Real Food Groceries I Buy at Aldi

I am often asked what groceries I buy and where I buy them. Obviously we do not all have the same grocery store options because we all live on different parts of the globe! (And how fun is it that we all connect here in one community!)

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I decided to write a small series of posts to share what groceries I purchase from each of my favorite stores – either online, co-op, or from an brick and mortar grocery store where I actually have to wear clothes and shoes to do my shopping. Not that I shop online without clothes on. I think that might have come out wrong. Well, anyway…

First stop: Aldi

Real Food Groceries I Buy at Aldi

We live just over an hour away from the nearest Aldi. It doesn’t make sense for me to drive there often, even though I love many of the groceries they offer! I make it there only once every three months now, and as you can imagine, I stock up on my favorites while I’m there!

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I’ve definitely found that not all of the food Aldi offers is of the highest quality. But they do carry many real food items that I trust, so I skip their processed junk food aisles and grab their good food options for great prices!

Real Food Groceries I Buy At Aldi

  • Simply Nature Organic Salsa – We go through loads of salsa at our house!
  • Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies (knock off) – So I can always and forever make this Real Food “Velveeta” and Rotel Dip. :)
  • Simply Nature Organic Black Beans
  • Simply Nature Pasta Sauce
  • 100% Grass Fed Beef – We buy a half-cow every year from local farming friends. But we go through a lot of ground beef at our house so I buy hamburger at Aldi whenever I’m there. It costs about $5.65 per pound which is a great price for the quality!
  • Cream Cheese – They carry this for the best price I’ve seen consistently (only $0.79 each!!), but unfortunately they don’t always have it in stock!
  • Butter – Usually this is priced at $2.50 or less per pound, which is much cheaper than my local options.
  • Brown Sugar – I keep brown sugar on hand at home for baking (since it’s cheaper than sucanat and as far as our bodies are concerned, sugar is sugar!). Aldi almost always has the lowest price.

Real Food Groceries I Buy at Aldi…sometimes

  • Produce – Often the Aldi closest to me doesn’t have great quality produce. They have great prices on produce, though, so usually I use their prices to price-match at my local Wal-mart.
  • 100% Whole Wheat Bread – It’s not full of the greatest ingredients, but I do like having a few loaves stashed in my freezer for busy travel days.
  • 100% Fruit Pouches – My boys like their fruit squeeze pouches, which tend to be a little bit less expensive at Aldi most of the time. Sometimes I’ll grab a few boxes while I’m there so we can take them to soccer or basketball games.
  • Sliced Cheese – I often check the quality and price on Colby jack and pepper jack slices if we need them for sandwiches on the road or grilled cheese at home.
  • Lunch Meat or Hot Dogs – Sometimes they have a “Never Any” brand or a nitrite-free hotdog that I’ll take advantage of while I’m there. I’m not a huge fan of these as the quality is still kind of so-so, but if we need them and I want to avoid an additional trip to another store on my way home, I get these.
  • A special treat to take home to the kids – Sometimes I’ll grab a pouch of granola or something else that I know my boys will like. I’ve discovered that my kids are not too old to become excited when Mom gets home from the store!

Real Food Groceries I Buy at Aldi

Do you shop at Aldi? What groceries do you frequently buy there?

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Psst!

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This sale can also be combined with the monthly special of a free large shaped U-Pin with any $50 purchase! Sale starts Friday, Sept. 1 at 7 AM Pacific time, and ends at midnightSunday, Sept. 3.
Sept Sale 2017

All the Groceries I Bought for the Beginning of the School Year (Brace Yourself)

Stocking up is one thing. This time I think I might have gone just a tiny bit crazy. Are you ready to see all the groceries I thought I surely must have to help us survive the beginning of the school year?

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Oh, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

I have decided that I got into this crazy BUY ALL THE FOOD mode for three reasons:

  1. My boys had been at church camps or mission trips a good part of the summer and I had not purchased many groceries for the past three months. I was making up for lost time, perhaps? Or maybe I had gone through withdrawal and needed a bulk grocery fix.
  2. I had a chance to go to Lincoln where there is an Aldi. I had to stock up on all my Aldi favorites to help get me through until the next time I have a chance to go there.
  3. I seem to think that if I can have every single food item in stock at my house, I can more easily get through the first couple of weeks of school. Apparently Geometry is more fun when there is plenty of spaghetti sauce in the house.

