Aldi. It’s known for its quarter-to-release carts, no plastic bags policy, minimalist advertising, and of course, its rock bottom pricing. In Chicagoland alone, there are over 100 locations of this German-based discount store. Within a 3 mile radius of my apartment, I could be shopping at my pick of 5 different Aldis. But I don’t. And I often feel guilty about it, especially considering that I blog about grocery shopping on a budget. But as someone who doesn’t own a car and carries all of her groceries from the store to home, the 1 mile to my closest Aldi just seems daunting.
However, this past week I found myself in the vicinity, so decided to pop in to see what real food items I could find. Their weekly ad boasted $.99/lb strawberries and $.99/pint blueberries, two offers I couldn’t resist. As I made my way to the produce, I kept my eye out for other natural products that I regularly purchase. And guess what? I wasn’t impressed.
Their tortilla chips at a mere $1.19/13oz bag included “oat fiber” in the ingredients list, an unnecessary addition to the corn, oil, and salt in my opinion.
I couldn’t find a single jar of salsa without any added sugar, although the price tag of $1.89/25oz jar was tempting.
Then I found the natural peanut butter with an impressive price tag of just $1.69/16oz. However, when examining the label, I found evaporated cane juice, palm oil, and molasses under ingredients, as opposed to my typical jar that contains just peanuts and salt.
The almond butter also contained cane sugar and palm oil, and cost $5.99/12oz.
But what surprised me the most was the cost of their produce. Sure, the strawberries and blueberries were an incredible deal, but aside from that week’s sales, the regular fruits and vegetables were the same price, if not more expensive, than the produce I find at Mariano’s, my beautiful grocery store located directly across the street from my apartment, and it definitely didn’t look as appealing.
As a frugal grocery shopper who also focuses on clean, natural products, I was disappointed when I took a close look at many of the items offered at Aldi. But regardless, I was still able to walk away with a handful of things I was excited about for this week’s grocery haul.
- Mushrooms $1.39/8oz
- Avocados $.89 each
- Peaches $1.99/2lbs
- Blueberries $.99/pint
- Uncured Natural Bacon $3.99/12oz
Unfortunately, the sale strawberries were out of stock!
In a previous grocery haul, I picked up a few other items at Aldi.
(Note: This picture includes food from other stores as well.)
- Old Fashioned Oats $2.29/42oz
- Chia Seeds $2.99/5.3oz
- Pitted Dates $1.89/8oz
- Strawberries $1.19/lb
- Raspberries $1.39/6oz
- Blueberries $1.89/6oz
Is Aldi the Cheapest Grocery Store?
Here in Chicago, no. I find its pricing on natural food to be comparable to the two main grocery stores I shop at, Mariano’s and Jewel-Osco, with the exception of just a few items being significantly cheaper (like chia seeds and avocados!). However, I’m realizing more and more that Chicago grocers offer competitive pricing, and can often be much less expensive than other parts of the country. Where you live, Aldi may be the best deal. To find out if it is, start by making your own Budget Grocery Price List. And if like me you are concerned about what your food is made of, make sure to take a close look at the ingredient label before putting anything in your cart.
What grocery store is the cheapest where you live? Please share the name of the store and where you live in the comments below!