The Topic: Less Frills, More Food
The Dish: There are quite a few things I'm nostalgic for when it comes to my hometown. Absence does make the heart grow fonder, especially for a Missouri native who is used to 100-degree summers, family cookouts, and discount groceries. Surprised food made it onto my list? You shouldn't be! A big piece of the Midwest puzzle that I miss is Aldi. While I love the deals at Trader Joe's, Aldi has a special place in my heart with its quarter-operated carts, five-cent shopping bags, and warehouse-like stacks of cheap, awesome, vegan-friendly staples.
While those unaccustomed might be thrown off by the locked-up carts (don't worry, you get your quarter back) and minimalist interior, it only takes one trip to get hooked on its inexpensive goods. Beyond what you'd expect to find at a typical mainstream grocer—fresh produce, canned goods, cereals, and so on—Aldi stocks veg essentials such as soymilk, vegan margarine, convenience foods, and even Boca burgers from time to time, all at really low prices. Most items I buy don't cost more than a couple bucks. Between the frozen fruit, off-brand granola bars, and dark chocolate, I'm pretty much set. I can easily fill a cart with an embarrassing amount of food and pay a fraction of what I would at one of the big stores. Oh, and don't forget to check out their skincare and beauty line, which isn't tested on animals.
As an added bonus, having to pay for paper bags is a pretty good incentive to remember and bring those reusable totes, don't you think?
Aldi also runs weekly specials on featured items, including kitchen appliances and housewares. Keep an eye on the ads, and grab a rice cooker if you get a chance (I also scored a small slow cooker for $10 once).
The Final Word: According to its website, they have more than 1,000 stores from Kansas to the East Coast. Check Aldi's store locator and see if you can count yourself among the lucky. In the meantime, I'll be writing a strongly worded letter in hopes of bringing one of my favorite chains to California.