6 Awesome Reasons to Shop at Aldi

by Tisha Tolar on 11 April 2012 44 comments
Photo: Herkie

Since the price of groceries has been steadily rising and my only local grocery store went bankrupt, I have been trying better food budgeting with a monthly trip to Aldi for the essentials. My grandmother was always a big proponent of Aldi, but that was back in the day before the retail chain really stepped up their game.

As a frequent Aldi shopper, I have discovered that the years have been kind, and the store has really become an asset to our small area where unemployment rates are high and dollar stores are seeing more business than ever. If you have never shopped at an Aldi, I want to provide you some incentive by listing the things I love about the discount store and its offerings, as well as a few minor complaints about the store I frequent. (See also: 5 Frugal Lessons I Learned From Aldi)

Six Great Reasons to Shop at Aldi

The discount grocery chain has really come a long way over the years. As a frequent shopper, I have taste-tested many of the Aldi-brand products and can say that most are just as good or even better than their name-brand counterparts. Here are six of the top reasons you should consider shopping at the Aldi store near you (if you are lucky enough to have one).

Tasty Stuff

I’ll be the first to admit I previously tended to shop brand-name because I was picky about how generic products tasted in comparison. The good news is that the items I now buy at Aldi taste just as good, and even better, than the more-expensive brand-name counterparts. I address the items I do not like in the next section, but overall I find that I prefer the Aldi brand to other brands. The caramel-filled ice cream cones are to die for, and I can’t buy them anywhere else!

Good, Small Selection

While it is true you don’t have a whole lot of choices when you shop Aldi, I find that the variety of items you can get at Aldi is great. I think I actually like not having to choose spaghetti sauces from 42 different companies. Aldi sells one brand of sauce but in a variety of flavors. I especially like the frozen section, which often features different products, so I get to see new items every time I go. I know I can always get my staples, but I also get to look forward to what’s new.

Great Prices

I did a relatively informal price comparison between the local Walmart and Aldi. I can get two times the amount of stuff at Aldi at the same price I could from Walmart, and three times as much stuff when compared to the local grocery store chains. We have left Aldi with an overflowing cart full of stuff for just under $200, which I know I can never do at any other store. I think the best example of the savings potential lies in the Aldi cereal aisle. Even my two tween girls who are obsessed with brand names and image largely prefer the $1.99 box of Aldi brand cereal to the $4.99 name brand box in the grocery store. Most of the popular cereal types are available under the Aldi brand, and I can buy five boxes at Aldi compared to one or two boxes from the grocery store. No one in our household can taste the difference.

Online Shopping List

The Aldi website offers weekly flyer information concerning its in-store sales. The cool part is you can add merchandise to your shopping list straight from the flyer. You can save a lot of time creating this list and learning about the deals. Simply print the list and take it with you when you shop.

More Earth-Friendly

If you have not shopped at Aldi, you may be surprised to find you have to bring your own bags and pack up your own goods. We have increased our reusable bag cache and now use those bags for many other things rather than create new waste.

No Distractions

On a personal level, it helps that Aldi primarily sells food items, with only part of one aisle devoted to miscellaneous items that can range from toys to clothes to exercise equipment. I am better equipped to deal with temptations and avoid impulse buys on my Aldi shopping excursions.

Three Not-So-Great Things About Aldi

As with most things in life, with the good comes the bad. There are a few things I find frustrating about the Aldi experience, but nothing so insurmountable that would keep me from shopping there regularly. 

Bad Produce

It is possible this is only relevant in my local store, but I have found time and time again that if I purchase produce from Aldi I will need to use it right away, or it will go bad within a day. We avoid buying produce there and tend to visit the weekly farmers market in our community, so overall it is still a win-win situation.

The Un-Tasty Stuff

There are a handful of items that I thoroughly dislike from the Aldi brand. Hot dogs are at the top of the list, followed by the refrigerated coffee creamer and the canned soup. There were a few frozen side dishes and entrees that left a bad taste in my mouth too. However, I have done enough taste-testing to know what I like and what I don’t. Plus, Aldi offers a double 100% guarantee. If you don’t like something, they’ll replace the product and give you your money back.

