I’m a food lover. I love to cook. I love to eat at great restaurants. I love to entertain and serve my friends new recipes. I work on a TV show focused on highlighting the best eats in town. But oddly enough, I don’t really like to grocery shop. That’s because I’m often disappointed with the selection and experience at the big box grocery stores in the Twin Cities. And at the smaller, more “boutique” markets, I’m always shocked by my bill. But I have found a solution. ALDI. That’s right. The discount food market has made me fall in love with grocery shopping. That’s because they offer a good experience (once you know the rules), awesome products and unbelievable prices. And let me say right now – this is not a sponsored post – I really have found such awesome products that I feel like other moms looking to save money (and time) need to know about ALDI!
Before I get to the products I’m loving, let’s talk shopping strategy. First off, to keep prices low, you have to bring a quarter for your cart. You get said quarter back when return your cart. Simple enough, just make sure you scourer the couch cushions before heading out. Second, you need to bring your own bags. I suggest keeping the nice reusable totes in your car at all times. But you can buy bags for 10 cents at checkout in the pinch. Finally, ALDI doesn’t open until 9 am and they are only open until 8 pm. So, plan your day accordingly. But the one thing I really LOVE about shopping ALDI (especially with little ones) is it’s not a huge store. Parking is easy. It’s usually not very busy and so I can get in and out in 15 minutes or less.
Now on to the goodies. I’ve been trying to eat more greens and ALDI has been a lifesaver. The mixed greens salads are fresh and usually run about $1.79 a bag. If you’re more of an iceberg lettuce fan (like my hubby), you can score a bag of lettuce for around a buck. I’m obsessed with topping my greens with their Specially Selected Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing ($1.79), dried fruit (which they have an awesome assortment of for around $2 a bag), and sunflower seeds (again about half the price you’ll find at big box stores).
I also love ALDI for appetizers when I’m entertaining. You can throw together a gourmet meat/cheese tray for a fraction of the price! My favorites include their sliced prosciutto (which a friend of mine who recently traveled to Italy couldn’t stop raving about, bonus it’s only $3 a package) and the English White Extra Sharp Cheddar (around $3.50 and super tangy and crumbly). They also carry an awesome Wild Blueberry-Vanilla Goat Cheese log that is awesome with sliced apples or crackers. Grab some fresh grapes or raspberries to compliment your cheese tray (again I’ve found their prices on fresh fruit to be about half that of a big box grocery store, they have a GREAT selection of organic fruit too) and you’re good to go! I also always serve the Specialty Selected Mango Salsa with the Blue Corn Chips at all my parties. You can also whip up an easy appetizer by pouring the sweet salsa over a block a cream cheese and topping with a little fresh cilantro and lime juice.
But my all-time favorite ALDI product has to be Triple Chocolate Cream Cake! It’s an amazing finish to any meal and you can jazz it up without spending hardly any time or money (it’s less than $3, super moist and totally addicting). Try serving it with fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream, which is so much easier than it sounds. Just use your Kitchen-Aid or hand mixer to whip heavy cream or half & half with a couple dashes of cinnamon and splash of vanilla extract until it becomes light and fluffy.
Finally, ALDI is a great place to stop by and pick up inexpensive fresh flowers for hostess gifts or centerpieces. The bouquets are just $3.99 (and they usually include some roses) and they last longer than expensive floral arrangements (just make sure to snip off at least a half inch of stem when you get home and change the water every other day).
Okay, have I sold you on trying out ALDI? It really is my new secret to affordable entertaining. But you might be wondering how do they keep their prices so low if their products really are this good? Remember when we talked about the carts, bags and hours? All of those things help to keep the prices low. Also, more than 90 percent of the products you’ll find are generic brands developed just for ALDI. But don’t let that turn you off. I really have found that all of the “generic” products are just as good as any of the brand names. You can read more about ALDI’s business philosophy on their website.