If you prefer organic, natural or gluten-free food but don’t have room in your budget to get your healthy food fix at Whole Foods Market, there’s a cheaper alternative: Aldi.
“I know with 100 percent certainty that someone who wants to eat all-natural and organic items can save hundreds per month by shopping at Aldi,” said frugal-living expert and author of “The Recovering Spender,” Lauren Greutman.
To be clear, Aldi isn’t the grocery-shopping nirvana that Whole Foods is — not even close. Instead of the artfully displayed produce, meats, cheese and prepared foods you’ll find at Whole Foods, products are displayed in boxes, and you bag your own groceries at Aldi. It carries only the most commonly purchased grocery items, and 90 percent of the items are exclusive Aldi products.
Still, Aldi’s no-frills approach is what, in large part, keeps costs down — and what makes this chain of 1,600 grocery stores in 35 states a good low-cost alternative to Whole Foods.
“Where Whole Foods wins the day is in variety,” said Paul Moyer, founder of personal finance blog SavingFreak. But Aldi’s selection of organic and gluten-free staples beats Whole Foods on price, he added.
GOBankingRates compared the prices on many of the healthy food items at Whole Foods versus Aldi to find out how much consumers can save on groceries. For the most part, Aldi prices are lower — in many cases, more than 50 percent lower.
You won’t find as many organic fruits and vegetables at Aldi as you would at Whole Foods. But the prices on much of Aldi’s organic produce are lower.
For example, it would cost $15.44 to buy 1 pound of organic baby carrots, 1 pint of organic grape tomatoes, 1 pound of bananas, 3 pounds of apples and 16 ounces of spring mix at Aldi. To buy the same items in the same amounts at Whole Foods, the cost would be $23.50. However, bananas are the one organic produce item that costs less at Whole Foods — 89 cents per pound versus $1.18 per pound at Aldi.
Non-organic produce at Aldi is significantly cheaper than at Whole Foods. For example, you can get 1 pint of blueberries for $2.99, 1 pound of strawberries for $1.79 and a pomegranate for 99 cents. At Whole Foods, you’ll pay $3.99 for blueberries, $3.99 for strawberries and $3.99 for a pomegranate — more than twice the cost at Aldi.
Beef isn’t a bargain meat, especially the organic variety. But you can get a deal on it at Aldi. The store’s SimplyNature brand organic grass-fed ground beef is just $5.89 per pound. You’d pay $1.60 more at Whole Foods for a pound of organic grass-fed ground beef, which is $7.49 per pound.
Organic Milk and Non-Dairy Milk
Organic milk is one of the best deals you can get at Whole Foods, but its price still doesn’t beat the Aldi price. Aldi’s Friendly Farms organic fat-free milk costs $2.95 for a 64-ounce carton. Meanwhile, Whole Food’s organic low-fat 1 percent milk is $3.99.
You also can find organic non-dairy milk for less at Aldi. For example, a 64-ounce carton of Aldi SimplyNature organic soy milk is $2.19 versus $2.99 for Whole Foods’ 365 organic soy milk.
Other organic dairy products also are cheaper at Aldi. For example, a 32-ounce container of Aldi SimplyNature organic vanilla yogurt is $2.99. A 32-ounce container of Whole Foods’ 365 fat-free organic vanilla yogurt is $3.49.
Organic Grains and Pasta (and Sauce)
Once a little-known grain-like seed, quinoa now is touted as a “superfood” and is practically commonplace. If you’re a fan, stock up on it at Aldi where it sells for nearly 60 percent less than at Whole Foods. A 16-ounce package of Aldi SimplyNature organic quinoa is just $2.99; the same amount costs $6.99 at Whole Foods.
Organic pasta actually costs the same at both stores — $1.29 for 16 ounces of spaghetti. But if you prefer your pasta with sauce, you’ll pay $1 less for a 25-ounce jar of organic marinara at Aldi versus Whole Foods — $1.89 for Aldi’s SimplyNature versus $2.99 for the 365 brand.
Organic Cereal and Oats
You’ll know you’ve started your day by saving money if you eat Aldi’s organic breakfast items. A box with eight packets of organic instant oatmeal costs $2.49 for the SimplyNature brand versus $3.99 for the 365 brand at Whole Foods. And, an 18-ounce canister of organic quick oats costs $2.69 at Aldi versus $2.99 at Whole Foods.
If you prefer cereal, you can get a 12.3-ounce box of SimplyNature organic coconut chia granola at Aldi for $2.69. At Whole Foods, you’ll pay $4.99 for the same-sized box of Nature’s Path organic coconut chia granola.
Organic Fair-Trade Coffee
If you prefer organic fair-trade coffee, you’ll pay 2.5 times as much to buy it at Whole Foods than at Aldi. A 12-ounce bag of Barissimo fair-trade organic whole bean coffee is just $4.79 at Aldi. At Whole Foods, a 12-ounce bag of Allegro fair-trade organic whole bean French roast coffee is $11.99.
Cooking oils are a pantry staple — and you’ll save by buying them at Aldi. A 16.9-ounce bottle of SimplyNature organic extra virgin olive oil is $3.99. The same-sized bottle of 365 organic extra virgin olive oil sells for $7.99 at Whole Foods.
Coconut oil, which can be used for skin and hair care in addition to cooking, also sells for less at Aldi than at Whole Foods — $4.99 versus $5.99 for a 14-ounce jar of the organic variety.
Aldi also undercuts Whole Foods on the prices of organic sweeteners. For 32 ounces of organic cane sugar, the price is $2.89 at Aldi versus $3.49 at Whole Foods. You’d also pay about 50 cents more for the same amount of organic agave at Whole Foods than at Aldi, and $2 more for the same amount of organic honey.
“Aldi is even more competitive in their liveGfree line of gluten-free products,” said Moyer of SavingFreak. “They have a very wide variety and even stock fresh gluten-free bread.”
Aldi liveGfree gluten-free multi-seed crackers cost $1.49 for a 4.25-ounce package. Similar crackers cost $3.69 for a 4.5-ounce package at Whole Foods. An 8-ounce package of gluten-free brown rice spaghetti is $3.29 at Whole Foods, but a 16-ounce package at Aldi is only $1.89. And, a 16-ounce package of liveGfree gluten-free pancakes is $2.69 versus $3.69 for a 12.4-ounce package of Van’s gluten-free pancakes at Whole Foods.
All prices are accurate as of late 2016 and are subject to change.