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Most of my thinking is logical, I believe. I have been doing this Fall Semester thing for how many years now? Sixteen? The fall doesn’t just bring the start of school. It also brings soccer season in which my husband is gone much of the time because he is assistant coach of our local college team. The older boys ref games, and our youngest plays on two teams. The fall is simply BUSY and if I can just have enough tuna on hand, then all of life will be easier.

Sure, I live five minutes from a grocery store. But I live three seconds from my storage room that houses all the tuna, so I’d rather go there on a busy day.

Well, speaking of tuna, I bought 24 cans. But after all the buying and loading and unloading, I found myself not particularly excited about setting up a tuna photo-shoot. I think we can all agree that tuna stacked on a table is not terribly thrilling to see. So I left them in the bags under the bagels. Be amazed.

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If you think 24 cans of tuna is excessive (it’s not), you might be even more impressed that I got 24 packages of cream cheese. Dude, I was at Aldi and they were only $0.79 each. I will likely not make it back to Aldi for a couple of months, so I filled a cooler. With cream cheese. Who wants to be my best friend now?

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The most fun grocery event of this month was definitely the day my Amazon Subscribe and Save order arrived. The bill for this order was not pretty, though I did get good deals on each case I ordered.

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Pasta for days. And also Kleenex.

Here’s what I got this time around:

TIP! If you want to be kept up to date on great Amazon deals I find, sign up to be a member of our Savings Club. It’s free!

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If you’re hungry and you know it, clap your hands. I think it is clear that no one will starve at our house during the next few weeks, though you can be sure that we will go through this food faster than one thinks should be reasonable.

Your Turn! Tell me about the crazy things you do before a school year starts!

Real Food “Processed Food” I Buy Regularly (What Brand and Where I Get Them)

Remember when I used to make all my food from scratch? Those were the days I thought we ate a lot but we really didn’t (compared to now). Those were the days I thought we were busy but we really weren’t (except that we were). Those were the days I thought all processed food was evil (and some of it is). Those were the days.

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Nowadays I’m doing everything I can to simplify so that I can enjoy every last minute with these kids while they are under my roof. Seeing as we’ll graduate Boy #2 this school year, it is becoming more and more apparent that these truly are our last minutes.

Senior pictures, here we come…

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Every new recipe I come up with to share takes very little time to make. I want to nurture my family and build on my marriage – not stand at the kitchen counter rolling out tortillas.

I still make wonderful homemade food. But every meal I put on the table consists of something very basic that is quick to put together and offers a few simple fruits and veggies on the side. My menu plans are created to make great use of my minimal efforts in the kitchen while still putting real food on the table. (Thank you, God, for Simple Meals Plans that take away all the thinking and planning and hard work each day!)

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My choice to slide back into purchasing more convenience foods hasn’t compromised our great food options. Our meals and snacks are still incredibly delicious! I am still spending our grocery budget wisely. I still use real butter, freshly ground flour, and whole milk. I still avoid high fructose corn syrup, margarine, and MSG.

Choosing to use some processed foods in my cooking doesn’t mean I’m back to buying cans cream-of-whatever-soup and boxes of poptarts. It means I’m buying canned beans instead of soaking and cooking them from dry. It means I’m buying jarred tomato sauce instead of spending hours and hours every fall canning my own. It means I’m buying pre-made pizza crust from Azure Standard so my kids can quickly throw together some pizzas for lunch or dinner (which is healthier and saves money compared to ordering pizza).

It means so many things. It means I can survive this busy season of raising teenagers and continue to be their biggest cheerleader and support in all their activities and preparation for adulthood.

It means love. This is how I’m loving my family now.

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I recently shared that I definitely have started buying processed food more than I used to. But I also shared that processed food is nothing to fear – so long as it’s real food and nourishing. I check ingredients, I find brands that I feel good about, and I save myself an amazing amount of time in the kitchen.

Many of you have asked about the specific brands of “processed foods” I buy and feel good about. I absolutely avoid many bottles and jars and cans that have junk in them that will hurt our insides. But there are brands I trust and feel good about – even if they aren’t organic, top-of-the-line options.

