ALDI 101: What To Buy At Aldi

Aldi 101: What To Buy At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

This is the third and final post in our ALDI 101 series.  But I have to be honest — I kind of don’t want this series to end!

I have been having so much fun reading your comments over email, tweets, Facebook, Instagram, and in the comment section below about Aldi!  From those of you who have been longtime fans and have shared your great tips and favorite items, to those of you who may have never set foot in an Aldi but are considering giving it a try, it has been so cool to hear about each person’s unique experience with the store.  I have to admit that a reader totally made my day when she shared that she ventured into an Aldi for the first time this week, and loved it.  That is so cool!!!!  :-)

Well after our first two posts — Why I Shop At Aldi and How To Shop At Aldi — today is the post that gets down to specifics on what to buy at Aldi.  I feel like I should probably give a huge disclaimer that this post is based 100% on personal opinion.  I have all of my own quirks and preferences, and as you will see below, there is a large section of the store (cereals, many non-organic meats, pet food, makeup, etc.) that I have not tried because those areas do not fall in my normal grocery shopping.  And I’m sure there are plenty of items where our opinions may just simply differ!  The pina colada popsicles that I adore just may not be your thing.

So please feel free to take this post with a a big grain of Aldi’s sea salt.  ;)  My hope is to offer a few starting points, and then hopefully you can try some new items and form your own opinions.  To organize this post, I have included a few brief thoughts about each section of the store, and then a brief “to buy” and “not to buy” list of specifics.  As always, I would love to have you share your thoughts on what you like to buy in the comments below.

This concludes our Aldi series!  Thanks so much for joining in the conversation, and I look forward to resuming regular recipe posting with you tomorrow!

ALDI 101: What To Buy At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

Pantry Items

The pantry items are where I recommend people start at Aldi.  Almost everything I’ve ever tried in this section is high-quality and consistently way cheaper than anyplace else.  Granted, again, there is only one of most items to choose from.  So you do not get the option of white whole wheat flour, unbleached or barley flour — there is usually bleached all-purpose flour, and that’s it.  But this is an awesome section to stock your pantry, and even try a few of their specialty pantry items in the process.

What To Buy:

  • baking essentials (flour, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, basic spices, condensed milk, etc.)
  • real vanilla extract
  • chocolate chips (semi-sweet, butterscotch,
  • nuts for baking (pecan halves, walnuts, almonds, etc.)
  • garlic vinagrette (with the garlic floating on the bottom!)
  • Fit & Active light balsamic vinaigrette
  • natural peanut butter
  • clover honey
  • breadcrumbs
  • whole wheat pasta
  • potato gnocchi
  • strawberry light & crispy cereal bars
  • granola
  • oatmeal (any kind — there are lots of options!)
  • rice
  • dried beans

What Not To Buy:

The only iffy pantry item I have tried at Aldi is their chili powder, but I’m a bit of a spice snob.  I think that you get what you pay for anytime you buy $1 spices at a grocery store.  I’m also not a big cereal connoisseur, but I do know that their version of Cheerio’s does not taste exactly like the original.  Just like at any grocery store, many of the cereals or granola bars are made with extra sugar, so be sure to check out the labels if you’re going for healthy.

ALDI 101: What To Buy At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

Snacks and Sweets

There is actually a really wide variety of snacks and sweets to choose from at Aldi!  I don’t usually let myself buy potato chips at the grocery store, but when most all of their chips are under $2, I have to admit that I have now sampled quite a few.  And they are pretty much awesome.  :)

What To Buy:

  • dry-roasted almonds
  • waffle bowls
  • tortilla chips (restaurant-style, blue and multigrain varieties)
  • sweet potato chips
  • kettle chips (sea salt & vinegar and jalapeno are my favs)
  • moser roth chili chocolate bars
  • anise pizzelle cookies
  • Haribo cola candy
  • chocolate-covered coffee beans

What Not To Buy:

I don’t have any no-buys in this section.  I will just mention that occasionally the lower prices equal lower serving sizes in some products.  Again, to use chips as an example, often their bags are only about half full.  So plan accordingly.  (Or just use it as an excuse for portion control!)  ;)

ALDI 101: What To Buy At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

Dairy & Refrigerated Items

This is one category where it is “to each his own”.  The majority of Aldi’s dairy products are not organic, although more and more organic options (and alternatives like almond milk!) are starting to pop up.  The refrigerated section also seems to have a lot of variety and turnover, so while there may be marscapone and brie some months, they might not be there year-round.  Still, my cart is always filled with lots of items from this section each time I go!  And I always stock up on butter each time I’m there.  It tastes great, and it is always so cheap!