The Drive

This is more of a personal problem, but it completes my list. I have to drive nearly 35 minutes to get to the nearest Aldi, which is why I only go once a month. It does take extra gas to get there, but I feel it is worth it. The downside to the long drive is that when we run out of stuff, we have to wait until a trip is worthwhile, although in the long run this likely saves me more grocery money each month because it forces me to better plan my shopping list for a month’s worth of supplies.

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Guest's picture
Candice

I could have written this article (except it wouldn't have been as well written or well organized!). I love my Aldi's - I can feed my family of five easily for $75 a week.

I agree with you about the hot dogs and coffee creamer. I haven't tried the canned soup! Maybe we need to write Aldi's and tell them we all agree. :D

Tisha Tolar's picture

Thanks for the compliment Candice! Long live Aldi! ~ minus the hot dogs and the soups ;)

Guest's picture
Jerry Gerula

I love the liquid coffee creamer in the quart carton, at $1.49 it is a great bargin! One thing that does bother me is that when I lived in Norristown, PA the eggs were $.68 a dozen...dirt cheap. I just moved to St Petersburg, FL two weeks ago and the local Aldi's sells eggs for double that...$1.49! What gives?

Guest's picture
Chris

It must be your Aldi's that has bad produce. Neither of our two Aldi's have bad produce but when I lived in Indiana I never bought the produce. It was bad in the store and made the store stink. It was a turnoff for me and so I never shopped at an Aldi's until I moved to my present location.

Guest's picture
Alyson

Chris, I live in Indiana and I've only ever had one produce mishap where all of the onions were bad. I shop at Aldi often and I love their produce. It's so much cheaper than Walmart or anywhere else, especially the avocados. Those things can be up to $1.50 everywhere else, but at Aldi, I can get them for 39 cents. I think that ultimately, it depends on the Aldi employees and whether they rotate the produce on schedule.

Guest's picture
Guest

I have to say that the produce at our Aldi's is extremely good. I often wonder if its local even. But we have lived in other states that it was awful.

Guest's picture
The Gray Adder

Utica, New York - The produce is so-so at best. It's all in cardboard and Saran Wrap as if it came from some centralized location God-knows-where. I can tell you what it isn't, and that's local.

Guest's picture
Andy M

I remember shopping at Aldi as a kid in Chicago. They had canned food with no labels. You just picked them from the palette with the sign and hoped it was what you wanted. Great Stuff. They own Trader Joe's as well which has followed the same "House Brand" model to great success. I just wish they were in Richmond.

Tisha Tolar's picture

I hadn't remembered the no-label thing until you brought it up. I was a kid then but I do remember playing the game, hoping for the best!. Thanks for bringing up that forgotten piece of trivia!

Guest's picture
Amanda

I've read in several places now about the tendency toward bad produce at Aldi stores all over. I personally haven't seen any horrible offerings at my store (a new location, less than a year old), but nothing stellar either. Also, produce is one area of the store in which the prices are not necessarily comparable to my regular, somewhat upscale, store.

About that double guarantee - if I don't like something, why would I want it replaced, presumably with the same thing? I think I'd be better off just getting the $ back and moving on, don't you?

Guest's picture
P.M.

It has not to be the exact same product. You can normally choose an alternative.

Guest's picture
Diana

I absolutely love Aldi! I love their stir-fry kits as well as their "Fit & Active" line of products.

I agree with you about the produce - buy it only if you plan on using it within a day or two.

Guest's picture
Guest

I shop at Aldi's when I can. I have found their produce to be very good, but that may be a regional thing. I know they manipulate their milk price up and down. Most things on their store brand are very good, but their toasted oat cereal tasted like cardboard.

Guest's picture
gt0163c

Aldi came to my area a little over a year ago and I've really enjoyed shopping there. I agree that a lot of things are cheaper and taste just as good as or better than many other brands (store as well as national brands). I really like their hummus and the price is half that of any of the other stores around me. Their milk and eggs are the cheapest (even with most sales) of any of my local stores. And, best of all, they have real European chocolate at affordable prices! And, about once a year, they carry stroop waffles (a Dutch caramel filled waffle-like cookie).

I agree that you have to be careful about the produce. Some things I haven't had a problem with: bagged spinach, carrots, potatoes, oranges. But many other things you have to choose carefully and plan to eat fairly quickly. That's not a big issue for me, as long as I know it up front.

