Q&A Tuesday: What do you buy at Aldi?

I have a question. I noticed you do a lot of shopping at Aldi. We have one where I live, but for some reason I am hesitant to shop there. I was wondering if you could go over what you do and do not buy there, or if it does not matter at all. -Chelsea

Before I got married, I’d never been inside an Aldi store before. And I was hesitant to do so as I’d always had this impression that it was a dirty store with low quality food. However, since my husband and I had such a meager budget in the early years of our marriage, I quickly decided to get over my inhibitions and just go check out the store to see what I thought.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover Aldi wasn’t anything like I thought it would be. Sure, it doesn’t have the bells and whistles that a traditional grocery store has, but I’ll gladly give those up for the money I save by shopping there.

Here are a few tips for successfully shopping at Aldi:

1. Shop in a Nicer Section of Town

If possible, find an Aldi nearby that is in a nicer section of town. The Aldi stores in more run-down areas tend to be less clean and the food does seem to be poorer quality (it might just be my imagination–or the fact that it’s a lot more picked over many times!).

2. Shop With an Open Mind

Go to Aldi with an open mind (and a strict cash budget) and start carefully looking over all they have to offer. Right away, you’ll probably find some things you wouldn’t buy there, but you’ll probably be surprised at how similar other items look to things you usually buy at the grocery store.

Buy a few items to try and take them home and see what you and your family think. You’ll probably find some things you don’t care for, but you’ll probably also discover that you actually like some of their products better than the name brand products at the grocery store (for instance, we think their canned green beans are better than name brand green beans!).

The one thing I’ve found that varies the most at Aldi is their produce. At times, their produce will be great. Other times, it’s downright awful. You can always price-match their weekly deals at Walmart, so don’t feel like you need to buy produce there if it looks less than ideal. Stick with what looks fresh and high quality and skip the rest–no matter how inexpensive the price.

3. Stick With Staple Ingredients

In most cases, you’ll save the most at Aldi if you buy primarily staple ingredients there. Many of their processed foods aren’t much less than you’d pay at the grocery store (they can actually cost more than what you’d pay when combining a coupon with a sale!).

However, their every day prices on baking supplies, canned goods, frozen fruit and vegetables, peanut butter, oatmeal, eggs, milk, and butter will be at least 20% less than you’d pay at the grocery store. Plus, while you’re family might be able to tell a difference in ketchup brands, they probably won’t be able to tell if you use Aldi baking soda!

Do you shop at Aldi? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what is best to buy there and what items you won’t buy there.

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Comments

  1. Kelli says

    I love to shop at Aldi’s stores. I am always telling people about how I love their yogurt better than brand names. And a tid bit of information, Aldi is the parent company of Trader Joe’s.

  2. says

    I liked Aldi when I went. The reason I haven’t gone back is because I have to insert a quarter to get a shopping cart. Although I understand WHY they do it, I don’t always have change on me. I know it is a bad habit of mine.

  3. Veronica says

    We buy most of our staples there, as well as snack foods, produce as long as it looks good, salad (they even have the artisan salad blend now), breads, bagels, orange chicken, waffles, frozen veggies, some of the canned goods and their chocolate. They just redid their orange chicken recipe and I think it is the same as Trader Joe’s. The maple cookies Aldi had in the store yesterday are delicious, and we’ve enjoyed the chocolate chip dunkers, too. I think both of those are TJ’s as well. I typically don’t buy their meat because Wegmans usually has better prices and better quality on the chicken and meats. But we do like the ham at Christmastime, and especially after the holidays, when they put it on sale. The stollen is wonderful. We’re closer to Wegmans than the Aldis, but sometimes I’m too tempted to overspend at Wegmans. At Aldis even if I add a couple of items to the order, I don’t usually go over budget.

  4. Rae says

    My list is not based on quality since it varies, if I see something of poor quality, I will not buy it even if it’s on my “always buy” list.