What To Buy:

  • BUTTER!
  • fresh mozzarella balls
  • hummus (roasted red pepper, garlic and cayenne are my three favorites)
  • fresh salsas (I love the medium)
  • marscapone
  • soft cheeses (gorgonzola, blue, goat and feta are usually available)
  • cream cheese (regular and reduced-fat)
  • greek yogurt (often they have the Fage brand, and I also like their black cherry)
  • original organic soymilk
  • natural almond milk
  • skim milk, 2% milk, whole milk, half and half, heavy cream (none are organic, but they are pretty good!)
  • eggs
  • cinnamon rolls

What Not To Buy:

Obviously if you are looking for organic, anything that is not marked as such is a no.  I also think that many of their block cheeses are ok, but probably about worth what you pay for.

ALDI 101: What To Buy At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

Produce

Ok, people, this has become my favorite section of Aldi!  Trust me — there is some amazing produce to be found here at some of the best prices I’ve found.  But here’s the deal…

You must be smart about choosing your produce.  Just like at the normal grocery store, not every piece of produce is going to be perfectly ripe or at its peak season each time you visit.  Case in point — Aldi can have incredible deals on avocadoes.  (They are $0.19 each this week!)  But if the avocado is wilted, or hard as a rock, it’s probably not a good day to buy it.  The same goes for if you see any produce that looks super over- or under-ripe.  If it looks iffy, you should probably wait until your next trip.  Or you may need to eat it immediately, or wait a week for it to ripen if need be.  But most of the time, I am completely impressed with their selection of ripe, affordable, delicious produce.

Most of their produce is also not organic, so just a heads-up if that is an important factor to you.  Also many of their produce items (onions, zucchini, oranges, apples, kiwi, etc.) come in bags or in bulk.  So there is not always the option to buy a single of some items.

Still, I always load up my cart with Aldi produce, so here are some of my favs!

What To Buy:

  • pineapple
  • lemons/limes
  • baby carrots
  • celery
  • mushrooms
  • green onions
  • sweet mini peppers
  • specialty lettuce
  • berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries)
  • zucchini and yellow squash
  • kiwi
  • pears
  • mangoes

What Not To Buy:

Again, anything that looks iffy.  I find that their roma tomatoes typically are not very ripe or flavorful.  And I would also offer a special note on the bananas — they are awesome, but often they are over- or under-ripe, so you need to eat them in the proper timeframe.

ALDI 101: What To Buy At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

Refrigerated Meats

As I said above, I prefer to buy most of my meat organic, so I haven’t tried tons of Aldi’s refrigerated meat options.  But they have some killer deals on meats, especially in their weekly fresh meat special buys!  Be sure to always check for those specials when they are published each Wednesday, as they tend to disappear quickly!  A lot of the meat at Aldi is also seasonal, so be sure around the holidays to check out their hams and turkeys.  They are amazing!

What To Buy:

  • turkey bacon
  • ground turkey
  • thick peppered bacon
  • spiral-cut ham
  • turkeys

What Not To Buy:

Just a heads up that their cheapest bacon is really thin and not very lean.  I would “splurge” and go for one of the thicker cuts, since that is practically the same price as the inexpensive bacon at the regular grocery store!

ALDI 101: What To Buy At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

Canned/Jarred Goods

Thus far, I have had 100% positive experiences with the canned and jarred section at Aldi.  They have a great selection of your basic canned fruits and veggies, and lots of canned sauces and such to choose from.  And the prices are fantastic!  Once again, I would caution to read the labels.  Their canned peaches have a ton of sugar, as the generic canned peaches do at most stores.  And some of their sauces and soups contain more processed ingredients than I prefer, as is common in many jarred sauces.  But still, don’t be scared of any of the canned produce from Aldi — it’s awesome!

What To Buy:

  • canned veggies
  • canned fruits
  • canned beans
  • jarred marinara sauce

What Not To Buy:

Anything that you might be iffy about being overly-processed.  (Look for some Gimme Some Oven recipes for easy alternatives to make soups homemade!)  And again, keep an eye on the sugar content with canned fruits.

ALDI 101: What To Buy At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

Frozen Foods

To be honest, this is a section that I don’t know a ton about.  I usually stick with pretty straight “ingredients” in the frozen food section — frozen fruit, fish, veggies, etc.  So if any of you have insights on more of the prepared frozen foods, would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

What To Buy:

  • jumbo shrimp
  • tilapia
  • fruit popsicles (pina colada, lime and strawberry)
  • moose tracks ice cream
  • frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries, mixed berries, etc.)
  • edamame
  • asparagus

What Not To Buy:

Any of their frozen shrimp that are not “jumbo” are tiny.  I have also not been super impressed with their frozen salmon.  Like most salmon in that price range in any grocery stores, it seems a little lacking in flavor.  Also a heads-up that most of the frozen meats are not organic.

