I mentioned in a previous post that I used to shop for groceries almost exclusively at WalMart and Aldi. That was before my family’s paradigm shift to real food. However, those stores (Target too!) do have real food, and there are certain items that I purchase there. I will say that the mass merchandisers carry very few organic foods or specialty items like rice pastas, and ironically, their prices on what they do carry are pretty ridiculous, with few exceptions (Really, WalMart? Always Low Prices? Always?). Aldi doesn’t carry organic products at all on a regular basis. Once in a blue moon, they “test the market” with a few organic items, but I really don’t think most folks in their target demographic are interested in that sort of thing, so it doesn’t stick.
So I give you my brief lists for the real foods I buy at these stores.
Starting with WalMart:
1. Produce – I honestly don’t buy that much produce at WalMart anymore because I can get better stuff elsewhere for cheaper prices. But I do buy bananas nearly every time I go (you would think we were a bunch of monkeys), and occasionally other things too, if I’m in a pinch and don’t want to have to visit another store. I bought some bagged angel hair coleslaw the other day because it was pretty cheap, and I was in a hurry and didn’t want to slice cabbage myself that day. Their onions are never as cheap as Sprouts, and their avocados are never as cheap as Aldi. Their organic produce is through the roof (had to buy some potatoes there at the last minute the other day, and nearly died because they were so high!) and their selection is poor. Honestly, you’re almost always better off just making the extra trip to Sprouts . . .except for the bananas 😉
2. Canned Beans – I am buying fewer and fewer canned goods these days, but sometimes time and convenience wins the good-better-best contest. I try to always cook my own beans (black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, etc.) and freeze them in can-sized portions for use in recipes. But when the beans (and time) run out, sometimes I have to buy them, and Walmart is a pretty good place to get inexpensive canned beans.
3. Canned Tomatoes – Most of the canned foods I buy are tomato products. I buy crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, diced tomatoes with green chiles, Tex-Mex diced tomatoes for my salsa, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Some of our WalMarts carry organic Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes, and I buy those also (the non-organic brands contain uglies like HFCS). I mentioned that I will likely be buying organic diced tomatoes and tomato paste from Costco, but will continue to buy these other products from WalMart because of the price and availability.
4. Dried Beans – WalMart has a decent price on some of their dried beans, and since we eat a lot of beans around here, that’s a good thing.
5. Pasta – I have been trying to buy brown rice pasta instead of wheat, but there are certain pastas I use that I haven’t been able to find in the rice—mainly egg noodles and ditali pasta. So I still buy those at WalMart.
1. Produce – My number one thing to buy at Aldi is their produce. Since they carry no organics, I don’t buy near what I used to there, but I do buy their avocados. They almost always have the best price, hands-down, on avocados and we eat a bushel of them around here (my child could eat them for every meal!) They will occasionally run really good sales on their pineapples, and I can score a nice-sized one for 99 cents—a steal! They typically have cheap sweet potatoes, and they are the smaller ones that are good for cutting up. I will also buy broccoli, regular and key limes, and lemons there on occasion. Their bananas are typically a good price, but we have had many bad experiences with their bananas, so we don’t buy them there anymore.
2. Butter – Aldi has the cheapest price on real butter that I have found. It’s not organic or grass-fed, but I can’t afford that, so I settle for Aldi butter. Sometimes they’ll even put it on sale for $1.79 a lb.
3. Canned Goods – Sometimes I buy canned beans and tomato products at Aldi—their prices are comparable to, or better than Walmart’s, and their quality is about the same. I actually think their crushed tomatoes aren’t as watery as WalMart’s.
4. Frozen Peas – I am a little bit of a frozen pea snob. I’ve tasted some that just have no flavor, and aren’t worth eating. Aldi’s are really good, and a good price. I like Trader Joe’s brand better, but will pick up the Aldi brand when I’m there and need peas.
1. Produce – Target’s produce, across the board, is INSANELY expensive. The exception to this would be their organic strawberries, although I can still find them cheaper at Trader Joe’s. They carry Driscoll’s strawberries which are some of the best strawberries you can get, but I actually think the Trader Joe’s brand are at least as good, and even better tasting than the Driscoll’s. Trader Joe’s just isn’t as handy as Target. I sometimes buy bananas there too, but everything else is out of my price range.
2. Frozen carrots – Target is the ONLY place I’ve been able to find frozen carrots in a bag by themselves. I put them in my fried rice, and we just like to eat them as a side dish sometimes.
3. Unbleached All-Purpose Flour – Target’s Market Pantry brand is the cheapest I’ve found for unbleached flour. We don’t use it very much anymore, since we are trying to stay away from wheat more often than not, but I have some recipes that I haven’t been able to use other flours in successfully, so I keep some AP flour on-hand for those. Biscuits made with white flour just can’t be beat!!
4. Polaner All Fruit Jellies – We don’t eat a ton of jelly anymore, but the Polaner brand is one of the best juice-sweetened jelly brands we’ve found. It has no added sugars, and no artificial sweeteners or colors, and it tastes great! Target has a good price, and also more of my son’s favorite flavors than WalMart.
5. Simply Balanced Organic Tortilla Chips – Again, probably not the best “real food” example, but we love tortilla chips. When I haven’t been able to get the Costco big bag, I scoot over to Target and grab these. They also almost always have a coupon for these on their website as well.
Well, that about covers it. I don’t go to these stores super often. Aldi is about 2 blocks down the street from our bank, and there is another one a few blocks down from our church, so often I’ll go there when making a trip to one of those places. WalMart is also just down from the bank, so I’ll stop in there if I need to, when I go banking. Target is next to Costco, and down the street from where I work, so dropping in for a few items occasionally isn’t too out-of-the-way.
There are a few food items that I buy online because of price and availability, and I will share those tomorrow. That post will conclude my series on Shopping for Real Food! Thanks for visiting! I’d love to hear all about your real food lists at these stores—are they similar? Please do share!