Let’s chat about grocery shopping at Aldi! I went there in college for odds and ends, my grandma has shopped there for ages, and recently, it’s made a bit of a comeback in the arena of grocery purveyors, currently offering a healthier and wider variety food selection, including many organic, gluten free, and vegan options!
Quarter in hand, I do my Aldi grocery shopping once a week, more often than not on the weekends after meal planning. It’s not the only grocery store we go to, because mindful grocery shopping means buzzing around like a bee in a meadow, sucking sweet nectar flower to flower, but it’s the one we frequent and the one I feel is worth writing a blog post about. That being said, when the months grow warmer and our local organic farmer’s market opens up on Saturday, we shop there! You cannot beat the flavor and quality of locally grown produce, and we love engaging with our community and supporting the growers that work hard to help us cook, eat, and gather more consciously. And while the produce is more expensive at our local farmer’s market (for good reason) fruits and vegetables offered there by those who grew them are much more flavorful, as they have been responsibly grown nearby in the season in which they were meant to grow. When we cannot get certain items due to timing or otherwise, there’s also Whole Foods, Costco, and Trader Joe’s, along with several local butcher shops and cheese markets here in Kansas City I’ll make special trips for if our meal plan calls for it. In other words, I mostly shop at Aldi, but not for everything.
Like most aspects of mindful homemaking, grocery shopping needs to take several factors into account, such as:
- Sustainability factor | how responsibly the food was grown, harvested, packaged, and transported (among other things)
- Health factor | how healthy and nutritious the food is for our whole being
- Cost factor | how much the food costs and aligns with our budget
- Proximity factor | how much time it takes to shop for food within the rhythm of one’s week
- Simplicity factor | how easy it is to shop for food within the rhythm of one’s week
It’s these five factors, along with many other’s I am quite sure I’ve left out, that can make simple, everyday errands like grocery shopping a bit more complicated than it needs to be, and definitely more so than it used to be. While I am not suggesting everyone go grow their own food from seed like the Amish or shop entirely from bulk bins using zero-waste methods, I do think we should be aiming for a more conscious measures that are within our reach as a collective earth family, taking more a more thoughtful approach with regard to mealtime matters.
Which is why I love Aldi so much, because this store when compared to others hits most of the marks for our family’s passion to weave mindful threads, yes, even when grocery shopping, into the tapestry of our everyday life at home. Of course, they are not perfect (who is?) and I really wish they didn’t package so much of their fresh produce in plastic bags, but in the scope of what they are doing well versus what they need improving on, they’re worth recognizing as a company that benefits the consumer and employee in their unconventional yet intentional ways.
Grocery shopping is one of the everyday things that we as homemakers, either dads or mums or caregivers, get to do each and every week to nourish our family and keep those growing, hungry bellies (ours included!) well and fed. Aldi is great for us because it’s close in proximity, it keeps our grocery bill down considerably, they sell healthy and organic food. It takes me less than an hour to shop for a week’s worth of groceries which is ideal, and I am rarely tempted to purchase anything outside of my list because they do not try and sell you through consumerism traps like most conventional grocery stores.
Depending on your family’s needs or the factor’s listed above, Aldi might not be for you, and that’s okay! The point I want to make with this post more so than anything is that small drops in the bucket add up. Every single choice you make, no matter how small, contributes to the greater whole, and when you consider even the smallest of choices as important and meaningful in helping heal and nurture our relationship with ourselves, others, and the natural world – such as taking your own bags along to grocery shop, for example – you are adding a few more drops to the bucket and doing good work.
Starting small is also how one builds up to doing bigger, harder things, such as taking the leap to grow your own backyard garden or invest in a community garden plot. You start with one drop, then before you know it you’re adding spoonfuls and cups. As you ease into a workable rhythm, that bucket you once had changes it’s shape, turning into a cascading river with the current taking you along with it, thereby making it easier and easier to make more mindful choices in the flow of your day. Which is to say, those first drops count. They add to your flow creating mindful movement that ripples out, affecting more than just you and those who live at home, but your community, your city, your state, your country, your hemisphere, your world.
