organics

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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Why I'm Tired of "Foods You Should Never Eat" Lists by Real Mom NutritionI am so over seeing this headline: “Foods You Should Never Eat!”

There’s a good reason I see it so much. It’s effective. It’s just sensational enough to draw you in, just scary enough to make you flip to the page or click through to the article with a single worry: Oh no, could I be eating one of those foods????

Yes, you probably are. Because here’s just a small sampling of what a Google search of the phrase “foods you should never eat” turns up:

  • Corn
  • Bread
  • Vegetable oil
  • Gluten
  • Bacon
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Non-organic produce
  • Cereal
  • Ice cream
  • Alcohol
  • “Anything cooked in a microwave”

These lists were so long, the range of foods so broad, it boggles the mind. Though you don’t even have to actually ingest these foods to suffer disastrous health consequences if an article titled “Foods You Should Never Attempt To Eat” is to be believed. And apparently there’s also a subset of particularly hazardous foods that are reserved for a “Foods to Never Ever Eat” category.

And the nutrition misinformation? Enough to make my toes curl.

According to these lists, white rice should be avoided because “your body doesn’t know how to process it” (yes it does; it’s called digestion). White pasta “contains little to no nutrients” (aside from carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals, all of which are nutrients), and you shouldn’t drink a soda “if you don’t want diabetes” (the leap this statement makes is about a mile long).

Why I'm Tired of "Foods You Should Never Eat" Lists by Real Mom NutritionTo abide by these lists, you must forever pass up mint chocolate chip in favor of blending “berries, almond milk, and stevia” because, sadly, ice cream tops the list of “Summer Foods You Should Never Eat”. You must tote around your own shaker of black lava salt to restaurants because the iodine in table salt is deadly. And forget about eating mayo or drinking tap water ever again. You’re done.

My beef with these lists: That word “never”. Really? NEVER? Yes, there are alternatives to some of these foods that offer more health benefits. Yes, I support buying organic when available and feasible financially. Yes, I advise people to drink water over soda, choose whole grain bread over white, and brown rice over white. But at the end of the day, it’s about what you eat most of the time. It’s about your overall eating habits, not a single food or a single meal.

But the problem with these lists is that instead of informing people, they simply spread fear. A soda will not give you diabetes. White bread is not toxic. Fear of food is not healthy. (Read: Fear & Loathing on Facebook)

So the next time you see a “Foods You Should Never Eat!” list, please take it with a grain of salt.

Just not table salt. That stuff will kill you!

Photos by my fabulous intern Hannah Bills.

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My 10 Most Popular Posts of 2014

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May 22, 2013

Here’s what I’ve been learning lately on Facebook: Packaged bread is poison so you should make your own. But wheat is also poison, so don’t bother. You should never, ever, ever drink milk. Unless it’s raw, then maybe it’s okay. Never mind, it’s bad. If you’re feeding your kids non-organic fruit while slathering them with […]

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Remember my raging insecurities about Organic Mom? Well, she may buy all of her produce at Whole Paycheck, but I don’t have that kind of coin. So I pick and choose and do the best I can. By now, we all know that certain fruits and veggies–like apples, celery, and peaches–tend to harbor more pesticide residues […]

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September 14, 2011

Organic Mom was in line behind me at the grocery store the other day. Full disclosure: I have this really bad habit of looking at the contents of other people’s grocery carts. I’m not judging them. Okay, sometimes I am judging them. Mostly, I view it as “research”. But when Organic Mom was behind me […]

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

June 8, 2010

Nitrates in hot dogs, BPA in cans, pesticides on produce. Anyone else notice how crappy the news has been about food lately? When I consider the stuff I grew up on, apparently I should feel lucky just to be alive: canned tuna by the case, countless non-organic apples and peaches I was too lazy to […]

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