ALDI 101: What To Buy At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

Beverages

Gah, I wish I had more experience here!  I promise you guys I’m not a super health nut, but I also pretty much stick to water, tea, juices and coffee in life.  So I have hardly any experience here when it comes to beverages.  But my friends tell me that most of their options (like the Aldi brand of Crystal Light, teas and flavored sparkling waters) are pretty much identical to the originals.  Here are a few that I have tried.

What To Buy:

  • sparkling juice (I love all of them!)
  • refrigerated 100% orange juice (go for the nicer of the two options for better flavor)
  • Naked juice (when in stock)
  • flavored sparkling water drinks
  • iced tea

What Not To Buy:

I am definitely a big of a snob when it comes to my coffee.  So I shy away from any of the bulk or super inexpensive coffee options, but I am sure they are comparable to their counterparts in the regular grocery store.  I was also unimpressed by the cheap refrigerated orange juice — seemed to concentrate-y for me.

ALDI 101: What To Buy At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

Alcoholic Drinks

First of all, it’s important to point out that wine and liquors are not available in all Aldi’s.  I live in KC, and our Kansas stores are not allowed to carry alcoholic beverages, but most of the Missouri locations do.  So this will depend on your state.

A reminder to all who are iffy about the cheap wine at Aldi — this store is owned by the same company that is the home of 2-buck-chuck, Trader Joe’s!  So before you immediately write off the drink section, I would recommend you try a bottle or two.  In my experience, you get what you pay for and a little bit more.  The $3 wines taste maybe like a normal $5 wine.  The Bailey’s knockoff isn’t precisely like Bailey’s, but it’s darn close and a great deal for a fraction of the price.  But my favorite of all time is available seasonally, and I wish it was offered yearround — Aldi’s sangria!  Oh man.  I never knew that I would like sangria from a bottle, but this stuff is crazy good.  And you get an enormous bottle for like $4.  If you see it, you must try it.

What To Buy:

  • SANGRIA!  (seasonal)
  • wines in the $5-10 range
  • Bailey’s

What Not To Buy:

I think you get what you pay for with the super inexpensive budget wines — they are definitely hit and miss.

ALDI 101: What To Buy At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

Household Items

For some reason, I held out on this section of Aldi for years, and now I have no idea why.  They have some terrific household products at amazing discounts!  Especially since I typically get annoyed at having to spend money on these things anyway, it’s awesome to have a more affordable option at Aldi.  Two areas that I have not tried are their pet section and the makeup.  Would love to have you chime in if you have experience with either of these!

What To Buy:

  • disinfectant wipes
  • plastic freezer and sandwich bags
  • trash bags (they are thin, but they do the job)
  • Crest toothpaste
  • women’s razors
  • pain relievers (ibuprofin, etc.)
  • ultra soft & strong toilet paper
  • paper towels and napkins

What Not To Buy:

You totally get what you pay for with the super cheap ($1 for 4 rolls) toilet paper.  It is super thin and not very soft.  But their thick TP is awesome!

ALDI 101: What To Buy At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

My Top 10 Favorite Items At Aldi:

10. edamame
9. roasted red pepper hummus
8. fresh mozzarella balls
7. sangria
6. sea salt pita chips
5. pina colada popsicles
4. artichoke hearts
3. almond milk
2. butter
1. pineapple

ALDI 101: A 3-Part Series On Shopping At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

Other ALDI 101 Articles:

ALDI 101: What To Buy At Aldi | gimmesomeoven.com

Thanks so much for following with the ALDI 101 series!  Now it’s your turn to share — what are YOUR favorite things to buy at Aldi?