Alas, this post is also about Aldi, and so let’s move onto some tips and tidbits I’ve gathered along the way as an Aldi shopper, in addition to our family’s favorites, shall we?
10 Aldi Tips + Tidbits
- Bring a Quarter | You must bring a single quarter to get a shopping cart at Aldi. Sometimes, a sweet old lady will see you fumbling for said quarter, and will offer you her cart for free. When this happens, thank her with a smile that hugs and return the favor to someone in need when you leave the store. This simple act of reciprocity will brighten all three of your days.
- Bring Your Own Bags | You can purchase bags at checkout for pennies, but I suggest bringing your own to cut down on plastic. I use three kinds of market bags when I shop:
- Fill Your Bags While You Shop | Filling my grocery bags while I shop helps me in two ways. First, it ensures that everything I buy will fit in the bags I brought along. And second, it helps me stick to my list so I don’t overbuy.
- Bag After You Buy | Some people think this is a pain in the bum, which it can be if you go grocery shopping with three small children who are keen on escaping the cart, but mostly it’s fine. Bagging your own groceries means less employees which means less cost. It takes a few minutes and you’ll hardly think twice after you’ve done so several times.
- Shop the Perimeter | Because most of the cold storage is on the perimeters, shop there first. This is where most of your healthier food items will be, including produce and perishables.
- Meal Plan Beforehand | If you’ve gone grocery shopping without a list or idea of what to get, you know just how much time and energy it takes to mentally figure that out while shopping. Making a meal plan beforehand cuts the guess work out of this and makes grocery shopping a breeze. You can read more about how to do this here.
- They Deliver! | And if you cannot make it to the store because you’ve got a newborn at home or are under the weather, Aldi delivers! I’ve used this three times now and it works great. Their online system is easy to navigate and you can get groceries delivered in under two hours. Winner.
- No Need for Coupons | You probably get the Aldi ads, but no need to bring them into the store. Everything is marked down for everyone, so no cutting coupons.
- Try Something New | Aldi is always changing up their selection of goods based on the time of year or what’s in season, so be open to trying new items they offer, especially during the holidays.
- Note Customer Service | Aldi offers a double back guarantee, which means if you don’t like an item, you can bring it back, get it replaced, and get your money back!
Our Family’s Favorite Aldi Items
Below are our family’s favorite Aldi items, broken down by organic versus non-organic, and then if they are perishables, freezer, or pantry items. The items below are my go-to Aldi staples, items I have purchased time and time again and have been happy with, most appearing on my weekly list depending on my meal plan, and others, such as baking items and oils, added as needed. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments below.
Organic Perishable Favorites
- Cage Free Eggs
- Whole Milk
- Soy Milk
- Plain Yogurt
- Vanilla Yogurt
- Whole Chickens
- Grass Fed Beef
- Sprouted Seed Bread
- Greens (arugula, spinach, cilantro)
- Mini Carrots
- Fresh Berries
- Sliced Sandwich Cheese
Organic Frozen Favorites
- Frozen Berries
- Frozen Fruit Bars (strawberry & mango)
- Veggie Burgers (black bean chipotle)
Organic Non–Perishable Favorites
- Cooking Spices (cinnamon, cumin, cayenne)
- Cooking Oils (coconut, olive, grape seed, avocado)
- Canned Beans (black & pinto)
- Canned Diced Tomatoes
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Milled Flax Seed
- Nut Butters (peanut, almond, cashew)
- Broths (bone, chicken, beef, vegetable)
- Sweetners (wildflower honey, agave nectar, cane sugar, brown sugar)
- Grains (brown rice, quinoa)
- Noodles (spaghetti, angle hair, linguini)
Gluten Free Favorites
- Quinoa Pasta
- Rice Noodles
- Rice Noodles
- Chewy Bars
- Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers
- Mini Pretzels
Organic Pre-made Kitchen Helpers
- Granola Bars
- Snacks (pea crisps, white cheddar puffs, veggie straws, veggie chips, fruit squeezes, nut blends)
- Pasta Sauce (tomato basil & marinara)
- Boxed Mac’n Cheese (shells)
Non-Organic Perishable Favorites
- Fruit (ranges depending on season)
- Vegetables (ranges depending on season)
- Fresh Pre-Made Pizzas
- Kerrygold Irish Butter
- Artisanal Cheeses
- Artisanal Sliced Meats
- Specialty Guacamole
- Specialty Hummus
- Specialty Pico Salsa
- Smoked Salmon
- Grade A Maple Syrup
- Sustainably Caught Tuna
- Jasmine Rice
- Basmati Rice
- English Muffins
Simple Weekday Meal Ideas Using Above Grocery Items
Most of the meal prep items below can be found at Aldi, however when it comes to certain kinds of food, say sustainably caught wild salmon or fresh tarragon, I go elsewhere for quality. Also, when the season allows, we support local growers and stock up on locally raised meat and dairy, but in the off-season and when farmers are not selling, we do the best we’re able and source with care. And although this is not as much about mealtime as it is meal-prepping, I want to share that we eat as a family and I do not make special meals for our kids. While fairly lax in certain areas of parenting, we are rather resolute in making mealtime one of gratitude whereby the five of us come together as one to bless our food, the earth, and the hands that made and grew it.
