My 10 favorite things to buy at Aldi

Jonathan Weiss /

Back when I was a struggling college student, Aldi was a no-frills necessity – a grocery store I only used because of my stretched budget. The stores were dark and dated, the selection was limited, and transactions were strictly cash.

What a difference a few decades can make.

Today’s Aldi stores are bright and modern, and inventory has gone from basic to slightly chic. Yet the low prices remain – beating even Walmart’s prices, an analysis has revealed. The company says that it operates nearly 2,000 stores in 36 states and that more than 90% of its products are private label.

After years of shopping elsewhere, I rediscovered this lovely discounter several years ago and have never looked back. Here are my favorite things to buy at Aldi. Prices shown are from my local store in Des Moines, Iowa.

1. Fresh produce

Aldi product department
Ilze_Lucero /

Although Aldi’s produce section isn’t as extensive as most other grocery stores, it covers the basics well and its prices can’t be “beetroot”.

A 10-pound bag of Wisconsin-grown Russet potatoes is $4.69, a few cents less than the price at my local Walmart.

At Aldi, organic Chiquita bananas sell for about the same price as non-organic bananas at other stores. I picked up a bunch for $0.60 a pound.

2. Organic foods

Aldi's Simply Nature Non-GMO Organic Granola Bars
Deutschlandreform /

In response to consumer demand, most grocery stores now offer organic options. Aldi remains competitive by offering a wide selection of organically grown products and organic and/or non-GMO packaged items.

Two of my favorites are from Simply Nature. A 14-ounce bag of non-GMO organic cashews is $9.79 and a 12-ounce bag of non-GMO organic granola cereal is $3.55.

3. Wine

Woman drinking wine and reading a book
Dragana Gordic /

Considering the past few years, who isn’t looking for ways to save on wine?

Although some state laws restrict or prohibit the sale of alcohol in grocery stores, my local Aldi has a respectable selection. I counted nearly 40 brands of red, rosé, white and sparkling wines – most costing between $4.49 and $9.99 a bottle.

If there’s a dinner party in your future, pick up a bottle of 2020 Evanta Malbec for $4.49 or 2020 William Wright Chardonnay for $6.99.

Want to go cheaper? Try Aldi’s private label winking owl. A bottle of Winking Owl Moscato will set you back just $2.95.

4. Cheese

Aldi meat and cheese department
Daria Nipot /

It may sound like crackers, but Aldi is the place for cheese.

My local store has Gouda, Camembert, Brie, Asiago, and several varieties of goat cheese. The cheese selection alone is proof of Aldi’s international reach and makes it the perfect place to stop on a Friday afternoon for weekend “essentials”.

Discover Emporium Selection, another private label from Aldi. I picked up an 8 ounce package of mozzarella for $3.19 and a 6 ounce wedge of Gouda for $3.59. Both were fresh and wonderful.

5. Coffee

Aldi Simply Nature organic coffee
damann /

I’m no coffee snob, but I love – or more accurately, require — a few cups of strong infusion in the morning. Fortunately, Aldi understands me.

Aldi’s Barrisimo brand coffee can compete with the best coffee beans. A 12-ounce bag of fair trade dark roast ground coffee costs $4.49. That’s a bargain considering a 12-ounce bag of Lavazza coffee currently sells for nearly double that amount on Amazon.

Go organic? Simply Nature (another Aldi-owned brand) offers a 12-ounce bag of organic, fair trade, non-GMO whole bean coffee for $6.19. Seriously, if the caffeine doesn’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, the savings will.

6. Olive oil

Salad with olive oil
Marian Weyo /

For a below average cook, I consume a surprising amount of olive oil. Fortunately, Aldi has my back. A 16.9-ounce bottle of Carlini brand olive oil (pure or extra virgin) sells for just $2.75.

7. Chocolate

Knoppers wafers at Aldi
Deutschlandreform /

Confession: I have a weakness for chocolate. Over the years, I’ve developed a fairly refined palate that can quickly discern the “good stuff” from the “not so good stuff” (after all, there really isn’t a wrong chocolate, right?).

I’m happy to report that for the price, Aldi has some of the best chocolates on the market, most produced in Germany, Belgium and Austria.

Choceur is one of my favorite Aldi private brands. From truffles to classic milk chocolate bars, Choceur has all the hallmarks of a master chocolatier.

Pick up a massive 200-gram (about 7-ounce) dark chocolate and hazelnut Choceur bar for $2.49 or an 11-ounce box of milk chocolate covered almonds for $3.99.

8. Canned soup

SpeedKingz /

On a scale of 1 to 10, my cooking skills are a solid 4. So it’s no surprise that canned soup is a staple in my kitchen. I use it as a base, adding tons of steamed vegetables and rice to make healthier, heartier stews.

Aldi’s Deutsche Küche brand soup is that lousy cook’s best friend. Varieties include German Bean, Harvest Potato, Harvest Vegetable, and Hearty Pea. Each 28-ounce can sells for $2.79, a price comparable to a much smaller (18.5-ounce) can of Progresso soup.

9. Jasmine rice

Woman cooking rice
SunCity /

I use jasmine rice as a base for stir-fries, but it’s also great as a side dish (just steam it and toss it with a little cilantro and lime juice).

Sold under the Aldi’s Specially Selected brand, a 5-pound bag of imported jasmine rice costs $5.45. This is significantly less than comparable products on Amazon.

10. Ice cream

Aldi freezer section
defotoberg /

Let’s finish with the dessert. A 48-ounce carton of Aldi’s Sundae Shoppe brand strawberry ice cream sells for $1.79. This is the lowest price I have seen for any brand in any store. How sweet!

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