Growing up I remember hating ALDI. My parents shopped there from time to time and I was convinced that all their food tasted like cardboard and was cheaply made. My siblings and I could always pinpoint what was “ALDI food” versus what was “real food” without even checking the labels.

Fast forward nearly two decades and I still feel justified in my feelings towards ALDI back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. I mean… it really was not very good. However, as many things in life tend to do, ALDI has come full-circle for me, although in a different way than I imagined. Ironically, ALDI has become my favorite store!

Making your meal plan? Be sure to plan a shopping trip to ALDI, the grocery store that's the answer to clean eating on a budget. Don't know what to buy at ALDI? They carry gluten-free, organic, and paleo diet friendly options. Click to read all of @baconsonabudget's ALDI secrets and the trick to eating healthy on a budget on @realfooddiet

Before I go any further, I realize that ALDI still carries a stigma with many people for being “cheap quality.” If ALDI has left a bad taste in your mouth because of this, please hear me out in this article. I used to be an ALDI-hater, too. Yet, they have made enormous strides over the past few years in upping the quality of their products while keeping them affordable. In fact, two years ago when we switched from our regular grocer to ALDI, our grocery bill was cut in half (literally; no exaggeration).

The ultimate reason why I love ALDI so much is because it allows our family to eat healthy while sticking to our budget.

As much as I love the experience of shopping at Whole Foods, we just simply cannot afford it. That’s why ALDI is our family’s answer to clean eating on a budget. Here’s why it can be for you, too:

1. ALDI brand products are clean and affordable.

As of 2016, Aldi has removed all artificial dyes, added MSG, and partially hydrogenated oils from their foods.

As of late last year, ALDI has removed all of these from its exclusive “ALDI” brand products (which are over 90% of its products!). Certified synthetic colors have been replaced with natural, plant-based ingredients such as beet juice or turmeric. 96% of Aldi’s products already did not contain additional MSG; this percentage is now up to 100%. Partially hydrogenated oils, or PHOs, are a source of trans fat which the FDA has recently mandated be removed by food manufacturers by 2018. Aldi is ahead of the game! Here is Aldi’s official press release announcing the above mentioned official product reformulations.

2. ALDI carries an extensive line of both gluten-free and USDA organic approved items.

ALDI’s “liveGfree” brand offers tons of gluten-free options. From pancake mix to frozen items to pasta to dessert items, there really is a surprisingly wide variety of extremely reasonably priced gluten free items, which can be browsed here.

Aldi is also adding more and more organic products to their “SimplyNature” (organic) line. They carry USDA approved organic almond butter, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, canned goods, fresh greens, salsa, chicken broth, and many more organic items. And the best part is, most of these items are a fraction of the cost compared to other places!

ALDI also has an organic produce section, as well as a selection of produce grown by local farmers (which I really appreciate)! However, be warned that their produce section can be very hit-or-miss. Produce is one item that I occasionally will buy elsewhere.

3. ALDI now sells a line of meat without preservatives, hormones, or artificial flavoring at a budget-friendly price.

In addition to already having grass-fed ground beef, ALDI recently launched its “Never any!” brand. Some of the brand’s features include: no antibiotics (ever!), animals that are 100% vegetarian-fed and raised humanely with no added hormones or steroids, and Grade A meat that’s fresh and never frozen!

A question I hear asked often is if ALDI carries cage-free eggs. I recently learned that as of the end of 2016, every store will! This is the company’s first step toward transitioning to a shell egg supply chain that is 100 percent cage-free by 2025. Love it! You can read the press-release here.

All in all, ALDI is a great option for those trying to eat healthy while still sticking to a budget. There is even a grocery rebate app that can be used at ALDI to save even more!  If you haven’t given ALDI a chance in the last year or two, I hope you will. In the worst case scenario, if you aren’t satisfied with the product you try, they will not only refund you for the item, but they will replace it, too, with their Double Guarantee policy!

For our family, ALDI has been a life-saver. Being able to put good food on our table without breaking the bank is by far the best of both worlds.

The article was submitted by Mallory Bacon of Bacons on a Budget.