What I Love at Aldi

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Luckily, I know lots of people who are smarter than me (see: sticker charts). One of them is my dear old friend Jesse (old as in, how long we've been friends).

Sure, I'd heard of Aldi over the years. But it was never in my regular rotation of places to go--it seemed like an extra trip you had to make for groceries that I wasn't familiar with. Plus, the stores were small and seemed like they might be confusing.

Jesse started shopping there after their Dave Ramsey overhaul, and kept telling me how much money she was saving. About 9 months later, I finally made my maiden voyage to the one that's practically down the street from my house.

Things I already knew about Aldi: it's a sister (brother?) company to Trader Joe's. Since I knew this, I used my razor sharp deductive reasoning skills (aided by casual/overheard conversation from other friends) to conclude that most of the items in the store were their own brand. Besides Heinz ketchup (why is this?), I am not particularly brand loyal when it comes to groceries. Give me the Kroger brand, Up & Up, I don't really care.

So the first time I walked in an Aldi, it was like confetti in my head...or something. Their brand! Low prices! Yee-haw!

My first trip, I stuck to some basic pantry items, as well as the cheeses (I'd heard they have great cheese, and it's true!). But now, there's pretty much nothing I won't buy there.

Before I show my hand here, let me make a disclaimer: we have not fully-formed any sort of "food philosophy" that governs what I must or mustn't buy at the grocery store. What I mean is, I don't buy all organic/"clean" stuff all the time. I guess I just want to proceed without judgment--you know, food stuff can be personal. The below items are just some everyday-type items that we like. I'm a little intidmiated to be showing the internet my grocery habits, but for the sake of the Aldi gospel, here we go. Onward!

That photo above is what it looks like inside, if you haven't been. Much like Trader Joe's, savings are passed down by doing things like keeping the items in their boxes instead of merchandising them on shelves. You also have to "rent" a grocery cart (insert a quarter you'll get back when you return your cart), which keeps carts out of the parking lot (it totally works!), as well as bring your own bags or purchase them there. You also have to bag your own groceries on their long "bagging shelf" after you check out. Bring it on I say, if the groceries are going to have such great prices (and maintain their quality).

Their pantry stuff is great! Flour, sugar, brown sugar, etc....all of the baking I did at Christmas was made with these items. This trip I bought a big container of old fashioned oats for $2.29. They also have steel-cut oats that are pretty good.

Dairy... the milk is hormone free, and we've bought it a few times. It is less than $3 for a gallon, so much cheaper than any other milk. Milk is one of the things I do like to buy organic. My eyes sort of get crossed if I read too much about milk, but it seems like organic is a good idea. Hormone-free sounds reasonable though, but I'm not educated enough to say anything else on the subject.

BUT, we do love the unsweetened almond milk from Aldi (Juliette in particular)! sorry no pic.

The butter is great (and a great price!). We also buy the plain Greek yogurt, sour cream, and cottage cheese.

The organic frozen fruit was new to me on my last visit, so that's fun. (I usually buy frozen fruit at Costco, non-organic at this point).

Like I mentioned earlier, the cheese section is one of the superstars of Aldi. They have Brie, fresh mozzarella, and other soft cheeses for fantastic prices. And look at these prices for blocks of cheese and parmesan! I bought some of that Asiago cheese to grate over our stovetop popcorn sometime.

This turkey was new to me on this last visit--no nitrates, raised without antibiotics, it says. I usually like to buy turkey from the deli, but I figured we'd give this a whirl. Oh, I also bought some of their thick maple bacon one time for crock pot black-eyed peas (bought dried there also) and it was WONDERFUL!

Prices: shredded cheese (4 cups) $2.99, deli sliced cheese $1.99, sour cream $1.29, turkey $2.99, asiago cheese $3.49.

Next is produce. Oh, produce! I love these prices and got some great-looking things for the week.

