This discount grocery chain has a number of raving fans who praise the quality and selection as well as the prices. However, if you’re looking to make your next ALDI haul a little healthier, here are the items dietitians — who also happen to be ALDI shoppers — stock up on.
Healthy fruits and vegetables
“ALDI has really expanded their fresh and frozen produce offerings and I shop for much of my produce there weekly,” says Lindsey Janeiro, RDN of Nutrition to Fit. On top of the usual options, like bananas, spinach, apples, berries and citrus, Janeiro shops for seasonal goodies, like fresh Medjool dates, dragon fruit and papaya.
While you’re in the produce aisle, Holley Grainger, RD, suggests loading your cart with avocados. “Rich in heart-healthy fat and loaded with fiber, you can’t beat the quality and price of avocados at ALDI,” she says. “While the price fluctuates, they’re always less expensive than a traditional supermarket, ringing in as low as $0.39 per avocado from time to time.”
And remember that you can grab produce outside of the produce aisle, too. Some shoppers shun frozen veggies, but this is a miss — they’re just as nutritious as fresh and if you haven’t tried them in a while, the texture is much better than what you may have grown up eating. “One of my favorite frozen vegetables is ALDI frozen riced cauliflower. I add it to smoothies, egg bakes, soups and stir fries,” says Janeiro, who adds that frozen veggies often come in at a fraction of the price of fresh produce.
Before you leave the freezer section, score some frozen fruit, which is great for making smoothies and simple desserts. “It’s perfect for throwing into the food processor with some of the canned coconut milk [also from ALDI] to make a quick and delicious after-dinner sorbet,” says Liz Westinghouse, RD, of Rooted Nutrition, LLC.
Fat is an important part of keeping your meals satisfying and your body and mind healthy. And ALDI is a treasure trove of well-priced, quality choices.
Janeiro praises their great quality, healthy oils, like extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil. If you’ve never cooked with avocado oil, it has a neutral taste and a higher smoke point than extra virgin olive oil, and it also contains heart healthy monounsaturated fats, according to Janeiro. Try it in meals that include flavors that might compete or contrast with extra virgin olive oil, such as your next stir fry or stack of pancakes.
Integrative and culinary dietitian Marisa Moore, RDN, stocks up on “good-sized bags of nuts and seeds.” Since nuts and seeds cost less at ALDI, you can buy a variety of these flavor- and crunch-boosters, which also add some fiber and protein to meals and snacks. “I buy walnuts, pecans and sunflower seeds at a great price,” she says.
Liz Shaw, MS, RDN, and author at Shaw Simple Swaps, goes for chia seeds, which she describes as the easiest way to get protein and healthy fat in your diet. Most people fall short of the 25-38 grams of fiber needed each day and chia seeds provide 11 grams in a two-tablespoon serving. That amount also supplies 6 grams of protein, which is the same that you’d get from a hard boiled egg. Chia seeds are also a good plant source of calcium, delivering 15% of the Daily Value. “We always keep a bag of the Simply Organic Chia Seeds in our refrigerator to toss on top of yogurt, mix into smoothies or sprinkle onto oats,” says Shaw.
All that fiber is a natural way to keep your GI system humming along and Shaw says chia seeds can help ease constipation. “Whenever my toddler has a change in her bowel movements, I like to incorporate a serving of chia seeds into her diet. This usually helps relieve her pain within a day or less,” she says.
>>Try this chia seed oatmeal recipe
Another winner among the nuts and seeds is ALDI Simple Nature Organic Creamy Peanut Butter. Shaw suggests primarily shopping for a nut butter with two ingredients (nuts and salt) over versions with extra sugar and other additives. “We go through a lot of peanut butter in my house because, not only is it a great plant-based source of protein, but it’s also a great ingredient to use in place of tahini in homemade hummus (another staple in my kitchen.)” Or just use it on your morning toast.
Yogurt and cheese
The dairy case can be a mix of both healthy foods and healthy pretenders (think: yogurts with excessive amounts of added sugars). RDs go for both the staples and some specialty items in this section of the market. For example, Moore likes the cheese selection at ALDI and says she likes “the Blueberry Vanilla Hand Rolled Goat Cheese Log for something special on snack and charcuterie boards.”
Janeiro opts for something more traditional: Parmesan cheese. “Healthy eating does not have to be bland! I love that when it comes to flavor, a little [Parmesan cheese] goes a long way,” she says. She also adds that hard cheeses, like Parmesan, tend to have a slightly higher protein content than soft cheeses, and they also contain micronutrients, like calcium.
ALDI plain non-fat Greek yogurt earns praise from Lisa Andrews, RD, and owner of Sound Bites Nutrition. “I love the full texture and tart taste of this yogurt. It pairs well with frozen fruit and a sprinkle of granola for breakfast. It’s seriously nutritious with just 100 calories, 18 grams of protein, zero sugar and 6 grams of carbs in a 3/4 cup serving.” You can also use the yogurt as a base for dips, in smoothies, and to create healthy desserts, like yogurt bark.
Healthy convenience foods
There’s a lot of nutrition advice RDs would prefer you ignore, and only shopping the perimeter of the store is advice you should forget. The inner aisles house canned and jarred gems, as well as other wholesome fare that can bring a lot of healthy convenience to meals.
Both Janeiro and Shaw are fans of ALDI pasta sauces. “Simply Nature Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce is my favorite sauce (and always in my pantry),” says Janeiro, adding that the simple ingredient list has no added oil or sugar, and a half cup serving contains a full serving of vegetables.
Shaw’s favorite sauce is the Simply Organic Marinara Pasta Sauce, which she also notes has no added sugar. Plus, it’s reasonable in sodium. “With 490 mg of sodium in a half cup serving, it’s nearly 20% less than some of the leading brands on the market. I like to cook this with a bag of spinach to get a nutrient-packed sauce to top whole grain pasta. It’s a great way to put dinner on the table in under 10 minutes without sacrificing flavor for price,” she says.
Westinghouse adds Journey to India Tikka Masala sauce to her ALDI haul. “I pair it with a can of ALDI chickpeas and frozen veggies over some brown rice and it’s such an easy and delicious meal. The tikka masala sauce is full of items like tomatoes for lycopene and lots of warming spices and herbs with a medium heat. I love that there are no ingredients that I don’t want in there,” she says.
Dakota’s Pride cannellini beans check a lot of boxes for Andrews. “I love that the cans used for these beans are non-BPA. They’re also inexpensive, convenient and versatile to use in multiple recipes. Beans are an excellent source of soluble fiber and plant-based protein. These are great for Mediterranean dishes,” she says.
“One of the best hidden gems are the Earthly Grains Quinoa Meals”, says Westinghouse. “I love the artichoke and roasted peppers option for an amazing lunch that is 260 calories, 8g protein and is extremely tasty with zero unwanted ingredients!”
Finally, Park Street Deli Individually Packaged Snacks are one of Grainger’s favorite ALDI foods and these snack packs would be great for putting together a light lunch or grabbing a snack on-the-run. “From a 6-count package of Red Pepper Hummus mini cups to the 3-count Snack Selects Snack Pack featuring sea salt roasted almonds, sharp white cheddar cheese and dried cranberries, to the Italian Recipe Snack Tray with prosciutto, provolone and breadsticks, these perfectly portioned snacks are ideal for on-the-go eating. Each snack-sized offering helps to keep portion control in check while offering a variety of high-quality nutritious foods,” she says.
MORE FROM SAMANTHA CASSETTY, RD
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