My Aldi Shopping List

2009-09-23_IMG_3411 Aldi in KnoxvilleOnce 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.)

Signs like this were encouraging:
aldi truth #1: when deciding between eating well and saving money, always choose both

100_4216The 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:

aldi almondsNuts 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. :)

aldi peppers and applesSome 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. :)

happy farms cheeseCheeses – 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.)

31 thoughts on “My Aldi Shopping List

  1. I admit I’m an Aldi snob. I was there one time years ago because someone said they had good fruit or something, but what I found was…bananas, maybe? But because you recommend it, I will give it a try again!

  2. Aldi must be more of an eastern states store – I’ve never seen it in Texas or in California. I like your sleuthing to find the good food/deals there!

  3. My husband shops there often; I don’t like to because of all the rules and I never remember them. He buys cabbage for me there:) Cheapest in town. He gets the thins and several frozen items and many of the cereals. He also gets several unhealthy things.

  4. My Aldi story is very similar to yours. It has been several years since I’ve been in one. There is now one very close to me, so I may check them out again. The thing that really turned me off was that their fresh stuff (produce and fruit) was just NASTY! It may have been cheap, but it was also old, usually moldy and somewhere in the area, I could always smell and SEE insects! Maybe they’ve been forced to step up their game in that area. The other thing that was always an issue for me is that there was never more than one line open and it was impossibly long. Yes, they were cheap, but not worth all that to me. In all fairness, at that time, there was only one Aldi in my entire metro area. There are now at least four that I can think of, so in light of your story, maybe there’s been improvement all the way around. I’ll give it a whirl!

    • The Aldi pictured at the top of the post is a Knoxville store!

      I’m sure each store is different, but the one near me is always clean and I haven’t noticed bugs or smells. (I’m finicky about that stuff.) As for the checkout lines, I usually have to wait behind one or two people, but the cashiers are zippy and never stop moving. If there’s a hold up, it’s usually a customer who’s causing the delay. Sometimes that customer is me. :)

  5. I too, shied away from Aldis because most were in scary neighborhoods. When they put a brand new one within a couple miles of my place, I checked them out. Now I go regularly, but only for certain items. I love their ‘oven roasted sea salt’ almonds. I had been getting Blue Diamond brand at Target but they were about $6 a bag, while these at Aldis were a couple bucks. They sometimes carry Fage yogurt. And have been carrying my FAVORITE granola, Pumpkin Flax granola from Nature’s Path for $2.79 compared to Krogers at $3.98. I occasionally buy fresh ground turkey at Aldis when I have time to cook it right away. I don’t buy too much produce there because with the bananas – you have to buy a BIG bag that is treated inside to reduce the ripening process. I don’t care for the texture of this kind of banana! When the red grapes were first in season, they sold a 2 lbs bag for something like $1.99 and they were the best! But now, the grapes aren’t so great…. So, it just depends on what you are looking for and what season it is, to get some good deals. I don’t depend on them having what is on my list, but go in with an open mind. Oh – and their ice cream is pretty darn good! 😉

    • Those are some nasty ‘nanas, aren’t they, Nancy?

      My Aldi doesn’t have Fage anymore. Very disappointing, but Kroger has some good sales on it now so I suppose it evened out.

  6. I just got back from Aldi! I have sort of a love/hate relationship to this store. I buy some meats, cheeses and produce from them. They are also good for the snacky stuff that I get my kids, like pretzel, fruit cups and applesauce. I do not like their milk and I get frustrated with the revolving selection of products. What I find one time, I may or may not find the next. Their prices are hard to beat, so I shop there first and then go fill in the rest of my list at another grocery store.

    Come Jan., they will really ramp up their selection of Fit & Active products for a few months.

    • Oh, that’s one of the things I meant to mention, Carol! It bugs me that sometimes they have a product, sometimes they don’t. Those Happy Farms cheeses I adore are a good example. Also, their bagged romaine lettuce. Very frustrating!

  7. Hm…don’t think we have Aldi in Canada. Guess the mayor of Toronto was too busy smoking crack to approve it. HA! OMG…so joking. And the mayor of Toronto is a joke too. (not that I live in Toronto myself)

    • I wonder why Aldi doesn’t have stores in CA? They’re in Europe, the UK, Australia and the US. Canada makes perfect sense to me.

      I agree on the Toronto mayoral situation. It gets stranger every day!

  8. My few trips to Aldi have not been pleasant but it has probably been 8 years so maybe I should give it another try!!!

  9. Did you know Aldis owns Trader Joe’s (or vice versa, can’t remember). I find that interesting somehow. I go on occasion to Aldis because when they have a produce sale – go! I also found almond milk there, if you can believe it.

  10. Yep – never seen this store in CA. I find most store have good stuff and not so good stuff – so I shop between 4 places on a monthly basis. Nice to branch out and try someplace new.

  11. No Aldi’s here, but I had fun reading about your shopping experiences. You sound like me–want a good product, but thrilled with the bargain. I’ll have to look for the happy farm stuff.

  12. Thanks for the Aldi review! My town is scheduled to get an Aldi within the next year. I don’t know if it will totally replace my trips to Kroger, but it’s good to have another option other than Walmart and Fiesta.

  13. I have never heard of Aldi’s we don’t have that chain here in CA. I shop at several different stores and like you have things that I will only purchase at certain places.

  14. My husband was in Germany, traveling for work, and he brought home chocolate…from Aldi’s! (I didn’t tell him that I can buy the same stuff here:)) Aldi’s is based in Germany, and the chocolate bars are too yummy! And cheap! Dark European chocolate, so good. I like their produce when it is in season and fresh. Their weekly specials on produce are good. I like their frozen extra fine green beans, the whole oats, and the low calorie yogurt. Milk, eggs, and half-and-half are very cheap too. We have lots of kids and go through so many apples and oranges and so much salad stuff, I love when I can get it cheap.

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