My First ( Sorta Disappointing) Trip to Milford, CT’s Aldi Store

Shoppers love Aldi, the popular budget grocery store chain that’s related to Trader Joe’s, made its mark overseas and seems to be gaining market share in the U.S. So I couldn’t wait to finally make the trip to Milford, CT to see the three-year-old store. I wasn’t wowed, but that won’t stop me from trying a second time. 

Aldi store in Milford, CT
The Aldi in Milford, CT is about three years old, and a new one opened in Danbury just last week. The store is gaining in popularity, but I’m not sure exactly why.

My much-anticipated first visit to an Aldi store ended up in disappointment and only a few purchased groceries, a package of flexible cutting boards, and a lunch bag for my daughter. Maybe I was just unfamiliar with the private label stock, which I thought would be fine since I’m a fan of Trader Joe’s (to read about the confusing, long-term relationship between Trader Joe’s and Aldi’s ownership, click on this Forbes article.) My daughter thought the store was “depressing.” I thought it was cheerful, light and bright. However, there was hardly a soul in the store, and no one around that looked like they worked there (for more info on why there’s hardly anyone at the store, see this enlightening post from Cranial Soup’s blog). But I asked my daughter if she thought PriceRite was a depressing store (since it’s also a budget grocery store with similar policies of self-bagging, etc.) and she said, “No, PriceRite has more energy to it.” Maybe she reads auras, I don’t know, but as a frugalite-in-training, she remarked that the prices weren’t as good as PriceRite or ShopRite!

Milford’s Aldi store is clean and neat–much neater than most grocery stores. (I don’t care about ambiance–remember, I shop at PriceRite!) The grocery cart system does its job by keeping customers accountable about returning the cart to its rightful place. But where was all the great produce I heard so much about? The green grapes had a cloudy tan tint (too ripe, in other words) and no other prices matched PriceRite’s fruit selection, and I could have done a lot better at ShopRite. (I did read that the quality of produce varies in every Aldi store.) The store is definitely less expensive than Stop & Shop. I knew I wouldn’t find any organic produce there, so I gathered some inexpensive peppers wrapped in packaging (and I baked them tonight and they were just delicious) and a beautiful package of celery for $1.49 which is admittedly a lovely price.

Before my trip, I studied other people’s blogs about the store. I studied the store’s own website. I was looking forward to seeing prices for paper goods like toilet paper, but I did better this week at ShopRite on their toilet paper sale. I couldn’t wait to see the meat offerings (were there any there? I think I spotted a handful of meats in the back of the store….?), and I wanted to see their fish offerings (we came home with some frozen shrimp that we made for dinner, as well).

Though I read to stay away from the ice creams, I noted that its Belmont 48 oz carton cost $2.69 and on any given week with a sale and/or coupon, I can get a 48 oz carton of ice cream for $1 to $1.50 at ShopRite or even Stop & Shop, so Aldi’s selection was not a bargain.

I’m not 100% sold on the store, but I’m absolutely willing to give it another try. (I had high hopes when I visited a couple of Xpect Discounts stores ages ago, too, but I haven’t been back after trying several times to save money there.) Maybe if these stores were closer to me, I’d frequent them more often. But Milford is too far for me to travel for some savings. I prefer to stick to my beloved ShopRite which is right around the corner.

So I don’t know if I’ll ever become one of those fanatical Aldi shoppers, but I’m looking forward to my 45-minute trip to the Danbury Aldi later in the week. Stay tuned for more…

~Marilyn, TFF

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5 thoughts on “My First ( Sorta Disappointing) Trip to Milford, CT’s Aldi Store

  1. I’ve been an Aldi’s shopper for several years, first frequenting the Milford store, then the NEW Milford store and soon, I will go to the Danbury store for the first time. While organics are rare at Aldi’s, and yes, they do offer canned pasta, fzn premade dinners, snacks that are not the best choices, health and economy wise, Aldi’s DOES offer many things which routinely save me significant $. 34 oz can coffee $5.49 (stores sell (I’ll abreviate as “SS) coffee at $9 on sale), 1/2 & 1/2 qt container $1.79 (ss $2.50), eggs $1.29-they fluctuate (ss$2), 42 oz canister quick oats $1.79 (SS $3.49 private label, $4.99 quaker), 14 lb jug scoopable cat liter $3.99 (ss $5), 18 ct double roll Tp $6.99 (12 packs go for the same at SS), stick margarine 79 (ss $1.59), fzn 12 oz OJ $1.29 (ss $1.99), choc chips $1.79 (ss $2.50), presliced sandwich cheese like Cheddar, Monteray Jack, Swiss 8 oz $1.99 (SS $5.49), mayonnaise $1.99 (SS $3.49), Pam spray $1.49 (ss $2.50), etc. I shop Aldi’s once a month for staples, about 1ce a month at Xpect especially for health and beauty, cleaning products; Stop and Shop 2 x’s month, IGA-whenever there is a good sale or for a quick milk run(it’s closer than the gas station which has a great price on milk) and we participate in an organic CSA from a farm here in town. DO give Aldi’s a second chance. The only thing we didn’t like was their ketchup-too sweet. No issue, we tried it, it wasn’t our preference, I won’t get it again. their steak sauce is like A1, their Reeva dish washing soap is great, canned 15 oz pink salmon is just over $2, their fig newtons are 99 cents and their oreos are under $2-both very good. Come Xmas time, they will have European chocolates and cookies-fantastic. I think their cocoa packets go for $1.19.

