A first-timer shops at Aldi
Grocery shopping is the kind of task about which everyone has deeply rooted preferences, and no one's opinion is wrong. Upend your routine, and it impacts the very way you eat.
Driving the news: Aldi is buying about 400 Winn-Dixie stores from Southeastern Grocers, including 18 in the New Orleans area. Some will convert to Aldi locations, but no word yet on which ones.
- With an expanded Aldi presence pending in New Orleans and as a card-carrying Winn-Dixie shopper, I decided to grab my shopping bags and see what's in store at the Metairie location on Veterans Boulevard.
Of note: A West Bank location is due to open Oct. 18 in Marrero. Additional locations are open now in LaPlace, Slidell and Covington.
At first glance: I was glad to learn ahead of time that I'd need a quarter for a grocery cart, reminding me of the Schwegmann's system. (You get it back after returning the cart.)
- Wide aisles and a tidy store were a welcome sight.
- The layout is straightforward, with fresh items at the store's edges and pantry items along the center aisles. There's no in-store baker or butcher.
- There's also an odd collection of seasonal items, with options like dog beds, ladies' rompers and fall lanterns.
- Aldi primarily stocks its own brands, but also has some recognizable names, like La Croix and Oreos, plus some locals like Tabasco, Zatarain's and Blue Runner.
The shopping experience was blazing fast, and I was in and out in under 25 minutes, thanks in large part to two reasons.
- Options are limited. Think one brand of yogurt versus many.
- The check-out design is brilliant. All but one line was self-check-out, and items are marked with several barcodes, so you never searched for one. Shoppers either buy bags on-site, or bring their own.
Yes, but: While I got all but one item on my list (chorizo sausage), I compromised on several others.
- I bought a larger-than-necessary container of whipping cream, and light brown sugar instead of dark.
- Much of the produce is also pre-packaged, which creates extra plastic waste.
- Though the store had alcohol, it was cordoned off, and signs said it couldn't be purchased at this time.
Final thoughts: I don't think I could replace my weekly Winn-Dixie trip with Aldi, though the prices were great, even after I threw some extras in my cart.
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