Monday, December 26, 2011

High Quality Entertaining Without Breaking the Bank At Aldi

Suppose you were planning a holiday gathering, and needed to buy some food for the event. Not a lot of stuff, but a few items to munch on, and possible some dessert and adult beverages. (Let's also say you're unable to cook anything from scratch, either because you're short on time or inept in the kitchen like me.)

So you go to the store with this list:

- cheese cubes
- whole grain crackers (the round entertaining-type - 2 pks)
- soft cheese (Brie)
- apple pie
- cheesecake sampler
- chocolate truffles
- after dinner mints
- 2 bottles of wine

How much would you expect all of that to cost you? I priced these items out at one of our local grocery stores, and the cost was at least $75. The wine alone was $10 a bottle for decent wines.

So when I was invited to take a list like this to Aldi and spend less than $50, I wasn't convinced I could do it. First, Aldi sells wine? And second, would the quality be as good as I'd expect from my usual grocery store?

Well yes, Aldi does sell wine in select stores. Their wines include several award-winning wines for very reasonable prices. Known for its premium exclusive brands, ALDI offers more than 1,400 of the most frequently purchased grocery items for up to 50 percent less than traditional supermarkets.

Customers can get all the holiday essentials for less, including everything from wines and appetizers to main courses, side dishes and desserts, making holiday meals and family gatherings warm and memorable. During the holiday season, ALDI stores also carry an additional line-up of more than 100 seasonal items at unbeatable prices.

I did get all of the items on my list, along with some chocolate covered gingerbread cookies and a frozen pack of grilled chicken strips. Total cost for everything: $50.19.

As for the quality? Outstanding. Everyone loved the cheese, the crackers, and the desserts. The truffles just melted in my mouth. (And I probably ate far too many!) The only item I didn't like was the gingerbread cookies, but my kids liked them.

The two wines I bought were the Landshut Riesling and the Villa Malizia Pinot Grigio - both award-winning wines. I poured the wines for my family at our Christmas gathering and didn't tell them where they came from. Once everyone had tried the wine - with several comments about how I picked good wines - I then told them I bought the wine at Aldi and each bottle was $4.99. The surprise was evident!

This one was my fav!

I admit I've never been to Aldi before this trip. My mother occasionally shops there and has always liked it. In our area, Aldi has the stigma of being more of a lower-quality grocery store, but I've found this is far from the truth! Just because Aldi offers private brands doesn't mean the quality suffers in any way. They put a lot of thought into the quality of their food, with the result being great taste at a low price.

I'm impressed at the amount of food I was able to purchase for $50, but I'm even more impressed at how tasty it was. The wines were truly outstanding, proving that pricier wines aren't necessarily better. I've already added the Landshut Riesling to my next grocery list.

If your budget is being stretched thinner and thinner, consider Aldi for your grocery purchases. In case you've never been before, here are a few tips: the grocery carts require a quarter to remove from the corral, but you get your quarter back when you're done. (And ensure no dings in your car from runaway carts in the parking lot.) Aldi also saves money by charging you for grocery bags - ten cents a bag. But bringing your own bags is free and encouraged. You could say they were promoting eco-friendly practices before it became popular!

Full disclosure: I participated in this blog campaign on behalf of Aldi and Mom Central Consulting and received a gift certificate to facilitate this review. No guarantee of a positive review was promised nor required. All opinions are my own. And so are my truffles - go buy some for yourself.

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