Several 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.
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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
Put 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).
ALDI only accepts cash, debit cards, and EBT cards. They don’t take checks or credit cards (that saves you money!). Update: ALDI now accepts credit cards!!
You’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.
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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!
1. 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!).
8. 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 snack bites.
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.
14. 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!