Guest's picture
philosophotarian

I have been making more frequent stops at Aldi myself, and I agree: for some things, Aldi is great. What I dislike is the fact that many of their food items are filled with non-food/unhealthy fillers. Their canned beans have added sugar; their peanut butter includes hydrogenated oil; jelly is made with corn syrup, etc. If I wanted to save money on junk food, Aldi would be great. As is, it can only supplement my shopping at other stores. Aldi has the cheapest eggs (I stock up!), perfectly good chocolate, good prices on dry beans (when they have them), the cheapest old fashioned oats. Those things I buy regularly and I have been pleased with them.

Guest's picture
Jenn

I love Aldi's. I agree that not having hundreds of brands to choose from is a benefit! Makes shopping so fast and easy.

I've found the produce to be hit and miss in my stores. Just being careful and not buying if it doesn't look right seems to work mostly, although sometimes I do end up with some spoiled stuff.

Another thing to add to the list of yucky stuff is their tuna. Pretty lousy. But nearly everything else I've had is good. I agree the cereals are as good as brand name, as are cookies, chips, etc.

For me the downside is that if you are looking for extra healthy stuff you won't find that much. A lot of processed foods, snack foods, convenience things.

Guest's picture
Mary H

I must say that our Aldis has just as good of produce as our regular grocery stores, only at about half the price! So maybe it depends on the store. I have to cook from scratch because of dietary reasons, so it's great to not be bogged down by all that processed stuff. Aldis produce, frozen veggies, and meat and dairy products are fantastic. The only time I go to another grocery store is if they have an item on sale cheaper than Aldis.

Guest's picture
Linda

I think the produce might be a regional issue as well. My Aldi (usually) has wonderful produce and such great prices!

Guest's picture
The Gray Adder

Here's another one (or two):

Gourmet coffee - equal or better than Green Mountain, Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks, or what have you, for about half price. Can't beat it.

German holiday cookies - lebkuchen, dominosteine, zimtsterne, you name it. You think you're at an Aldi in Berlin. Stock up on those for Christmas, and drive out to someplace where there is no Aldi, like Lousiville, Kentucky. Everybody will love you for it.

In fact, anything with their brand "Deutsche Kuche" on it. Lecker!

Guest's picture
sd

I must say that I generally like shopping at Aldi, for many of the reasons already already mentioned. I will add that I really like how quickly their cashiers work. They're quick and efficient without being rude. Their system really works.

On the other hand, their Beaumont coffee doesn't even come close to Chock Full o'Nuts Columbian, IMHO, as the bang-for-the-buck champion. And a lot of their meat/poultry is injected with a salt solution, which is not only less healthful than just plain meat, but also is a hidden extra cost (if the roast is injected with a "12% solution", you're paying beef prices for the 1/8 of the roast that's water).

Guest's picture
Emily

I love Aldi's, but since we're avoiding MSG I have to be superpsychotic about reading the labels.

Wow, THAT'S a sentence....

Guest's picture
rjack

ALDI in the past (here in Springfield, Illinois) was a waste of space with all crappy produce and unhealthy everything in a dirty hole with bad hours. A couple of years ago I lost my job and I went back into ALDI and was surprised at the changes. The cheeses blow away anything from any other grocery around here. The produce has totally improved (and I am picky here). They have great chocolates, soy milk, pasta sauce, whole grain crackers, good german beer and mustard. Olive oil, sea salt, granola, nuts, one semi whole grain spaghetti. I like the Fit and Healthy line. Their garbage bags are better than the name brands we tried. I always shop there first and buy what I cannot there elsewhere. Then they built a big new store! I will shop for taste and health over price if I have to. Many of the ALDI products now do not make me sacrifice in that. Now that said, one does have to read the labels, for example, many of the crackers they have I will not buy as I stick to a 2 gram of fiber minimun.

Guest's picture
Guest

Love love aldi, not a real problem with produce at our local aldi, prices for staples cannot be beat. Our aldi even sells wine and beer.

