The Best and Worst Things to Buy at Aldi's
With nearly everything becoming more and more expensive, people are always looking to save where they can.
That means that discount stores like Aldi's are becoming increasingly popular. The store advertises that it offers all the food and household items you need at a lower price (and in bulk so you have to go back less). Much of what Aldi's carries are store-brand items that are just as good, and in some cases better than the name-brand items that you typically pay a lot more for.
The German family-owned supermarket chain is known for its discounted name-brand products, shopping cart rental system and its no-frills shopping experience. Nobody really wants to spend hours navigating a grocery store and Aldi's makes sure you don't have that experience, bringing everything down to the basics.
While you are usually sure to save a ton on most items, there are some items that offer almost no savings at all. Additionally, there are those store-brand items that are less than satisfying in terms of quality that you may want to avoid. If you aren't sure just what you should buy and what you should avoid, this is just the guide for you. Here are the best and worst things to buy at Aldi's.
A bag of plain white bread will typically cost you between $1 and $2. At Aldi's, you can expect to pay even less than that. Prices are comparable to Walmart's Great Value bread, but much of the time – even cheaper.
In addition to sliced bread loaves, you can also get other types of bread for less, as well. For example, hamburger buns in packs of eight are also less than $1. Check out these options and more at Aldi's.
There's nothing quite like a nice, juicy, medium-rare steak that's so tender it melts in your mouth. Sadly, you won't be getting one of those at Aldi's anytime soon. According to consumers, the meat is extremely low quality and does not make for the most pleasant nor easiest eating experience.
Much of their meat has a gristle problem, and when cooked, the meat ends up being a little too chewy. There are, however, some meats that you can buy safely, such as pork shoulder which you could put in the slow cooker for ultimate tenderness.
Everyone loves cheese – well unless they are lactose intolerant, but that's another story. The point is that most people like cheese and those that do usually eat a lot of it. And when you eat a lot of cheese, the cost can really add up. Buying cheese at Aldi's ensures you are getting the most cheese for your money.
Buy cheese slices, shredded cheese, American cheese, string cheese, Baby Bel and many others at a reduced price at Aldi's. Cream cheese is also available at bargain prices. So be sure to check your local Aldi's before paying top-dollar at another store near you.
Good produce can be difficult to find. In addition to finding fruit that actually tastes good and is juicy enough, you need to find fruit that is going to last. There's nothing quite as bad as buying fruit one day, only for it to spoil the very next day.
When shopping at Aldi's, you are more than likely to encounter fruit that is mushy or even moldy in many cases. If you insist on buying fruit there, be sure to check it thoroughly. It's best to buy fruit in season. But in all honesty, it's better to pay more for higher quality fruit than spend less on fruit you might never eat.
Best: Deli Products
Aldi's offers a terrific deli section. The usually self-service deli section allows you to grab your own portions of salads, salsas, guacamole and more. You'll also find deli meats, mashed potatoes, and appetizers.
Much like many grocery stores, you can find take and bake pizzas with partially cooked dough that you can heat up in your oven. They cost about half what you would pay for a pizza at a pizza chain, and you don't have to pay for delivery. In addition to pizza, they also sell individual calzones.
Worst: Crackers and Cookies
Aldi's makes a ton of store-brand crackers and cookies to choose from. The store-brand options are made to look just like their name-brand counterparts, from the look of the food itself to the outside packaging – for the most part. The packaging, of course, looks like a knock-off.
The taste is even worse though. Nothing about the cracker and cookie offerings taste like the real thing. The "Oreos," "RITZ" and "Triscuits" all taste off and you'll wish you had spent money on the real thing. They also have "Pringles" that are apparently pretty bad too.
Best: Baking Products
Aldi's is a great place to score deals on baking products, and when we say baking products, we are talking about the basic ingredients for baking: flour and sugar. While these things are already relatively inexpensive, every penny counts.
With that said, you can save even more on these items. A 5-pound bag of flour, for instance, will cost you about $1.15 and a bag of sugar – about $1.85. Get a 2-pound bag of brown sugar for $1.29. Although you may only be saving pennies, if you are shopping at Aldi's anyway, why not save whatever you can? The flour is basically going to be the same thing you get anywhere else.
Worst: Paper Products
Toilet paper is not something you want to go too cheap on. With cheap toilet paper, you are often going to end up using more of it, which isn't necessarily cost-effective. On top of that, it doesn't feel very good on your skin. With that said, look for higher quality toilet paper because it's going to be well worth your money.
Other paper products you don't want to get at Aldi's are paper towels and napkins. Aldi's brand options are often flimsy and useless. Once again, you'll end up needing to use more than you would if you had purchased something better. And even if you pick something that is name-brand, you'll end up spending more.
There's a couple reasons to buy Aldi's ketchup. The first one is that Aldi's ketchup is inexpensive. You can get a 38-ounce bottle for less than $1, which is better than many store brands and certainly better than the big name brands.