    Things I always buy there:
    -EGGS (around $1.50 or up for a dozen around here, maybe $1 on sale, or $1.60-something at Costco for 18 ct but still $.47 per dozen at Aldis!)
    -milk ($1.89 here, well over $2 everywhere else including costco)
    -hamburger and hotdog buns ($.69, $1 at the next cheapest place)
    -certain fruits per week are a great price

    Things I sometimes buy:
    -bread
    -canned beans
    -special buy items (sometimes they have some cool items for decent prices)
    -baking staples
    -the frozen chubs of ground turkey (I think they were like $1.49 for 1 lb)

    Things I never buy there (because prices do NOT compare with what I can get sale/coupon shopping):
    -meat, poultry, etc (except for the ground turkey) including luncheon meat
    -cheese (and any other dairy except listed above)
    -processed food
    -most frozen foods

  5. Margaret says

    I love Aldi’s! I do most of my shopping there, with the occasional stop at Walmart. Ours is clean well kept and the produce is generally good/terrific, though limited, but mostly seasonal. I cook mostly from scratch and we use few of the convenience foods, but the chips and such we have bought are good. The posters who commented about the honey baked ham and the chocolate being some of the best you can buy are dead on. I have served it to rave reviews, to folks that would probably never go there. I figure that there are about the same amount of foods that I wouldn’t buy at Aldis as I wouldn’t buy at any other grocery store. Just read your labels. And their guarantee is great.

  6. Diana Alm says

    I buy most everything at Aldi. They really improved the store when they began taking debit cards (it used to be cash only,) and when they started selling meat and fresh produce. Now it’s just like other grocery stores but with much lower prices. They don’t have as much choice, but their generic brands are good and if you want to just get some groceries and not make a career of shopping it’s a great place to go. I’ve also bought some items besides food — air mattress, a pot to boil water, etc. that were very good even though I didn’t recognize the brand name. I really like Aldi!

  7. Heather says

    Liked Aldi when I was super poor and single living in France back in the 90s. Now I look back with regret that I bought so much there, when I could have been buying MUCH better stuff anywhere else!

    Went to my first U.S. Aldi last summer when out of town, and I was not impressed. Guess I am older and more picky now, or maybe it wasn’t a good one. The coin-operated shopping carts brought back fun memories, though!

  8. takeya smith says

    i shop at aldi and i really like. I’ve change some of the things that i get. I mainly get the salad in the bag, spices, oils and barbecue sauce and staples like that i also get the fruit and veg that are fresh. thank you for the post

  9. Amy B says

    2 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Going to Aldi:

    1. Bring a quarter for the shopping cart.

    2. Bring your own bags.

    I did neither, so I just bought all I could carry in my arms and walked out with it in my arms as well. LOL!

    • says

      the first time I went I asked the lady in the car next to me (she was leaving as I was arriving) if she could give me a quarter since I hadn’t brought one! Whoops!
      Your story is great – you’ll certainly never forget a quarter or bags again!! :)

  10. says

    Our favorite thing about Aldi besides the rock-bottom prices on many staples for our family is the way the bar codes are printed on boxed items. The cashiers never have to second guess anything when they are scanning items because half the box is covered in bar codes! We just always laugh at how funny it makes the box look, but really, that is just one of the many ways they make shopping there quick and simple!

  11. says

    I’m a huge Aldi’s fan. Right now they have the cheapest price on real maple syrup the I can find in my area. Ours also has good produce. My staples are corn chips, chocolate chips, canned tomatoes, milk, butter, pickles, produce, bread, and OJ. My family loves their hummus and we often find special treats as well. I’m lucky to have two within easy driving distance to home.

  12. says

    We moved recently to an area where there’s no Aldi–I miss it so much and am having a hard time keeping our grocery budget under control without it. The produce was hit-and miss (but sometimes really good deals), and some things, like honey, were actually more expensive but for the most part, the quality was comparable and the prices much better than the regular supermarkets.

    Not sure if this has been mentioned, but many of their skin care products (Lacura brand) are very nice. I didn’t care for the Sea Minerals face cream (made me break out) but their other moisturizers, make-up remover, facial scrubs, etc. were great.

    Oh, and around Christmas every year they had wonderful cookies and marzipan stollen cake which was delicious!

  13. Elisa says

    We like their toilet paper and unless you come across a great deal with coupons and a sale it is the best price in town. We also think their refried beans are among the best to be had.

