ALDI isn’t your typical grocery store. Founded in Germany, this chain now has more than 2,000 stores in the U.S. and offers a no-frills shopping experience. You have to bring your own shopping bags and pay 25 cents to use a shopping cart (you get your quarter back when you return your cart). Plus, ALDI stores carry only the most commonly purchased grocery items, and most of them are exclusive ALDI brands. By carrying only the essentials, with a limited selection of each, the ALDI stores are much smaller than the competition.
Still, the store has a faithful following and gets favorable reviews from the experts.
“One of the unique features about shopping at ALDI is their in-house branded products that are comparable to name-brand counterparts,” said Rebecca Gramuglia, consumer expert at TopCashback.com. “From snacks to cereal, you can find these generic products at a lower price. In addition, their in-house imported brands have products that you may not find at regular grocery stores. For example, ALDI’s in-house German brand, Deutsche Küche, sells items like specialty frozen foods; non-perishable goods, like jarred sauerkraut; and chocolates around the holidays.”
GOBankingRates asked money-saving experts who are frequent ALDI shoppers to share what to buy and avoid at this discount grocer. We also surveyed prices on numerous products to pinpoint the best and worst things to buy at ALDI. One thing is clear: ALDI compares favorably to traditional grocery stores and big-box stores.
Best Things to Buy at Aldi
You can save a lot buying private-label brands at ALDI rather than brand-name items at other stores. In fact, ALDI exclusive brands often are cheaper than other grocers’ store brands. Plus, ALDI has the lowest prices on many organic items.
Baking supplies are among the best ALDI deals.
For example, a 5-pound bag of all-purpose flour is $1.76 at Aldi versus $2.69 at Kroger for the store’s house brand. Continue down the baking aisle and you’ll stumble upon the 3-ounce boxes of gelatin mix. Price of the house brand is 37 cents. At Kroger, you’ll pay $1.59 for a similar box of Jell-O.
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Baked Goods and Bread
ALDI offers some of the best deals on bread and baked goods. In fact, it’s hard to beat the store’s low price of $1.55 for a bag of cinnamon raisin bagels or $1.69 for a dozen Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls. Compare that to the national brands at Walmart: $4.27 for the bagels and $4.33 for the Hawaiian rolls.
To give your coffee a kick of French vanilla or hazelnut flavor, ALDI’s Barissimo brand coffee creamer, found in the dairy section, could do the trick at an affordable price. A 32-ounce container costs $2.45. Compare that to the Kroger brand, which costs about 50 cents more, or to the national Coffee mate brand, which has a regular price of $4.39 at Kroger.
Pre-pandemic, buying milk at ALDI resulted in significant savings over the competitors. Now, the price is about the same. Still, you can find great deals in the dairy case at ALDI.
If you prefer to prepare your eggs from liquid egg whites, a 32-ounce container costs $2.95, more than a dollar less than Walmart’s Great Value brand. Dairy items like Greek yogurt are good for you and your wallet. A 5.3-ounce carton on ALDI’s nonfat Greek yogurt costs 59 cents, whereas the national brand sold at Target is priced at $1.29.
One of the best buys at ALDI is gourmet cheese. You can find several types for half the price of what you’d pay at another grocery store. For example, an 8-ounce package of brie costs $3.39 at ALDI. The same-sized package at Kroger costs $5.99.
Meat and Poultry
Meat is one of the best ALDI deals. For example, top sirloin steak costs about $3 less per pound at ALDI than it does at Kroger.
Even organic meat costs less. You’ll pay $5.49 per pound for the Simply Nature organic grass fed 85/15 ground beef at ALDI. A similar pound at Target sells for $7.19. ALDI’s Simply Nature fresh organic chicken breasts cost $5.99 per pound, about half the price of Kroger’s Simple Truth organic air-chilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
You can get a great deal on non-dairy milk at ALDI stores. A half-gallon carton of ALDI’s organic soy milk costs about 50 cents less than Kroger’s Simple Truth soy milk.
Organic Peanut Butter
One of the ALDI special buys is its award-winning organic peanut butter. So if you have a peanut butter lover in your household, you can stock up on this item for less. A 16-ounce jar of ALDI’s SimplyNature organic peanut butter is $3.89 – less than the $4.69 you’ll pay for Target’s Good & Gather brand.
Organic Olive Oil
You’ll get a much better deal on organic olive oil at ALDI than at other grocery stores. ALDI’s price for a 17-ounce bottle is less than $4.39, and that is $1.60 lower than the regular price at Kroger. And that Kroger container holds only 16.9 ounces, making the cost savings per ounce even better.
