10 Things You Should Never Buy From Aldi

By Ashley Marcin on 16 September 2014 110 comments

I've been shopping at Aldi for our weekly groceries for over half a year. Along the way, I've picked up a few best practices. For example, buying for two or more weeks at a time saves us time and money on shelf-stable foods like tortillas, spaghetti, and canned goods. I love Aldi's selection of price-friendly cheeses, Greek yogurt, chocolate-hazelnut spread, and hummus, among many others. Plus, our local shop stocks its shelves on Sunday afternoons, so that's the time to go for the freshest food and the most selection. (See also: 6 Awesome Reasons to Shop At Aldi)

Of course, with all these tips for things to buy and ways to buy them, I've also discovered there are a few things — at least at my store — that are better purchased elsewhere Yes: There are plenty of foods that are great and price-competitive, but consider staying away from the following.

1. Certain Dairy

If you're trying to avoid food additives, your Aldi's almond milk, cottage cheese, and a few other dairy products might be suspect. These foods — at least in some markets — contain carrageenan, which is a thickener and stabilizer. There is some debate over whether carrageenan is a carcinogen, but it has been shown to cause some inflammation in the digestive tract. (You can also find this ingredient at most other grocery stores, so keep an eye out.)

2. Shredded Cheese

I love Aldi block cheese. It's economical and tasty. However, the shredded variety contains cornstarch to keep the shreds from sticking to one another in the bag, and I find that it burns quicker than other cheeses, especially under the broiler. And mine burned with an oily mess on top of it. Stick with block cheese and a grater for the best results.

3. Garlic

Maybe I've been spoiled by our gigantic, juicy CSA garlic, but Aldi's cloves just don't match up. They're tiny and difficult to both peel and cut. Since garlic isn't terribly expensive, when it's the off-season for produce, we tend to buy it at another store (when we pick up tofu and a few other ingredients Aldi stores don't carry).

4. Potatoes

I've given several varieties of potatoes a try, only to have them spoil within the week (one time, even in just a few days). Since I stored them like I have stored all other potatoes in the past, I cannot assume it was my own error. Potatoes should be hearty and last a good while. Thankfully, they are one of the more inexpensive buys at most stores — so, I grab a bag elsewhere.

5. Other Produce

On that same note, you must be stringent when choosing produce of all shapes and sizes. Depending on the time of week you shop, the food — like at any store — may have been freshly delivered or sitting there for days. Inspect each piece for signs of spoilage before bringing home. I once got a bad batch of onions, bananas, and green peppers that got soft and moldy the day after I stocked them in my fridge. (See also: Fridge or Counter? Where to Store Fruit for Best Flavor)

6. Chocolate Chips

While I absolutely adore the Moser Roth chocolate in the first aisle of the store, the chocolate chips in the baking section leave much to be desired with taste. If you want your chocolate chip cookies to taste out-of-this-world delicious, scrimp and save to get a bag of the quality stuff. Alternatively, I've made chocolate chunk cookies using the Moser Roth chocolate.

7. Packaged Cookie Dough

If you're planning to skip the from-scratch experience and lay out prepackaged cookie dough on a sheet to bake, just don't. Even following package directions, my refrigerated dough burned easily and still didn't cook the whole way through. To make matters worse, the flavor was definitely artificial.

8. Frozen Stir-Fry

I was incredibly excited to find brightly colored packs of frozen veggies with sauce for quick weeknight meals, only to become dismayed when I read the label on the back of the package. In Aldi's defense, I haven't closely inspected other frozen stir-fries before, but I found that the ingredients in the Fusia mix came from all over the place: China, Holland, Guatemala, Mexico, and the USA.

9. Ground Beef

As a vegetarian, I have not purchased meat products at Aldi. I did a little research, so I thought I'd share those results. You can actually find better prices on ground beef at a store like Walmart ($3.69/pound versus $2.66/pound) for similar-quality protein. (See also: 5 Frugal Lessons I Learned From Aldi)

10. Non-Food Items

I've found many of the non-food items — from brand-name diapers to garbage bags and beyond — to not be price-competitive with other discount stores. If you can buy these same products at stores that also accept coupons or offer bulk discounts, go for it.

We'd love to hear what foods and products you stay away from at Aldi. Please leave a note in the comments!

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10 Things You Should Never Buy From Aldi

10 Things You Should Never Buy From Aldi

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Guest's picture

Aldi is completely different than what you're assuming it to be. We get fresh produce DAILY produce is checked daily. Nothing bad sits. Also 8 pesticides are being removed from every product world wide come the first of the year and within the next two years all products will be completely organic. So your dairy will be fine. Not to mention your potatoes are probably going bad at the right amount of time. When your buying potatoes that last weeks it's because they're full of chemicals.

Guest's picture

I love Aldi and use it for a lot of things. The ice cream bars are much cheaper than anywhere else. The produce is always good and so are other things. I do other shopping at Valarti and Superior...pick and choose is my method and they are all close to each other. Not one store can satisfy all of us.

Guest's picture

I found that most of the information in this article is incorrect. There is always going to be a bad bunch in anything you buy in any store. None are ever 100% perfect. However, Aldi has a double your money back guarantee unlike most other stores. I have never had any problem returning any items to these stores. Also they have better prices because they are not fancy nor do they have an over abundance of unnecessary employees. If you are to lazy to bag your own groceries then by all means pay more and to go the big chain stores. They have a good selection of basic to organic items. I love Aldi's stores. I have been shopping in them for years and will continue to do so. There is quality is every bit as good as any other brand name I have tried in other stores. Sometimes it is better.

Guest's picture

We have been buying food from Aldis for years and only had a few things go bad like fresh green beans and red onions where one onion was bad. One time the plums never ripened at all; otherwise most of what we got was good and potatoes never went bad. Maybe that is because we are in a colder climate. We are on a food budget and cannot afford to buy our groceries at the local store or Walmart. Aldis always saves us a lot of money compared to other stores

Guest's picture

I am an advocate for Aldi, but I found the can tuna to be very low quality.

Guest's picture

I would NEVER, EVER buy meat from Walmart! Obviously, the writer of this article does not care about anything except price. And, things that spoil faster have less preservatives, which is a GOOD thing.

Guest's picture

The dog treats beef sticks are a must buy at my Aldi. The first ingredients is real meat, (not wheat flour) plus the price is great.
I must say I've been having trouble with potatoes wherever I buy them over the past year or so, which leads me to believe (after many potatoes have gone to the trash a very short time after purchase) that people aren't eating fresh potatoes as much as they used to causing them to get old sitting at the store. Also, do not cut off the "eyes" as our mothers taught us. When shoots start growing out of a potato, throw it away! I was taught by a local food inspector that you are actually poisoning your family when you cut the thing off and serve the potato as usual.

Guest's picture

I buy the frozen ground beef 85% which has a plastic wrap around it and have always been very pleased with it. Often when I buy ground beef at a super market, it is brown in the middle and has a date of today.

Guest's picture

I disagree with many of these.

Guest's picture

Almond milk isn't a dairy product. That's what makes it almond milk.
Potatoes and produce are as safe to buy at Aldi as anywhere else.
If someone's buying pre-shredded, pre-cut anything--veggies or cheese---they probably understand there are additives.
And if you don't eat meat you probably shouldn't post about where the deals are.
This was a list of your personal opinions.