Everything you need to know about navigating our favorite, budget-friendly supermarket.
Aldi is one of those supermarkets that just snuck up on us. One day we were minding our own business, shopping the aisles of Kroger, when an Aldi opened up in town. Suddenly, Aldi became our one-stop shop for everything from Whole30 products to rosé wine.
For some, shopping at Aldi might be a bit of a time commitment, but it will definitely save you money. That’s why we sent our test kitchen queen, mom of three, and star of Mom Vs., Nicole McLaughlin to show us how to make the most of your Aldi grocery trip. She shares her tips on how she packs a cart full of food for her family of five, and comes out with a receipt under $100.
The most important thing to remember when going to Aldi is to always bring a quarter and bags with you. At Aldi, the shopping carts are secured together by a lock-and-chain system, and are released by inserting a quarter. But don’t worry—they aren’t charging you to use a cart. You’ll get your quarter back when you return your buggy. In addition, Aldi doesn’t waste supplies or labor (thus, saving cost) on bagging your groceries for you. Always keep a few reusable bags in your trunk, and you’ll be golden.
Don’t Ignore The Specialty Items
The first thing you’ll notice when you walk into Aldi is the specialty foods section. The selection available in this area rotates regularly, which means it usually features new or limited-time-only items. You may be tempted to impulse-buy them, and it’s totally okay to lean into the urge. They’re typically super cheap, tasty, and interesting finds. If you have the wiggle room in your budget this week, go ahead, live a little.
Bulk Up on Snacks
Nicole fills up the bulk of her cart in the snack section. Sure, many of the products are processed, but as Nicole says, “It’s okay. It’s real life, people.” When you have growing, hungry kids running around and school snacks to pack—Aldi can be a real lifesaver. Snag easy to pack bites like 100-calorie packs of nuts ($2.99), cheese sticks, fruit strip value packs ($4.99), or granola bars ($2.19). Then, you can grab snacks for after school like organic chips ($1.69) and organic salsa ($1.99) at a way cheaper price than the average supermarket.
Make Aldi Your Go-To Package Store
This supermarket’s wine and beer shop has gained quite a following. The wine selection has won multiple awards, specifically the shiraz which was awarded the gold in The Great Australian Shiraz Challenge. If wine isn’t your thing, they have great beer options and will soon expand to sell their award-winning liquor in the United States.
Don’t Be a Brand-Name Snob
Most of the items at Aldi could be considered “knockoffs” of their mainstream supermarket counterparts. But, if you’re looking to save a dime it’s worth snagging Aldi’s versions. Nicole likes to grab “off-brand” graham crackers and peanut butter for after school snacks and a few Little Debbie-like treats for only 89 cents per box. Packages of store-brand water ($2.29) are a superb deal, and a favorite Philadelphia cream cheese-like product sells for just 89 cents. If you’re still not convinced, Nicole’s number one store-brand steal are the fruit rounds. This Fruit Loop-like breakfast cereal swaps in turmeric for the yellow food coloring and charges only $1.29 per box.
Stock Up on Staples
When we conducted a price comparison to determine where to find the cheapest pantry staples, Aldi won in almost every category. Nicole likes to snag oil, vinegar, and condiments (the coconut oil is only $4.49). Plus, she can stock up on easy meals like canned soup for lunch ($1.89 per can) or organic spaghetti ($1.19) for pasta night.
Head to the Bread
Sure, Aldi doesn’t have a bakery on the premises (though one may be coming soon), their bread selection is inexpensive and features some great selections. Nicole buys whole-wheat bread ($1.49) and whole-wheat wraps ($1.39) for her kids’ lunches. She’ll also grab a bag of take-and-bake bread, which, warm from the oven, is nearly as good as bakery bread... but way cheaper.
There are more healthy staples at Aldi than you would expect—and these include proteins. Shop where you want for your family’s chicken breast and pork chops, but Nicole says an Aldi must-have is the organic ground beef. It’s cheaper than anywhere else she shops, and is such a versatile meal starter. She also snags chicken sausages to cook up for her kids’ breakfasts, and cans of organic beans ($0.89 each) for taco or chili night.
Plan For Parties
Other than stocking up on chips and dips (see above), you can craft the ultimate charcuterie platter from Aldi’s refrigerated section. Just grab a variety of tasty cheeses, salami, and crackers (or that bread we just mentioned) for a stunning appetizer spread, all for under $10.
Don’t Forget Produce
Most people don’t think produce when they think Aldi, but it’s definitely the place to pick up a few favorites. Foods sold in bulk like limes ($1.69) or strawberries ($0.99) are deals you won’t find anywhere else. Just be aware that prices fluctuate, so if it’s not the best deal ever, just skip it for now and get it next week.
Fill Up On Frozen Foods
It’s always a smart idea to keep some frozen foods on hand for quick meals and relief when you don’t have time to hit the supermarket. Nicole likes to buy bags of (super cheap) mixed veggies and steamed edamame for snacking. Plus, she can grab a box of frozen waffles ($1.29) for a quick morning meal.