I admit it: It took me a while before I stepped foot in an Aldi for the first time, despite the fact that I live less than a mile from one. And that's a total shame. I had been worried that the store was full of unhealthy, processed foods. As soon as I walked inside, though, I understood what all the hype was about. Aldi is clean, very well laid out, and chock-full of healthy products that carry the store's generic brand logos.
Now, Aldi is one of my favorite grocers to visit and there are certain items I always look for when I go. Here are my top five healthy picks that are all less than $5.
1. Whole-Grain Breakfast Cereals
I'm incredibly choosy when it comes to nutritious breakfast staples. There are two reliable things I look for no matter where I go: whole-grain oats and plain, 100 percent shredded wheat cereal (without sugar, salt, or other ingredients).
Both options are easy to pair with fresh or frozen fruit, non-dairy milk, and a tiny touch of sweetener of choice, plus some cinnamon to taste. Aldi has a huge container of quick oats (and steel-cut varieties) for less than $3, while the same-sized container of a popular name brand costs twice as much at Walmart.
Aldi's shredded wheat cereal is also a steal! It contains no sugar, salt, or artificial ingredients of any kind, and it's made with 100 percent whole-grain wheat, making it fiber-rich and great for heart health. Plus, it's less than $2!
2. Coffee, $3.67 for 12 ounces
The coffee is another popular pick from Aldi, and it's easy to understand why. Aldi has an incredibly well-priced selection of a variety of coffees. I love that it's fair-trade certified and also comes in a variety of roasts, so there are options for everyone (I tend to like those that are light and medium).
3. Dark Chocolate, $1.95 for 4.4 ounces
Aldi's 70 and 85 percent dark chocolate are must-try treats for less than $2. The 85 percent dark chocolate (my personal pick) is also vegan and contains no milk products. These chocolate bars are also free of artificial ingredients, low in sugar, and made with high-quality cacao.
While I'm not sure what high-end brand these chocolate bars are supposed to be comparable to (although I do have some suspicions), they're definitely perfect bargain-friendly treats to keep around when you're in the mood for a healthier chocolate treat. Antioxidants!
4. Almond Butter, $4.49 for 12 ounces
What I love about this product isn't the fact it's less than $5 (although that is a bonus) but that the only ingredient is dry-roasted almonds, which is nearly unheard of for cheap nut butter products. While Costco also carries a massive jar of plain almond butter that I recommend trying out, Aldi's 12-ounce jar of plain almond butter is a great option to keep around if you don't plan on eating a lot of almond butter.
In more almond news, Aldi also carries organic unsweetened almond milk, which is also always on my list. It contains no sugar, is carrageenan-free, and is near perfect for those who don't consume cow's milk. It's also organic and less than $3, making it a must-try, even if you're someone who is typically brand loyal like I am.
5. Organic Produce
While not all of Aldi's produce products are cheaper than other stores per pound, most of their organic options are. Some great picks are organic bananas, oranges, apples, lettuce/greens, carrots, red potatoes, and even Medjool dates, which are all less than $5 for big bunches (or containers) at my Aldi.
What are your favorite healthy finds at Aldi? Tell us in the comments below!