Leave a Comment:





Comments

1 6 7 8
  1. Erin M. — February 28, 2015 @ 5:47 am (#)

    My brother and I are totally obsessed with Aldi’s and have made all of our friends and family obsessed as well!
    I advocate for this company everywhere that I go, as not only a very happy consumer, but also because I see how well the employees seem to be treated, appreciated and rewarded for their good work ethics and efforts- Very rare for the retail industry!- So, I totally encourage anyone seeking a decent environment for employment with a real chance for career advancement, to apply at Aldi’s…
    Because the bottom line is: The fact that all of the employees I have encountered are friendly, courteous, helpful & knowlegable Makes me believe that they are happy with their jobs and how they’re being treated by management… And to me, that says a hell of a lot about Aldi’s. I think this company really has it right & We Americans could learn a heck of a lot about how things should be done in order to stretch our “buck,” especially in these hard economic times!   Aldis’ founding family knew what they were doing and that’s exactly why they are perhaps wealthiest family in all of Germany!- “Hats off to you!”
    Now as far as the products themselves, I am constantly trying and exploring new things… And I must say, I have very few complaints! Many products like the condiments( ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, etc., taste like the brands we know and love)- (Heinz, Hellmann’s,
    French’s/Ploshman’s, “Respectively!”)… Other items like cookies, crackers, chips, ssnacks, eetc. can range from close seconds, to almost identical! The specialty cheeses are awesome! There bacon, butter, eggs, milk and that sort are excellent buys! The produce is usually fresh and at lower than market rates! Their  New York Strip and Ribeye steaks are actually as good as what you can get at Outback, or, other mainstream steakhouses! One of my favorite little sections is the fresh baked goods- Right down to the regular generic white classic bread- “So-ooo good!” All of the sweets in that section a pretty much phenomenal!… Now, since I’m being honest in my critique, please don’t buy all the good stuff and leave none for me

  2. Annie B. — March 15, 2015 @ 7:00 am (#)

    The first time I shopped at Aldi’s I left! But my German-born neighbors kept raving about it. Now it’s where I shop first. I love the shoppers at Aldi’s — many more smiling faces, helpful and eager to share their favorites and little kids not so tired out that they are crying. We LOVE: sweet potato chips, ALL the produce except for the blah plum tomatoes, canned meats esp. chicken and dumplings, corned beef, and sardines, cheeses, you name it. We don’t buy eggs or 1/2 and 1/2 anywhere else, they are so fresh and the dairy has more dairy flavor…like the mid-west. Oh, and the holiday cookies and cakes, ooooh. We buy ALL our bread products there; hamburger and hot dog buns are way better than Ingles store brand at less than half price, and my fussy English muffin of a husband prefers their $1 English muffins to the $$$Thomas’s he used to insist on. And if you go early in the am you will see all the young chefs from good local restaurants buying the produce, but don’t tell on them! Oh, and don’t miss the affordable and always fresh portabella baby bells.

  3. Harold Prentice — March 18, 2015 @ 11:19 am (#)

    If you like Aldi and live in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois or Ohio try out Ruler Foods if you have one in your area. They are owned by Kroger and have the same prices as Aldi but twice the variety. Anything that is not a national brand is a Kroger brand so you know the quality is there.

  4. Betty Winslow — March 19, 2015 @ 9:52 am (#)

    I used to drive an hour one way to shop at Aldi – soooo glad they built one in town! My #1 fave is a Xmas special: chocolate truffles! I do probably 50% of my shopping there! Thanks for letting people know what a great deal Aldi is!

  5. EJ — March 23, 2015 @ 7:59 pm (#)

    The Aldis near me doesn’t have alcohol…too bad.  My faves are 1.  Moser Roth mint chocolate 2.  Terra Chips knock off for 2.79 3. 60% dark choc baking chips 4. Primo red pesto 5.  Organic chicken broth for 1.79 6. Fontina cheese wedge-when available 7. Tub of baby kale 8. Organic frozen blue berries 9. The frozen pizza with white mascarpone sauce and mushrooms is yum and 10.  Near Christmas I bought these snowball cookies like my mom and I used to make, then I kept buying them until they stopped carrying them…hello 5 lbs.  thank you, Aldis.

    • Ali — March 23, 2015 @ 8:47 pm (#)

      Thanks for sharing your faves EJ!

  6. Scott — March 30, 2015 @ 7:44 pm (#)

    Had my first Aldi’s experience today which is how I found this blog.  I searched for reviews because I was curious what others in my area would be saying because I left wondering how long before it would be closed. From the blog stories and the comments I’m not sure what they did with this location in east Louisville, KY.  Very little produce.  More than half of the what to buy produce list wasn’t there.   Maybe the stock was just that limited but it also seemed disorganized.  The opening isle didn’t really have a pattern to it.    Just checked the Aldi’s site – looks like this one for some reason decided not to have much there.  My mom was looking forward to it for the produce from when she was in Florida.

    • Ali — March 30, 2015 @ 10:06 pm (#)

      Hey Scott, that’s too bad the Louisville Aldi was a disappointment. Hopefully you’ll have a better experience at a different location!

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