    1. Yes, I forgot that I did get a Canola oil “Pam” spray for $1.49 yesterday which was great. Honestly, I think it’ll be a place to go to 1x a month to get the items I want to routinely stock up on (and I can send my husband to the Danbury store to pick items up since he’s so close to it now that he works up there). I’ll just have to see what I can do better on at Aldi and what I can do better on with a sale/coupon. It’s always great to have another place for better prices. (I think I still have to stick closer to home for produce.) Thanks for your list of Aldi favorites — it’ll help me to get my list in order to try out things. ~Marilyn, TFF

  2. I split my shopping between Trader Joe’s and Aldi. I won’t shop at big chains anymore regardless. I buy my staples at Aldi, such as gallon skim milk ($2.63) butter ($1.99 a pound) eggs ($1.10 a dozen), sugar, flour, spices, mustard, ketchup, salad pacs (1.99) and fresh spinach ($1.49). I get their canned beans, tomatoes ($59 a can). I don’t buy their fresh meats. I only buy frozen which is great, inexpensive and since it’s individually frozen (as in their Kirkwood’s frozen chicken tenderloins ($5.99) I only use what I need and there is no waste. The unseasoned Angus burgers are delicious! Frozen chopped turkey ($1.49 per pound) makes great chili and meatballs. I only buy frozen fish (flounder and salmon), frozen OJ. I buy absolutely NO prepared foods as the salt content is high plus preservative laden. Old Fashioned oatmeal is $1.99 for their largest size. 11 oz cans of their coffee (plus decaf) is only $2.76. Geeze, do I have the prices down or what? I do buy their 1000 sheet, 4 roll toilet paper for $2.45 which is the cheapest price for me, but nothing else. (I get my toiletries/cleaning products at the Dollar Store) I’m only at Aldi for the food. Brick cheeses are $1.99 for 8 oz. Fresh salsa is only $1.99. You have to watch for their specials or discounted selections.
    For treats, snacks and other tasties, I shop at Trader Joe’s. I get their sesame-honey-almonds for $5.99, frozen croissants $3.99, 100% Arabica coffee beans for $4.99 (so worth it!) Applegate cold cuts, cheese specialties (goat cheese w honey), peanut butter and a LOT of gluten free products such as bread, rolls, pasta, desserts (rice & tapioca puddings). Their turkey burgers ($2.99 for 4) are to die for! I swear I have at least a years supply stocked up in my freezer. Where is it written that fish, chicken and beef must be fresh? I like frozen fruits and veggies also (fantastic from Aldi). I find them to taste far superior to fresh stuff. I do get some fresh fruits, such as bananas (.19 a pound), watermelon ($3.99 each), tomatoes at Trader Joe’s. So far, so good.

    I know exactly how you feel about Aldi. It’s a shock to the system. I don’t look at the shoppers. I concentrate on myself, my family and my pocketbook. At some times over the past year, I swear Aldi has helped me avoid going to a food pantry! The prices are good and hubby and I have managed to keep up a good lifestyle thanks to them. The money I save at Aldi, I splurge at Trader Joe’s. I just am thankful and adore both places.

    Good luck!

    PS: it took me at least 1 month before I got Aldi’s down pat. And a LOT of arguing with my husband. Now, he’s a fan. Hang in there!

    1. Will definitely revisit! My gut reaction is that I didn’t spend enough time there (I have to go solo next time :–) As with anything, I have to find what we like and since it’s a bit far to drive, stock up a bit on the frozen stuff, especially. Thanks for your list of Aldi favorites! It helps! ~Marilyn

      1. Good luck. Have fun. That’s what I did. I started from the beginning of the store, walked up and down the aisels and looks at everything. read almost every package. If you do buy something and don’t like it, they take it back and give you back your money. No questions asked.

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