Note: items with * means I source them elsewhere. In addition, when produce is in season and I can get it at the farmer’s market, I do!
- Parfait | Vanilla Yogurt + Granola + Fresh Berries
- Eggs | Sautéed Spinach or Kale + Soft Scrambled Eggs + Sprouted Toast with Butter
- Sandwich | English Muffin + Egg + *Turkey Bacon + Cheddar
- Smoothie | Soy Milk + Berries + Banana + Spinach
- Toast | Avocado + Sprouted Toast + Sliced Radish
Simple Lunch Inspiration
- Sandwich | Sprouted Seed Bread + Almond Butter + Honey + Sliced Apples
- Sandwich | Egg Salad + *Tarragon
- Noodles | Mac’n Cheese + Green Peas
- Grain Bowl | Carrots + Brown Rice + *Herbs + Vegetable Broth
- Pasta | GF Noodle, Parmesan Cheese, Olive Oil
- Tuna Noodle Bake | Tuna + Yogurt + Mushrooms + Garlic + Peas + Whole Milk + Noodles + Parmesan Cheese
- Tacos | Cilantro Lime Marinated Chicken + Corn Tortillas + Cumin Black Beans + Grilled Sweet Corn
- Indian Night | Tandoori Roasted Whole Chicken + Basmati Rice + Naan + Cilantro
- Lemon Salmon Bake | *Salmon + Lemons + *Herbs + Roasted Asparagus + Brown Rice
- Plant-Based Lasagna | Zucchini Noodle Ribbons + Marinara + Ricotta + Mozzarella
- Soup + Sandwich | French Onion Soup + Gruyere Grilled Cheese
- Spring Quiche | Eggs + Goat Cheese + Vegetables + *Herbs
- Beef Stroganoff | Grass Fed Beef + Mushrooms + Kale + Yogurt + Garlic + Noodles
- Taco Salad | Grass Fed Beef + Taco Seasoning + Lettuce + Tomatoes + Pinto Beans + Taco Chips + Mexican Cheese + Cilantro Yogurt Dressing
- Scampi | Angle Hair Pasta + *Shrimp + Lemon + Garlic + Parsley + Olive Oil + White Wine + Red Pepper
- Pot Roast | *Stewed Beef + Red Wine + Carrots + Onions + Celery + Potatoes + Garlic + Tomato Paste
- BBQ Chicken Sandwiches | Chicken + *BBQ Sauce + Red Onions + Brioche Buns + Sweet Potato Fries + Pickles
What are some of your go-to weeknight favorite meals? And Aldi favorites? And any other tips I forgot to mention about Aldi? This post is not sponsored by Aldi, but I’ve linked the bags above to Amazon, where I will receive an itty bitty commission if you choose to buy there, FYI. I know this was a long post, especially for a Monday, but I hope it offered you some ideas and inspiration when it comes to both grocery shopping in general and Aldi, if there’s one nearby! xx Amanda