I Shopped Here: ALDI. Gluten-Free & Healthy Eating Resource List

ALDI Healthy & Gluten-Free Shopping

Update 06/18/14:  Please see bottom of post for an update on availability of the LiveGfree line at ALDI.

One of the first concerns I hear from someone who is trying to incorporate more healthy food and more gluten-free food into their lives is the cost of the food.  When I share  in response to this concern that I do a lot of shopping at ALDI, I’m often met with a look of shock.  If you aren’t shopping at ALDI, you are missing out on great buys!

Growing up, I didn’t know a lot of folks who shopped at ALDI.  The closest one was 25 miles away, but our senior citizen neighbors made a trek there a couple times a month to stock up on canned goods.  I didn’t recognize the brands on any of the labels, but the neighbors assured me the food was just as good as what we were paying twice as much for at the “regular” grocery store. As a college student, I relied on ALDI for many pantry staples, but when I shared this with others, I was often questioned about the quality of the food.  There was a stigma attached to shopping at ALDI, as though the food was low quality and only those scrimping to get by shop there.  Not true!  I’m impressed with the quality of food and the list of options for healthy eaters to buy at ALDI just keeps getting longer! If I can save a dollar while still buying high quality food, I’m going to do it!

If you are new to ALDI, there are a couple of things I should share with you.  First, you’ll need a quarter to get a shopping cart.  Don’t worry, you’ll get it back when you are done shopping.  Instead of having cart corrals in the parking lot, which require an employee to retrieve carts, you bring your own cart back.  Keeping costs low so you can buy food for a lower price!  The bonus: no runaway carts in the parking lots to dent your car!

ALDI put a quarter in the cart

Second, bring your own bags.  As long as I can remember, ALDI has charged for grocery bags.  You might be able to snag an empty box from the shelves, but in today’s age of reusable bags galore, surely you’ve got a few in your trunk anyway.

ALDI has recently introduced an organic line of food, both canned/packaged goods and fresh produce.  I buy canned tomatoes, jars of salsa, bottles of olive oil and fresh produce for a fraction of what I spend at mainstream grocers.

Organic tomatoes at ALDI

I recently discovered organic coffee cups for the Keurig at ALDI.  $5.49 is a bargain!  I’ve been drinking the decaffeinated breakfast blend while I write this post and it’s terrific coffee.

Organic Coffee Kcup at ALDI

Let’s talk a bit more about fresh produce, I buy a lot of produce at ALDI, both conventional and organic.  I refer to the Clean Fifteen/Dirty Dozen list.  Items on the Dirty Dozen list are best bought organic, items on the Clean Fifteen list are okay to buy conventional.  If an item is on the Clean Fifteen list, like avocados, I buy it at ALDI.  Sometimes I score avocados for as little as 25 cents each.  Last week they were 59 cents.  They do tend to be small avocados, but I can get three for the price of one at the regular grocery store.

Conventional Produce at ALDI

Organic product at ALDI

Let’s talk chocolate for a minute.  I buy lots of high quality, European chocolate at ALDI.  All of their products are labeled to let you know if they contain gluten OR if they were processed in the same facility.  This is my favorite chocolate bar. I often chop it up for use in baking:

Chocolate at ALDI

Another great find at ALDI for baking is their vanilla extract.  Two bucks for a bottle and it’s the real deal.  I’m picky about vanilla but happily use this.

ALDI vanilla extract

During the holidays, I stock up on all sorts of German chocolates, including chocolate Christmas tree ornaments.  I also buy Glühwein, mulled wine, from ALDI, when I don’t want to make my own recipe.  I pay twice as much at a liquor store to get a very similar bottle of Glühwein.

I should tell you more about the wine, huh?  Many ALDI stores have a lovely wine selection.  From chardonnay to chianti, they’ve got it and for a terrific price.  (I am not soley responsible for the empty shelf this time. ;) )

Wine at ALDI

Debuting in May of 2014, ALDI introduced a line of gluten-free convenience products.  While this has been advertised as a promotion for the month of May, if demand is high, they may continue carrying these products.  Last week’s ad had a full page of products including crackers, stuffed sandwiches (like Hot Pockets), frozen pizza, pancakes, lasagna and ravioli, mac ‘n cheese, spaghetti, fusili, penne, several favorite of cookies and bars, cake, brownie and cookie mixes, cornbread mix, pizza crust mix, two varieties of granola and chicken nuggets. I purchased a sampling of the products to share with you…

Gluten-Free Frozen Pizza ALDI

First up, the frozen pizza.  It’s $4.99 and comes in cheese or pepperoni.  I love, love, love the crust on this pizza.  It was my dairy indulgence for the week and was certainly worth it.  It’s a small-ish pizza, loaded with cheese.

