Aldi foods you'll wish you had bought years ago

Aldi is a magical place. It may lack the flash and glamour of some of the other big-box stores, but the sheer quantity of high-quality goodies that are packed into each unassuming Aldi establishment is nothing short of enchanting. Add onto that their impressive prices and the fact that so many of their products come packaged in reasonable, not-so-bulk-sized options, and Aldi becomes the perfect option to feed anyone from that lone bachelor looking for a quick and easy meal, to the whole troop from Cheaper by the Dozen.

The only problem is finding which of those quality items are the best of the bunch. After all, while the Aldi commitment to minimalism is certainly laudable — and part of why those prices are so low! —  it does leave the place often looking like a 5-year-old child got loose in a warehouse and just ran around opening all of the boxes. That's why we've gone ahead and scouted out the absolute best items that you should be looking for tucked away on those shelves and buried in those boxes.

Simply Nature Sprouted 7 Grain Bread

Aldi has a great selection of breads that span the spectrum from sliced loaves of the classic, fluffy white stuff to hearty, grain-infused rolls that fill you up after a few mouthfuls. But the best option on the shelf is the Aldi Simply Nature Knock Your Sprouts Off Sprouted 7 Grain Bread. The perfect amalgam of health and value, this bread is loaded with clean ingredients. Most notably it's made with sprouted grain, which comes with some pretty nifty health benefits that most other processed flours can't offer, including more available nutrients.

Of course, this isn't the only place you can get sprouted grain products these days, but this Aldi option stands out for two reasons. First, its cheap! We're talking roughly $3 a loaf. The taste factor is a big deal as well. Getting a healthy replacement for a culinary staple can be a real let down if the new product doesn't hold up to the original. In this case, the bread is light and fluffy (for a seven-grain bread) and works well for everything from a good stuffing at Thanksgiving to a quick grilled cheese on a busy afternoon.

Barissimo Fair Trade Organic Peruvian Whole Bean Coffee

Aldi also has an impressive selection of their own coffees, providing a variety of choices in pod form, ground, and whole bean options. But if you're looking for a crowd pleaser (and you're willing to grind your own beans) the one you're going to want to nab next time you're walking the isles is their Barissimo Fair Trade Organic Peruvian Whole Bean Coffee. The beans are always fresh and filled with that mellow yet full-bodied flavor that is common with good Peruvian coffee. They also hold up to the best grocery store coffees you'll find elsewhere — and at half the cost. Seriously, a 12-ounce bag of these South American beauties comes in at under $5! To get quality coffee at that price is about as good as it gets.

Not only are the beans quality, though, they're also both organic and fair trade. So you can have peace of mind while you sit and sip your java each morning, knowing that your beans were sourced from coffee farms that both treat their laborers fairly and grow their beans without unnecessary chemicals. Hands down these beans are some of the most affordable, scrumptiously ethical ways to get your caffeine fix every morning.

Specially Selected Mango Peach Salsa

Ah, salsa, the nectar of the gods. It's good for everything from dipping tortilla chips to huevos rancheros. But the truth is, after a while even something as delectably overloaded with flavor as a good salsa can start to get old. That's why we love this Specially Selected Mango Peach Salsa from Aldi. It takes the enticing savor of a quality salsa and adds a few special new players into the game.

Along with a wonderful cast of vintage ingredients like tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and jalapeño peppers, this tasty treat throws mangoes and peaches into the fray. The newcomers bring a distinct flair of sweetness that interplays with the savory ingredients in a way that is impressively complimentary, with neither the sweet nor the savory elements dominating the flavor combo. Once you've tried it, it's tough going back to the "plain stuff," and chances are it will quickly become a new weapon in your culinary arsenal that can radically revolutionize everything from grabbing a quick snack to that famous chicken dish your grandmother used to make.

Carlini Ghee Clarified Butter

Ghee has been a rising star in the health food circuit for a while now, serving as a great cooking fat, a stand-in as a spread on your toast, and a versatile, creamy substitute for a plethora of other buttery needs. The clarified butter phenomenon has a host of great benefits, stores well, and has an impressive resume that boasts numerous uses in the kitchen.