Real Food Processed Food I Buy - what brands and where I get them

Real Food “Processed Food” Brands I Buy and Where I Get Them

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~ Canned Beans

The Simply Nature brand at Aldi is an awesome choice for canned black beans (at only $0.85/can!). I buy them by the case since I don’t live close to an Aldi or get to shop there often.

I will say that now that I’m a proud owner of an Instant Pot I may start making them again because of how easy it is. But in a pinch, I’ll get cans from Aldi to keep on hand for fast meals!

~ Canned Baked Beans

The Walnut Acre brand is a little more expensive compared to Bush’s or Van Camps, but I feel good about the ingredients, plus we like how they taste. (I can tell a big difference in quality, which is why I’m sticking with the Walnut Acre brand for now.) If I have Vitacost credit, I get a few cans of Walnut Acre, or sometimes I buy a case with subscribe and save at Amazon.

~ Beef Hotdogs

I buy a variety of brands of hotdogs depending on which store I’m able to go to and what is available at each store. Any brand that is 100% beef and free of nitrites I feel okay about. We use these for quick meals on the grill in the spring/summer and for Beanie Weanies all year long.

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~ Turkey Sausage

I know, I know! Homemade Turkey Sausage was one of my first great recipes I shared here at Heavenly Homemakers. It’s awesome stuff…stuff that I don’t have time to make right now. So I buy cases of Diestel brand turkey sausage from Azure Standard to keep in my freezer whenever it goes on sale.

~ Tortillas

While I miss the taste of homemade tortillas, I love the convenience of these that I get at Azure Standard. The Stacey’s brand has ingredients I’m okay with (which is very difficult to find in a packaged tortilla!). Plus they freeze well and taste great, so I just pull them out to use for tacos, burritos, and quesadillas as needed. What a life saver!

~ Pizza Crust

I recently discovered Sprout California Frozen Pizza Bread at Azure Standard and buy a case every couple of months to help get my family through busy school days. They don’t beat this recipe for homemade pizza crust, but they sure are handy to have in the freezer!

~ Pizza Sauce

Lately I’ve been buying Muir Glen Pizza Sauce by the case with Subscribe and Save through Amazon. It’s tasty and reasonably priced! (I recently got it for $1.45/can.)

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~ Salsa

Each time I go to Aldi, I buy a case or two of their Simply Organic Salsa. We love how it tastes, and it’s usually about $1.85/jar.

~ BBQ Sauce

I’ve had a more difficult time finding a quality BBQ Sauce. (Aldi used to carry a Simply Organic variety and now I can’t find it!!) I finally found Stubbs brand at Walmart, which has all real food ingredients. After we tried it and liked it, I bought a case from Amazon! :)

~ Ketchup

I’ve been buying cases of Muir Glen Ketchup through Amazon for several years and it is, hands down, our favorite brand. But I do always watch for it to go on sale because it’s pricey otherwise.

~ Cream Cheese

I’m all over the place with cream cheese. Every brand I have available to me has a few ingredients I don’t love, but it’s also not something I stress over. I don’t like the Walmart off-brand because it never softens nicely! The Aldi brand is great and inexpensive (when they actually have some in stock!). Whenever there’s a price-match for Philadelphia Cream Cheese, I stock up at Walmart.

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~ Mayo

The only mayonnaise I’ve found that I feel good about is Hain Safflower Mayo. It is absolutely not cheap, no matter where I find it. I usually buy it by the case from Azure Standard because expensive as it is, it is at least less expensive there.

~ Spaghetti Sauce

Once again, Aldi comes through with their Simple Nature brand. And once again, I buy the sauce by the case. Since I’ve been pleased with this brand and can afford it ($1.89/jar), I haven’t checked other non-organic brands to see if there are some that contain trustworthy ingredients.

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~ Frozen Hashbrowns

I recently discovered that the Mr. Dells brand of frozen hashbrowns contains only “potatoes” in their ingredient list. Score! I find these at Walmart.

What healthy brands of convenience foods have you found to work for your family? I’ll add to this list as I think of more foods that are worth buying “for the convenience!”

Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market – My New Favorite Grocery Store and Pics of This Week’s Food

First let me say that sometimes, but not always, when I take pictures on my phone, they upload upside-down to my computer. I edit them to turn them right-side-up, and they appear as such here on my blog. But if you are a subscriber, you will see that they still appear upside-down in the newsletter. This is because I am a professional and always do things professionally.