Frozen Gluten-Free Pizza from ALDI

Next, I tried the Double Chocolate Brownie cookies.  So soft, the right amount of chocolate, twelve to a package.  These are $2.49 a box, compared to about $4.50 a box for the comparable Enjoy Life cookies at the regular grocery store.  And the ingredients are remarkably similar to the Enjoy Life cookies, down to the unexpected rosemary extract. ;)

LiveGFree Double Chocolate Brownie Cookies ALDI

Double Chocolate Brownie Cookies from ALDI Gluten Free

My favorite fella tried the Stuffed Sandwiches.  He said they were so much better than Hot Pockets.  I’m not sure what kind of endorsement that is, because I remember Hot Pockets being kinda gross.  He did add them to my shopping list this week, so I’m guessing they are pretty darned good for a convenience product.

Gluten-Free Stuffed Sandwiches from ALDI

The granola, the bars and the cookies are gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free. Much like the chocolate cookies I shared above, they remind me a whole lot of Enjoy Life products, except for about half the price. While I didn’t have time to thoroughly exam each product label, it appears that at least some of the offerings may be free of the top 8 allergens.  Many of the products in this line are also certified gluten-free.

I was unable to snag any of the pasta except the brown rice spaghetti.  For under $2, it’s terrific and as good as any of the gluten-free pasta that I buy on a regular basis.  I used it with my chunky tomato basil sauce for an inexpensive meal.  I also purchased nearly all of the fresh produce and the canned tomatoes for my sauce at ALDI.  While the meal was rich with flavor and packed full of fresh vegetables, it was also incredibly inexpensive.  THIS is why I shop at ALDI!

ALDI brown rice pasta with chunky tomato basil sauce

While this isn’t food related, I do find other bargains at ALDI.  It’s really a treasure hunt there, you just never know what you’ll find.  We had a comforter for many years that caught my eye while grocery shopping.  Last week I saw folks buying backyard fire pits and garden accessories.  While I go to shop for food, it’s always fun to see what other goodies they have at terrific prices.

A few other tidbits you should know about ALDI:  for payment, cash and debit cards are accepted, as are EBT and Link cards.  At the time this post was written, ALDI did not accept checks, credit cards or WIC. Most products in ALDI stores are private-label, so they won’t be brands you recognize.  I am seeing more national brands in the store, but it is still a tiny portion of the offerings. Here are a few more tidbits from the ALDI website.

I’m sure I haven’t covered every product that folks like us buy at ALDI.  I would love to hear from you.  Leave a comment below, share with us your favorite ALDI’s finds!

UPDATE 06/18/14:   My sweet friend Patricia contacted ALDI to ask about the continued availability of the LiveGFree line.  Here is the response–
Thank you for contacting us regarding the availability of our LiveGfree products.

Select test stores in the Chicago, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and New York areas will continue to carry a varitey of the LiveGfree products for the remainder of the year.  A companywide roll out of the most popular items is scheduled for later this year.” 

 

 

This post is linked up to Gluten-Free Wednesdays. Click over for many more wonderful gluten-free resources!

 

 

Comments

  1. Laurie says

    I too get the look from people when I say I shop at ALDI. I will admit when I was growing up and for a long time as an adult on my own I thought that only people who couldn’t afford the regular grocery shopped there. About 3 or 4 years ago I thought I would give them a try since I am all about saving money and hate clipping coupons. I was really suprised that most of the items were just as good or better than what we were used to buying. If you are not stuck on name brand labels and like good tasting food, I say give them a try! We do all of our staple shopping at ALDI.

    Some of the items I am really liking these days are from the Fit & Active line of food ALDI puts out. I am pretty set in my ways as far as it goes for eating breakfast while I’m at work. I like to have a non-fat yogurt and some sort of protein meal bar along with a piece of fruit. Their F&A yogurt is really tasty. They ususally stock 6 regular flavors but do have some special offerings throughout the year. Pumpkin Spice was a favorite in the Fall. Their protein meal bars are very close to the Zone Perfect bars we used to buy. The have recently come out with a couple flavors that have more protein and are compared to Balance Bars. I really like the chocolate chip cookie dough flavor.