But getting your hands on halfway decent ghee at a good price can be a little tricky. That's why we were "udderly ghee-ful" when we found Aldi's Carlini Ghee Clarified Butter. The revolutionary ingredient comes in small, affordable jars and, as is the case with so many of Aldi's foods, is as high in quality as it is low in price. So the next time you're getting out that Vitamix to whip up a cup of bulletproof coffee, before you pull out the Kerrygold you may want to try swapping in a couple tablespoons of this heavenly butter substitute instead.

Choceur Milk Hazelnut Block Chocolate

Who doesn't love sitting back at the end of the day with some wine, tea, or coffee in one hand …and a piece of chocolate in the other? But, of course, there's a big difference between a great piece of chocolate and a Hershey bar that's good for little more than sandwiching into a s'more. That's why Aldi's gourmet chocolate selection is an absolute must for this list, and in particular, we want to highlight their Choceur Milk Hazelnut Block Chocolate. This epicurean candy bar is made of smooth milk chocolate and comes loaded with whole, roasted hazelnuts to boot!

One bite of this delicious chocolate bar (or anything else from their chocolate selection, really) and you'll never go back to the big brand names in the checkout aisle at you local grocery store again. Hershey who? 

Friendly Farms Strawberry Low Fat Kefir

From propping up your gut health to loading up on nutrients, there are a lot of benefits to drinking kefir on a regular basis. However, just like so many other health fads, the attention that kefir has been getting has made it a specialty item that often comes along with an inflated price tag. That's where Aldi once again swoops in to the rescue with their Friendly Farms Strawberry Low Fat Kefir.

This deliciously flavored "elixir of youth" isn't just an incredibly rich, competitively priced yogurt alternative, it's also 99 percent lactose-free and has 12 active probiotic cultures, which makes it as great a natural probiotic option as you can find on the grocery store shelves these days. Aldi's clever ability to provide their offer in just the right sizes also shines once again with this one, too, as they offer a larger 32oz option, as well as smaller single-serve containers that are perfect for anyone looking for a quick and healthy snack on the go.

Happy Farms Preferred Brie Cheese Round

Right along with their elite coffee and chocolate treasures, Aldi also has Happy Farms Preferred Brie Cheese. If you're a fan of brie, you need to try this one. It's a showstopper. We couldn't believe it was coming from a simple grocery store chain, as it easily compares to higher-end, elite bries, even though it yet again comes with an incredibly low price tag.

This unpresuming Aldi specialty is modestly mild and incredibly smooth and creamy. Whether you're a fan of using your brie as a dessert with berries, cutting it up on a baguette, or just slapping it between a couple of crackers, there's no doubt that this one is worth considering the next time you're looking for a fancy cheese to spruce up that appetizer platter. And speaking of cheeses that are worth their weight in gold, this happens to be one of a whole host of different Aldi gourmet cheeses available! From Asiago and Havarti to elite cheddars and Parmesans, Aldi's specialty cheese selection is nothing short of impressive, with many of the options coming not just from cow but also sheep and goats milk. All are provided in reasonably-sized portions that make throwing together an appetizer as easy as pie … or in this case, cheese!

Simply Nature Freeze Dried Strawberries

Fruit is a perfect addition to anything from a dessert to a salad, breakfast, or just a snack to hold you over until dinner. The problem is getting it fresh, especially as the supply ebbs and flows throughout the year. That's why Aldi's SimplyNature Freeze Dried Strawberries made it on this list. It's no secret that freeze drying is an effective way to preserve food for a long time, even longer than traditional dehydration methods, and in this case, Aldi has harnessed the freeze-drying technique to produce a product that is as versatile as it is long lasting.

These freeze-dried berries are perfect as a convenient snack that works just as well for either kids or adults. They also are the perfect solution if you want something quick and easy to add into your next batch of homemade trail mix, or onto your morning granola or oatmeal. They're an affordable way to have a fruity option available at all times no matter what the season. Just remember to watch out for those powdery, freeze-dried crumbs at the bottom of the bag!

Simply Nature Organic Chipotle Ranch Dressing

Ranch Dressing. It's the reason Cool Ranch Doritos are better than the original, it's a killer dip for veggies (and your pizza crusts!), and its many uses are all around as diverse as you could hope for from a dressing! That's why the Simply Nature Organic Chipotle Ranch Dressing is such a big deal. This appetizing bottle of flavor-infused sauce comes with a kick that can be the perfect addition to a variety of meals, whether you're adding it onto a salad, pouring it over chicken, or using it simply as a dip.

