Once upon a time, you wouldn’t have caught me in the parking lot of an Aldi store, much less inside the store making purchases. There was nothing but off-brand junk food at Aldi, and I had (mostly) sworn off junk food. Never mind that it had been years since I’d set foot in an Aldi, and never mind that I had that perception because that was the only food I really looked at when I went there previously. Aldi was off-limits to this (mostly) whole foods type gal.
That lasted for a couple of years…until I noticed that quite a few of my foodie-type friends shopped at Aldi. Not exclusively, and not always foods that I would eat anyway. (Salmon=ick!) Still, my curiosity was piqued and a few years ago, I dared to step back across the Aldi threshold. (And no, if my foodie friends jumped off a bridge, I wouldn’t jump with them. Probably not, anyway, unless they had cupcakes.)
The truth is that, just like any other grocery store, there’s a fair amount of packaged, processed junk food at Aldi. Sugary cereal, fatty chips, salty…well, everything. While they’ve introduced more wholesome packaged foods like steel-cut oats and pasta sauces, to name a few, over the past year, the offerings in that category are few and far between. I’m encouraged, though, and hopeful for even more products to choose from in the future.
I do the bulk of my shopping at Kroger and the produce market, but here’s a look at the things I buy at Aldi:
Nuts and dried fruits – I especially like Aldi’s big bag of raw, UNsalted almonds. (Ignore that these are salted. Someone was in too big a hurry that day and picked up the wrong bag. I “fixed” it by mixing them with a bag of unsalted almonds to lessen the sodium load.)
I’m also liking the dried cranberries and dried cherries I found at Aldi a few weeks ago at about 65-70% of the cost at Kroger. I was happy to see that they were sweetened with sugar only and that the only ingredients were the fruit and sugar. Happy, and a tiny bit surprised.
Some fruits & veggies – I had a minor melt-down last week, when I learned that red peppers (my current food passion) are priced at almost $2 each at the produce market! I bought a ginormous head of romaine for less than that! I decided to check Aldi and boy, was I glad! A pack of 3 huge peppers was only $1.49. The 3-lb. bag of apples was $2.49, about half of those at the produce store.
Fruits and veggies I skip at Aldi are bananas, tomatoes, and celery. I’ve tried them in the past and…no. I’ll get those elsewhere.
Cheeses – Aldi has an excellent selection of cheeses, especially fresh mozzarella, parmigiana reggiano, asiago, and Havarti. I could spend an hour just
drooling over checking out the cheese case. Pity they don’t offer samples. Or maybe that’s a good thing.
In the cheese-ish category, Aldi carries Babybel cheeses (one of the few brand names it stocks), but I go for their Happy Farms brand of pepper cheese, which is very similar to Laughing Cow Queso Fresco & Chipotle in flavor, but at half the cost. You have no idea how ridiculously happy this makes me.
Other “sometimes” purchases:
MeatsMy Aldi now sells hormone- and antibiotic-free chicken and grass-fed beef. I buy the chicken (and like it) but haven’t bought the beef yet simply because I rarely buy beef. Those foodie friends I mentioned earlier buy fish and seafood at Aldi and are thrilled with it. ::shudder::
BreadAldi carries a ‘sandwich thin’ that’s somewhat similar to the Arnold/Orowheat thin. I don’t like the Aldi version as much as Arnold thins, but they’ll do in a pinch. (A pinch meaning I’d have to make a special stop for the Arnolds.)
Aldi might be owned by the same company that owns Trader Joe’s, but they’re two different entities entirely. Oddly enough, I find more to like at Aldi than I do at TJ’s. I’m just weird that way, I guess.
I doubt I’ll ever be a hard-core Aldi shopper, but I’ll admit I was wrong to write them off completely. Lesson learned until it happens again.
Do you shop at Aldi? Any favored products there that I might be missing?
If you’ve never shopped at Aldi but think you might, two things you’ll want to know:
1) Aldi doesn’t accept credit cards–cash or debit cards only.
2) Take a shopping bag/box or be prepared to buy your grocery bags.
(FTC: Despite appearances, this is not an Aldi-endorsed or sponsored post. It’s just my honest observations of my experiences shopping there with my own cash or debit card.)