Go Vegetarian on a Budget by Shopping at Aldi

When you go vegetarian you’d obviously want to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Buying more produce can prove itself expensive. Well, this all depends on where you shop.

I was shocked at how much money I was spending on fruit and vegetables when I first went vegetarian. That’s because I was doing all of my shopping at Publix, and sometimes at Whole Foods.

Until I was introduced to Aldi.

Aldi is a Germany based discount supermarket chain. They’ve been operating in Europe for decades, and operating in the US since the 1970’s. The company has grown to over 1500 stores in over 32 states. Eventually they may become a threat to Walmart, Target, Publix, Whole Foods, and even Trader Joe’s. Hopefully you have one near you.

I’ve been able to maintain my vegetarian diet on a budget by doing most of my shopping at Aldi. Aldi does not carry everything that I need so I still go to Publix for a few items. From Publix, I buy cage-free eggs (because I’m not yet vegan), chocolate soymilk, Arizona Iced Tea, and vegan meat.

Believe it or not, on those few items that I buy from Publix I can easily spend $30+ a visit.

I buy everything else from Aldi and I rarely go over $60. You read that right. From Aldi, I buy vegetables, fruits, cheese, coffee, creamer, ice cream, pasta, beans, rice, bread, frozen foods, and other snacks, and I rarely go over $60. That’s what I call shopping on a budget.

Just in case you don’t believe me, I did a price comparison over the span of 2 months (August to Sept 2016) between Aldi, Walmart, and Trader Joe’s. I chose Walmart because they are the discount superstore, and Trader Joe’s because I always hear people praising their prices.

Trader Joe’s is affordable when compared to Whole Foods, but not affordable when compared to other chains. Still, Trader Joe’s is a vegan’s paradise and no one can take that away from them.

I compared produce prices only which I will tell you why in a bit. Here are my findings:

Product Aldi Walmart Trader Joe’s
Not Organic
Garlic 3 oz .99 1.29
White Onions 2 lb 1.69 2.54 2.76 (4 at .69 each)
Sweet Onions 2 lb 1.69 1.96 2.76 (4 at .69 each)
Red Potatoes 5 lb 2.89 3.87 5.97 (1.79 for 1.5 lbs)
Yukon Gold Potatoes 5 lb 3.29 4.15 (2.49 for 3 lbs)
Sweet Potatoes 48 oz 1.99 2.94 2.54 (1.69 for 2 lbs)
Russet Potatoes 10 lb 3.89 4.54 7.63 (2.29 for 3 lbs)
Bananas per lb .29 .56 .76 (4 at .19 each)
Seedless Watermelon each 2.79 2.98 3.99
Gala Apples 3 lb 3.29 4.94 4.49 (2.99 for 2 lbs)
Plantains each .68 .33 .49
Mangoes each .49 .98 1.49
Honeydew each 1.79 2.98
Cantaloupe each 1.29 1.98 2.99
Broccoli Crowns 16 oz 1.79 1.84 3.05 (2.29 for 12 oz)
Cauliflower each 1.99 2.97 2.49
Cabbage each 1.29 2.04
Baby Carrots 16 oz .99 1.68 1.19 (1.79 for 24 oz)
Avocados each .89 .98 1.49
Tomatoes on the Vine 24 oz 2.19 2.15 (1.79 for 20 oz)
Grape Tomatoes 10 oz 1.79 2.58 1.68 (2.69 for 1 lb)
Portobello Mushroom Caps 6 oz 1.99 2.98 2.49
Baby Bella Mushrooms 8 oz 1.69 2.17 1.59 (1.99 for 10 oz)
White Mushrooms 8 oz 1.29 1.87 1.43 (1.79 for 10 oz)
Sweet Corn 20 oz 2.49 2.99
Yellow Squash 24 oz 1.99 2.67 3.44 (2.29 for 1 lb)
Zucchini 24 oz 1.99 2.67 2.65 (1.99 for 18 oz)
Radishes 16 oz .99 1.48
Green Beans 16 oz 2.19 1.98 2.79
Asparagus 16 oz 2.89 2.97 4.92 (3.69 for 12 oz)
Papaya each 2.49 2.56 3.29
Lemons 2 lb 3.19 2.98
Limes 16 oz .99 1.94 1.99
Pineapple each 2.09 2.98 2.99
Red Grapes 2 lb 1.58 1.98 7.98 (3.99 for 1 lb)
Nectarines 2 lb 2.79 3.36 2.99 (5.99 for 4 lbs)
Plums 2 lb 2.79 3.36 3.98 (1.99 for 1 lb)
Celery 1.39 1.68 1.99
Organic
Baby Carrots 16 oz .99 1.74 1.69
Bananas 1 lb 1.18 .68 1.69 (4 at .29 each)
Russet Potatoes 3lb 2.99 4.86 2.39 (3.99 for 5 lbs)
Grape Tomatoes 10 oz 2.99 2.49 (3.99 for 1 lb)
Avocados 4 pack 3.49 4.49

 

As you can see, Aldi prices are consistently lower than Walmart and Trader Joe’s. So, if you’re excuse for not going vegetarian is that it is expensive, you can throw your excuses out the window. You can go vegetarian on a budget!

Their prices are not lower because they are selling low quality, mystery products. Their prices are lower because they have a system in place to make it so.

Here are just a few things they do to keep prices low:

  • They do not hire cart pushers. You “rent” a shopping cart for a quarter, and you get the quarter back when you return the shopping cart. Of all the times that I’ve been at Aldi, I have never seen a shopping cart in the parking lot. People want their quarter back!
  • No paper or plastic. Bring your own reusable bags, or you can buy one at checkout.
  • Most product packaging has 2 bar codes so that the cashiers can scan quickly. This equals to less checkout lanes, and less cashiers. Hiring less keeps prices down for us, and allows them to pay their employees over the industry standard. I once overheard a cashier saying that her starting salary was $12 an hour.

Now, I am aware that vegetarians eat other things other than fruits and vegetables. There’s a reason why I compared only produce prices.

Aldi does not sell many brand name products; they sell Aldi brands. You are not going to find Aunt Jemima pancakes at Aldi, you will find Auntie Maples. Trader Joe’s does not sell brand names either, while Walmart sells all brand names. It would not be a fair price comparison, at least not in my opinion.

Aldi can be a vegetarian’s paradise in other ways aside from prices…

Most of their cheeses label what type of enzyme is used (animal rennet or vegetable/microbial rennet). If you don’t know what rennet is, then read this post on hidden animal ingredients. Also, check out this list of cheeses that don’t use animal rennet.

Aldi also responds quickly to customer demand. You can see on the price comparison table that the organic section is really short. Since I did the price comparison, I’ve noticed that the organic produce section has only gotten bigger as consumers demand more organic products.

They’ve also added organic Certified Humane cage-free eggs, but unfortunately it is a seasonal find. Their eggs will be 100% cage free by 2025.

Sometimes you can even find veggie burgers, and some vegan frozen meals. However, these are specialty items that they do not always carry.

Trader Joe’s will remain your paradise if you’re vegan. Aldi does not have many vegan options, but you can still save money by buying your produce from Aldi, and everything else from Trader Joe’s. That is what I plan to do when I take the plunge to veganism.

Are you an Aldi enthusiast like me? Share your Aldi love stories in the comments!

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