  14. Emily says

    Does anyone happen to know whether or not Aldi’s milk and dairy products come from cows not treated with rBST? (It would probably say it on the packaging somewhere). Also, whether or not Aldi’s carries any organic things? I buy almost exclusively certified organic produce and try to buy dairy products made from cows not treated with rBST (since I haven’t quite found the extra money in our grocery budget yet for organic dairy…..one at a time). I”m not sure if giving Aldi another try would be worth it for me.

  15. says

    I LOVE Aldi! We would be broke without it, I think. There are only a few things that we don’t care for. We stick to name-brand cereals & peanut butter, but otherwise I use many, many of their items. Their seasoning prices cannot be beat, their dairy products are great, and their juices are super! I LOVE their paper towels – I used to buy only Bounty brand, but the Aldi paper towels are very nearly the same.

    Give it a try – you may be surprised! They do vary by the location, so what works for one may be different for another.

  16. Patti says

    My family discovered Aldi when I decided to become a stay at home Mom. We LOVE nearly everything there – only a few items have not made the taste test.

    I have collapsable crates that I keep in the car and I wheel the groceries out and put them in those plus a cooler. When I get home , it is much easier to unload because I have put items together. Now when I go to the regular grocery store, I am always peeved at what the bag boys pack together!! The crates are found in the back of Office Depot and are only about $7.00. They have hundreds of uses so I keep six at a time.

  17. says

    The shredded Parmesan cheese is very good for the price as are the walnuts. I have purchased several of the Crofton brand items and have been very happy with them. Wish I could find another 10 qt. pasta cooker! Works wonders when blanching summer vegetables for freezing.

  18. says

    I’m not an Aldi regular, but I’ve shopped there enough to know that their products (to me) taste just as good, if not better, than some store brands or name brand items I buy. I’ve not eaten a thing from there that i could tell a difference in. My husband claims their chips aren’t as good, but he’s a chip snob, anyway!

    Things I love at Aldi….milk and eggs (much cheaper than grocery stores/Walmart), spaghetti sauce, coffee creamer, lunch meat, canned fruits/veggies, mayo, meat marinades. Truly, everything I’ve bought I have liked. And my doggie loved their 99cent treats!

    The fresh produce seems sketchy at times. The fresh meat and chicken has always been great as well.

  19. Jessi J. says

    I buy almost everything at Aldi’s except for fresh meat… I’ll buy frozen ground turkey or beef but not fresh…. I just can’t do it.

  20. Ramona says

    I started shopping at Aldi after regularly reading moneysavingmom.com. I have also done a price comparison between Aldi and Wegmans in my area (Webster, NY). When I did this a year ago there was a big difference between the 2 stores but the gap has really closed between the 2 stores for some items. I buy baking supplies there among other items-I think the baking mix is just as good as Bisquick and cheaper. Produce a little iffy at times, have to be careful.
    Someone told me the Fit n Active yogurt is made by Yoplait according to their phone app. There was recently a food recall on Honeysuckle ground turkey and Shadybrook Famrs was included so the same company that makes Honeyscukle ground turkey apparently makes the ground turkey for Aldi.

  21. Leah Robbins says

    I love shopping at Aldi. I primarily buy staples there as others have mentioned. Something to note as well the owners of Aldi are also part owners in Trader Joes. Since we don’t have one here in OKC I was surprised to find this out. After that I have noticed that several of their items are VERY similar to TJ’s. The chocolate chip dunkers, “italian” soda, several chocolates (seasonal), butter crisp waffer cookies, and alot of their european items are very similar. So when I see them I snatch them up! Also their German products are very good too (trust me I know grew up there!).

  22. Sue says

    I was not an Aldi shopper until a new one was built in our neigborhood. Now I will pass by the hot dog/hamburger buns in other stores to buy them at Aldi. They are always fresh, good-tastng and ALWAYS cheaper than other stores. The milk is very good and also a good price. I love their chocolate (candy bars, etc.). Because Aldi is German-owned, they obviously get their candy from Switzerland – the world’s best chocolate. My advice is to try a product there. It actually could become your preference.

  23. Jocelyn says

    We adore Aldi! We have been shopping there every week for about 2 years now. I was one of those people who didn’t think I would like “generic” food, even though we did buy store brands on occasion. Once I tried it, though, I’ve never looked back!

