Do you think Aldi only sells processed food?

by Kristen on January 30, 2013 · 42 comments

in Aldi

I don’t.


salad made with artisan lettuce, sweet bell peppers, Colby cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and avocados


smoothie, comprised of homemade yogurt (made with Aldi milk) and frozen Aldi fruit

granola, made with old-fashioned rolled oats, sliced almonds, honey, and dried cranberries

(topped with milk, naturally)

roasted carrots

teriyaki chicken

spinach salad with sliced almonds, oranges, and orange-flavored dried cranberries

tuna melt made with white tuna, topped with Swiss cheese and avocado

(and hey, the pineapple in the background is from Aldi too)

roasted vegetables

(sweet potato, red potato, and onion, tossed with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and herbs)
And of course, all of the food I showed you in my Aldi produce photo essay is quite unprocessed.

Does Aldi sell some food I wouldn’t eat? Yep.

(What grocery store doesn’t?)

But if you shop carefully, you can find plenty of ingredient-type foods (vs. ready-to-eat foods) that you can use to make real meals.

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pam January 30, 2013 at 8:24 am

I absolutely agree. Dinner last night at our house was a spaghetti fritatta with a quick homemade marinara sauce and a big green salad. I’m pretty sure everything (except the block of imported fresh parm) came from Aldi. Leftover whole wheat spaghetti, eggs, milk, fresh spinach, red bell pepper, garlic, canned tomatoes, onion – heck, even the olive oil I used.

Do regular grocery stores only sell healthy food? Nope. Do you have to seek out the healthy, unprocessed food? Of course. It’s the same at Aldi.

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2 Julie @ Kid Deals Chicago January 30, 2013 at 8:41 am

I am really loving Aldi lately. My kids are addicted to clementines and they regularly have them $2.99 for 3 lbs which is cheaper than the grocery store any day. I noticed a couple of weeks ago they have had some organics lately, although the employees tell me that this is temporary for the new year :( Maybe you have some insight on this since you have an in there?

I also love that they carry bread without high fructose corn syrup. If I’m not going to make my own (which I’d love to do but can’t find the time lately), this is my number one requirement for store bought.

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3 Tammy January 30, 2013 at 8:42 am

That’s great! I try to buy as little processed foods as possible, and this post has given me some ideas for what Aldi has that I can make use of.

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4 Lili@creativesavv January 30, 2013 at 9:10 am

Kristen, the title of your post is too funny! You see, we don’t have Aldi, and my only impressions of Aldi are through your blog and other blogs like yours — which obviously reflect households which don’t use processed foods. So, I’ve had it in my mind that Aldi is definitely a place to go for the non-processed stuff!

I know you are particular about the quality of your beef. How do you feel about Aldi’s meats? I am hoping someday Aldi moves out west.

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5 Tina Ray January 30, 2013 at 9:11 am

I typically get all my fresh produce from Aldi. My staples are a head of cauliflower, radishes, and apples. I like celery hearts and my local Aldi does not carry them so I get them elsewhere. However, these are my snacks for work and Aldi’s prices just blow every one else out of the water. A gallong of milk at Aldi is typically cheaper than any other store. Cheese is another great item to get at Aldi. So I agree Kristen, there are some things I wouldn’t buy I always start my shopping at Aldi to get everything I can there!

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6 Becky January 30, 2013 at 9:15 am

An Aldi store has recently opened close to us, and we went (per your recommendations, Kristen!) for the first time over the weekend. And we were super duper impressed! Great prices, good selection, and really easy to shop (I actually rather liked that there weren’t tons of choices (it made short work of trying to decide what kind of beans/pasta/crackers to buy!!)

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7 Meredith January 30, 2013 at 9:21 am

Those are some great looking meals there! Most everything is from Aldi in our house with a few coupon exceptions. The only problem I have with Aldi is the eggs. I would go there exclusively if it weren’t for that. I just got our ad and it said that avocados were 49 cents this week and well as peppers for 33 cents and a few other goodies. I can’t wait!!!!!!

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8 Rebekah January 30, 2013 at 9:46 am

I love Aldi! Get all of my produce there because the prices are awesome. Their bread was BOGO last week so I stocked up. No time recently to bake and no HFCS so it was a deal. Spices are also a great price. I do buy their take and bake cheese pizza for $5 occasionally. Even though my homemade whole grain crust is healthier, sometimes convenience wins:).