Guest's picture
Nadine and Jeff Mueller

We Love our Aldi!! Produce has really not been a problem here. Love their apples, grapes, mushrooms, etc. etc. You do need to watch the strawberries when they are available, only good for a few days. But the price negates that. I love their international foods or specials.. The German is good but their Italian is great also!!
Fondy Mueller's

Guest's picture
Jose

I whole-heartedly agree!
When I was making $9 and hour, had no car but had rent and student loans to pay, Aldi saved my bacon.
Unfortunately, my Aldi stores also have produce that is a day or two away from going bad (western suburbs of Chicago). Even if they just threw away what had already gone bad (which common senses tells you no one will be buying anyway) this would be a big improvement. However, I will say it looks like they are making major upgrades to my store.
While I am a huge fan when it comes to anything that is shelf-stable at Aldi, once in a while you will find something that is actually more expensive than at a regular store. This is where getting a feel for what different items costs in terms of $ per ounce becomes very useful. I have found that Aldi + trip to local store for produce and weekly sale items has worked for me.

Guest's picture
GThrones

I live in Maryland and the local Aldi has the worst produce. There have be many times that the produce in the bins were moldy and had bugs flying around. I love Aldi even with this flaw; there isn't a paralysis from choice, it's quiet, and quick.

Guest's picture
Tricia

Trader Joe's is Aldi's sister company and I feed me and my husband on $220 a month.
Trader Joes' brand is the best store brand I have ever tried and contains no GMO's, artificial ingredients, trans fats or MSG. Many of there canned products are also BPA free and are again the best quality.
Here are some prices.

Bag of 10 organic apples 2.99
3 heads Organic Romaine 2.99
Organic corn flakes 1.99
Rice crispies 1.99
Organic Spaghetti Sauce 1.99
Beef Chili 1.39
Organic Ketchup 1.99
Sour Cream 16oz 1.39
Cod Fish Nuggets 3.99
Fam size Orange Chicken 4.99
Earth friendly dish soap 2.99

Guest's picture
Guest

Interesting that so many people have trouble with their produce. Our Aldi has excellent produce most of the time, typically at a 1/3 to 1/2 discount off of the local grocery store. Every once in a while, especially with berries, it will go bad quickly, but more often than not even berries last for over a week. We've been shopping at our local Aldi for almost 2 years and I've only ever seen bad produce on the shelf once - never mold and flies!

Tisha Tolar's picture

WOW! It's great that I am not the only one who has become a devoted Aldi shopper! Again, there are some hit and miss things and I am glad to note that I am not the only one at a produce disadvantage. Overall, there are things I simply won't buy anywhere else. I also have noticed a whole lot more shopping carts being steered through the aisles even on a mid-week workday. It seems that many people trying to cut costs have discovered the benefits of Aldi and I no longer think there is a blatant stigma attached to discount grocery shopping as there was when only my Grandma shopped there.

Guest's picture
claire7676

You have to be careful about produce anywhere. I don't always buy produce at my local Kroger because sometimes it's just nasty. I have mostly been able to get the produce I've seen on sale at Aldi with no problems.

Noone's mentioned frozen fish fillets. Aldi has the BEST prices anywhere on frozen salmon and tilapia fillets (they beat Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, and Kroger in my town)!

I do agree that my Aldi has a LOT of snack items that I don't buy anyway. Their frozen broccoli florets are the best price, but some of their items aren't any cheaper than other places. I also noticed their pantiliners were the best price I could find.

Tisha Tolar's picture

Claire -

You definitely highlighted two of our family favorites that I can't believe I overlooked - tilapia and frozen broccoli! Thanks for bringing both of those items up because not only are they very affordable - they are very good too!

Thanks for reading!

Guest's picture
Guest

There frozen salmon is wild caught not farm raised. 4.99lb . Wild is always better than farm raised.

Guest's picture
Kristy Browning

I have always shopped at Aldi's. When my son was young, he called it the "poor" store and would not go in. Now he is a college graduate and shops there every week.

Kristy

Guest's picture
osFinance

I actually took my first step into an Aldi's yesterday when my wife and I drove by it while we were out. I was urged by co-worker, family and this post to do it. I'm relatively new to Baltimore and there's no Aldi's in Boise where I moved from. We thought the prices were very competitive on most products and bought a basket full of items we needed. Then we got to the counter and realized they don't take credit cards, luckily I had a debit card on me. Then we got to my car and we realized our biggest mistake. We need bags. We had to put everything in the back seat then we balanced everything on top of the two large frozen pizzas we purchased. I'm sure we look funny to our neighbors.

