When we go on trips, my family likes to stay at cabins or rental houses that have kitchens equipped with a stove, fridge, microwave, and basic cookware and dishes. Besides the benefit of having extra space versus a single hotel room, we have the means to cook our own meals rather than eating at restaurants, and that saves us money. Even if we pay more to stay in a house with multiple rooms versus a hotel room, when we do the math we usually come out ahead financially because eating out for every meal adds up quickly in a family with kids.
Of course, if we’re cooking away from home, that means we need to purchase groceries somewhere. For shorter trips, we pack a cooler at home and unload it in our rental’s refrigerator. But for longer trips, we often do some grocery shopping on location. Being longtime Aldi fans, the discount grocer is our preferred place to stock up on vacation food.
Aldi does not have a presence everywhere in the United States, but if you’re travelling in the East, Midwest, or parts of the South, you’re likely to have an Aldi store nearby. You can use the store locator feature on Aldi’s website to see which states have Aldi stores, but most of the time we simply use Google to plot a course to Aldi from our vacation lodgings. Or we add Aldi as a stop on our route immediately before arriving at our rental house or cabin.
My husband and I have discovered several advantages to shopping at Aldi while travelling:
- Uniformity. Because we’re already familiar with Aldi, we know what foods we’re going to find in pretty much any Aldi store, from “red bag chicken” to ready-to-heat breakfast sandwiches. This makes it easy to plan a vacation menu using all-Aldi products. And while store layouts aren’t always identical, they’re usually similar enough to make things easy to find.
- Efficiency. Our familiarity with Aldi also means we have a general idea of where things are going to be located in any store, so we don’t have to spend a lot of time searching an unfamiliar store for the coffee creamer or pasta sauce. The small size of Aldi stores also means that we can get in and out quickly and get on with our vacation fun.
- Access to Aldi Finds. If cargo space in our vehicle allows, we can still nab weekly Aldi Finds and not worry about missing out on a coveted item because it sold out while we were out of town. We bought an alarm clock with USB charging at Aldi while we were on vacation and staying at an Airbnb in Virginia during the summer of 2019. We bought a Star Wars t-shirt for one of our kids a few summers ago at a Midwest Aldi just off the highway on our way home from a family reunion. Also, during normal years, we make several trips to visit my out-of-state relatives, and we often pick up Aldi Finds from their local Aldi. During the holiday season in 2019 while we stayed with my parents, we purchased a soft weight plate set, kettle bells, and girls’ and ladies’ boots from their Aldi.
When we shop at out-of-town Aldi stores for vacation food, we tend to plan simple meals that don’t require a lot of time or equipment to make. Rental houses and cabins tend to have basic cookware (pizza pans or baking sheets, sauce pans, and skillets) but not always a lot of it, so we don’t want fussy meals that require more than a couple of pots and pans or utensils.
We stick with things from Aldi like:
- Entrees that bake or microwave in their own packaging, including lasagna or Salisbury steak
- Pasta, meatballs, and jarred sauce
- Quesadillas made with flour tortillas, shredded cheese, jarred salsa, and diced meat (shrimp, chicken, beef)
- Tacos with tortillas, crunchy shells, taco seasoning, ground beef or ground turkey, and whatever other toppings you want
- Frozen pizza or take-and-bake pizza
- Crispy chicken strips or chicken nuggets (along with condiments such as ketchup and honey mustard)
- Breaded chicken breasts or chicken patties and hamburger buns or brioche buns for making sandwiches
- Easy Chinese takeout-style food (orange chicken, egg rolls, etc.)
- Bagged salad (our favorites include chopped salad kits and Caesar salad)
- Frozen French fries or tator tots
- Instant mashed potatoes or seasoned rice
- Chips or crackers
- Fresh fruit (apples, oranges, bananas, etc.)
- Fresh veggies (broccoli, peppers for slicing, carrot sticks, etc. and dip if desired)
- Lunchmeat, tuna, cheese, bread, and mustard or mayo for sandwiches
- Lunch kits (the Aldi version of Lunchables)
- Corn dogs
- Frozen White Castle burgers
- Salad bowls
- Microwavable breakfast sandwiches
- Eggs for scrambling (we usually pick up a small tub of butter to grease the skillet, and some shredded cheese to sprinkle on top)
- Sausage patties
- Toaster tarts (the Aldi version of Pop Tarts)
- Cereal and milk
- Granola bars
- Toast or bagels
- Fresh fruit
Now, there isn’t always an Aldi nearby when we travel. Sometimes our cabin or rental house is in a remote area and we shop at whatever store we can find. And of course, Aldi is not in every U.S. state. But when Aldi is there, it’s a great place to get good meals on a budget while we’re away from home.
Do you shop at Aldi when you go on road trips or on vacation? Share your Aldi travel tips in the comments.