grocery shopping

ALDITextSeveral years ago, my friend Lisa was raving about ALDI. But I was skeptical and stubborn. I had my routine and knew my neighborhood grocery store inside and out.

Luckily she persisted. One day she took me to ALDI, showed me the ropes, and pointed out all her favorite items. Then I was hooked.

Now I rave about ALDI too (and was thrilled when they invited me to be a part of their ALDI Advisory Council, along with several other registered dietitians). And now I take friends on my own version of an ALDI tour.

When I talk about ALDI on this blog or my Facebook page, I usually hear from someone who was just like me–not convinced ALDI is right for them, unfamiliar with the system, and unsure of what to buy. So since I can’t take all of you on my ALDI guided tour (though I wish I could!) here’s the next best thing:

What To Know Before You Go

    • ALDI takes a no-frills approach. Food is stocked on the shelves in boxes and on pallets.
    • ALDI stores are smaller than typical supermarkets. While a supermarket stocks about 30,000 items, ALDI carries about 1,400. Regular grocery stores have 30-plus aisles, ALDI has just 4-5 aisles. This means a streamlined shopping experience. I’m usually in and out in 20 minutes!
    • ALDI carries mostly ALDI-exclusive brands, though you will find some brand name products there too.

What To Bring

How to Shop at ALDI by Real Mom NutritionPut your quarter in, get a cart. Get your quarter back when you return your cart. There are always kind souls in the parking lot giving other shoppers their carts (and sometimes refusing the quarter).

How to Shop at ALDI by Real Mom NutritionALDI only accepts cash, debit cards, and EBT cards. They don’t take checks or credit cards (that saves you money!).

How to Shop at ALDI by Real Mom NutritionYou’ll bag your own groceries on a counter near the checkout lanes. Forgot your reusable bags?  You can grab an empty box from the shelves or buy bags from the cashier.

My Favorite Things To Buy

This list is by no means comprehensive. Every week, I discover new things or my local ALDI adds something great. Availability of items also varies from week to week and store to store. But even if a product isn’t in stock, other new things probably are. That’s part of the fun!

How to Shop at ALDI by Real Mom Nutrition1. Organic Milk: We drink a lot of milk, so this savings really adds up for us.

2. Kefir: Though they mostly carry their own ALDI-exclusive brands, they usually have some name-brand items as well. I like picking up Lifeway Kefir as a treat for my boys.

3. Speciality Cheeses: Different varieties of goat cheese, blocks of parmesan, tubs of crumbled blue cheese, balls of mozzarella–all for less than you’ll see elsewhere.

4. Veggies: Some of the produce is already packaged up, but that suits us just fine. This is where I get broccoli, bell peppers, and Brussels sprouts to roast or shred into salads.

5. Fresh Pineapple: They also have great prices on melons, berries, and other fruit (including organic apples and bananas).

6. Artisan Lettuce: Three different varieties of lettuce that look beautiful chopped and tossed together. Though this lettuce isn’t organic, they do carry bagged organic mixed greens, arugula, kale, and baby spinach.

7. Citrus: I always stock up on limes and lemons for cooking (and oranges right now for snacking!).

How to Shop at ALDI by Real Mom Nutrition8.  Nuts: I get bagged nuts for baking and snacking. They usually have a nice variety, including walnuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, peanuts, and mixed nuts.

9. Dates: I love using unsweetened dates in smoothies and cookie bars.

10. Whole Wheat Flour: I practically danced in the aisles when this product arrived at my ALDI.

11. Spices: This is where I stock up on the spices I use the most, like garlic powder, oregano, and cumin for making things like homemade salad dressing, taco seasoning, and BBQ sauce.

12. Pure Vanilla Extract: WAY cheaper than the grocery store.

13. Coconut Oil: And it’s organic! I use this to make stove-top popcorn. I also buy olive oil at ALDI.

How to Shop at ALDI by Real Mom Nutrition14. Woven Wheat Crackers: We are hooked on these. Three ingredients. A dead ringer for Triscuits.

15. 100% Pure Maple Syrup: We always have a bottle of this in our fridge for homemade waffles and pancakes.

16. Cereal: ALDI has a few kinds of organic and natural cereals. I love this Shredded Wheat, which has just one ingredient.

17. Choceur Dark Chocolate: German-made dark chocolate! My husband takes half a small bar in his lunch every day.

18. Whole Wheat Pasta: It’s made with 100% whole wheat.

19. Organic Chicken Broth: Comes in regular and low-sodium versions.

20. Oats: I keep at least two tubs in my pantry for making granola, my favorite peanut butter cookies, and of course morning oatmeal!

If you’re not an ALDI fan yet, I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know what you think! (Go here to find out if there’s a store near you.)

If you’re already an ALDI fan, what are YOUR favorite things to buy there?

Disclosure: I am a member of the ALDI Advisory Council, which means I am paid to work on occasional projects for them. However, I was not asked to write this blog post, nor was I paid for writing it. I just wanted to share the information!

