15 Jul

What to buy at ALDI

I actually had second thoughts about getting this post up because so many other bloggers have done similar pieces on this very subject. But when a friend of mine emailed to ask me what I regularly purchased from Aldi, I thought maybe you guys might like to know as well.

So let’s talk Aldi!

If you’ve never been to Aldi, there are a few things you need to know before you go.

First, this is a no-frills operation. There is no coffee shop, no deli, no bakery, no butcher, no free cookies for kids, and the greatest hits of the 80’s and 90’s will definitely not be played for you while you shop. So grab yourself a latte and pack a snack for your kiddos before you go.

Aldi only accepts cash, debit cards, and EBT cards. No checks or credit cards. Learn it. Live it.

Aldi is probably much smaller than any other grocery store you’ve been to because there aren’t various brands of any item to choose from. If you’re shopping for peanut butter, you’re not going to have to choose between twelve different brands. Aldi might sell two.

You need a quarter to get a shopping cart (you get the quarter back once the cart is returned) and you have to bring your own bags and bag your own groceries so keep that in mind when you go.

These policies might seem like an inconvenience but operating this way allows Aldi to keep their prices low.

One last thing to keep in mind is that Aldi does not accept coupons. However, if you live near an Aldi, you might find a $5 off a $35 purchase coupon in your mailbox from time to time.

Once I started shopping at Aldi on a regular basis and trying more things, I quickly became a convert.

Since some of you might still be on the fence about shopping at Aldi, I thought I’d share with you what regularly goes into my shopping cart when I shop there.

So here’s what I buy (and what I bypass) when shopping at Aldi.

1. Produce: I know that some people have had a bad experience with Aldi’s produce but that has never been the case for me. I consistently find great produce at some of the best prices I’ve seen anywhere! The selection is usually seasonal which means the produce will taste better too. Keep in mind that most of Aldi’s produce items are sold in bags or packages of multiples and they do not break packages so if you only need one onion and a couple of potatoes, you’ll need to grab those elsewhere.

2. Baking Essentials: Vanilla extract, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugars. These are items I consistently find at much better prices at Aldi. The one exception to this rule is around the holidays when you can usually find better deals on these items in your regular grocery store.

3. Cheese: You probably won’t find any organic cheeses made from grass-fed animals here but everything from ordinary blocks of cheese to fancier blue cheeses and fresh mozzarella has been of good quality. The shredded cheese does contain corn-starch which can keep it from melting nicely so it’s better to buy a block and shred it yourself.

4. Butter: I do a lot of baking so for me, $1.69 for 1 lb of unsalted butter is too good a deal to pass up!

5. Organic Canned Goods: I toss a can or two of both diced tomatoes and beans in my cart almost weekly.

6. Frozen Fruit and Veggies: I stock up on pretty much everything I can get my hands on in this section of the freezer. Especially the organic items!

7. Organic Free Range Chicken Broth: I almost didn’t put this one on the list because it really is worth it to spend the money on the good stuff when you can’t make your own. However, when money is tight you can’t beat $1.89 for 32 oz. of organic free range broth.

8. Organic Coconut Oil: Other than the vanilla extract for $1.99, this is probably one of my favorite finds at Aldi. Coconut oil has so many uses. I always have it in my pantry and I love that I pay less than $5 for it at Aldi.

9. Whole Wheat Bread: Just as good as the name brand stuff but much cheaper. And no azodicarbonamide!

10. Toilet Paper: If I can’t find a better deal elsewhere, I’ll gladly pay $5 for 12 rolls of t.p.

11. Chips: Clancy’s Corn Chips taste just like Fritos and are only $0.89! Clancy’s Tortilla Chips are a little over $1 and are just as good as the name brand tortilla chips too. Simply Nature Organic Chips and Veggie Straws are regulars around here as well.

12. Milk: Both organic and regular milks are just as good as the milks I buy in my regular grocery store but a dollar or more cheaper.

13. Gluten Free Products: My GFBF (gluten-free best friend, Jill) swears by Aldi’s line of GF products. I personally have never tried them because I gluten but if she says they’re legit, they’re legit.

14. Vegetable Oil: $1.99 for 48 oz? It goes in my cart!

15. Organic Honey: I love honey. It’s actually kind of ridiculous how fast I can go through a bottle so it’s a good thing I can get another one at a great price whenever I run out.

16. Maple Syrup: At less than $4 for 8.5 oz of pure maple syrup, this is a really good deal.

17. Nuts: These can be a pretty expensive grocery item but you can usually find various nuts at great prices at Aldi.

18. Nature’s Path Organic Pumpkin Flax Granola: This is one of our favorite cereals and Aldi always has the lowest price.

19. Frozen Potato Products: Aldi’s fries, tots, and hash browns are just as good as the name brand but priced much lower.

20. Beer! Surprised? I was too but I’m telling you, Aldi sells some pretty decent beer. My favorite is their Kinroo Blue which is a Belgian White Ale flavored with orange peel and coriander. If you’re a fan of Hoegaarden, you will love it. It tastes just like it but it’s much cheaper.

There you have it! What I regularly buy at Aldi.

Now for what I never but at Aldi:

1. Meat and Fish: Yes, Aldi carries organic grass-fed beef and organic chicken (occasionally) but I’m going to have to keep passing on these items since the beef comes from two to three different countries and neither of these meats are humanely raised as far as I can tell. And yes, Aldi does carry wild-caught fish, but it’s processed in China. That’s a hard limit for me, folks. However, if you’re okay with it, you can get 4-5 decent sized salmon filets for under $4.We don’t eat a lot of meat but I’m pretty picky about the meat I do buy so I’ve been avoiding Aldi’s meat section thus far.

2. Carrots: This is one produce item that I always buy organic because organic carrots are only a few cents more than regular carrots. My Aldi does not carry organic carrots so I pay a little extra each week at my regular grocery store for them.

3. Eggs: Only because my Aldi does not carry cage-free or pastured eggs.

4. Sour cream and Heavy cream: Too many additives. End of story.

5. Chocolate: I’m really picky when it comes to chocolate so this is something that I just don’t buy from Aldi. This goes for chocolate bars, chocolate chips, and cocoa powder.

So there you have it. My totally uncompensated but honest opinion about Aldi.

I’d love to know your thoughts. What are your favorite Aldi buys? Is there anything I should be trying? Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

*Update – 7/30/15: Aldi is now carrying grass-fed cheese. I have only seen cheddar so far but it’s a start!

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