And let me say it right off… this is not a sponsored post. I’m just writing this from an honest perspective as an encouraged consumer.
For those of you unfamiliar with Aldi’s, it’s a great budget-friendly grocery store. They are significantly cheaper on many fronts (Wal-Mart, some stuff from big-box stores, etc.). How do they get away with this? Little things… they aren’t open in the middle of the night, so costs for staffing are lower. You use a quarter to get your cart, meaning no employee has to spend time out in the parking lot gathering up carts. There are no bags – so you can either buy a few at the checkout counter or – my personal favorite – bring reusable bags that are EVERYWHERE these days. They also very rarely offer brand name items. Most of their stock is “off brand” or Aldi’s brand. Those are my observations on how the store does it, but I’m sure there’s probably more to the story.
But I’m here to tell you why I really, really love this store.
The first thing Aldi’s did recently – aside from offering organic and/or “cleaner” foods (they also have a great amount of gluten-free items MUCH cheaper, for those concerned) – was promise to cut out all synthetic dyes, MSG, and partially hydrogenated oils by 2016 (their press release here). And they DID IT. So, granted… a fruity sugar cereal is still not really healthy, at least the cut the red dye #40. This is a big deal for some families… there are loads, and loads of kids that react terribly to these dyes (most cases I’ve heard of – anecdotally, of course – is related to hyperactive, bizarre and/or uncontrollable kids). Maybe potato chips aren’t the best choice, but at least they cut out partially-hydrogenated oils. Everyone seems to agree these are bad, bad, bad. And don’t get me started on MSG! I’m not kidding you… some believe it tricks your brain like a drug, causing more cravings! (Read more on it here.)
And here’s what gets me really excited…
The issue with the previous paragraph is that the ingredients cut are typically in processed foods. I’m not a big fan on processed foods, because, frankly, it’s still junk. (There’s no nutritional benefit to canola oil, folks!)
They are now promising to expand their “Never Any!” line (these are meats that conventionally have synthetic nitrites/nitrates added… i.e., carcinogen. Like a really bad one. Folks, we’ve known since 1994 these are bad, bad, bad! News link here). Also, their natural lines and organic sections are expanding! You can read more about this report here.
I save SERIOUS money at this store.
Bigger than my own personal economics is this important fact: you tell the world what you value with how you spend your money. Choosing to put your dollars into a store or system that is most beneficial to you speaks VOLUMES. Aldi’s has HEARD.
So back to some more practical advice: what I recommend shopping for at Aldi’s. I haven’t tried everything, and obviously the economic benefit of choosing Aldi’s over other grocers will vary by location (i.e., I’m sure prices differ in certain places, so you might be able to find better deals elsewhere).
Here’s what I recommend:
- Organic Salsa
- Oven-roasted almonds
- Gluten-Free pretzels (for splurging. I’m still not a fan of every ingredient)
- Fruit cups packed in 100% fruit juice
- Dried fruit (but read the ingredient list!)
- Peanut Butter
- Almond Butter
- Some cereals (I don’t go crazy here. I’d still prefer to buy cleaner ones from a bigger grocery store)
- Organic Ketchup
- Never Any! Bacon
- Never Any! Breakfast Sausage
- Never Any! Hot dogs
- Organic baby spinach, baby kale, spring lettuce mix
- Organic baby carrots
- Organic bananas
- Organic oranges
- Organic apples
- Organic cherry tomatoes
- Coconut oil
- Fruit juices, as needed
- Organic canned tomato products
- Other produce (we do not eat organic all the time, but most of the time Aldi’s has best prices!)
- Gluten-Free Bread
- Sprouted Bread
- Dried Beans
- Cheese blocks
- Never Any! Lunchmeats
- Grass-fed ground beef
- Free-range chicken
- Wild-caught fish
- Organic pasta
- Gluten-Free Macaroni & Cheese
- Frozen vegetables
- Frozen blueberries (frozen strawberries are hit or miss)
This is only the list of things that I find with regularity. There are lots and LOTS of things they pull out for seasonal items (and/or, I just wonder if they’re trying out new products) that I can’t find and wouldn’t necessarily want to recommend you try to go hunt them in your local store… because I just don’t think you’ll find them.
My last disclaimer is that sometimes Aldi’s runs out of these things. And they may not reappear for a week or so. Honestly, when I find something that saves me huge money (like sprouted bread), I buy it up and freeze what I can. Every Aldi’s is different, so if you’re new to shopping there, it might take a few weekly trips to figure it out.
Do you shop at Aldi’s? What are your favorite finds?
*All images used with permission from Aldi’s within their media usage terms.