Does Aldi Stack Up In Terms Of Quality And Taste?

We’ve recently added Aldi as one of the stores we visit regularly to fulfill our grocery shopping needs.  There isn’t one really close to us (7 miles is the closest), but we found that it was worth it and could offer savings for our family.  Last month, Aldi represented about 20% of the money we spent on groceries.

mb-201304groceryAfter buying some items, either once or regularly, I thought it would be interesting to review how the items stacked up against the same items we would buy in a more traditional grocery store.

Here are a few comparisons, with as much information as I can remember:

  • Pineapple – The first week we went to Aldi, we bought a pineapple for $1.49.  The normal price is $3.00, with sale prices available around $2.50, so this was a big discount.  I even posted about it on Facebook, and someone sarcastically replied that the pineapple must have been grown in Kansas (they do not grow pineapple in Kansas, to the best of my knowledge).  The pineapple was fine and we’ve bought it at other times.  Buy at Aldi?  Absolutely!
  • Broccoli – Produce can be found very cheap at Aldi, and one of our favorite veggies, broccoli, is often a good price.  They don’t sell it as a full head of broccoli.  Instead, it’s cut (I think in half) and put in a package.  I’m guessing that this makes it easier for shipping, but it seems you end up with the same amount.  The quality was fine, though we did notice a few more brown spots on the tips than we usually see, and our three year old son refuses to eat those pieces.  Buy at Aldi?  Sure, but give it a good look!
  • Milk – A gallon of milk can be a fantastic find at Aldi.  Sometimes it is cheaper elsewhere, but sometimes Aldi has the best prices, often by 15-20%.  We go through a lot of milk, so this can add up.  The milk tastes exactly the same, and the rumor is that it comes from one of the better dairy companies here in Michigan, but they just put a different label on it. Buy at Aldi?  Absolutely.
  • Canned tomatoes – My wife makes a mean spinach lasagna (a recipie made famous from my mother-in-law), and she adds a few cans of tomatoes.  Each batch usually comes out slightly different.  The version she made with the canned tomatoes from Aldi came out a little more soupy than usual.  It still tasted fine, but we wondered if the tomatoes held a little more water.  Buy at Aldi?  I would buy a can or two and see how you like it.
  • Box mac-and-cheese – I’m still a kid at heart in that I enjoy box mac-and-cheese.  I actually prefer the ‘special flavor’ versions in the same size box, notably Three Cheese and Spirals.  Still, we found a box of the regular variety and decided to give it a shot.  It definitely had a different taste than Kraft or even the store brands.  It wasn’t bad, it was just different.  They have an Aldi version of the specialty types that I still might try, but for the regular brand: Buy at Aldi?  I probably would not buy this again.
  • Yogurt – I like the flavored yogurt cups.  I usually get the low-calorie version of Yoplait or the Meijer brand equivalent.  I don’t like Dannon, Kroger, or WalMart, which are the other three varieties I’ve tried.   Aldi has their version for 39 cents a cup.  The cheapest I see Yoplait is 50 cents (it’s usually 70) and the cheapest for Meijer is 40 cents (it’s usually 50).  So, it’s definitely a good deal.  I bought some and when I tried it, I loved it. The yogurt, to me, tasted better than either the Yoplait or Meijer.  Two caveats: One, they don’t have as many flavors.  Two, they have the low-calorie type and they also have a regular type.  The distinction for Yoplait is unmistakeable, the regular cups are pink and the low-cal cups are blue.  With Aldi, I’ve mistakenly grabbed the wrong type more than a few times.  They just don’t stand out from one another enough in a way that’s perfectly obvious, plus they are often intermixed.  Buy at Aldi?  Yes, but give your cups a second look to make sure you picked out the variety you were looking for. 
  • Gum – I normally hate the impulse buy section near the register of most grocery stores.  Aldi has it as well.  They just have more reasonable prices.  I bought a pack of gum, or rather a package that has six 10-piece packages of gum.  The pieces are the rectangles that you get with Eclipse or others, where you usually have to push them out through a piece of foil.  Aldi packages them in groups of 10 in packaging that looks like the typical stick gum.  They’re not individually wrapped, so once you open the package, you probably don’t want to carry it around in your pocket.  It’s fine for sitting on my desk at work.  And, it tastes very minty, as it should.  Buy at Aldi?  Yes, but not if you want to carry it in your pocket, otherwise it will probably get loose and/or get dirty since they’re not individually wrapped.
  • Tortilla chips and potato chips – We have bought both at Aldi for a pretty cheap price per bag.  In both cases, we served them at various family gatherings.  They tasted fine to me and everybody seemed to enjoy them.  Buy at Aldi?  Certainly!
  • Half and half – I usually buy a pint for $1.10 – $1.50.  Aldi has a quart for $1.49.  I figured even if I didn’t use it all, it would be a good value.  It tastes fine in my coffee, and so far, I’ve not had any go bad.  It’s definitely a cost savings.  Buy at Aldi? It’s the only place I buy it now!
  • Bread – They have a few different types.  My wife loves whole grain bread, and says that the Aldi brand is great, and it’s a great price.  I don’t like real heavy bread, but prefer a more regular loaf of whole wheat.  It’s not a bad value and it tastes fine.  My only complaint is that two of the loaves we’ve bought so far have had slices that have big holes in them, presumably from air during the rising process.  I’m not used to this, and it can be troublesome when making PB&J or egg salad sandwiches.  Buy at Aldi?  Whole grain, yes.  Wheat bread, a yes for now, but if the holes persist, I may turn this to a no, at least for my variety.

