Last month I had the pleasure of visiting the ALDI test kitchen and U.S. headquarters. A small group of bloggers were invited to learn more about the ALDI way of shopping, quality and saving money. Here's a recap of my experience and more on how you save at ALDI.
This post is sponsored by ALDI. I was compensated to write this post. I am extremely happy to work with them as ALDI has made a huge impact in my life and ability to eat healthy. All opinions and views are my own.
So off I traveled to Batavia, Illinois. I actually stayed in Geneva Illinois, at a beautiful hotel called the Herrington Inn and Spa. It was right on the Fox River so the view was beautiful. The hotel itself was splendid, with a big cushy bed, beautiful bathtubs (one of their claims to fame) and a fireplace in every room.
A Make Healthy Easy reader, and fellow runner, had suggested the Fox River Trail as a perfect running spot on Facebook, should I need it. (Thank you Mark!) I ended up having a few hours to kill before our event started so I was able to enjoy an awesome run along this beautiful trail.
Before going back to the Herrington, I stopped for a take out lunch at a very cool restaurant across the street called Buttermilk. Their Kale Salad was super delish, as was the cappuccino I ordered to perk me up since I got up really early to fly out that morning.
After my power lunch, I was fueled up and ready to meet the other participants and get started learning about ALDI.
My ALDI experience began with visiting the test kitchen and a blind taste test challenge of ALDI products versus the leading name brand. Everything was laid out beautifully for this very official tasting.
We were given score sheets to check out which product you preferred.The products we sampled were orange juice, guacamole, havarti cheese, strawberry non-fat greek yogurt, tortilla chips, and crackers.
After everyone tasted and made their favorite selections, the results were revealed. In almost every category our group favored the ALDI brand about 60% to 40%, with ALDI sweeping some categories like the guacamole, Greek yogurt, and crackers.
As each product was revealed, we were also educated on how much you could save by choosing the ALDI version over name brand:
- Save 36% on orange juice
- Save 34% of guacamole
- Save 46% on Havarti cheese
- Save 31% on Greek yogurt
- Save 62% on tortilla chips
- Save 45% on crackers
You guys, this shakes out to $1-3 on many of these products!! And this is just a small sampling of the food items you can find at ALDI.
The next stop on our ALDI adventure was to learn about their line of gluten free foods, called Live G-Free, and organic foods, called SimplyNature. I was thoroughly impressed by all of the gluten free foods and am so happy that there are such delicious, affordable options now for those living a gluten free lifestyle.
I was already aware of many of the SimplyNature products as they are items I regularly buy but I don’t think I knew just how large this product line is. ALDI has certainly helped me provide healthy, on-the-go snacks to Team Braddock with all these great options. (See my post on Dietitians Picks at ALDI for a list of all my favorite products.)
One of my friends, Tara Gidus, is the dietitian for ALDI (jealous, but she’s amazing), and she shared really exciting news! ALDI is launching new signs in their store to signify foods that are Dietitian Picks. So be on the look out for this apple logo.
After the product testing, we had the opportunity to learn from ALDI’s chef Brigitte Nguyen and Tara about Eating for Energy. It was a great crash course on what carbs, protein, and fats do for the body and how to make them taste delicious.
One of my favorite recipes that Brigitte shared was for her breakfast Chicken and Sweet Potato Patties. These guys were so delicious and a perfect, high protein breakfast option. It was super creative. These can be made ahead of time, frozen, and reheated for a quick breakfast.
ALDI has given me permission to share her recipe, so here it is:
Chicken & Sweet Potato Paties
- 1 lbs. Kirkwood chicken breast or chicken breast tenderloins
- ¼ tsp. Stonemill Essentials crushed red pepper
- 1 tsp. freshly ground Stonemill Essentials garlic sea salt
- ¼ tsp. ground Stonemill Essentials sea salt
- ¼ tsp. freshly ground Stonemill Essentials black pepper
- 1 Tbsp. Stonemill Essentials minsed onion
- 1 tsp. Stonemill Essentials Italian Seasoning
- 1 Tbsp. Specially Selected 100% Pure Maple Syrup
- 2 cups grated sweet potato about 1 medium sweet potato
- 2 tsp. Carlini Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus more for greasing hands
- Trim any excess fat from the chicken and cut into cubes.
