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Back when I was a struggling college student, Aldi was a no-frills necessity — a grocery store I used solely because of my threadbare budget. Stores were dim and dated, selection was limited, and transactions were strictly cash-only.
What a difference a few decades can make.
Today’s Aldi stores are bright and modern, and the inventory has evolved from bare-bones-basic to slightly chic. Yet the low prices remain — beating out the prices of even Walmart, as one analysis found. The company says that it operates nearly 2,000 stores in 36 states and that more than 90% of its products are private label brands.
After years of shopping elsewhere, I rediscovered this delightful discounter several years ago and have never looked back. Following are my favorite things to buy at Aldi. The prices quoted are from my local store in Des Moines, Iowa.
1. Fresh produce
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Though Aldi’s produce section isn’t as extensive as most other grocery stores, it covers the basics well and its prices can’t be “beet.”
A 10-pound bag of Wisconsin-grown russet potatoes is $4.69, a few cents cheaper than my local Walmart’s price.
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 per pound.
2. Organic food
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In response to consumer demand, most grocery stores now offer organic options. Aldi is staying competitive by carrying a wide selection of organically grown produce and organic and/or non-GMO packaged items.
Two of my favorites are by Simply Nature. A 14-ounce bag of organic, non-GMO cashews costs $9.79, and a 12-ounce bag of organic, non-GMO granola cereal is priced at $3.55.
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Considering the past few years, who isn’t looking for ways to save on wine?
Though laws in some states restrict or prohibit the sale of alcohol in grocery stores, my local Aldi has a respectable selection. I counted nearly 40 brands of red, rose, white and sparkling wine — most priced between $4.49 and $9.99 a bottle.
If there’s a dinner party in your future, pick up a bottle of Evanta Malbec 2020 for $4.49 or William Wright Chardonnay 2020 for $6.99.
Want to go cheaper? Try Aldi’s private label Winking Owl. A bottle of Winking Owl Moscato will set you back a mere $2.95.
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It may sound crackers, but Aldi is the place for cheese.
My local store carries Gouda, Camembert, Brie, Asiago and several varieties of goat cheese. The cheese selection …….