This one also comes marked under Aldi's Simply Nature label, which is reserved for any products that are organic or Non-GMO Project verified. This means it comes sans any other unnecessary ingredients. From the spicy kick to the organic label, this dressing is a perfect blend of busy flavors and healthy ingredients that make it a must for the shopping list of any Aldi aficionado.

Specially Selected Sockeye Salmon Fillets

Have you seen the price of salmon these days? It's outrageous! That's what makes this next one such a great find. Typically coming in at a paltry $4 per pound, Aldi's Specially Selected Sockeye Salmon Fillets are premium center cuts from wild-caught Alaskan Sockeye Salmon that come boneless with the skin still on. Each one is individually vacuum wrapped and frozen, so you don't have to worry about them going bad within days of being purchased either. But despite the freezing process, once these bad boys are thawed, you'd never guess they'd been frozen in the first place. They retain their flavor beautifully!

Whether you're a fan of broiling, sauteing, or grilling your fish, these salmon fillets are versatile, store well, and are still delectable when they're cooked up. They're especially nice to have on hand whenever you're feeling like a nice piece of salmon would go well with that glass of white wine you're craving, but you're not feeling up for a trip out to the supermarket for the fresh stuff.

Simply Nature Exotic Vegetable Chips

When you find a way to both get your daily serving of vegetables and answer that junk food craving at the same time, it can sound too good to be true. But that really is the honest truth when it comes to Simply Nature Exotic Vegetable Chips. Once again marked with that Simply Nature badge, these chips are Non-GMO Project verified, delivering the ethical standard of a growing method that hasn't been overly tampered with.

But, while the ethics line up, that doesn't mean you need to choke these down in order to get your veggies in for the day. These chips are as tasty as it gets! Made with a variety of nutrient-rich vegetables including sweet potatoes, taro, parsnips, and batata, these "earthier" chips are a tremendous upgrade from the greasy, starchy potato chip option. And we aren't just talking about snobby expert opinions delivered to us by a scientist in a white lab coat, either. This one proudly sports the "Fan Favorite" label, as it's continued to remain wildly popular with Aldi customers over time. If you're looking for a savory snack option that won't break the bank or leave you with greasy fingers and feeling sick to your stomach, these are worth consideration.

Appleton Farms Never Any! Hickory Bacon

You saw this one coming, right? Any "best of" list that's worth its salt is going to include something about bacon. But even within the world of bacon, Aldi's Appleton Farms Never Any! Hickory Bacon stands out as a king among princes. This specialty product comes backed up by Aldi's Never Any! guarantee, a label that is USDA certified and confirms that the meat has been grown with no antibiotics, added hormones, or steroids and that the animals have been raised on a vegetarian diet.

This Never Any! Bacon, in particular, also comes with the added benefit of no artificial ingredients, a guarantee of minimal processing, and the claim that there are "no nitrites or nitrates added except naturally occurring in sea salt and celery powder." This is an impressive list of health-focused accolades for a food that already has so much going for it in the taste department. Add it all together and what you get is a product that is as elite in quality and taste as it is affordable — it usually comes in around $5 a pound. It's an Aldi home run all day long.

Specially Selected Deluxe Mixed Nuts with Sea Salt

If you're a nut for a quality snack at a good price, you're going to want to check out Aldi's Specially Selected Deluxe Mixed Nuts with Sea Salt. Nuts are a great snack for all and sundry, enjoying widespread popularity among both the health fanatics as well as those to whom being in shape is as foreign as their imported Peruvian organic coffee. But even if you're a fan of a good nut mix, you still want to find one that has the right blend of nuts — in other words, one that doesn't flood the mix with a bunch of low-quality peanuts.

Right along with so many other Aldi products, this gourmet blend is priced low and comes with a solid supporting cast of premium quality ingredients including hazelnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, cashews, and almonds. While Aldi portion sizes are so often on the smaller side of things, in this case, we're more impressed by the overall larger size of the container. Coming in at a whopping 30 ounces, this one will keep you stocked to the hilt with a solid supply of affordable gourmet nuts that you can keep stashed away as a snack for virtually any kind of company that might drop in for a visit.