- Place the chicken, crushed red pepper, garlic sea salt, black pepper, minced onions, Italian seasoning, and maple syrup in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until chicken is finely ground.
- Fold in the grated sweet potato and divide mixture into 12 portions. With lightly oiled hands, form each portion in to a small patty.
- Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium low heat. Brown the patties on each side for 2-3 minutes. Add ¼ cup water to the skillet and cover.
- Simmer the patties for an additional 3-5 minutes to soften the sweet potato strands, then uncover and allow any excess water to evaporate.
- Serve as you would any other breakfast sausage patty.
The next event on our agenda was a “Build a Better Salad” challenge. We went in to the actual kitchen and had to create a mason jar salad with a dressing. It was so much fun because they provided just about every ingredient you could want for a salad. This meant though that I was a little overloaded with ideas and had trouble nailing down exactly what I wanted to make. Here's our whole group with our salad creations.
I decided on a “Summer Peach Steak Salad”. I loved my idea but it needed some more work to really come together. I’ll keep working on that this summer. =)
And as if we hadn’t eaten enough already, the day concluded with an amazing 3 course meal prepared by the ALDI kitchen. Everything looked and tasted so delicious. There were vegetables everywhere and I was very happy! This meal just reinforced to me, once again, that ALDI makes it possible to eat healthy, affordably.
The second day of our trip didn’t get started till mid morning so I was able to get in a morning workout at the Planet Fitness. Anytime it is relatively easy to get in an early morning workout sans kids, I am a happy girl. It’s always my favorite way to start the day.
So after a good workout, getting cleaned up and saying goodbye to the beautiful Herrington Inn, we were shuttled to the local ALDI store for a tour with their marketing team.
Now, I’ve already told you quite a bit about How to Shop at ALDI and my favorite products there so I’m not going to reiterate any of those things here. But I did learn a few more cool tidbits about ALDI that I did not know prior to this tour.
- All ALDI stores are set up pretty much the exact same way. This makes it very easy to shop because you always know where things are. This is a very big frustration I have with other grocers because no store is the same.
- All ALDI products have many, large bar codes on them to make checkout easy and quick.
- The way products are displayed is called an “open case design” and makes stocking items quick and easy. (Remember, this saves us money!)
- ALDI works with many of the leading food suppliers that you would recognize under other names. ALDI designs all their own labels for their line of products.
- While ALDI currently does not accept credit cards, they are testing them in a few markets to see if it’s something they could roll out everywhere. Stay tuned!
- By the end of 2015, ALDI will remove all MSGs, synthetic colors, and hydrogenated oils from their products.
- By 2018, they plan to have 2000 stores, so if you don’t have an ALDI yet, you may be getting one very soon.
I hope you have enjoyed my ALDI series here on MHE. I know I have really loved getting to know this company better and the great people behind it. Make sure you share this post with someone who may be wondering about what ALDI is all about.
Lastly, I want to introduce all the other wonderful bloggers I met on this trip.
Ally Billhorn, Sweet and Savory Food
Clare Brady, Fitting It All In
Gina Matsoukas, Running to the Kitchen
Heather Verst, The Healthy Hen
Jen Nikolaus, Yummy Healthy Easy
Jenny Yarbrough, The Southern Institute
Kristen Chidsey, A Mind "Full" Mom
Lauren Kelly, Lauren Kelly Nutrition
Maggie Unzueta, In Momma Maggie's Kitchen
Meriem Kouar, Culinary Couture Blog
Dr. Audrey Guskey, Dr. Audrey Guskey
Have a healthy day!