I’ve been doing more and more of my grocery shopping at ALDI because, like a lot of families, money is often tight in our household. We’re the typical squeezed-just-a-bit-too-much middle class family with two working-full-time parents and two kids. We’re able to meet our basic bills, but then there are weeks when we fall a little short or when there isn’t enough for unexpected expenses, like when both kids need new glasses simultaneously or the car needs new tires.
Our grocery bill was driving me especially crazy when I decided to try ALDI. Believe me, I had all the same hesitations and misconceptions as anyone who hasn’t tried them yet. How would the food taste? Were the stores clean? Would I really save as much as people (and the ads) claimed? And how did the whole put-a-quarter-to-unlock-the-cart thing work?
I got the hang of shopping at ALDI pretty quickly and even though I still stop at The Store That Used to Have FoodPerks for certain items (ALDI powers-that-be, please start carrying prune juice), I’ve seen the light.
I love ALDI even more now that they have started carrying a line of gluten-free products, LiveGFree.
Some of the gluten-free offerings include: granola, crackers, cookies, pasta (penne, fusilli, spaghetti), pizza, baking mixes (cornbread, pizza crust, chocolate chip cookies), pancakes, frozen cheese lasagna, frozen ravioli, stuffed sandwiches, and macaroni and cheese. Very smart marketing on ALDI’s part, as these are excellent (meaning popular) choices, because these are some of the more pricer gluten-free products (pizza, cookies), frozen pasta) in traditional supermarkets.
Supposedly these are only around at ALDI for the proverbial “limited time.” Hopefully ALDI will listen to their customers on social media, who are clamoring for these items to stay permanently.
Count me among them. After hearing good reviews about LiveGFree, I loaded my cart up with a plethora of goodies last Sunday at ALDI. Since then, I’ve had the chance to try a few (although not all) of these products.
The frozen Cheese Lasagna was all right. The sauce was a little more watery than I would have preferred, but this made for a good, quick dinner on an evening when I got home after everyone else had eaten. The pasta cooked nicely and the ricotta was pretty good. It could have used a little more mozzarella. I added some additional Parmesan cheese to this. Overall, it’s probably not filling enough for a main meal, but for lunch at your desk or a dinner after everyone else in the household has eaten, it’s fine. This was $3.29 at my ALDI. Rating: A hit!
Glutino pretzel sticks aren’t an ALDI product, per se, but I found them at my store last Sunday for $3.49. That’s cheaper than at The Other Store, where these can usually run close to $6 or even more, so I snatched them up.
I haven’t tried the Buttermilk Pancakes, but my daughter did. (The Husband made breakfast for dinner on that night I wasn’t home and gave The Girl these by mistake.) She reports that they were very good. I paid $2.69 for these. Rating: A Hit!
Friday night is Pizza Night in our house. Usually I have a frozen GF pizza (I like Glutino’s Duo Cheese) or a salad. Last night I had an ALDI’s LiveGFree Cheese Pizza and thought it was quite tasty. Gluten-free pizzas are ridiculously expensive and this was a very nice alternative. I especially liked that the crust (it’s a thin crust) wasn’t too hard and that the cheese had a very “melty” consistency. This is a “personal size” pizza – about the size of a regular dinner plate – and at $4.99, it filled me up at a price that’s a few dollars less than gluten-free pizzas of a similar size. Rating: A Hit!
I was THRILLED to see the Wraps because Mexican Night is a weekly occurrence in our house. I’m also anticipating taking more wraps to work for lunch during the summer. On Thursday, I used these in one of my new favorite recipes, Creamy Enchilada Casserole from Mayim’s Vegan Table, and they were delicious. This is quickly becoming one of The Husband’s favorite meals – and mine, because everyone likes it and can eat it. These sound pricey at $3.99 for six wraps, but gluten-free bread products can be nearly double that amount elsewhere so I consider these to be A Hit.
Speaking of work lunches, I had the Southwestern Stuffed Veggie Sandwich for lunch on Monday. Well, I should say I tried to have it for lunch. I managed three bites before guzzling my entire water bottle (it’s an oversized one) and giving up. Entirely way too spicy. I’m not a fan of spicy food but I can tolerate a little bit. This was over the top intense. I wound up buying my lunch that day, which annoyed me. Especially because two sandwiches come in this package (sold for $2.69, a very reasonable price) and that could have been another lunch. Oh well. Rating: Major miss.
I had the Brown Rice Spaghetti for dinner tonight, along with some olive oil, grape tomatoes, and feta cheese. The package says to cook for 8-9 minutes; on my gas stove, nine minutes was probably a little too much. Next time I’ll taste-test it sooner. As a result, this was okay. A bit on the gummy, sticky side. You’re definitely not going to mistake this for regular pasta. That said, I’m not a big fan of gluten-free pasta to begin with, quite honestly. In my opinion, it’s really hard to get right. LiveGFree is on par with other brands I’ve tried and for the price ($1.29!!!!) you can’t beat it. I think this would be good in a dish where pasta isn’t the star attraction, like a pasta primavera, perhaps. I have the other varieties, penne and fusilli, which I’m looking forward to trying. Rating: A Hit.
My favorite item is (no surprise here) the Double Chocolate Brownie Soft Baked Cookies. These are fantastic. They’re small, like brownie bites, and so damn addictive. I like that they’re soft cookies. They tasted fresh. Love the $2.49 pricetag. LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THEM. Rating: Major hit!
I bought more LiveGFree items, too, but just haven’t gotten around to trying them yet. When I do, I’ll do a post about them. I was concerned that these purchases would make my grocery bill higher, but it was pretty close to an average ALDI week, which is usually about $110 or less for our family of four. With our other items purchased at ALDI, my total came to $136, and considering what comparable products would have cost me at SuperExpensive Store, I can certainly live with an additional $26.
I really hope LiveGFree becomes a permanent addition to ALDI’s offerings. A lot of people are gluten-sensitive and many people are struggling financially. I’ve talked to other ALDI shoppers (this is super-friendly Pittsburgh, after all) and more and more shoppers seem to be like me – fed up (no pun intended) with high prices and abandoning traditional supermarkets for discount grocers where the food is oftentimes just as good (or better). I’m no expert, but I think the days of the traditional, average supermarket are marked and just like our country’s demographics as a whole, that the future belongs to higher-end places (like Wegmans) and the discount grocers, like ALDI.
Note: This post was NOT solicited, sponsored, endorsed, or affiliated in any way by ALDI. It represents only my thoughts and opinions. No one at ALDI asked me to write this post and all products mentioned were paid for out of my and The Husband’s hard-earned paychecks.
Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.