    My favorite items at Aldi are the rising crust frozen pizzas, pizza rolls (I like them better than Totino’s), cereals (made by General Mills, so I’ve heard), chocolate candy, pretzels, sour cream and onion chips, BBQ baked chips (better than Lay’s), and graham crackers just to name a few. The refrigerated jalapeno salsa is exceptional.

    The produce here is pretty good. I’ve never had any problems with it. You have to watch the expiration dates, but I’ve never had any problems returning anything (I’ve only had to do it 2 or 3 times).

    If you’re still skeptical, give it a try! You can get your money back if you don’t like what you buy.

  24. jen says

    Miss shopping at Aldi so much, had it in KY but not out here in CO. Just wanted to mention that I first started shopping at Aldi in Germany of all places. The funny thing is they are “regular” stores there, not discount ones so there’s no stigma about shopping there–everyone does. Still have to bring your own bags and use a quarter for the cart there, but that’s every store in Germany. Brings back so many wonderful memories. :)

  25. says

    We shop there for staples like flour, rice, beans, sugar, some seasonings (not the garlic it was nasty), apple juice and potatoes. Sometimes we get the fruit if it looks good. Every now and then I’ll buy the green peppers if no one else has them on sale and various other produce if it looks good. I found by looking at the labels that it is the same produce sold at our grocery stores.
    Their milk is also RbGH free though we utilize a local dairy for our dairy.
    Ground beef price is best around here in SC, and the frozen vegetables are decently priced.

    What I won’t buy: lemon juice (seriously it wasn’t good), yogurt (they all have HFCS in them and artificial dye), prepackaged anything like cookies, chips, candies, frozen “meals” (not Aldi’s fault I don’t allow this food in my home ). Bread, rolls All have HFCS in them and other chemicals.

  26. Terrah Hartley says

    So worth the extra shopping trip!! We buy so many staples there and are VERY lucky to have an amazing fresh produce aisle!! Here are the items we buy: salad dressing, flour, sugar, baking soda, pie crusts, cheesecake mix, brownie mix (the only mix we buy now!), choco chips, sweetened condensed milk, cake mixes, icing, milk, eggs, sour cream, yogurt, canned chix, potato sides, flavored water bottles, bottled water, sprts drink (very like G2), rice, pasta noodles, spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, mushrooms, burrito shells, dog chewies, canned dog food, paper plates, bagged salad, ham steaks, ground beef, ground turkey, premade hamburger patties, chix breasts, butt roasts, lunch meat, applesauce, canned crushed pineapple, baked beans, canned soups, popcicles (these are my hubby’s fav we buy 6 boxes a week!!), all bread. We’ve bought other items that are ok but we prefer namebrand but will do in a pinch or tight budget month (mayo very close to namebrand, ketchup and mustard as well)
    I’m sure there might be more I buy. I tried to go down the aisles in my head.
    Again worth it to make 2 grocery store trips. I just started to bulk shop. My goal is to buy a full box of 1 item each time I go to start a stockpile.
    TRY IT!!

  27. Evie (from MN) says

    Thanks for asking this question – I have been wondering the same thing. I was hesitant to go because of not being able to use coupons. I will definitely go and try the ‘staples’. Thanks everyone for your feedback – it was just what I was looking for.

    Signed – I swear I squeak when I walk – Evie :)

  28. Karen says

    My hubby and I are senior citizens.
    Some time back we watched an episode of “Unwrapped” on the Food Network. Featured was Aldi’s.
    For what it is worth, Aldi’s is a German company. Many of their products are made by “name brand” companies – General Mills/Post/Kellogg’s cereals for examples – the same way store brands in Kroger, Safeway, Giant Eagle etc. are made by name brands. I have a friend who emigrated from Germany and she is so happy to have Aldi’s here.
    Aldi’s saves us a lot of money for our coming retirement nest egg. It is easy to get in and out; just carry your own bags. In my neck of the woods they’re building a bigger/better one for us.
    My advice is to start out with one or two basic items and go from there. Their oil refill air fresheners are cheaper than Glade of Air Wick’s. Their face care products (Lacura) are very good – for $3.99 a jar give it a try! Beats L’Oreal prices any day. In our store fresh produce is brought in every other day. Talk to the staff and ask how often new stock is put out. For the most part the chips are great and now they have baked versions – made by Frito-Lay no doubt! Give Aldi’s a try!

