When I heard that my hometown was going to be one of the locations for the new chain of German supermarkets, Lidl, I was definitely looking forward to checking it out. I live in Spartanburg, SC, and we are not without a great selection of grocery stores (think: Walmart, Target, Costco, Publix, Ingles, the Fresh Market, and Aldi). Would this new kid on the block be enough to win my business on a consistent basis?
See, I watch prices to the penny on most everything. I'm a nutritionist, writer, and food blogger who eats a whole-foods plant-based diet, so I can easily spend a fortune at the store on organic fruits and veggies, two of my biggest must-have items that I buy a lot of each week.
I went to Lidl with an open mind to see how all kinds of items would match up to other stores, regardless of whether the items were healthy or not. I was pleasantly surprised on many levels, which is how I came up with these two lists of what to buy at Lidl and what not to buy at Lidl.
Note: Keep in mind, prices will differ depending on the area you're from, but I've compared my lists to the lowest prices available in my area, which are almost always at Walmart.
The Top 5 Things to Buy at Lidl
1. Fresh Veggies
Broccoli, carrots, spinach, romaine lettuce, you name it. Lidl has a great veggie wall, as I like to call it, with all of the typical vegetables you see sold in stores. Lidl's vegetables are extremely well-priced and most of them are better quality than other local stores. I didn't see anything for more than it would cost anywhere else, and some items were even cheaper. What really made these stand out to me was the fact that at least half of these items were organic and still lower than other stores' conventional produce prices. The veggie wall alone would be make Lidl worthy of a weekly stop, especially for a larger family trying to eat healthy foods on a tight budget.
2. Organic Sweet Potatoes
Yes, I know that organic sweet potatoes count as fresh veggies, but this deal was so good that I felt like it needed its own entry. I love sweet potatoes, and organic ones are actually hard to find in my area. So when I saw a three-pound bag for $3.99 at Lidl, I immediately put one in my cart. I try to eat organic produce as much as I can, and this same amount would have easily costs me $8 or $10 at Whole Foods and at least $5 at Walmart for conventional sweet potatoes.
3. Pineapples, Bananas, Avocados, and Other Fresh Fruit
I usually buy at least two pineapples a week. They cost right around $3 at most stores where I live, or $2.50 when they're on sale. For $1.99 at Lidl, this was a good buy, especially since these were Dole pineapples!
Lidl also had a great price on organic bananas with prices lower than all the other stores in my area, including Walmart and Target. I use these to make smoothies every day and non-dairy ice cream, so this was a fantastic find. The rest of the fresh fruit at Lidl was also very well-priced, including tomatoes, organic avocados, peppers, peaches, apples, lemons, and fresh berries.
While I wasn't sure if these spices would be better than familiar name brands, the low prices alone made me purchase them and give them a try. The verdict: They weren't worse than the other, more expensive stuff! These are a bargain for families, single adults who cook a lot, or college students on a tight budget.
5. Medjool Dates
My favorite finds! I use Medjool dates to naturally sweeten everything from smoothies to oatmeal and even use them to make raw brownies and raw cookies. They're also great to snack on by themselves. However, anyone who loves Medjool dates knows they're not cheap (unless you buy them at Costco where they're a steal). For just $4.99 for a pound at Lidl, these were a fantastic find that would be worth going back for. They were also really fresh and even Project Non-GMO Verified!
Other Things to Buy at Lidl
- Chocolate (including organic and dark options)
- Frozen veggies
- Non-dairy milk
- Baking cocoa powder
- Organic maple syrup
- Organic pasta
- Organic applesauce
Top 5 Things to Skip at Lidl
1. Name-Brand Cereal
It's definitely not worth it to shop at Lidl if you're going to stick to name-brand shelf items, such as cereal. I'm sure Lidl carries name-brand items like this for convenience, but you could save a lot more money by purchasing them at savings stores like Walmart or Target. Name-brand cereals at Lidl were much more expensive per ounce than at other stores, and even the generic cereal prices weren't impressive.
Also, one thing I did find strange was that there wasn't any basic oatmeal or whole-grain hot cereals, which is another not-so-great feature about the cereal selection at Lidl.
2. Peanut Butter (Regular and Organic)
I wanted to love the natural organic peanut butter finds at Lidl, but sadly, they were actually more expensive than Whole Foods' name brand. Lidl also carried several name brands of peanut butter that were either the same as other stores or pennies more. Lidl also has their own generic brand of peanut butter, but it was just a penny less than generic name brands of other stores' peanut butter.
3. Milk and Dairy
I had heard Lidl has great prices on organic non-dairy milk, and because I only use non-dairy milk, I couldn't wait to see for myself. However, I discovered that their selection of both non-dairy items was very small and they were completely out of the unsweetened kind that I use. Their name brands of dairy milk products were also not cheaper than other stores in my area, nor were their name-brand yogurt products, which my family eats.
The snack department was also lacking at Lidl. They had some basic generic granola and cereal bars, but the selection was sparse and there were definitely no nutritious options or well-known brands for me to compare prices to. They did, however, have a small bulk nut section that looked very fresh. However, their prices weren't any better than other stores' bulk bins in my area.
If you enjoy buying and trying different wines, Lidl has a huge selection of lower-priced, off-brand wines to choose from, although I didn't recognize any well-known name brands of wine found in other stores. If you have a favorite pinot, you might be happier finding it elsewhere. If you're into trying new things and want to see how Lidl's wines match up to your favorite, feel free to explore!
What do you think? If you've been to Lidl, what are your top five must-have items and top five skip-it items?