I <3 Lidl

Lidl is a German grocery store chain that recently started opening stores in the U.S. Specifically, they’re starting in North Carolina and Virginia and there’s one not far from my house.

Before I tell you more, I’m going to let you know that I love grocery stores. Growing up my extended family owned and operated grocery stores and I worked in grocery stores as a teenager. The first time I went to California I called my family from Safeway because I couldn’t wait to tell them how cool it was. I even sent them photos of the store’s walk-in wine cooler. I have tourist photos of grocery stores. I mean business, people.

I’ve tried to include photos here, but didn’t take photos in the busiest spots of the store. I didn’t want to be that weird stranger taking random photos of people.

I love Lidl. Lidl is the baby that Target and Aldi would have if they hooked up. It’s well-organized, has great prices on store-brands, and competitive prices on name brands. It sells a huge variety of stuff in a small space. The quality of produce and meat is top notch and the bakery, oh, the bakery. Well, I’ll tell you about that now…

Bakery
The bakery sales breads, donuts, sweet pastries, savory pastries (think mini-pizzas with veggie toppings) and bagels. It’s basically a “serve yourself” bakery, so you grab a paper bag and grab your own items from gigantic bread boxes. You can also use their bread slicing machine which is like magic and proof that Lidl has enough faith in humanity that they think we can handle the decision of bread slice thickness. *fist bump to Lidl*

Meat/Seafood/Dairy…Cheese and the perfect Charcuterie Platter
I find that the quality of the meat, seafood, and dairy items are pretty good. We’ve had a roast and salmon from Lidl that were awesome, ribs that were so-so. The manchego that comes in at about $3 a pound is a bit drier than most manchego I’ve had, but it’s still delish and who am I to belittle a perfectly good cheese?

They also have a wide variety of packaged meats and cheeses that is better than most other grocery stores. You can create an epic meat and cheese platter…or if you want to get fancy, call it charcuterie. Some veggies, a good piece of bread, cheese, meat… I’m getting hungry.

Personal Care and Home Care
They have a limited quantity of personal and home care items. Store brand dish soap, clothing soap, hand soap. Household cleaners, feminine products, hygiene items like cotton swabs, baby items like shampoo, diapers, and wipes. Some of these things are name brands, others are store brand. I’ve found the quality of all the Lidl brand products in this category to be great.

Surprises!
Surprises only last until the store runs out. In any given week you’ll find items ranging from cycling jerseys to coffee makers to plant stands to dish sets. The prices are fair and the items are a mix of name brand and Lidl brand. I’m still mourning an adorable tiered plant stand I didn’t get because I waited too long!

Produce
Produce at Lidl is competitive with local brands and is often from the same sources used by other local grocers. They don’t have a huge variety, but everything is fresh and you can pick up most of what you might need for a week’s worth of meals.

Specialty Foods
In the last month or so my area Lidl has been stocking up on Italian foods – yummy cookies, unique pastas, you name it. It seems like this is cyclical, so maybe at a different time there will be German or Greek delicacies, for instance.

Beer and Wine
The beer and wine section is HUGE! And the prices are very fair. Lidl doesn’t carry overly expensive bottles of wine, but they take care to cover all price points. I’ll let the photo do the talking!

Definitely, check out Lidl when it comes to your neighborhood! It’s fantastic and I think it will change the way Americans grocery shop.

All Lidl photos by me. Featured photo of awesome food spread by Anastasia Zhenina on Unsplash

Freezer case of awesomeness at Lidl
Amazing beer and wine selection

 

Support your local farmers. Be lazy.

Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

In almost every place we’ve ever lived, I’ve signed us up for the local CSA or, Community Supported Agriculture, cooperative. Here in North Carolina, we belong to the Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative. A CSA allows participants to pay a weekly, monthly, or seasonal fee to become a shareholder, of sorts, at a farm, or multiple farms. In return for your fee you get a box of fresh fruits and veggies from local farmers each week. Sometimes you even get bread, jams or jellies, and sweets. In most places the fee starts at around $24-$30 a week, which is pretty darn fair if you tend to eat a lot of fresh food.

Here are four of my reasons for joining the co-op.

I like to sleep in.
Farmers markets are nice, but dear Lord, must they all start at 7 am? I just can’t do that. I’m barely functional by 9 and let’s face it, if you don’t get to a farmers market early, there’s almost nothing left after the first couple hours. My CSA box allows me to sleep in and I get to pick it up from the local coffee shop between 5 and 7 PM on Thursdays. Late pick up, coffee, fresh veggies. Win. Win. Win. Zzzzz.

I want to garden, but I just don’t.
I’m an intern master gardener. It means I’m not quite a master gardener because I haven’t finished my volunteer hours yet. I love gardening. I do want to garden, but I don’t. I have a few sad tomato plants that are neglected. I’m chasing kids and trying to work and and and…so, hellllloooo CSA. All the healthy benefits of a garden (lovely veggies, fruits, etc.), none of the watering or bug bites.

I’m a little bit lazy.
I like to really look over my food at the store, see what’s in season, review the prices, check the quality, see what’s “Clean 15” or “Dirty Dozen” or organic. But there are days when I’m trying to balance life stuff and I just grab stuff and don’t check and the next thing I know I have four rotten tomatoes because they were already starting to turn at the store but I didn’t notice. With a CSA, you get things at the peak of ripeness, so no more rotting food. And if you join a CSA featuring organic farmers, then you don’t have to worry about looking for organic labels or “Clean 15” items.

I like pretending I own a farm.
When you join a CSA, you become a part of a community, and most of the CSAs we’ve belonged to have held community events. Farm tours, community meals made of farm-fresh products, and even chances to volunteer to pack weekly boxes. It’s a fun chance to check out farms, meet the people who grow your food, and just hang out with people who like food as much as you do. And, during farm tours I daydream about my own super amazing future farm, because, a girl can dream, right?

Are you a member of a CSA? What are your reasons for joining?