Money at 30: Our Aldi Shopping List
I’ll admit that, when we first moved to Springfield, I hated Aldi. Well, it wasn’t so much that I hated the store itself, but I always found shopping there to be a stressful experience. Since then my local store has been remodeled to improve guest flow, I’m finally able to truly appreciate the store’s great prices and genuinely great generics.
As I just alluded to, while you will find a few name-brand items like Coca-Cola at Aldi, these are rarely worth buying. Instead the store offers a selection of items from private label brands that may or may not have ties to some of the big guys. So as this discount grocery chain continues to expand across the U.S., here’s a look at some of the items my wife and I have on our Aldi shopping list and how it helps us save money on food.
Milk, eggs, and butter
These three kitchen staples are not only a great deal at Aldi but our supply of them often dictates the timing of our visits. The prices of these items do fluctuate more often than others but are always impressively low. For example, we’ve spotted a dozen eggs as low as $.13 (although they’re normally between $.50 and a $1) while a gallon of skim milk is usually around $2 to $3. With prices like that, when my wife needed to bake 250 cupcakes for a wedding, there was no question where’d we’d be buying the bulk of the ingredients.
One of the highlights of my week is what my wife and I have cleverly dubbed Pizza Friday. Although this tradition initially involved us ordering delivery, it has since turned into an opportunity for us to get creative and produce some personalized pies that always please. Of course nearly any pizza we make demands at least one type of cheese. That’s why we typically turn to Aldi to meet our cheese needs.
First, we’re always stocked up on the pizza-friendly shredded mozzarella, picking up their 2-pound bags for under $6. Additionally Aldi offers a number of sliced and block cheeses from Muenster to New York aged white cheddar at very reasonable prices. And while we’re on the subject of pizza, we recently tried their delicious prosciutto, which actually lasted us for two pies and was only $2.50.
Just as I’ve come around on Aldi in the past year or so, I’ve also changed my stance on eating breakfast. See, I used to just wait for lunch but, since I’ve started getting up early, that’s not really an option anymore. As a result I’ve been consuming a lot more cereal. However, with Aldi’s takes on Multigrain Cheerios to Reese’s Puffs selling for under $2, my newly adopted third meal doesn’t add a ton to our grocery budget.
When I was a kid (and through my teens), I had a real sweet tooth. In fact I remember not only filling my bowl with ice cream but also proceeding to drown it in chocolate syrup, eating every bite/drop. Thankfully that is no longer my M.O. but my wife and I do enjoy a scoop or two from time to time.
To my surprise, Aldi actually has some really great ice creams. They may not be as packed as the likes of Ben and Jerry’s but we’ve become big fans of their chocolate chip cookie dough, mint chocolate chip, moose tracks, and the unique peanut butter s’mores flavors. Best of all, the 1.5-quart containers are only $2.50.
Wine and chocolate
While Trader Joe’s has its famous two-buck Chuck, Aldi is no slouch in the cheap wine department. The store stocks a number of varieties and brands with prices ranging from around $3 to $10 a bottle. Seeing as I don’t drink I can’t speak to how they taste but my wife vouches for their value.
Right next to the wine (at least at our location) there’s also a selection of chocolates. Our favorites are the German chocolate bars from Moser-Roth, with the chili dark chocolate ranking as my top pick. At $2 a bar, similar products would surely fetch up to $6 in Whole Foods or other specialty stores.
Bonus: Aldi Finds
Finally, something I’m always on the lookout for are what the store calls Aldi Finds. These are special items that are typically only available for a limited time (or as a test) that can be found throughout the store. In the past we’ve stumbled into some great mac and cheese, tasty tortellini, and an interesting ice cream flavor called Kitchen Sink. So, if you see these Finds, it may be worth giving them a try.
Overall it’s easy to see why a store like Aldi would 1) always be packed and 2) be expanding into new markets. In addition to offering great prices — some even lower than Walmart and others — they stock some quality items that compare well to name-brand favorites. With that said, feel free to take our shopping list as a beginner’s guide and see what new favorites you can find for yourself at Aldi.