  29. Beulah says

    Many have mentioned the connection to Trader Joe’s. Aldi’s store brand merchandise is the same as the store brand for the Kroger family of stores. We buy most of our staples there. If you cook with basic ingredients as opposed to using processed ingredients, Aldi will save you a small fortune.

    A note on produce: I’ve noticed my produce goes bad much quicker from Aldi during the normal growing season. To avoid this, we usually shop the Farmer’s Market during this time. If you read the labels on the produce, you’ll notice that the produce is generally sourced from a closer area and not grown in a hothouse. We live in IN and most of the produce at our Aldi comes from IN or MI. It isn’t exactly local, but it’s much better than produce that has traveled all the way from CA or overseas.

  30. Jill says

    I have several Aldi’s around me. One of them in particular is usually worse than the others. I think mainly it’s because it is the only grocery store in a town with a high food stamp rate and where most people don’t have cars.

    But no matter which one I go to they have things that I can’t get anywhere else!

  31. Lyn says

    I shop Aldi’s for a few things on occasion. This article was very helpful as it gave me many ideas of products to try that might help the grocery budget even further. The input was great. Thanks! :)

  32. Carol P. says

    My son loved the Fit and Active pasta – of course, I didn’t tell him what it was. But he asked me to make it again anytime… He also likes their frozen Italian food. I thought the Fit and Active shakes (a la Slimfast) were fine. I bought gum there once and it had a chemical taste – only thing I was disappointed in.

  33. Tammala says

    Also try their snacks. My family loves them! This is a store where my family can actually afford some healthier choices. They have baked potato chips, natural peanut butter, chocolate bars with nuts (I know, not so healthy), turkey hot dogs, fat free salad dressings, and a variety of produce. Every now and again we even find a good deal on plants, yard decor, accessories and other seasonal items. Great store! If you’ve never been, check a nice one out at least once. Oh and I must not fail to
    mention their fitActive brand sorbet ice cream pops. They either have very low sugar or fat and they are DELICIOUS!

  34. Michelle says

    Ok, I am new to Aldi too and here has been my experience. I always buy my sons whole milk there and I buy their cheese. I am a bit of a cheese snob, so this shocks me that I like it! I buy the majority of my produce there too. The strawberries have been the cheapest, mostly flavorful and tasty all summer long! I will not buy potatoes there anymore. I have a friend that loves them but my bag had so many that were spoiled inside that I wouldn’t even want to risk making a baked potato with them. I have tried the hard taco shells, I don’t buy them again they were thin and crumbled when you ate them. I also buy yogurt covered raisins there…my reg store has no variety and they are yummy! I have gotten the ravioli twice and I think that it is good (again my other store has no variety). My mom is now getting the indiv cups of yogurt from there and I have a friend that loves the frozen shrimp. I also get margarine from there…way cheaper than in the other stores! I have bought sandwich bread and buns from there too. I won’t buy the sandwich bread, it had a funny taste but the buns were ok. Ooh and I bought bagels and cream cheese there too. Way cheaper than other store and they were good. Basically what I don’t regularly have coupons for and are staples I get at Aldi. Yes some things will not be to your liking but try a few things at a time. You will be suprised what you can walk out with for $20!

  35. Melody says

    I love to get their canned beans (all varieties) and tomatoes for chili! I make chili often and have even won a few contests with Aldi’s canned goods in it! I don’t get to Aldi’s as often as I should and when I am low on beans (chili, pinto, black and baked) and I try to pick them up in another grocery store I about choke when I see the price. We were out the other day and I just couldn’t bring myself to pay $1 at Meijer for one can of black beans. Also, I do fresh fruit whenever possible but during the winter months when I want a fruit salad (or am going to a potluck and need to bring something) I pick up some of their canned fruit. They have their “light and fit” (something like that) brand that has mixed fruit in fruit juice (avoid the extra sugar!!) and they have a tropical fruit that I mix in with papaya, pineapple and mango and everyone always compliments the mix! Canned fruit is another thing I can hardly buy in other grocery stores when I know the price (and quality) at Aldi’s is so much better!

