By Carrie Havranek
Have you heard of Lidl? The German-based chain set up its U.S. headquarters in Arlington, Virginia in 2017 and has been slowly creeping its way up and down the East Coast. Lidl (say it like “needle”) now runs more than 100 stores in 9 states. If you’re lucky enough to have one nearby, I highly recommend checking it out (if you haven’t already).
Why Lidl Is the Best Store You’re Not Shopping At
Like Aldi and Trader Joe’s, but smaller and easier to navigate, Lidl is full of private-label products as well as fresh, organic, and sustainable options at crazy-cheap prices. I’ve nabbed raspberries for less than $3, baby carrots for less than $1 a bag, salad greens of all stripes for $2 or less, and so on.
At Lidl, I can get in and get out faster than I would at another supermarket and I’m basically guaranteed to spend $50 on what would cost me $100 at Wegmans (I still love you, Wegmans). I can (and do) ask employees questions that they can (and do) answer them — and if they can’t, they’ll find someone who can. Half the time I end up talking to the store manager without even trying. I also love that even part-time employees at Lidl are eligible for medical benefits.
And, while Lidl does offer home delivery in more than 80 of its stores, there are ample self-checkout options, good, observable social distancing policies, and regular, visible cart-cleaning.
The only downside? Shopping at Lidl is similar to shopping at Marshalls or TJ Maxx: You’re assured bargains every time, but inventory is never guaranteed.
Still, Lidl offers a surprisingly-fun grocery experience that rewards the curious, thrifty shopper. Here are the 10 best things you should be buying.
10 Things You’ll Always Find in My Shopping Cart
1. Anything from the bakery, but especially everything bagels
Lidl has its own in-house bakery, where you can buy soft pretzels, rolls, and pastries, and put your loaf of bread into a slicer, DIY-style. The four-packs of bagels are $2.99 and the everything bagels are our favorites because the seasoning is in the bagel, not just on top of it. Genius!
2. Organic kombucha
Lidl’s brand offers limited flavors of kombucha, but great taste and great value (less than $3 per bottle). Sometimes they have seasonal or random overrun of GT’s booch, usually under $3 per bottle as well.
3. Organic tortilla chips
Available for $1.99 in blue, white, yellow corn, they’re just about perfect: not too thick, too breakable, or too salty. Lidl also offers an organic sweet potato tortilla chip that are almost too dangerously addictive for me to actually buy.
4. Sliced organic cheeses
Sliced organic cheeses are typically less than $4 for a half pound and between lunches and snacks, we’ll go through at least one a week.
5. Cultured, salted Irish butter
I buy this to use on bread, or to cook with, or to eat on bread while cooking.
Some combination of organic, cage-free, and humanely-raised, with certification easily displayed on the cartons, can regularly be purchased for less than $3 dozen.
7. Peanut butter
Lidl’s peanut butter (crunchy AND creamy) has no sugar added, and it’s easy to stir.
8. Earth-friendly dishwasher pods
Under $4 for 20. Unheard of!
9. Grass-fed beef
Grass-fed ground beef regularly goes on sale for under $4 a pound.
10. Sustainable salmon
A multi-pack of frozen sustainable salmon filets usually about $10. All the seafood is certified sustainable or responsibly farmed by MSC, ASC, or BAP.