Like most of its other organic products, ALDI’s Simply Nature brand of organic coffee offers significant savings over organic coffee at other grocery stores. For example, a 12-ounce package of Simply Nature fair trade organic coffee is $6.19, or $4.99 for a 12-pack of pods. An 11-ounce bag of Kroger Simple Truth fair trade organic coffee is regularly priced at $7.99, with the pods at $6.99.
Snack foods are a great deal at ALDI. For example, a 10-ounce bag of Kroger brand tortilla chips is regularly priced at $1.99. However, you can get a 13-ounce bag of tortilla chips at ALDI for just $1.68. A 10-ounce container of ALDI hummus is almost $1.40 less than Kroger’s Private Selection hummus.
Worst Things to Buy at ALDI
It’s honestly tough to beat most of Aldi’s prices. However, there are a handful of items you can get for less at other supermarkets and retailers. Plus, some of ALDI’s low-priced products should be avoided because the quality is subpar.
If you shop at ALDI, you’re better off buying its private-label brands. Often, ALDI has name-brand foods on the shelf, but they cost more than they do at grocery stores, which also will accept manufacturers’ coupons and often have sales. For example, a tube of ready-to-bake Pillsbury cinnamon rolls costs $2.59 at Target – 40 cents less than at ALDI. A 15.4-ounce box of Honey Nut Cheerios costs $3.85 at ALDI versus $6.19 for a 27.2-ounce box at Target. Buying your cereal at Target will save you more than 2 cents per ounce.
When it comes to shopping for personal care items in liquid form, it pays to compare price per ounce, and that includes body wash. Walmart sells Old Spice body wash for men, Swagger scent, in a 30-ounce bottle for about $8. That’s about 27 cents per ounce, well below the approximately 37 cents per ounce you’ll pay for the smaller 16-ounce bottle at ALDI.
When you buy house-brand garbage bags at ALDI, you run the risk of a lesser-quality product than offered by competitors. Many online reviewers rate ALDI’s Boulder brand scented flex kitchen trash bags as substandard. At about $7 for a box of 40, that’s less than the $7.62 you’ll pay for Walmart’s Great Value brand, but reviewers give those bags 4.2 stars out of five.
At $2.39 a dozen, eggs are an affordable source of protein found at ALDI, but you’ll find them cheaper elsewhere. Target and Walmart both sell them for less than $2.20 a dozen. The difference in price can add up if you and you large family eat eggs daily or if use them for baking.
For starters, you won’t find much of a selection of over-the-counter medication at ALDI. Plus, you can get a better deal buying it in bulk because over-the-counter medication is one of the best buys at Sam’s Club.
A bottle with 100 caplets of ibuprofen costs about $2 at ALDI — about 2 cents per caplet. At Sam’s, you can get 1,200 caplets for less than 1 cent per caplet. If you don’t need quite that many, Walmart has a package of 400 for $3.88 – less than 1 cent each.
ALDI doesn’t have a big assortment of paper plates to choose from, and maybe you don’t need the ultra heavy duty plates on the store’s shelves. A 50-pack of 10-inch plates costs $5.79 – about the same as the Walmart price. You might be just as happy with the 100-pack of Walmart’s Great Value every day 9-inch plates, priced at $5.86.
The price of brand-name soda has risen drastically the past few years, and it isn’t a bargain at ALDI. A 12-pack of Coca-Cola costs about $5. And while a single pack is expensive everywhere, other stores often offer deals if you buy multiple packs. You often can pick up three packs of soda for about $12 at Walgreens or save a percentage off with Target Circle.
A 92-ounce jug of Tide costs about $13 at ALDI, Walmart and Target. And while the price is the same, there frequently are manufacturers coupons for Tide, either in the Sunday newspaper or downloadable on the website of your local grocery store. Sign up for free for Target Circle, and you’re also eligible for promotions, such as spend $50 on household essentials and receive a $15 Target gift card. Often, you’ll find Target to be the best shopping destination for name-brand products.
ALDI’s package of 18 megarolls of Willow toilet paper – the equivalent of 72 regular rolls – sounds like a good deal at $14.99 until you comparison shop. You’ll save $3 on 18 megarolls of Angel Soft at Walmart, where a package is priced at $11.99.
The ALDI Bonus
One place where ALDI has other stores beat is in its ALDI Finds section, where you’ll see some items, often seasonal, that are there for just the short term until they sell out.
“You can find great deals on home products ranging from bathmats to yearly planners to backyard pools at a low price,” Gramuglia said.
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Jami Farkas contributed to the reporting for this article.