  36. Beth says

    I’ve never been to an Aldi that was dirty or had less quality items than another. I have lived in several different states and all of them had Aldi’s that I have loved. The cashiers are always friendly, store is always clean and produce always fresh; plus everything is cheaper than bigger chain stores. I couldn’t survive without them!

  37. Alisha says

    Every fall I stock up on baking chips for the year ($1.19 for white, chocolate and butterscotch.) I also regularly buy graham crackers and snack crackers ($1.19 and $1.69 respectively.) I also like their tortillas and chicken breast ($5.49 for 3 lbs.) We also buy canned beans for taco soups. And I pull up their ad on my phone to price match produce at walmart each week. :)

  38. Debbie says

    I LOVE shopping at Aldi’s and actually drive the 1 hour to the closest one to me. Normally I will pick up everything there except for the fruit and vegetables that are not frozen. I love to stock my pantry from them, and cannot beat their prices. I just wish they were closer so I don’t have to use my cooler and make sure I have nothing else going on in the morning – I give myself 3 hours for my Aldi trip… 2 for driving and 1 for shopping!

  39. says

    Last year I found an adorable backpack for my son. It was on clearance and I don’t remember the exact price but I know it was under $10. The quality amazed me for such a low price. I love it. It’s those random, good finds that make Aldi such a great store. Also love that they have plants for cheaper than most places.

    • Vicki says

      I bought GREAT sleeping bags two years ago, and am hoping they have them again. They were large, long enough for my over 6 foot sons, and rated to zero degrees.

  40. Carol says

    I do most of my grocery shopping here. I don’t think anyone has mentioned the chicken salad which comes in the 1 lb. tub, delicious and cheap. Love the wide pan whole wheat bread, and many others. The only think we’ve ever bought there and not really liked was mayo, and my husband is picky with that and only likes Kraft.

  41. says

    We don’t have an Aldi anywhere around here, but it sounds very much like our Sav-A-Lot stores. It took a while before I would actually shop there because the store just wasn’t anywhere near as nice as my beloved Publix. But I did finally venture in and pick up a few items — cabbage for 39 cents a pound, bananas for 29 cents a pound, etc. I still haven’t bought any meat or milk there, though. Maybe if the store seemed a little cleaner…

    • Vicki says

      I have a Sav-A-Lot and an Aldi. The only thing I get at Sav-A-Lot is the 1/4 pound hot dogs. My teenagers and husband love them. If I did not have an Aldi I would shop there more. (once in a while Aldi has the 1/4 pound hot dogs. YEA)

  42. Emily says

    I love ALDI especially because of their “Double” guarantee… which they are very good about honoring. A few years ago I found a piece of wood in my hot dog bun (from the pallet they are stacked on), and they gave me my money back, plus a new pack of buns, PLUS a ton of canned veggies. And then a few weeks ago, I bought some cookie dough ice cream, and it didn’t have any “cookie dough chunks” in it, as shown in the picture, so I sent an email… I ended up getting my money refunded times TWO from the ice cream manufacturer, plus a very nice letter from ALDI saying I could get a refund in the store plus a free ice cream. AWESOME customer service! :)

  43. Kristine says

    I buy most of my groceries at Aldi, and our store has awesome produce. Our Wal-Mart has terrible produce, so I try to avoid it as much as possible even though Wal-Mart is closer. My meal plans include lots of staple items, fresh or frozen veggies, and fruit, and Aldi is great for those things.

  44. Vicki says

    I LOVE my Aldi!! The first time I walked in I was disappointed because they didn’t have everything I wanted, but now I know they don’t carry everything and I just supplement at Meijer. I have a list of the things that Aldi has, and over the years I have written the prices on this list. I compare and match up coupons and still Aldi has the better price!! I truly believe that I have cut my grocery bill in half by shopping at Aldi. I have 7 kids and three of them are teenagers so that is really important. My husband sings Aldi praises at work and convinced a coworker to go and now she shops there all the time. When I buy brand name food, my kids are not impressed. God bless Aldi for the little people and the big families!!