So, for the most part, buying things at Aldi seems to work out just fine in terms of quality and taste, though you have to assess each item for yourself.  We’ll definitely continue to go there regularly to fulfill at least a portion of our shopping needs.

We’ve bought a lot of other things but those are the ones that pop into my head.  We haven’t bought much out of the frozen food section.  Maybe someday.  We also haven’t bought anything like margarine, butter, or sour cream (my wife will only buy Daisy, which doesn’t have a long ingredient list).  Any thoughts on those or other items? 

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22 thoughts on “Does Aldi Stack Up In Terms Of Quality And Taste?

  1. I’d also say, check the expiration dates. I went to buy lard from Aldi’s northeast counterpart PriceRite and it was expired as of November of Last year…and last I checked it was still there. I also find that berries and generic canned tuna are a no go for the bargain places. The tuna was mush..uneatable. But nevertheless, we do shop there for lots of stuff.
    First Gen American recently posted..Debt/Home Consolidation Here we comeMy Profile

    • I will always check expiration dates of regular stuff that definitely expires (Dairy, etc.) and will spot check canned goods and pasta and stuff like that.

  2. I’m open to most store brands (except Wal-Mart, as their generics are terrible). I haven’t tried Aldi, but good to hear that someone thinks that they’re edible. As soon as Aldi starts taking credit cards I’ll give them a whirl.
    My Financial Independence Journey recently posted..Proctor and Gamble (PG) Dividend Stock AnalysisMy Profile

    • My wife mandates that we get organic eggs, which we get for the best price at Costco. If Aldi carried those, I’m sure we would try. She’s also mentioned that she would probably try butter from there when need be. Do you get margarine tubs there as well?

  3. My roommate shops at exclusively at Aldi. I would too, but I shop a little differently than he does. He buys in bulk and then doesn’t need to shop again for at least three weeks. I’m more of a European shopper, buying groceries daily on my bike ride home from work, but I only get what I need for the next 24 hours.

    He definitely doesn’t spend much and it’s ideal for him to reduce grocery shopping because he’s a busy student.

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

    • Grocery shopping: It’s one of those things we do weekly so that we don’t have to worry about it the other six days of the week!

  4. I am a big fan of Aldi. I “stuck my toe” in the Aldi waters some time ago and now shop there every week and go to the “full service” grocer every two to three weeks. There products are good and the few times there has been a problem …it was handled effeciently and effectively. I like the shredded chesses (good price), the produce (need to be selective) and even the meat on occasion. I recently bought some huge drum sticks on discount which DW battered and fried…they were great. Aldi gets more and more of my business….

    • Yeah, if memory serves we bought some chicken wings from Aldi that we used for our Super Bowl party.

  5. I like Aldi Greek yogurt than any other brand out there. It has a much more mild taste and it’s so good. We don’t like their sliced cheese, bologna, and canned ravioli. The produce is hit or miss, depends on the week, but bananas never seem good! Great list!
    Jules@Faithful With a Few recently posted..Made Money with my iPhone and Great Reads 4.14.13My Profile

    • My wife has noticed the same thing about the bananas. She likes to buy them green and they’re always pretty yellow at Aldi. Can’t win them all I guess 🙂

  6. I would love to be near a store like that. My dad actually was part owner of a Sav-a-Lot grocery store when I was a kid. It was very similar with only store brands and you bagged your own groceries. He doesn’t own a share anymore, but my mom still shops there all the time. We never had a problem with any of the items and the produce is eons better than the other option in town, which is WalMart.

  7. I don’t where our local Aldi sources the produce, but some of it is a hands down winner over Wal-Mart in terms of value for money. Frozen meats, not so hot.
    One of the things I quite like about these stores is the oddball selection in their little seasonal section. You never know what you’re going to find in there.
    101 Centavos recently posted..Seven Storefront Retail Ideas to Plow Your Inheritance IntoMy Profile

    • Yeah, I’ve been tempted by some items there. They have a carpet steam cleaner from time to time that the price can’t be beat. I just hesitate because I don’t want to buy a throwaway.

  8. I’ve shopped at Aldi’s for years. I usually buy my broccoli there and have never seen brown spots. Lately though, I’ve noticed the broccoli has been a lighter green and a deep green they’re supposed to be so I haven’t been buying. I buy my milk and whole grain bread there and like both. Yogurt… no way… I just don’t like the taste of it. I use the tomato products (not in lasagna, though) and they’ve worked fine. I cook from scratch 98% of the time, so I’ve never tried the mac and cheese, but I imagine it would stand up to Kraft. I buy a lot of fruit there, too. Some of the produce usually goes bad quickly if you don’t use within a few days.

    • Actually, I just saw a ‘save money’ alert on one of our local news reports, and it compared Kraft, Aldi and two other store brands for mac and cheese. Aldi came in dead last for the regular box kind with the powder mix. Kids and moms hated it (my wife didn’t like it either). On the other hand, they also compared the Velveeta Shells and Cheese to the same store brands, and Aldi came way ahead on that one. I haven’t tried that version (from Aldi) yet.

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