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My 10 Most Popular Posts of 2014

by Sally on December 28, 2014

Thanks for making 2014 a great year at Real Mom Nutrition! In case you missed any of them (or are new to my blog), here are my 10 most-read blog posts of the year:

Naturally-Colored Holiday Frosting from Real Mom Nutrition

1. Naturally Colored Frosting

Easy recipes for red and green frosting using natural dyes made from beets and spinach.

10 Kitchen Tricks That Save Time & Money -- Real Mom Nutrition

2. My 10 Favorite Kitchen Tricks

Bread dough not rising? Missing an egg for a recipe? Here are my best tips and tricks for saving time and money in the kitchen.

From-Scratch Cooking Confessional by Real Mom Nutrition

3. From-Scratch Cooking Confession: I Can’t Keep Up!

Why making everything from scratch isn’t possible for me–and why that’s okay.

20 Fruit & Veggie Team Snacks  from Real Mom Nutrition

 4. 20 Healthy Team Snacks For Kids

Bring healthy team snacks to your child’s next game. Here are 20 ideas.

5 Healthy (Packaged) Snacks For School

5 Grab-and-Go Healthy School Snacks

Nutritious munchies to tuck into lunchboxes and backpacks.

Salami and tomato skewer lunch

6. Your Child’s Lunch Makes Me Feel Inferior

If you’ve ever felt intimidated by lunchbox photos on Facebook and Pinterest, here’s why you should relax.

5 Foods I Don't Buy Anymore from Real Mom Nutrition

7. 5 Food I Don’t Buy Anymore

The stuff I always make from scratch for my family, including taco seasoning and waffles (with recipes!).

4 Foods I've Changed My Mind About by Real Mom Nutrition

8. 4 Foods I’ve Changed My Mind About

From local eggs to organic meat, here are four of the biggest ways I’ve changed how I feed my family.

 

SamSpaghetti2

 9. What Your Child Wants To Tell You About Picking Eating

Frustrated by your child’s picky eating? Dietitian Maryann Jacobson of Raise Healthy Eaters explains eight of the most common (and frustrating) eating behaviors.

Boo-nana Ghosts: Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween Parties

 10. 8 Healthy Treats For Classroom Halloween Parties

Treats for Halloween classroom parties that are healthy and simple to make.

 

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5 Foods I Don’t Buy Anymore

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Since starting this blog five years ago, I make a lot more food from scratch. Perhaps it’s because my kids are older and less demanding and no longer require me to be within two feet of them at all times. Perhaps it’s because I started paying much closer attention to ingredient lists. Or because my […]

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Free Meal Planning Worksheet

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Meal planning is a gift that keeps on giving. Spending 5-10 minutes on it at the beginning of the week means no more 5:30 “what’s-for-dinner??” angst. A crucial step in meal planning is food shopping. I make my week’s dinner menus and grocery list at the same time. That way, I can avoid last minute trips to […]

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Dinnertime Survival Trick: The Smartest Place To Buy Herbs & Spices

June 30, 2014

Throughout the pages of my new book Cooking Light Dinnertime Survival Guide are tricks that help me save time, money, and sanity. I call them “Crazy Tricks That Actually Work”. I’m sharing a few of these on my blog. I’m a pretty frugal shopper, and shelling out $6 for a tiny jar of dried herbs is […]

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My Favorite Packaged Foods

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In the last few years, I’ve made a conscious decision to make more food from scratch. But I still buy packaged food (read “From-Scratch Cooking Confession: I Can’t Keep Up!“). Several readers asked me for more details on the kinds of packaged products I buy, so I wanted to share some of my favorites. When […]

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From-Scratch Cooking Confession: I Can’t Keep Up!

March 3, 2014

I believe that a diet based around whole foods is the way to go. I believe we should know what’s in our food, that we should strive to eat food that isn’t laden with preservatives and artificial flavors. Over the years, my suspicion about ingredients like artificial colors has grown, and I’ve become increasingly annoyed with […]

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Do Food Labels Even Matter? Here’s Why I Say YES.

February 28, 2014

This week, the FDA proposed some big changes to food labels (aka the Nutrition Facts label). Some of the changes include: Requiring information about the amount of added sugar, not just total sugar. Putting the calorie content in larger print. Revising servings sizes on some products to better reflect the amount people actually eat. Removing […]

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Pantry Challenge: Week #3 Meal Plan & Home Stretch!

November 12, 2012

Should beer and wine count toward the weekly Pantry Challenge grocery budget? Not surprisingly, my husband–who is no fan of the Pantry Challenge–emphatically says no. If he’s right and it doesn’t, I stayed close to my $50 goal last week. I even hosted a neighborhood party–and I tried to use what I had on hand […]

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Pantry Challenge: Week #2 Meal Plan

November 5, 2012

The good news is that I stuck to my meal plan pretty closely last week (read: Pantry Challenge: Week #1 Shopping Trip & Meal Plan). The bad news is that we had two last-minute events that busted my budget. One was an out-of-town trip that involved pizza delivery. Another was hosting a night time Nerf […]

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