10 things you must buy at Aldi
I've already covered why Aldi is the best grocery store ever. There are tons of products to love there, but here are 10 I pick up on the regular.
I wrote a 2,000-word piece about things you should be stocking in your pantry, and for the love of God, read it already! A stocked pantry is important if you want to remove the stress of figuring out what to eat from your life. I live pretty far from Aldi and can't shop there all the time, but once a month I go there and make sure I’ve got all the things I routinely need on hand to cook. This way, during the week, I need to pick up only proteins and vegetables from local small businesses and can do it on a pretty consistent daily basis so I don’t end up throwing out a ton of food.
Plus, with the money I save at Aldi, I can afford to spend a little more locally, which is good for my community. I really cannot stress how cheap this stuff is. It takes an incredible amount of strength to not buy 40 bottles of Dijon mustard for a dollar a piece, but I remind myself that it’s not too good to be true. Aldi will always be there for me, with its cheap mustard and giant packages of toilet paper.
Not only is it cheap, but it’s award-winning! I have absolutely no idea, since people make up fake awards all the time, but seriously, you have no idea how often I have been contacted with offers to pay someone hundreds of dollars to get a plaque announcing me as one of the “[insert phony institution's name] Best Chefs in America." Don’t believe everything you read, guys. We live in a world of lies, from the highest levels of our government right down to the International Council for Excellence in Whipped Topping.
However, after some seriously deep investigation (Google), I’ve learned the awards bestowed on Aldi’s wines are actual awards! From actual experts! Australian experts! You know how seriously those guys take drinking. They need award-winning wines to cope with the constant threat of death by poisonous spiders. And sharks. And kangaroos, who look all cute and friendly but who will kick your goddamn face in if they’re “having a day.”
Such Paleo, so low carb, much expensive. Except at Aldi! (You notice a theme here, don’t you?) Snacks are the most important meal of the day, and keeping a drawer full of beef jerky helps you stick to the diet du jour. You get a tasty bite to eat in the afternoons, and your co-workers don’t have to wrap up their day suffering through your usual hard-boiled egg farts. You’re saving money, and now you have friends again. So many problems solved.
Specially selected thick-cut bacon
I think we all know by now that bacon makes everything better. What the internet fails to understand is that a little bacon makes everything better because you can enjoy it without contemplating your own mortality, which, let me tell you, is a total buzzkill at parties.
Keep this thick-cut bacon around. It is intensely flavorful, and I have not yet had a package that was too fatty. Take two or three pieces, chop them up, fry them up crisp, then take most of the grease out of the pan, and sauté a crap-ton of dark greens in it. Season with salt and pepper, mix the bacon back in, and suddenly everyone wants to eat vegetables. You’ve unleashed bacon's untapped ability to make your family eat kale.
Always always always always allllllwwwwwaaaaaayyyyys buy shrimp frozen. They go bad incredibly quickly, so most shrimp are frozen directly on the boat that caught them. If not, then they’re frozen once the boat docks. That “fresh” shrimp you see at the seafood counter? Exactly the same shrimp that’s in the bag, but thawed and soaked in chemicals to keep them from spoiling quickly. The more you know, kids... The more you know...
Keep a few bags in the house. Thaw under running water (takes less than five minutes), and throw them into those bacon greens I was talking about earlier. Brainless dinner. Or make shrimp cocktail for dinner because, and be fancy!
According to Kefir.net, “The regular use of kefir can help relieve all intestinal disorders, promote bowel movement, reduce flatulence and create a healthier digestive system.” Who doesn’t like that?
Pure maple syrup
If by some small chance you don’t already know this, most “maple syrup” you’re buying is actually “pancake syrup,” which is high-fructose corn syrup mixed with "maple flavoring" and food coloring. When you have that many quotation marks in a sentence, you have every reason to feel taken. Right, “Mrs. Butterworth,” if that’s your real name?
Pure maple syrup is still liquid sugar, but at least it’s honest. But honesty costs money, and sometimes you’re willing to trade superior flavor for your bottom line. Grab a bottle next time you’re at Aldi, and try it with some of these recipes in addition to your waffles. See if that doesn’t convert you.
I know that realistically most people don’t make their own stocks, and maybe you feel bad about that. Let me let you in on a secret: I am one of those pretentious jerks who makes her own stock. I throw all my chicken and vegetable scraps into a big bag in the freezer, dump it into the slow cooker when it’s full, cover with water, cook on low overnight, and know what I get? Two quarts of stock. Two. You know how long it takes to get enough bones to actually make stock? You think I’m roasting chickens over here all the damn time? I have no time to be planning time-consuming menus to end up with two freaking quarts of stock!
When I actually do have the good stuff, I use it for soup, because if you’re making the investment in homemade stock, you had better enjoy that shizz. When I need some for a risotto or poaching or whatever, I use the boxes. Aldi’s organic brand is terrific, and I always make sure to have a cabinet full of it.
Green pea crisps
My kids will eat them, which is a win. Sure, they’re still highly processed and aren’t actual peas (though made from pea flour), but I’m hoping that maybe one day I’ll be able to talk them into trying actual peas. We’re on year four of my plan, so it’ll happen any day now. I’m sure of it.
Aldi’s meats used to suuuuuuuuck. I can’t attest to the quality back then, because the stuff just seemed too sketchy to eat. I’d get my staples, a box of cookies (this is woman code for 20 boxes of cookies) and be on my way.
I still usually buy meat fresh a few times a week from a local butcher, but I also grab a few things from Aldi to keep in the freezer for the days I completely forget to plan for dinner. It now offers lots of different cuts at great prices, and a lot of them are under its “Never Any!” line, meaning they’re free of growth hormones, antibiotics and animal byproducts. Keep some of its sausages in the freezer, and you always have something for dinner.
You know the lemonade I’m talking about — the schmancy type that comes in the pretty bottles in the refrigerated section, that tastes like real lemons instead of chemical powder. It’s like, two bucks at Aldi, which is still cheaper than at BJ's.
I’m sure you’re saying, “If you’re so concerned about money, why don’t you make your own lemonade?” Well, smarty-pants, lemons are expensive. Stupid global warming has been screwing all the lemon farmers both here in America and abroad, meaning that juicing enough lemons costs more than buying a jug. And yes, I know that buying packaged lemonade is probably not helping global warming! Stop judging me! I’m doing my best!
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