Guest's picture
Jen

Quality has definitely improved at the Aldi in the past 10 years - now I shop there weekly. My Aldi has very good produce, so I guess I'm lucky. The Milleville cereal is really good! One thing that I typically do not buy at Aldi is the canned good. The canned goods at the Aldi seem to have a lot more sodium than the canned goods at my local Big Name grocery store. When I shop, I go to the Aldi first and then fill in the gaps at the other store.

Guest's picture
Guest

I'm a big Aldi shopper. Here's a tip if you're a chocolate lover: my neighbor is a chocoholic and also a food scientist. He gives their semi-sweet chocolate chips two thumbs up! That's what really got me shopping there.

Guest's picture
Mary S

Produce in fantastic at the Trussville, AL location. I am moving in a month and will miss Aldi SO MUCH, mainly because of the incredible produce prices! Anyone know of somewhere in Phoenix that has produce prices as super as Aldi???

Guest's picture
Valerie

I had a near-phobia of discount stores like this until recently when our income took a nosedive and I remembered my sister (who lives in Chicago...I'm in Maryland) saying how much she LOVED Aldi. I decided to give it a try, and now I'm hooked. I've had to be extremely price-conscious and find that Aldi's prices beat out our local Sam's Club time and again, which is good because A) it is closer to me and B) I am not forced to buy in bulk (with the big cash-flow outlay that comes along with that) in order to get the same savings. I agree that the produce stinks, so I get that from another local chain that sells good, cheap produce but charges higher prices on everything else. Each week, I taste-test one or two new products from Aldi. Since the prices are so low, I don't lose any sleep if I have to throw away something I hate, like their American cheese slices (blech!), since I'm not one to go through the hassle of returning it. I especially love the Mama Cozzi pizzas, so now my family can have pizza night for $12 vs. spending about $30 for delivery pizza. Thanks for the great article. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Aldi!!!

Guest's picture
barberrr

This only works on meat, poultry and egg products which require a USDA "EST" number on the package. To find who actually made an ALDI brand product:

(1) Look for a USDA “EST” number somewhere on the can. The “Bon Italia”
Beef Ravioli has “EST794” stamped on the bottom.

(2) Use this index to look up the manufacturer:

http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/cnlabeling/manufacturers.pdf

(3) “EST 794” is ConAgra.

(4) Go to the ConAgra website:

http://www.conagrafoods.com/consumer/brands/index.jsp

(5) Instantly notice that Chef Boyardee is one of their food brands.

Guest's picture
Kelly

Really surprised with the products you dislike! I love the Aldi soups that I have tried -(the chunky soups and the sausage/rice). I make a special trip to get the sugar free vanilla coffee creamer. I haven't tried the hot dogs...
The produce at my Aldi is usually pretty good. I did buy some strawberries that started to mold after a day but other than that I haven't had an issue with the produce.

Guest's picture
Guest

My teenage son has a friend that LOVES the Aldi hotdogs. I can't keep them stocked in my house!! ;)

Guest's picture
Ravindra

I would suggest buying from Indian Grocery store as well like Patel Brothers, Apna Bazar, Cash and Carry, Sabji Mandi if it is available. Generally they are available in large towns. Also, you can look for Chinese stores. These stores have great fresh vegetables at very cheap prices than that of Walmart / A&P, Shop-rite or any other food market even including Aldi. I have compared Cauliflower, Okra, Tomato, Grapes, Apples, Canola Oil, rice items that you like from Asian Grocery Stores, they are really cheap.

Guest's picture
Guest

I live in a small rural town in Central IL. We do have a grocery store in town, but it is expensive to shop there all the time. The town about 20 miles away has an a wide selection of shopping places, including an Aldi store. I can purchase everything that my family of 4 needs for an entire week for around $55.00. I will have to say that I do have a stockpile of meat in my freezer, so I generally don't purchase any meat items at Aldi with the exception of lunch meats. Love Aldi!!

Guest's picture
Natalie

I honestly think the issue with produce is regional. I lived in Birmingham AL and the produce was iffy and I did not want to buy any there...but at my Aldi in IL - awesome produce. Wish they carried Kale and squash and maybe a few other things but I always feel really great after walking out of Aldi...I feel like I have a cart full of food that I can actually make a bunch of meals, lunches, etc. I don't feel that way shopping anywhere else.