Can You Shop for the Perfect Health Diet at Aldi? Yes, but . . .

**Update: I get a number of hits on this post from people searching for whether Aldi has coconut oil.  As of November 8, 2014, the answer is now yes!  They have a 14 oz. jar of unrefined coconut oil (“Simply Nature” store brand) for $7, as I recall.  It was near the baking ingredients and cooking oil.****

 

I made my four main weekly grocery shopping trips at Aldi last month, hoping to lower our grocery spending.  Here’s the lowdown:

  • Our total grocery spending for August was $1058.72;
  • Our 12-month average before last month was $1188.32 (I had miscalculated this slightly in my earlier post);
  • I spent about $22.40 more in gas, as Aldi is a ways away from our house;  therefore we achieved a

Net Savings of $107.20, or 9% of our average monthly grocery expenditure.  

This is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s less than I had hoped.

The disadvantages of shopping at Aldi were

  1. The distance (not an issue for everyone, obviously),
  2. The self-bagging system: I find this especially burdensome when I have the kids in tow, and
  3. The limited selection: I still had to make trips to other stores to get things like coconut oil, coconut milk, dish soap, unsweetened almond milk, and all-natural peanut butter.
It takes all my moral courage plus a bag of chocolate pretzels to get through a grocery trip with this one.    And then I have to bag my own groceries???

It takes all my moral fortitude plus a bag of chocolate pretzels to get through a grocery trip with this one.  And then I have to bag my own groceries???

The advantages of shopping at Aldi are

  1. The limited selection: this has an upside.  I made do without some items or buying less expensive alternatives.  For instance, Aldi doesn’t have jasmine rice  (they had it when I went on Nov. 8, 2014), so I settled for less-expensive regular rice.  Aldi only has artichoke hearts in cans.  I prefer buying them in glass jars, which is more expensive, but I made do with the cans.  Etc.
  2. The price.  Obviously.   Aldi beats out the other stores for almost every item on my list (you can see my slightly updated grocery price spreadsheet).  I was tickled to find a good price at Aldi for real maple syrup:

IMG_3446

It’s sooo much better tasting and better for you than the fake stuff.  It isn’t Perfect Health Diet compliant, as far as I know, but I use it in small amounts for this recipe, a favorite of ours:

Man-Pleasing Chicken (woman-pleasing too!)

and for occasional treats like this:

For September I plan to make our weekly grocery shopping trips at Walmart, which is much closer to me.  Its prices are higher than Aldi but only marginally so.  I am hopeful that price difference will be cancelled out by the savings on gasoline.  We shall see . . . .

****

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15 thoughts on “Can You Shop for the Perfect Health Diet at Aldi? Yes, but . . .

  1. Neat article! Have you considered combining the two….making one run to Aldi per month to load up on non-perishable items and more frequent stops to Walmart for produce, milk, etc?

  2. Hi Laura,

    Thanks for doing this and sharing your results. It’s nice to know your results. We don’t have an Aldi anywhere near us and I’ve found that our shopping cart is pretty much all produce and meat. I’m curious. did you notice a difference in the produce and meat quality? These days we’ve gotten really good an perimeter shopping and that’s almost all of what fills the cart. Produce meat and dairy. And I really don’t want to sacrifice quality on those things for just a small savings. Would love to hear your thoughts.

    Also, I’m a big time lurker on the PHD blog and what Paul has said about maple syrup (in the comments to various posts) is that it’s a fructose source like anything else and you have to use your judgement and incorporate it according to your overall diet. It’s akin to honey. He chooses honey over maple syrup because it has some anti-microbial property that is good for the gut. In my mind, maple syrup falls in the same category as honey in the PHD. It’s a pleasure food you can use sparingly.

    One thing I like about PHD is that Paul has a “dose makes the poison” mentality — something can be fine at a low dose and dangerous in high amounts. So many other diets have what I tend to think of as a homeopathic mentality — where even an infinitesemal amount of something will destroy your system.

    Can’t wait to hear about the Wallmart comparison.

    • Hi Elizabeth. Glad you liked the post! I didn’t notice a big difference in quality at aldi. One bag of potatoes was not good. Also some salad greens, but the latter were past the expiration date when i bought them and I should have caught that. Aldi has a double your money back guarantee or something like that but i didnt bother to return the produce. … And yes I like the balanced, non-extremist tone that the jaminets take, too.

  3. main differene between honey and maple, besides honey being anti-bacterial, is that honey is also a monosaccharide (simple sugar) and maple is a disaccharide (more complex, harder for the body to break down). diets like SCD and GAPS therefore allow honey and not maple.

      • I may be wrong, but i think what j’aime meant by “harder to break down” was “harder to digest.” You are probably associating “harder to break down” with “takes longer to enter the bloodstream,” which, when you’re talking about sugar and insulin, is a good thing. Harder to digest does not necessarily mean that, unfortunately.

        Very intrigued by your blog. I’ve been on the PHD for a little over a month and I love it; I’m going to have explore your blog a little more.

      • Ah, I do see the distinction you make there. Thanks! I hope you enjoy the blog. I’m not a perfect adherent to the PHD by any stretch but I have tried to keep my family’s meals in line with it.

  4. I have been trying to get my grocery budget down also. I go to trader joes once a month and target or Walmart in between. I haven’t tried aldis. It is next to trader joes here so if I am driving that far( they are about 45 minutes from my house) then I go to trader joes. I interested in how Walmart turns out.

  5. Hello, Laura! I didn’t realize you were doing Paleo! 🙂 We’ve been on and off GAPS since Henry was little. We will have to talk food sometime. Thank you for sharing the number for your grocery shopping. I’m NOT a numbers person and when trying to buy healthy real food, the numbers sure add up fast! Your break down was really helpful!

  6. This was really interesting. I’ve done similar experiments (although we don’t have an Aldi’s), but with Wal-Mart, vs. Publix or Shaw’s or Kroger. I’ve found that generally the cheaper priced stores do win out. I think for me, it’s a bit psychological too..as in stores that are less “fancy” and “plainer”, I tend to buy less and just stick to my list, while I think I make more impulse purchases with stores that are “nicer” and “more upscale.”

  7. I remember when I first was shopping at ALDI their items were not so good quality, then they did a 180 and now their products are better quality than walmart. I go to ALDI for my main shopping and walmart for odds and ends. They have an amazing cheese selection (does not help my cheese addiction!) with wine pairing ideas! I am lucky that ALDI is within a block from me. I hope they open one up nearer to you! They have been doing an excellent job at expanding their product lines. They have been evolving rapidly. They need to choose wisely with their lines since their stores are limited sizes. I wouldn’t be surprised if they started supplying hemp seeds.

  8. Pingback: Top Posts of 2014 | This Felicitous Life

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