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9 Anna@stuffedveggies January 30, 2013 at 9:47 am

Great post! I LOVE Aldi’s – they’re a great place to stock up on fresh produce. Last week, I went to the regular grocery, and tomatoes were 2.59/pound – I wouldn’t buy them, even tho we never eat anything without tomatoes in our house! Two days later, at Aldi, GRAPE TOMATOES were about 69cents per 12 oz package! : )

All of their fresh produce is MUCH cheaper than other places. I also like their French Roast Coffee.

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10 priskill January 30, 2013 at 10:17 am

Gosh, I have been busy with work and whatnot and not checking blogs, so I was blown away (again) this morning by how gorgeous your pictures are and how much they enhance your wonderful writing and message. Thank you again! although my sadness for lack of Aldi’s has been renewed, it’s worth it to visit here :)

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11 GB January 30, 2013 at 10:21 am

I recently moved to an area with and Aldi, and I am very pleased with the prices and quality of food available there! :)
However, I was wondering if you could address something I have heard from some co-workers. They have said that the store is subsidised by the government so that the food is at low prices for those with income assistance. Their tone is that I should not shop at Aldi because I can afford to shop at the larger chain groceries.
This notion confuses me. I’m not sure what a government subsidy is… The frugality in me wants to take advantage of the low prices. But my coworkers are right; I can afford to shop at the big chain stores, so if the food at Aldi is indeed intended for those with less money, I would feel bad buying that food and not leaving it for those that need it.
Have you heard this before? Do you have thoughts about it? Obviously you don’t have moral objections to shopping there. I guess I’m just hoping you could arm me with some facts. Thanks!

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12 Kristen January 31, 2013 at 9:40 am

I have never heard that before, I and I don’t think it’s true. Aldi keeps its prices low by managing things efficiently, carrying their own brands, having small stores, carrying items that sell regularly (preventing waste), and so on.

Anyone should feel free to shop at Aldi!

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13 anna@stuffedveggies January 31, 2013 at 10:00 am

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123180518793975423.html

This Wall St. Journal article might help clarify their business practices. They’re NOT just for poor people – in Europe their parking lots are filled with Mercedes & BMW’s : )

Most animal agriculture is subsidized in this country – so anywhere you buy meat and cheese, those foods are probably subsidized (even most small family farms are subsidized)- but Aldi’s is no more subsidized than your upscale grocery is – in fact, they are quite possibly LESS subsidized, since they are European.

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14 anna@stuffedveggies January 31, 2013 at 10:00 am

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123180518793975423.html

This Wall St. Journal article might help clarify their business practices. They’re NOT just for poor people – in Europe their parking lots are filled with Mercedes & BMW’s : )

Most animal agriculture is subsidized in this country – so anywhere you buy meat and cheese, those foods are probably subsidized (even most small family farms are subsidized)- but Aldi’s is no more subsidized than your upscale grocery is – in fact, they are quite possibly LESS subsidized, since they are European.

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15 Battra92 January 30, 2013 at 10:27 am

I think it depends on the Aldi. Our Aldi has a very small produce section (much of which is rotten) so we buy little of our produce there.

I do buy Aldi Cottage cheese regularly. I don’t know that I’d buy their brick cheese because I’m too loyal to Cabot/McCadam cheeses as they are somewhat local to us.

We also have been known to buy Aldi milk and eggs but the dates on these are usually short so in order to avoid waste, we started buying these elsewhere.

I hope I never have to eat the meat from Aldi’s outside of some of the frozen stuff and packaged meats like ham. *shudder*

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16 Karen January 31, 2013 at 4:07 am

do they carry any grass fed/pastured meats and dairy?

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17 Kristen January 31, 2013 at 9:34 am

Aldi doesn’t. A local farm is going to be the best place to get stuff like that. I buy my beef in bulk from a local farmer and buy my chicken from a local store.

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18 Raye January 30, 2013 at 10:48 am

Even though I don’t make homemade yogurt, this morning my breakfast (which I am eating while I am reading The Frugal Girl!) consists of Aldi’s Fit & Active Vanilla Yogurt topped with Aldi’s red seedless grapes, strawberries, and banana slices! My Aldi’s store has a good variety of fruits and vegetables so when I shop weekly there I make sure I stock up on them!

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19 Holly January 30, 2013 at 11:26 am

I love aldi. Mine had bags of baby carrots for 59 cents last week. Their meat and dairy products are also delicious and good quality. And they have the best hummus I’ve ever had from a store. I must admit I have a weakness for their kettle chips lol so I guess I like some of the non fresh foods there too!