Prices: organic baby spinach $2.49 (love using in smoothies and with fried eggs), organic grape tomatoes $1.69, garlic 99 cents, celery 69 cents, 3 zucchini $1.99, grapefruit 49 cents each, bag of collard greens $1.99 (my friend Laura gave me a great recipe for this!), two broccoli heads 99 cents, bag of carrots 99 cents, blackberries $1.49. Not pictured is a bag of lemons for $1.99.

Just like any grocery, produce is an area for discernment. Sure, it may be super on sale, but be sure to take a look and see how everything looks and make your best guess for its shelf life. 

Snacks: this section (besides the cheese), is usually what gets me in the door. One of the things we've done in an effort to snack better is to keep a jar of trail mix around. I first found this concoction at Target from Archer Farms--their container is $9.99. From Aldi, I mix my own. It ends up being about the same price, but I think you get a little larger quantity. And, this concoction has less salt.

I bought that Anchor jar from Target (smaller version of this) a few months ago to keep it looking a little cuter out on our counter.

Prices: whole cashews $3.99, dried cranberries $1.19, unsalted whole almonds $4.99 (the most expensive item on my receipt every trip!)

Onto more snacks.

I buy these organic cheerios for Molly to munch on. The veggie chips are good, they were new to me, as were the organic animal crackers (Juliette loves animal crackers). Side note: their "regular" animal crackers are really really good also. Saltines I like to have on-hand in case of illness, and these sweet potato chips are my FAVES! So simple and delicious (though the bag be small...not a bad thing, I guess). And raisins, well...toddlers.

Prices: organic cheerios $1.99, triscuits $1.25, organic veggie chips $2.99, organic animal crackers $1.79, sweet potato chips $1.99, saltines 95 cents, raisins $1.19. 

I didn't buy any this trip, but I've bought the ground turkey before, as well as frozen tilapia and frozen pizza. All great. I had a recommendation today from my friend Melissa (hi, Melissa!) to check out their cornish game hens. Sounds interesting and yummy! 

Melissa is also a lot smarter than me and checks out the Aldi "Special Buy" paper that comes in the mail on Wednesdays, and told me there were fresh-caught lobster tails on sale last week, 2 for $12.99, and that they're delicious and sell out quickly. Mmm.

Lastly (and this describes the sort of random/wonderful things Aldi has from time-to-time) but we bought a kettle bell set for $24.99, which included a 15 lb, 10 lb, and 5 lb kettle bell. This is $5 LESS than we paid for our SINGLE 30 lb kettle bell on Amazon! Go figure!

Other miscellany:

organic agave nectar // those kettle chips are SO good. 

Some organic cereal (they carry that Nature's Path brand at Costco too). And there's organic chicken broth for $1.99/box.

Coffee pods, good prices, haven't tried yet (they don't have decaf that I've seen, and I drink decaf)...

To those of you with an Aldi nearby...I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know. I bet yall are all like, duh girl, please.

I've just really really enjoyed shopping at Aldi over the past several months, and love the products and the savings so I thought I would pass along in case you hadn't ventured inside yet. I've probably just hit the tip of the Aldi awesomeness iceberg, actually.

Here's an article I enjoyed from Slate about Aldi and their brother TJ's.

Any big items I missed that you love? Please let me know!!!

I'll take you out with a reminder to enter my Whoa, wait. Walmart? giveaway! You still have a couple of days!


  1. I preach the Aldi gospel to all who will listen, so I loved this post! I had no idea Aldi and TJ's were bros! Whaaat?! One more thing that's great and much less expensive than other stores - maple syrup! Their special buys and weekly specials are on the website too.

  2. Amen, sister! We LOVE Aldi! I'm with Laura on the maple syrup. I love the real stuff and theirs is yummy and affordable. We love their hummus, pita chips, cheese sticks, chocolate bars, canned fruit packed in juice for when the produce stash runs out, shell pasta for homemade macaroni and cheese, and Jonathan loves all of their cereals. Every time I go there I feel like I am loading up my cart with things not on my list but that are just such great deals that I can't pass them up, and every time I'm shocked that even with all those "extras" my bill is still less than what I would spend sticking to my list at another grocery store.

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