Heaven for me would be living on a blueberry farm. My love of blueberries started when I was a kid living in the Midwest. I remember my mom would take me and one or both of my brothers to a blueberry farm where we picked the luscious blue gems till we could pick no more. We only had to pay for what we brought back from the fields not for what ended up in our bellies. One summer goodness knows how many blueberries I ate in one day. Yet we still brought home a stash of 45 pounds.
Fortunately my love affair with blueberries continued. All fruit is nature’s candy but these succulent little blue squishy balls are a super great food. They contain a disease-fighting compound called anthocyanin—a phytochemical/nutrient—which gives them their beautiful rich blue color. They’re also a good source of another phytochemical—resveratrol also found in grapes and red wine.
I always have frozen berries in my freezer because they’re just not available year-round. Fresh ones are a treat but they can be pretty expensive when not in season.
Where I got my 34 pints for $40!
Unless—I find them on sale or available at one of my new favorite stores. No, not Whole Foods, Central Market, Sprouts, or Trader Joe’s. At this store you have to bag your own groceries—which I do anyway when I go to Kroger because no one does it better than me. Seriously. I am the master grocery-bagger. Paper, double-bagged. I can cram more into one bag and save dozens of the plastic ones. (Yes, I have my eco-friendly bags but I love the paper ones to put all my recyclable paper in.)
I bring my debit card or cash—they don’t take credit in order to keep costs down. If you want a cart be prepared to pay for it. But no worries, it’s a quarter and you get it back when you return it. Again, keeps costs down by not needing employees scouring the parking lot for carts. Genius. There has only been one cashier—always very pleasant—when I’ve gone so expect to stand in line. But boy is that cashier fast! The line goes quick.
So what grocery store am I talking about? ALDI. Wednesday the weekly flyer came out. Blueberries—$1.19 per pint. I was in blueberry heaven! I bought 34 pints for $40. Yes this photo only shows 33, because I had already eaten a pint.
A few weeks ago blueberries were available for $1.29 per pint. Never having bought them from ALDI I was hesitant—how good could they be? So I only bought a few. I was pleasantly surprised how big many were—and they were good. Really good. The next day I got more. A lot more. They’re almost gone. Ate a few pints and froze the rest. I also did some research on where these little jewels were coming from. The ones I bought Wednesday were actually from three different places.
If I was an organic freak and insisted on only eating organic—which I don’t—then I would be missing out on some incredible nutrient-rich delicacies. My $40 would have allowed me to buy only 7 pints (versus 34) at Whole Foods today. They’re $5.99 per organic pint. To their credit they’ve got a one day sale (today, Friday, June 27) for conventionally grown Texas berries at $1.99. I’ll go check them out!
Having worked as a clinical hospital dietitian at Parkland Memorial, Dallas’s county hospital, early in my career I had to learn to speak a language my patients could understand—budget-friendly. They didn’t have the luxury of shopping the high end stores with fancy organic produce. Plus, they didn’t need to—all fruits and veggies regardless organic or not are practically the best foods money can buy. I’ve yet to come across a research study where produce does not do the body good. Anyway I was just happy my patients ate a fruit or vegetable.
My blueberries would be really out of my reach—budget wise—if I only bought organic. Fortunately I don’t preach the only eat organic or something is wrong with you rule. And if anyone makes you feel badly because you don’t buy organic, ignore them and maybe find a new friend.
ALDI also had strawberries for $1.19 per pound. Love those too but my fridge and freezer are bleeding blue. And anyway, July is almost here and guess what that is? National Blueberry Month!
How do I eat my berries? Let me count the ways.
- By the handful (my favorite!)
- At night as a sweet treat—I’ll take a bowl of the frozen blue edible marbles and suck on them like candy
- Mixed into Greek nonfat yogurt with a little sweetener
- Mixed into cottage cheese with some Kashi® GOLEAN cereal and walnuts
- Blended into my favorite smoothie! (nonfat or 1% milk, berries, banana, handful of greens if I’m in the mood, maybe some whey protein powder, ice)
- Bowl of berries with milk (no almond or rice milk for me—I need the mega nutrition and protein from dairy milk)
- Added to oatmeal
- I used to love to bake but honestly (and obviously not modestly), I’m pretty darn good and ate too much of what I made so don’t do it much any more. However, feel free to make me a blueberry pie! I’ll eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Maybe I’ll share.
To be honest, ALDI won’t be my go-to store for everything—I’m still a die-hard Kroger girl and spread my grocery dollars around. But, being so convenient, I’ll keep my eye out for the great deals at ALDI and look forward to seeing you there! Warning: make sure when it comes to the fresh produce you get there quick—the secret’s getting out and those great deals can go quick! Let’s be trendsetters and make it the place cool folks like us go to save money.
Now tell me, how do you enjoy eating blueberries?
Jennifer “Neily” Neily, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Neily on Nutrition
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Wellcoach® Certified Health Coach
Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Photo credits: Neily on Nutrition
Website & blog: NeilyonNutrition.com
Twitter: twitter.com/JenniferNeily (@JenniferNeily)