All about Aldi. The Café's best tips and tricks for shopping at Aldi, as well as our favorite things to buy!
We have a little different type of post for you today, all about shopping at Aldi and some of the wonderful products we find there every week. We think Aldi is a little diamond-in-the-rough secret when it comes to finding great buys on groceries and we wanted to share some of our great finds with you.
Who am I talking about when I say “we”? Well, that’s one other thing I wanted to share with you today. I’m excited to introduce you to an integral member of The Café team, my daughter-in-law, Lindsay. Lindsay has been working behind the scenes for us for quite a while now with social media and some of the nuts and bolts tasks that go with running a website.
Recently she’s been contributing more as she’s the one who’s been putting together our special Sunday “What to Cook Now” posts. We’ve gotten lots of great feedback from you on her posts and I thought it was past due time for you to get to know this valuable member of our team. Meet Lindsay!
In addition to being a wonderful wife to our son Nick and mom to Emmy and Hayes, (two of our six grandchildren), Lindsay has an undergraduate degree in education and was a beloved 2nd-grade teacher before the two children were born. She’s smart, creative, super positive and we love having her as part of The Café!
Lindsay and I have collaborated on this post as we both love shopping at Aldi and have found that it stretches our grocery budget while also allowing us to eat very well. By the way, this is not a sponsored post, we just really like Aldi!
Before we share a few tips on how to shop Aldi and some of our favorite products there are a few interesting facts about Aldi that you might not be aware of.
Aldi - did you know?
- Aldi was started by Karl Albrecht as a small family-owned grocery store in Essen, Germany in the early 1900s. The original store in Essen is still in operation!
- In 1946 the Aldi chain was founded by the two sons of Karl Albrecht, Karl and Theo. This new chain of stores was called Albrecht Discount and eventually, that was shortened to Aldi.
- Aldi now has over 10,000 stores in 20 countries!
- Aldi is growing like crazy all over the world. In England, a new store opens every week!
- In 1979, Theo Albrecht bought a small chain of stores in California called... Trader Joes! Trader Joes remains to this day under the same parent company as Aldi, Aldi Nord.
- Aldi has removed synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils and added monosodium glutamate (MSG) from their private label goods.
- Aldi's Simply Nature line of products are all organic or non-GMO Project verified. You also won’t find any added artificial ingredients and preservatives, including artificial flavors, artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup as well as hydrogenated oils & partially hydrogenated oils. They also offer a gluten-free line called LifeGfree. The wonderful thing is that they offer these products at very reasonable prices.
- Aldi is spending $1.6 billion (yes, with a B!) on remodeling or rebuilding its U.S. stores. We just got a brand new Aldi in Asheville on the site of the older store. It's big, bright, beautiful and offers lots of new items.
- Aldi has been steadily rolling out “fancier” foods despite its reputation as a "no-frills grocery with rock-bottom prices", according to Business Insider. Look for artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, smoked salmon, quinoa and organic coconut oil, to name a few items.
How to Shop at Aldi
Aldi is one of our favorite places to shop for groceries and we're always amazed at the total bill when checking out. We're able to eat healthy, fresh, gourmet food on a budget! Aldi can take a little getting used to, but once you figure it out, we think you'll be hooked!
Bring a quarter with you when you shop at Aldi for your cart. The carts are attached together in front of the building. You place a quarter in the slot and it releases the chain connecting it to the next cart. When you are finished shopping, you return your cart and your quarter is returned to you. We always keep a few "Aldi quarters" in our cars. Returning your own cart means that an employee doesn't have to collect it, which is just one of the ways Aldi cuts costs and therefore saves you money!
When you walk in, you'll notice that all the groceries are in boxes on shelves. There are also fewer products than large chain groceries carry because Aldi sells a lot of their own brands. We like many of the Aldi brand products and it makes shopping simple and quick since you're not comparing prices between competing brands.
We bring our own shopping bags to Aldi. You can also purchase bags for a small fee, or you can grab empty boxes from the shelves to put your groceries in. After you check out, you bag your own groceries. One more way that Aldi is able to cut costs. And they definitely pass the savings on!
Our Favorite Products at Aldi
First things first! In many Aldi stores, the first thing you'll see is a large display of big European chocolate bars for about the same price you pay for a Snicker's or Milky Way bar at your local grocery. Some sources say that Aldi actually owns a German chocolate factory! Where ever they get their chocolate it's good and definitely a step up from every day chocolate!
We love all of their chocolate, but the Aldi regular and mini peanut butter cups are so... good - and to us, even better than the "famous brand". They're perfect for making a batch of these One-Bowl Reese's Peanut Butter Cookies (oops, we might have to change the name though since we're using Aldi peanut butter cups!)
Aldi's specialty cheese section is like an exciting treasure hunt! You never know what little gems you'll discover, and the prices are fantastic. We find that they're always adding new selections too. The smoked Gouda, Cheddar and Gruyere are some of our favorites, perfect for serving with our 30-Minute Clementine Pepper Jelly or our Cranberry Clementine Conserves.
