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Budget-minded Healthy Eating: Shopping at Aldi

Aldi can be complicated to the uninitiated. From the store’s incredibly simple layout, to the unfamiliar house brands, to the little quarter-holder on each cart, Aldi is a shopping enigma from the time that you enter the store until the time you leave. It’s in the context of this complicated first impression that many people write off Aldi. But to a bargain health food hunter, Aldi is your greatest resource.

With nearly everything in the store prepackaged (including the produce) I think that some people mistake Aldi’s goods as inferior. It looks like junk food, so people naturally assume that it must be junk food—but they would be wrong.

With nearly everything in the store prepackaged (including the produce) I think that some people mistake Aldi’s goods as inferior. It looks like junk food, so people naturally assume that it must be junk food—but they would be wrong.

Aldi is filled with healthy food. There are fresh options, organic options, and even things that you might find at a natural foods store. Better still, on nearly every Aldi house brand you will save money against virtually any competitor—even WalMart and Target. This article is your guide to what to buy as a healthy eater shopping at Aldi. Here are my tips for navigating the confusion and finding great healthy options at Aldi.

Nuts – I think that nuts are one of the great unsung diet foods. High in both protein and fiber, a handful of nuts can do much to satiate your appetite. Nuts provide for both a desire for fattiness and crunch, which can go long way in the psychological game that is associated with dieting. Aldi provides a number of prepackaged nut options that will appeal to healthy eaters—raw almonds, unsalted roasted peanuts, unsalted pistachios, unsalted cashews. The raw almonds seem to be of a special quality—plump, meaty, and especially sweet.

Dried Fruit – While many diets might discourage incorporating dried fruit with its high sugar content, others might like to incorporate dried fruit as a sugar substitute. Again, Aldi surprises here with a small range of dried fruits from which to pick, all of them at competitive prices.

Oatmeal Products – I’ve incorporated oatmeal into my current diet because of the healthy effects that it is known to have on high cholesterol. Oatmeal’s versatility goes beyond a diet food–it is often used as as an ingredient in granola and energy bars. Aldi has three types of the grain—fast oats, rolled oats, and steel cut irish oatmeal.

Elevation-brand Apple Pie and Peanut Butter Cookie bars – I wasn’t expecting to see this product when I stopped into my local Aldi recently. These two types of bars seem to be Lara bars in disguise. Lara bars were one of the ways that I hacked the Whole 30 diet, and while that may not have been compliant, it did help with the psychology of getting through it. Decadently sweet with the incorporation of whole chopped dates, products like these do not have any added sugar.

Spices – Most people don’t think of spices as a dieting staple, but I would argue for those dieters that like to eat, spices are an essential building block to healthy dieting. While Aldi doesn’t specialize in exotic spices, they do have large amounts of kitchen staples like Paprika, Cumin, and Garlic Powder–all in fairly large sizes and all priced at $1.

Barissimo Fair Trade Organic Coffee Beans – These beans are amazingly priced at under $5 for a 12oz bag; but what’s really remarkable about these coffee beans is how they could compete (and win) with any of their major brand competition. This is not coffee for the third wave coffee house, but it’s better than what you could get from Starbucks.

Belle Vie Sparkling Water – If you’re a soda drinker, like me, dieting can be especially difficult with a lack of bubbles in your beverages. There’s just something satisfying about drinking a little of the bubbly. This is where sparkling water comes in. Aldi stocks four varieties of their Belle Vie-branded sparkling water in grapefruit, lime, lemon, and flavorless options. All four varieties don’t have sugar or any kind of artificial sweetener. And, all are zero carlorie!

Produce – If there’s one area that could turn people off to Aldi, it could be the produce section. Aldi’s produce is prepackaged. Generally speaking, the items that they stock are also smaller in size. However, don’t let that mislead you into thinking that it’s inferior-quality produce. It’s not. Plus they have all the produce staples that you need—aromatics like celery and green onions, shade vegetables like peppers and tomatoes, seasonal fruits like blueberries and peaches, and bitter greens like spring mix lettuce and kale.

Almond Milk and Coconut Milk – One thing that you might not expect from Aldi is that they have a large selection of alternative milks like Almond and Coconut milks—and with variety! Unsweetened and sweetened milks are available.