Some of you are seeing this first picture right-side-up. Others of you are like, “Why are the peppers and avocados spilling out all over the grocery store? Who is going to clean that up? Why did Laura do that? This is not okay.”

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That right-side-up-upside-down picture was taken on Friday when I was introduced to what may now be my favorite grocery store. A brand new Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market just opened up in Lincoln. Since Elias and I had doctor appointments there last week, we stopped in. I decided that this store is a cross between Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, with prices that beat both places. I filled my cart in a way that made the cashier question my sanity (what’s new?) and I left super pumped up.

“Elias!! Wasn’t that so much fun! That is my new favorite store! Didn’t you just love that!?!?!?”

He was like, “It was a store.”

Ok fine. Not everyone geeks out when grocery shopping. But 88¢ for huge and beautiful red peppers, people!!! Chicken for $1.57 a pound! Strawberries for $1.50!

The beauty of this is that while I don’t go to Lincoln very often, I can price-match this store’s produce prices weekly at my local Walmart. I am going to save so much money!

Elias and I hit Aldi while we were in Lincoln, then went to Fresh Thyme, then ran into Walmart when we got back into town. We are well stocked up now. Here’s the breakdown, but as you can see…

Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market was the most fun.

  • Aldi – a case of organic salsa, 4 packages of brown sugar, 1 cantaloupe, and 8 cans of knock-off rotel
  • Fresh Thyme – tons of butter, lots of chicken breasts and thighs, a beef roast, full-fat yogurt (a great treat I can’t find locally), 12 pounds of strawberries, 2 bunches of asparagus, 5 huge red peppers, 4 packages of organic prepped hashbrowns (because they were a great price and will be a fun treat), and 6 kiwi (for a dollar!)
  • Walmart – 5 bottles of 100% apple juice (because I could Price-match them for 98¢ and like to have juice on hand for company/treats), 2 huge blocks of cheese, half-and-half, and 3 buckets of ice cream (not pictured) for our homeschool basketball banquet dinner.

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Saturday I was actually home for the entire day – something that hasn’t happened in quite a while! I baked bread and got caught up on some work, made a menu plan, and had my kids help me grate one of those huge hunks of cheese in our food processor. Not that you were asking, but my two favorite ways to use my food processor are:

  • Grate Cheese (It took about 10 minutes from start to clean-up to grate a 5-pound block.)
  • Make Peanut Butter (I also make it this way sometimes to make it more spreadable.)

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My kids do not miss grating cheese by hand.

This week we’ll be eating:

With all of this, we will be eating lots of strawberries and other fruit. I have plenty of different veggies and greens on hand. It’s shaping up to be a very tasty week!

Do you have a Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market close-by? I think they are fairly new, and I’m not sure where they build their stores. What is your favorite grocery store?

Menu Plan for the Week, Using Fresh Cranberries, and Price Matching at Wal-Mart?

I bought a few groceries at the beginning of the week:  broccoli, pears, cantaloupe, spinach, cottage cheese, cucumber, raspberries, clementines, blackberries, and petite carrots.  All but the cottage cheese and half the cranberries are gone already.  Time to go back to the store.  This is a good “problem” to have.  I am so thankful for all the delicious variety of produce available.

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By the way, that cantaloupe was the sweetest we’ve eaten in a long time.  That’s amazing to me, seeing as it’s December.  We devoured that melon.

I came up with a fantastic Cranberry Almond Orange Bread recipe this weekend, which I’ll share with you during our 5th Annual Heavenly Homemakers Christmas Brunch.  But regarding cranberries – I’m curious what you make with fresh cranberries?  Leave a comment to let us know how you like to eat them and what you like to make with them.  I’d love to hear your ideas.

You might remember the Orange Cranberry Scone recipe I shared two years ago.  I rarely make this, but the Christmas season is definitely the perfect time to treat my family to this. :)

Orange Cranberry Scones

Here’s what our menu includes this week:

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Fruits and Veggies (I serve 1-4 per meal)

  • Mixed Greens
  • Green Beans
  • Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Applesauce
  • The rest depends on what I get at the store – spinach, pears, apples, clementines, carrots…

Oh!  And we have an Aldi in Lincoln now, so I’ve heard I can start price-matching at Walmart since it’s 50ish miles away.  I’m excited to learn more about how this will work.  Any expert price matchers out there with tips for me?!