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20 HeatherS January 30, 2013 at 6:29 pm

I bought their Kettle chips with sea salt last week and swore I would never buy them again – because they were so good I ate the entire bag myself! Too dangerous for me to have around! LOL

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21 Reese January 30, 2013 at 11:41 am

I do get a lot of produce from Aldi. Sometimes? You just can’t beat their prices. Mushrooms were recently 49 cents a package. And a whole stalk of celery was 69 cents. Excellent!

But we typically don’t buy anything down the aisle with personal products or cat/dog food. Sometimes, in a great while, we’ll buy paper towels in the paper product aisle. Sadly, these items are all bought at Target because the quality is better for the price. My cats also throw up eating the pet food at aldi :(

Out of the entire store, the only human food we don’t buy is the meat. We’ve done it before…and it all LOOKS great. But once we cook it, I get disappointed by how tough/chewy/lacking flavor it is. So I usually have to just hold back and remind myself that each time I look at the gorgeousness of it!

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22 Jen January 30, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Sadly, we don’t have Aldi. Or Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. There are other perks to living here, though. Lots of food in any grocery I wouldn’t eat–even a “health food” grocery.
My focus this year is definitely on unprocessed foods.

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23 Liz Botts January 30, 2013 at 1:17 pm

I shop at Aldi all the time, and get mostly unprocessed foods. For example today for lunch I’m eating roasted cauliflower and garlic soup with an avocado/banana smoothie. All ingredients from Aldi. :)

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24 Liz Botts January 30, 2013 at 1:18 pm

I shop at Aldi all the time, and get mostly unprocessed foods. For example today for lunch I’m eating roasted cauliflower and garlic soup with an avocado/banana smoothie. All ingredients from Aldi. :)

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25 Meagan Francis January 30, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Yes! I’ve been shopping at ALDI 1-2 times a month now, but I hardly ever buy processed food there at all, except for cereal and the occasional salsa or prepared dip.

I had a bit of bad luck in the meat department over the holiday (A few items went bad far before their sell-by date) but am hoping it was just a fluke.

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26 Meagan Francis January 30, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Yes! I’ve been shopping at ALDI 1-2 times a month now, but I hardly ever buy processed food there at all, except for cereal and the occasional salsa or prepared dip.

I had a bit of bad luck in the meat department over the holiday (A few items went bad far before their sell-by date) but am hoping it was just a fluke.

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27 Mona January 30, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Hi Kristen,
Long time reader here, first time commenting. All of these dishes look so tasty! I was wondering if you still make menu plans for your family? I know you stopped doing the menu posts and grocery photos because it probably added a lot of work to lay out the food. But do you think you will ever bring back the menu portion? I found it very helpful to see how you keep it simple and plan dinner and have the same breakfast and lunch ideas. I find when I try to make a plan myself I go too elaborate. Anyway, thanks for your blog it is wonderful!

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28 Kristen January 31, 2013 at 9:33 am

Hey there-

I do indeed still make menu plans for my family-I’d be lost without them!

I’ve thought about maybe posting plans every other week or once a month or something, so maybe in the future you’ll see some of that.

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29 Ange K January 31, 2013 at 10:53 am

Please do! I miss you grocery/menu posts.

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30 Mona February 4, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Yes! That would be awsome!

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31 Economies of Kale January 30, 2013 at 10:10 pm

Aldi is great for some things – I love their organic butter (half the price of anywhere else), organic milk, maple syrup, toilet paper and rice cakes. But like some other people have said, their fruit and veg can be a bit hit and miss. I also don’t like that most of it comes pre-packaged, which is not the norm here, and means I have to buy more than I need and can’t choose it myself.

Also, Aldi is not very close to where we live, so I tend to go out there every couple of months and stock up on the good stuff :)

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32 Jo@simplybeingmum January 31, 2013 at 2:26 am

The title of this post caught my attention, because actually in the UK Aldi definitely aren’t known for their processed food at all (I don’t think!?!).
In fact since their recent surge in popularity ((Aldi have a fantastic (and funny) ad campaign in the UK that has spread their high quality/low cost message very successfully)) the processed foods have started to increase. One of the reasons I like Aldi so much is it is great for buying basic simple ingredients, rather than sifting through shelves of added/value/highly processed/highly priced alternatives that are found in the other major supermarkets.
Your photos, as always, are stunning. How food should look! Can’t say the same for my post about‘stylish mash potato’ – which I forgot to credit Aldi for! :-)

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33 Sharon January 31, 2013 at 10:46 am

Sorry to say, I have no good experience with the Aldi near us. The store was not very clean, the produce was less than attractive, and was just thrown in a cardboard box that was pretty beat up. I would certainly never buy any meats or dairy goods there. Maybe it’s just a case of local management, but frankly the store gave the impression of being not much better than buying groceries at the corner gas station. But glad that you have such a lovely place to shop at!