You'll also enjoy their fresh and regular Mozzarella, Havarti, Brie, Parmesan, Swiss, Feta together with a plethora of other international artisan cheeses and delicious charcuterie items at a fraction of the price of other grocers.
We really enjoy goat cheese, but it can be so expensive. Aldi goat cheese is delicious and, you guessed it, is also an unbelievable deal! We love to make these Rosemary Pecan Goat Cheese Truffles with it.
Aldi brioche buns are our favorite for burgers! They're soft, buttery and delicious. They also carry brioche in sliders, hot dog buns and there's a brioche loaf (plain and chocolate chip) that is perfect for french toast and bread pudding!
This grass-fed organic beef is wonderful! It makes delicious burgers that we love to serve with the brioche buns.
Add a fresh salad like this Clementine Avocado Spinach Salad and you've got a fabulous and easy dinner that everyone will love!
This thick-cut bacon is another favorite. We love it for weekend breakfasts. It comes in several other options, hickory-smoked, applewood-smoked and pepper-coated. They're all wonderful!
We're nuts about nuts! And Aldi is our favorite place to buy them for a really reasonable price. We love using the pecans to make these delicious Easy Candied Pecans.
The cashews are great for snacking, topping salads or dishes like this Coconut Curry Chicken Ramen.
Aldi's sliced and slivered almonds and are great for baking - we keep a stock of them for one of our favorite breakfasts, this Best Ever Granola!
We also love the pistachios, pepitas and walnuts at Aldi.
Stocking up on baking supplies at Aldi is easy and saves lots of money. Coconut, oatmeal, chocolate chips, baking powder and soda, sweetened condensed milk, marshmallows, marshmallow creme, cocoa, pie filling, yeast, cornmeal and graham cracker crumbs are all among the great buys we find at Aldi. Coconut oil, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseed are also good quality and much cheaper than you can find anywhere else.
The Aldi seeds are what we use in these Easy Pine Nut Seeded Crackers.
Aldi spices are wonderful, and they're around a dollar a bottle. You just can't beat that!
As much as we love all these other products, the produce section alone is worth the trip (including lots of organic produce)! And to show how healthy and reasonably you can shop at Aldi we decided to see just how much produce we could buy at Aldi for $25. Yep, $25 was our absolute limit.
Check out the picture above of what we filled our cart up with! Crazy, right? Asparagus was $1.19 per pound, oranges $1.99 for a BIG bag, 99 cents a pound for beautiful, sweet green grapes and mangos for 29 cents each. We also got Pink Lady apples, cilantro, zucchini, garlic, a fresh pineapple, bananas, a bag of onions, Meyer lemons, cauliflower and avocados. Lots of avocados!
At 39 cents each, I bought 10 of them. Definitely an inspiration to make this delicious Guasacaca (Venezuelan Guacamole)!
A little tip about Aldi avocados: their avocados are almost always pretty hard and green but they do ripen up nicely in 3-4 days. So plan ahead when purchasing Aldi avocados!
Another thing we always stock up on is spinach for smoothies like this Pineapple and Banana Green Smoothie. Apples, berries, peppers, broccoli and lots of other Aldi fresh produce are weekly staples for us.
There are really too many Aldi items that we enjoy to list them all! A few of the others are kids snacks, especially the applesauce pouches, big pretzel rods and White Cheddar Puffs (they're just like Pirate's Booty). We also buy our plastic storage bags at Aldi. Again, a great price and good quality. Canned beans, organic chicken and beef broth, milk, pure maple syrup, hummus, tortilla chips and canned tomatoes are also among our favorites.
Speaking of canned tomatoes, we buy Aldi's fire-roasted tomatoes by the case. We love using them in this Super Easy Pizza Sauce (and so many other things!).
Do we buy everything at Aldi?
Nope, as much as enjoy shopping at Aldi, it's not a store where we can do 100% of our shopping. While they are getting more and more specialty items, they don't have all the ingredients we regularly like to cook with. Asian and specialty international ingredients, certain herbs, unusual produce and brand name products we really like are things we buy at our local traditional grocery stores.
We're not crazy about Aldi Greek yogurt, flour, brown and powdered sugar (it tends to get lumpy quickly), paper products (napkins and paper towels) and a few other items. In the past, we didn't buy meat at Aldi, but their selection is getting better and better all the time. Last time I shopped at Aldi, I was in the checkout line and noticed the shopper ahead of me had lots of fresh salmon in her cart. I asked her how she liked it and she raved about it saying, "I love this salmon. It's better than anything I can buy around here." Guess what I'll be trying out at my next Aldi visit?
So that's our take on Aldi, in a nutshell! If you're an Aldi shopper we'd love to hear what your favorite products are. It's always great to learn from each other!
Happy Aldi shopping!