    We went to a Mother’s Day gatering and were in charge of bringing the chips. I brought a bag of cheddar flavored multi grain chips (like Sun Chips) and ranch flavored tortilla chips (like Dorittos). I heard a few comments about how yummy the chips were and when I told them they were from ALDI I got that suprised look. I really like the veggie chips they offer as well.

    Milk is always cheaper at ALDI as are the veggies, as you mentioned. I started eating avacados because they were so cheap at ALDI. I also buy the bags of baby carrots for my dogs. They love carrots as treats. Side note, they offer these in organic and regular. I don’t eat carrots so it doesn’t matter to me, I get the dogs the regular for usually no more than 99 cents a bag.

    I have gotten some pretty good non-food deals at ALDI too. Just the other day they were featuring garden items and I picked up a couple of metal plant stands for cheap. Keep in mind, ads come out on Wednesdays and if there is something really good in the ad that you are intrested in you best not wait to go buy it. Quantities are usually limited on these special items and they might not last the day!

    Oh! I almost forgot, black licorice. I love it and ALDI has a brand that is true Australian licorice. If you know your licorice you know this is one of the best kinds. They have strawberry and black, usually the black is harder to find as I assume that others have caught on to the fact it is so yummy! I always get a bag if I see it in stock.

    Thanks for posting about this.

    • says

      Thanks, Laurie! I saw plant stands last week, too.

      I like the non gluten-free perspective from you. I am a little limited in what I can buy, but I still find a lot there. It’s great to see your favorite picks, too! I rarely think to look in the dairy area there but did spot Kerrygold cheese recently. That’s a nice indulgence for us and to find it at an ALDI price, WOW!

      Thanks again for sharing your favorite picks. I’m going to check out that yogurt for my fella the next time I’m there!

  2. says

    We love Aldi, especially back when they had $1.99 gallons of milk. Some people scoff at the produce, but I’ve had nothing but good luck there. And my SIL told me she saw a gluten free section last time she went…if it’s a May promo, we’ll definitely get there soon! I’m always thrilled to see random GF stuff for sale, like chicken nuggets and pancakes. I definitely stock up when I can!

    • says

      I’ve heard that about produce, too, Greta! I’ve never had any issues and often get produce much more affordably, which allows us to have more fresh produce and less canned/frozen food. I’m glad to hear someone else has spotted that random GF stuff. Last year I got pancakes (which were labeled “Simply Natural” I think) and a friend saw cake mix. It really is a treasure hunt at ALDI!

  3. says

    I was very excited when Aldi opened here in Florida – for me it’s like a little piece of home. We used to shop at Aldi in Germany all the time for certain things and now I like to head in when I’m in need of a German chocolate fix! :)

    • says

      I feel like taking a field trip to Germany now, Susi! Isn’t it nice to find all of that wonderful German chocolate here and for a great price, too?

  4. Cyndi says

    Thanks for this! BTW, in my area, Aldi accepts Discover, though it always rejects my card the first time. This used to alarm me, but I expect it now.

    • says

      This is so good to know, Cyndi! Once in awhile I’ll see someone here try to pay with a credit card but they can’t accept it. Interesting the difference in areas!

  5. says

    We are very fortunate to have an Aldi store almost within walking distance of our house. We do have an egg allergy on top of our wheat/peanut/tree nut allegies, so we can’t partake in all of the new GF items, but they are great and the price makes them even better. We buy a lot of fresh produce and meat, canned items, hummus, and a few other things. In our area, the milk there is usually less than $2/gal.

  6. Niki says

    On top of being gluten free, many of the G Free products are also soy free! I try to stay away from products with soy and this line has made that easier! I do the bulk of my shopping at Aldi and don’t plan to stop anytime soon! Our local Aldi leaves a little to be desired, but some a little further away are better. We just drive a little further for the better product selection.

    • says

      I noticed that, Niki! Many of the products would work for lots of allergies and dietary restriction, especially those that are so very similar to Enjoy Life products. I spotted soy in the tortillas/wraps. So true what you said about locations–we’re lucky with a newer store near us with a large product selection and wine. But before it opened, we drove to the second closest one for that reason. I wonder how they choose what goes where?

  7. says

    Nice review, Johnna! We have an ALDI but not very nearby, so I’ve never been very familiar. However, I’m tempted by the talk about a gourmet chocolate section on the cheap…

    • says

      Thanks, Cheryl! It would be worth a trip during the Winter holidays just to score chocolate. Their everyday chocolate selection is nice, but the holidays are amazing–European chocolate on the cheap!

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