The second reason to get Aldi's ketchup is that it simply tastes better. So, why spend more money on something like ketchup, when you simply don't need to?
Who doesn't love a good dip? They are a must for parties but you don't want to torture your guests with a disgusting dip. Aldi's offers a ton of dip options at their store, but none of them are any good.
Some options you surely want to avoid are the buffalo chicken, spinach artichoke, and crab Rangoon dips. There's also the Lobster Roll dip as well, and it's actually somewhat popular for some odd reason.
Best: Fruit Juice
Aldi's is an excellent place to pick up fruit juice. They offer standard flavors like apple, grape and orange juice, which are all 100% juice. You can also find more exotic juices such as pomegranate.
Most of these juices are not too high and calories and offer plenty of nutrients. They are also high in sugar, however, so you want to drink them in moderation. Avoid juice cocktails, however, because these have added sugars.
Alcohol isn't something that is particularly good for you, and you shouldn't have it often, so there is no real reason to buy cheap booze. Cheap booze tastes cheap and is ultimately not worth the damage to your liver. It might feel good going down, but you'll still feel terrible afterward.
From $2 wine to off-brand beer, there's nothing at Aldi's to get excited about. Everything they have doesn't taste quite right, offering an unpleasant aftertaste. Maybe that red wine will be fine for Sangria, but otherwise, you might want to skip it.
Milk prices have been going up lately and you are probably spending a lot more than you used to. With that said, you want to save money where you can. You can get milk at a lower price per gallon at Aldi's than you can at most.
Aldi's milk can be even cheaper than Walmart's Great value, for reference. In addition to regular milk, you can also find organic milk, which really doesn't offer a discernable difference in taste, yet it costs more money. But if you are all about organic, it won't cost you too much more compared to other places.
A cup of coffee can have a tremendous effect on the rest of your day. Starting off with a good cup of coffee will make you feel good and energized throughout the day. A bad cup of coffee can make you feel just plain terrible. That's why you don't want to go too cheap when it comes to your morning coffee.
To put it plainly: Aldi's coffee is terrible. You'll want to avoid it at all costs unless you are cruisin' for a bruisin'. With that said, just get coffee that you like. It's okay to splurge on more expensive coffee if it's going to affect the rest of your day.
Spices can cost quite a bit when you purchase them at your typical supermarket, between $5 to $10 for most spices and even $20 for something like Saffron. And all that for a tiny jar that maybe won't even last you through the year. At Aldi's you can get most of the spices you need for a lot less.
Stonemill spices at Aldi's are less than $1 per container and include basic options like garlic powder and paprika. You can find similar store brand options at Walmart, but again, you'll be paying a little more. Another option is to buy in bulk size at a wholesale retailer like Costco, but you'll probably end up getting stuck with more than you need.
Worst: Knock-Off Velveeta
Velveeta is one of America's favorite cheese products. But if you didn't think Velveeta could taste any more fake than it already does, you'd be wrong. The "Velveeta" at Aldi's is apparently so terrible that it has waves of customers complaining about it.
All the sales for these knock-off "Velveeta" must come from customers that simply don't know any better and haven't tried it before. Or perhaps they just have never tried the "real" thing. Whatever the case may be, you'll want to avoid it.
Best: Veggie Burgers
A decent veggie burger can be hard to come but can be a decent treat for vegetarians, vegans or those just counting calories. The veggie burgers at Aldi's are made with black beans, brown rice and jalapeno. they are flavorful and moist, which you can't say for all veggie burgers.
That being said, you can get a pack of these for less than $3 and that aint' bad. A package contains four patties, which means you can make a single burger with all the fixings for less than $5.
Worst: Microwave Popcorn
Microwave popcorn is a great snack. It's fairly healthy, at least depending on how much butter is involved, and it's usually always satisfying. The smell of popcorn is usually enough to make people perk up and get in the mood for a big handful.
However, that's not the case with Aldi's popcorn. Many consumers find the taste and smell of Aldi's popcorn to be off-putting. You are better off going for an established name brand or even another store brand. Costco has a decent store-brand popcorn, and you'll get over 40 bags of it for about $10.
While sushi might not be a great option as far as Aldi's frozen section, one thing that is pretty good is their shrimp. The price of shrimp can usually be quite expensive and frozen is usually the best way to go if you want to save, which is particularly true when it comes to Aldi's shrimp.
The frozen shrimp at Aldi's is pre-peeled and deveined. Prepping and cooking shrimp has never been easier, so you can have Aldi's shrimp you can eat! Get it? Aldi's like as in all the…no? Fine, whatever.
If you love sushi, frozen sushi at Aldi's might seem like a good way to satisfy your cravings, but no matter how good it looks in the picture the reality is a huge disappointment. While you can get a Fusia Shrimp and Avocado Roll for only $4.99, it doesn't mean you should.
