller and stocked with less merchandise than a typical supermarket. For instance, Aldi carries about 1,300 items, and the average large market offers about 30,000. The idea is that if you're willing to forgo some perks, your wallet will reap the rewards.
The first couple of aisles at Aldi seem to be filled with junk food like chips and cookies. But carry on and you'll find some good deals on more healthful items such as organic produce. You'll also notice that, though the brand names are different, packages look surprisingly familiar. That's because Aldi (like Trader Joe's) buys direct from manufacturers and stamps its own funky brands on the labels. Here are the ten best items to shop for at Aldi.
10. Vitamins and Medicine Cabinet Items
Adult gummy vitamins at Whole Foods the other day cost $18.99. At Aldi, they're $7.99. Other finds include a multipack of triple-blade razors for $2.99, a bottle of omega fish oil for $4.99, and a large bottle of generic Tylenol for $1.99.
9. Wine and Beer
Trader Joe's has its Two Buck Chuck; Aldi has Flirty Bird. This Spanish wine is available as a crisp Sauvignon Blanc and a Cabernet ($3.99 each). Aldi also stocks a small selection of popular name brands, along with beers and sparkling wines.
8. Honey, Agave, and Nutella
There's a surprising number of healthy sweeteners and breakfast spreads. The best buys include organic wildflower honey ($3.49), organic agave ($2.99), and Aldi's version of Nutella ($1.99).
7. Chia and Flaxseeds
Eating healthy doesn't have to be costly. Chia seeds ($2.99), flaxseeds ($2.49), plain oatmeal ($1.99), and organic quinoa ($4.49) are all inexpensive finds.
6. Imported Foods
Aldi has sections dedicated to Latin American and Italian imports. Look for hot sauce ($1.19), dried chilies ($1.49), cinnamon sticks (99 cents), and corn tortillas ($1.49).. Italian imports include a rosso pesto ($1.69) and imported pasta ($1.29).
Although the seafood selection isn't great, the meat selection fares well. Antibiotic-free, cage-free, vegetarian-fed boneless chicken breast costs $4.49 per pound, and nearly two pounds of locally made Garcia sausage is $4.99.
4. Cheese and Hummus
Aldi has a great selection of cheese. Crumbled feta ($1.79) and an imported Parmesan wedge ($2.99) are some items to look out for. Hummus is $1.99 — about a dollar cheaper than the containers at Publix and Whole Foods.
3. Organic Greens
Organic kale ($2.49) and spinach ($2.29) are cheaper than those at your regular store. If you don't care about organic, a caesar salad mix is only 75 cents.
2. Fresh Fruit
A three-pound bag of Fuji or Granny Smith apples at Aldi is $2.99, which is about the price of one pound of the fruit at your local grocer. A bag of pears is $2.49, and bananas are only 44 cents per pound.
1. Fresh Produce
You can really eat your veggies on the cheap if you shop here. Green peppers cost $1.49 per pound, organic baby carrots are $1.49, a basket of organic grape tomatoes goes for $2.19, and a package of baby peppers is only $1.49.
If you can sacrifice the bells and whistles of a conventional store, Aldi is a great place to stock up on necessities. And don't forget to get your quarter back by returning your shopping cart to its corral.
Aldi Miami is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.