Healthy foods, budget-friendly. How can we lose?

So, I’m not sure about you, but I grew up with this skewed vision that Aldi was a place where you only bought dented cans of beans and fruit that has previously been rundown by a car or two. When I was young, I never set foot in an Aldi, and as I grew, especially once I gained employment at Kroger, it seemed unnecessary to go other places, especially as they encouraged us to “spend where we earn”, and I found it so easy to pick things up on my way home.

My husband, B, still works for Kroger, and while we do get a small discount on some items, it certainly doesn’t apply to most of the things we like to buy. Now with two small kids that we’re trying to do right by, I’m struggling to pay the produce & organic prices that I seem to come across at Kroger. So I find myself now doing the lion’s share of our grocery shopping at Aldi. We enjoy their food a lot, and I’ve never gotten anything sub-par there. Big, huge, giant bonus: their prices beat Kroger and Walmart by a landslide on many things. We also have zero problems finding dye-free items for L (she’s allergic to food dyes, and they are in EV-ERY-THING). They pledge that everything under their store brands is free of FD&C dyes.

So here are some of the things we love to buy at Aldi:

  • Organic Spaghetti Rings: I’d be lying if I said I don’t bathe in the luxury of a quick meal from a can for the girls on occasion. The Aldi brand is the same price as a can of Spaghetti-Os at Kroger, yet it’s organic. Calling that a win, every if we break even price-wise.
  • Organic Fruit Snacks: Aldi has come out with something similar to Annie’s Bunny fruit snacks, and L absolutely devours them when she gets hands on them. It’s insane. I don’t give fruit snacks often at the house, but they are FANTASTIC as a bribe in the store or in the car. So we splurge a bit on fruit snacks.
  • Almonds & dried/freeze-dried fruits: They have a nice selection of nuts, trail mixes and dried fruits at Aldi, and I often use these in our snack tray during the day (more on my snack trays in a later post). My husband loves nuts, so that’s a win for him as well.
  • Apple sauce pouches: Oh my gosh, the amount of apple sauce my kids could go through if I just let them. They love puree-type foods, and I love the convenience, especially since my kids are grazers for most of the day. We also buy the fruit & veggie blend pouches when they have them, but those aren’t a constant product, so we tend to stock up a bit when I stumble upon them.
  • Lunch meat, chicken breast, eggs: Aldi has several options in their “Never Any!” line that are hormone-free, filler-free, etc. Their eggs are also hormone-free. I love that.
  • Nut milk, organic milk, soy milk: Their milks are usually fairly comparable in price to other places, but I tend to find myself buying their brands when I can, because I just like that they seem more committed to finding better products. The last carton of almond milk I bought didn’t even have carrageenan, which is a fairly tall order.
  • Produce, both conventional & organic: They have a very small selection of organic produce at my store currently (though I’ve seen promises of a larger selection in the future pop up), but I buy lots of produce at Aldi. It’s priced at a good point, and we go through a lot, so we can afford to buy more if we get it at Aldi. We absolutely LOVE their organic red grapes, though. They’ve always been crisp, crunchy & sweet. Their bagged salads are really crisp as well, and never go bad as quickly as other stores/brands.
  • Organic whole wheat pasta: They have an organic line, and although it only has penne and rotini currently, I find myself opting to use them for spaghetti and things like that just so that I can use their pasta.
  • Peanut butter, almond butter, honey, agave, hazelnut spread: Basically anything like this, we buy at Aldi. I can find organics at Aldi for the price of conventional products at Kroger or Walmart.

 

Basically, we love Aldi. I can find so many things there that would otherwise be unattainable in the budget we want to keep. We actually find ourselves eating better now that we shop at Aldi, and that’s never a bad thing. I’m also finding that my kids actually prefer their brands to some of the larger name brands that we find in the natural food sections of other stores. I think we’re quickly becoming Aldi lifers, and I’m happy I put aside my perceptions and discovered what has easily been the best thing to happen to our food lifestyle.

 

Do you shop at Aldi? What are some of your favorites?

Grocery shopping is a nightmare.

I don’t do it often, but on occasional I become so delusional that I believe I can manage grocery shopping with 2 small kids. Grocery shopping with my little heathens is clearly well outside the scope of my parenting abilities. It’s been proven to me every time I attempt it. And for some stupid reason, I keep coming back for more.

My grocery shopping experience has 4 stages:

  • Over-confidence: As we pull up to the store, children smiling, sippy cups in hand, Starbucks in tow, I’m feeling pretty good. This is usually the point where I’m telling myself a number of lies, centered around the fact that past failures were just a fluke. We’re going to be just fine today. -Insert eye roll so heavy I can see my brain- As we enter the store with my list in hand, cart chock-full of small people, and hair quickly reaching homeless-level dishevelment just from the sheer effort of wrestling both kids from a car seat and into a cart, I begin seeing my flaw. This is where step two comes in.
  • Errors have been made: My toddler is tearing up all the things I put in the cart, or handing them up to her baby sister to gnaw violently on, while she lets out her first of many war cries. I soon realize this is not going to work, and that said toddler will need to walk. Remember, it will be FINE. Let’s get her on the floor. “No, wait, don’t slam that man’s cart into his own shin! Please don’t run to the next aisle! Put that back on the shelf! That’s not ours, hand that back to the woman you stole it from, please! Don’t eat that off the floor! Don’t lick the floor, either! You have to go potty again?!” Why didn’t I bring a carrier? Why didn’t I foresee this? How many mistakes must I make? Why does the baby cry at the worst possible time? Great, she pooped her pants.
  • F*!k this: This is about the time that I start making statements likeĀ “If you can’t be nice, we can’t get your chocolate almond milk” or “Fine, then we’re putting it all back and leaving with nothing”. This is literally the most stupid thing I’ve ever said, because anyone who knows me (my own kids included) knows I refuse to leave that store until everything I need is in my cart. I’m just not capable of walking away from work I’ve already done. So they call my bluff. Again and again and again. And I make weak threats that no one gives two sh!ts about. And then I rage-weep, and I walk through the aisles, corralling my monsters and ignoring hateful stares while L piles unnecessary crap into the cart, that I’ll eventually need to re-route to return to it’s home.
  • I’m never, ever doing this again: When we get to the cart, no less than 5 hours from the time we arrived, looking broken, feeling pretty butthurt/murderous, I vow, THIS will be the end. THIS was the last straw. THIS is the lesson I needed. Now I just need to get us home in a route that bypasses anything that MIGHT sell chicken nuggets. As I do so, I convince myself that no matter how hungry we are, it can wait the 8 hours of my husband’s work shift. This IS the last time.

 

I’m not a particularly stupid person, so I rarely take my kids to the store with me if I can avoid it. But I might be a little crazy, because I keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. I’m at the point where I’m unsure if I’ll ever be able to take them into public places before they reach adulthood. It seems unlikely.

I’ve heard it before, and every time it’s been said to me, I laugh hysterically in my head at it, that if you just keep taking them out, they eventually learn to behave in public. Based on my experiences, my children level up in ridiculousness each time we pull into a Kroger parking lot. So, to those of you who look like hot messes in the grocery store… Solidarity. It’s all I have to offer. And those of you who pretend to have your crap together, please don’t judge the rest of us when we look like fools. Best wishes to my fellow parents trying not to fall apart in a Giant Eagle.