In addition to not tasting all that great, it's full of artificial flavors. For instance, the shrimp is actual just shrimp and fish salad with some crab flavoring. Portions of avocado in the roll are minimal. overall, you are better off spending more money on something higher quality.
Bacon at your typical grocery store can cost you between $5 to $6. You can save at least a dollar by picking up your bacon at Aldi's. The Appleton Farms Center Cut Bacon is about $4, so you can always have some on hand.
Buy it when you need it or store it in the freezer for safe-keeping. A side of bacon always hits the spot for breakfast…or lunch…or dinner – anytime really!
Cereal is one of the most basic breakfast foods you can have in your home. It's a convenient breakfast, because you just pour it in a bowl with some milk, grab a spoon and chow down. The difficult part is finding the right cereal because some cereals are just plain bad for you and you might as well grab a donut instead.
Most of the cereal at Aldi's is high in sugar and not good for you at all. Some of their cereals have actually increased in sugar content over the years. There are a couple of options that are acceptable, but for the most part you want to avoid cereal at Aldi's and get something higher in fiber.
Best: Real Maple Syrup
Real maple syrup can be expensive depending on where you buy it. You can spend as much as $10 a bottle or more for a bottle. Aldi's offers a 100% real maple syrup product that is nearly half the cost of most places.
If you've never head real maple syrup and only the fake stuff made of corn syrup and maple flavoring, you don't know what you are missing. The maple flavor is much stronger and really improves your pancake (or waffle) experience.
When a price is too good to be true, it usually is. Clothing at Aldi's is no exception. You might be able to find pants and socks for cheap but you are going to be paying for cheap quality too. If you don't care about getting holes in your clothes after just a few washes, then by all means – waste your money on clothes at Aldi's.
Aldi's is mainly known for their food items, so if you go around looking for other things, expect to be disappointed. There are plenty of other retailers that offer affordable clothing. When you spend a little more on your clothes, they are going to last longer and that will save you more money in the long run, because you aren't constantly replacing clothing.
Best: German Chocolate
Hate to break this to the "Murica" crowd but American chocolate isn't so great. European chocolate, on the other hand, is where it's at. It's usually richer, smoother and more robust. German chocolate in particular is often high in quality.
Whether you like milk chocolate or dark chocolate, Aldi's has a great selection of German chocolate at a low price. For instance, a 5.29-ounce bar of chocolate, made exclusively for Aldi's is just $1.39. During the holiday seasons of Christmas and Easter, you'll find an even greater selection of chocolate to choose from.
Whether you are talking about laundry soap or dish soap, buying off-brand detergent is usually a bad idea, particularly if you have sensitive skin. You can't be sure it's going to be tough on grease or stains and sometimes cheap detergents can just be plain irritating for the skin.
With that said, you want to avoid off-brand detergents. Spend money on the real thing – but don't get that at Aldi's either. If you buy name-brand detergents at Aldi's you are going to be paying a lot more for them than you need to. Walmart would even be a better option, and it's safe to say you have at least one of those close by.
Best: Pet Food
Pet food can be expensive. And if you really care about your pet and are looking for quality food for them, it can be even more expensive. Aldi's, fortunately, has some offerings that are low-cost but also healthy for your cat or dog.
Heart to Tail dog foods come in both dry and wet food varieties. Their premium dog foods contain no fillers like corn, wheat and soy, so you can be sure that your dog is getting a significant amount of protein in their diet. Some are fortified with vitamins to give them a balanced diet.
If you are looking to save on toiletries, Aldi's is not the place to do it. Toiletries such as deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo and conditioner are hardly ever on sale. You could even end up spending more than you would at a retailer like Target or Walmart.
If you really want to save money on toiletries, Costco is one great place to do it. Buy buying in bulk at a retailer like this, you can save more in the long run. And as mentioned, Target usually has deals on toiletries thanks to coupons that can help you save on your favorite products.
Best: Seasonal Items
There are some non-food items you can get a deal on and those are seasonal items. Found under the ALDI'SFinds banner at the store, you can find summer toys, pop-up tents, charcoal grills, coolers, beach towels and a whole lot more for the summer.
In the fall, you can expect to find plenty of seasonal food items that people love such as apple pie filling and various pumpkin spice items that you would pay a lot more for at your typical grocery store. The goal is usually to sell these items ad keeping prices high makes it more difficult to sell in a timely manner. Keeping these items cheap just makes sense.
Worst: Name Brand Items
We've hinted at this for quite a few items, but let's put this plainly: don’t' buy name-brand items at Aldi's. Name brand items at Aldi's are usually higher in price than most places. From soap products to soda products, the name-brand items aren't going to save you any money.
This is not to say that you should avoid Aldi's altogether. There are plenty of great items that Aldi's offers with store brand labels. You just have to shop smart and pick the products you know are going to save you money. So stay organized and make lists according to the store you are shopping at.