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34 Mary January 31, 2013 at 11:14 am

In response to some other comments, I think the quality of the store can depend somewhat on the neighborhood where the store is located. I have to say that this isn’t unique to Aldi in my experience. My local Aldi opened within the last year, and I’ve found it to be clean and well organized. I focus on staples wherever I shop and don’t buy much in the way of processed foods (crackers, some cereal, etc.), so I generally buy a good portion of my produce and dairy products there. I’ve found the organic produce to be very good so far. The produce at the store where I shop seems to generally look quite good. I don’t tend to buy paper products there because if all things are equal or nearly so, I purchase recycled products when I can, and I often combine coupons with sales for those kinds of things. Most of my family is vegetarian; however, I buy our meat elsewhere, where I will look for marked-down organic meats.

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35 condo blues January 31, 2013 at 5:33 pm

I agree completely! My health went up and my food bill went down once I started shopping at Aldi. My husband and I buy ingredient type food and cook from scratch. I regularly tweet about Aldi during food Twitter parties because people ask me where I can find the “expensive” ingredients I use when I claim to be a Budget Chef.

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36 Jessica January 31, 2013 at 7:35 pm

I love the prices on the produce at Aldi, but unfortunately I’ve found that alot of it goes bad more quickly than stuff from the grocery store, negating alot of my savings. Like someone else said, buying it is hit or miss, too. Last time I was there I really needed onions, but they were all half rotten and gnats were swarming over the box. Sad…

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37 Rachel February 1, 2013 at 9:40 am

I’m really happy with Aldi! I can’t believe all of the natural foods I can find there. I am also enjoying their new organic line!

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38 Nancy February 2, 2013 at 9:19 pm

For sure Aldi’s has lots of unprocessed foods, we buy lots of fruit & produce there. Dairy also, it is just how you shop. If you want to buy lots of processed foods, they have them in every grocery store. We had a great salad tonight with all Aldi’s veggies in it. Love Aldi’s!

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39 SarahD February 3, 2013 at 8:54 am

I am one who found your blog through a search for the beef price at Aldi. I’d recently started shopping there. Aldi is the best!! I’ve been shopping there for two years now, almost weekly or at least once every two weeks, and I have to say one of the things that delights me the most is that I can come home with hug shopping bags stuffed full of produce without spending an arm and a leg. Can’t touch the amount of food I get at Aldi for about twice the price at a regular grocery. Yes, of course, you have to read the labels, and of course they occasionally have a bad produce day when they’re low on stock, or things don’t look so great, but it’s rare. I’m very grateful we have an Aldi.

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40 sharon February 3, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Oh my gosh, these pictures look incredible. I’m amazed at the prices at Aldi, although the produce at our store sometimes doesn’t look that great. Frozen veggies and fruits are great!

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41 Kelly @ Kelly the Culinarian February 10, 2013 at 10:19 pm

I’m a longtime ALDI fan. I just did a post with my favorite Weight Watchers foods and almost all of it came from ALDI.

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42 Pauline March 9, 2013 at 5:51 am

As another poster from the UK, I was delighted when Aldi became the nearest supermarket to me. It’s not a one-stop-shop, but with a modicum of planning serves our needs very well. I add the following points.
* Later in the day the choice of fresh foods is less, but that’s because they restock on an extremely regular basis. Most supermarkets don’t have a lot of stock storage these days, as I understand, due to sophisticated re-ordering and wanting to have maximum sales space. Their Super 6 veg/fruit changes each fortnight for special offers.
* All the fresh meat sold in Aldi is ‘red tractor marked’ indicating it’s produced in the UK. I’ve found it to be good adequate quality, though of course there isn’t the choice you would find in a conventional butcher. They have a changing range of specials in addition to their regular chicken, mince, steaks and so on.
*they have an excellent range of deli/continental type meats and cheeses, good chocolates at excellent prices.
*household products? Well, I was careful for years about using a couple of brand names washing products because of sensitive skin in the family, but we’re fine with these.
*they don’t have 12 different sorts of apple pie or whatever to choose from. Limited choice makes shopping so much faster.
* Are there things I don’t buy because they’re not good? Well some people swear by their wine, but I’m not keen. I don’t like some of their canned products, but then I only got the soup as an emergency standby. Never again. But then I normally make my own soups.

I keep a running list of stuff to get elsewhere then stop off and get that if I happen to be passing another supermarket.

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