You know Aldi holds a special place in my heart, but lately I have been replacing one of my twice-monthly Aldi runs with a trip to Fresh Thyme.
I grocery shop every two weeks if I plan it out correctly (I tried to avoid my local grocery store as much as possible because it is the land of the $6.99 potato). First trip of the month is Aldi for a massive overflowing cart full of necessities (post coming soon). Second trip is to Fresh Thyme to re-stock produce and pick up a few pantry staples. I try to spend no more than $300/month total on groceries.
Here are a few things you can count on seeing in my cart:
1. Organic garlic 3 heads for $1.50 - I look for garlic grown in the USA and try to get it locally in season (we’re trying it out in our garden this year!).
2. Whole wheat flour ($3.99)
3. Unbleached all purpose flour ($3.99)
4. Aluminum-free baking powder ($1.69) - Baking powder with sodium aluminum sulfate (AKA most baking powder) can taste metallicy in some recipes where you use a significant amount, like in biscuits or pancakes.
5. Organic sesame oil ($7.99)
6. Organic Valley or Horizon heavy cream ($4.39 - goes on sale for $3 often!) - Many brands of cream have an ingredient I don’t love: an emulsifier called polysorbate 80. There haven’t been many human studies on its effects, but many other perfectly delicious brands do not use it so it’s kind of a matter of principle. Basically, I don’t like when weird ingredients are added to my whole food faves.
7. Sprouted wheat tortillas ($3.99) - These have a short, impressive ingredients list but more importantly they are AMAZING. I have been eating crappy tortillas for way too long apparently. The only downside is the package has 6 tortillas so I have to buy several packs every trip ($$$).
8. Fresh ginger ($.99/lb) - Love the flavor this gives juices and smoothies.
9. Raw cashews ($7.99/lb - $5.99/lb on sale) - MAN cashews are my favorite. Lately I’ve been doing that weird cashew coffee thing, but I also love toasting a few or just eating plain. My kids love them too, and I use them in our favorite energy bites.
10. Organic spices ($5.99 and up) - Aldi has a limited selection of organic spices and whatever they don’t have, I get at Fresh Thyme.
11. Organic rolled oats ($2.99/lb)
12. Organic chicken ($3.99/lb on sale)
13. Organic dried black beans, pintos, chickpeas, & lentils ($2.99 - $4.99)
14. Organic canned coconut milk ($1.99)
15. Organic Produce - whatever is on sale (I always pick up bulk carrots, broccoli, butternut and spaghetti squash, onions, yellow or red potatoes, berries, cilantro, green onions, and parsley - my Aldi doesn’t typically carry organic options of these guys)
I’ve been trying to make the change to organic for a while now (combined with locally sourced stuff when available). I used to kind of waver back and forth, but a study I read recently kind of grabbed me by my suspenders and snapped me into making a big decision. I knew that choosing organics meant less exposure to pesticide, but this study so plainly puts it out in front of you that it’s hard not to pay attention. The results indicate a significant reduction in urinary pesticide levels after only 7 days on an all-organic diet (Just a note, there are limitations to the way the study was done. You can read the full study for free here).
I get asked occasionally if organic foods are nutritionally better than conventional. There isn’t always too much of a difference in this area between organic and non, but that isn’t really the point for me. I live in the middle of (beautiful) rolling farm fields that are sprayed with pesticide twice a year. My family and I may be more exposed than the next guy, so why not reduce our risks where I have control?
Aldi and Fresh Thyme have made this decision much more affordable. The only thing that is still often too pricey to fit in our budget is organic meat. We get beef from local cattle farmers (who happen to be my in-laws) and organic chicken whenever it goes on sale at Fresh Thyme. We don’t often have pork, but when we do we try to get it from a local processor who will sell it in bulk.
The list of go-to items I always pick up at Aldi is on the way. In the meantime, I hope you find these staples useful!
PS - FT has free fruit for babes, which is amazing.