10 Things You May Want to Avoid Buying at Aldi
Hey, nobody's perfect, but Aldi sure does come close. Still, you may want to skip these items when shopping at the budget-friendly grocer.
To buy or not to buy: That is the question
If you’ve ever stepped foot in an Aldi, there’s a good chance that you’re a fan—a really big fan. After all, this German, family-owned discount supermarket is pretty darn amazing. With its exclusive store brands, award-winning wines and low-cost organic options (to name just a few of its standouts), you can get great quality items at super low prices. In fact, here are some items you should always buy at Aldi. That said, not all Aldi items are created equal, so they shouldn’t all end up in your shopping cart. We talked to some serious shopping experts and Aldi aficionados to suss out which items you might want to buy elsewhere.
When it’s time to restock your household’s supply of paper towels and toilet paper, it’s possible to get more bang for your buck in other stores, like Target, Walmart or even another favorite grocery chain. This is because, according to Aldi fans we interviewed, sales on paper products are comparable elsewhere and you can use coupons in other stores for additional savings. Aldi, on the other hand, doesn’t accept coupons. Are your couponing skills up to snuff? Here’s how to coupon, according to people who save thousands every year.
While you can get terrific deals at Aldi for almost any item on your grocery list, those in the know say to buy your poultry elsewhere. “The chicken is inexpensive, but I spend more time cleaning it than I do if I bought it from a different market,” says Kristen F. of Columbus, Ohio, who is a self-proclaimed Aldi fan. “Once I’m done cutting away fat and veins, I’m not left with much chicken.” Curious as to how the chain makes its products so affordable? Here’s why Aldi’s prices are so cheap.
Now here’s where there’s a divide among Aldi shoppers. Among those we spoke to, some raved about the chain’s produce, noting low prices and great quality. Others say that Aldi’s produce is, for lack of a better phrase, “hit or miss.” How so? It may be too ripe at the time of purchase or go bad shortly after you buy it. According to Arlene M., an Aldi shopper in Florida, “Some of the produce works for me if it’s in small packages.” The takeaway: Inspect produce before you buy, and purchase it in small amounts so that it’s consumed quickly once you take it home.
The way you save at Aldi is by shopping the generic house brand, which is priced ridiculously well. If you choose to stray from the Aldi-branded goods, that’s your prerogative, of course, but you won’t be saving on those items. Plus, you might actually pay more because Aldi doesn’t accept coupons. So, let’s say you’re extremely loyal to Frito-Lay chips: Look for sales at other grocery stores, and use your coupons for a better deal than you’ll find at Aldi.
If soda’s on your shopping list, Aldi’s store brand Summit GT probably piques your interest because of its low, low price. However, carbonated-beverage connoisseurs might want to pass. Aldi shoppers across the board report that the Summit GT variety doesn’t hold up to name brands like Coke and Pepsi, which you can often find on sale at other grocery stores. According to The Aldi Nerd blog, regular Summit GT Cola tastes pretty close to Coke but doesn’t have nearly enough bubbles, while the Diet Summit GT “tastes of something all its own and has more of a ‘cola’ flavor to it than its name brand counterparts.” If you do opt for a well-known soda brand, make sure you know the difference between cans and bottles.
If you’re a cat parent, you know the importance of good kitty litter. According to the folks over at Aldi Reviewer, Aldi’s store brand Heart to Tail Scoopable Cat Litter doesn’t stack up well next to name brands. They take issue with the product’s “dust and smell,” and also note that “liquid waste doesn’t always clump well.” By the way, these are the best dry cat foods, according to vets.
When it comes to personal-care products, most of us rely heavily on deodorant to keep us smelling and feeling fresh throughout the day. But unless you’re in a pinch, look elsewhere for this essential if you want to save money. Kiplinger wasn’t impressed with Aldi’s prices on deodorant. Since only name brands are offered, there isn’t an affordable generic option.
Generic, off-brand toothbrushes seem like just the thing that would be perfect to pick up at Aldi because they should have the cheapest prices in town, right? According to savings savant The Krazy Coupon Lady, it’s actually cheaper to buy generic toothbrushes in bulk on Amazon, to the tune of nearly 40 cents less per brush!
This is another one of those hit-or-miss situations, and it also depends on personal preference. Aldi shopper Charice M. of St. Louis, Missouri, says she typically skips buying the chain’s in-house yogurt brand. Referring to the taste as “a little off,” she thinks it’s worth spending a little more to go with the name brands she has become loyal to, like Fage, at another store.
On several Aldi Reddit threads, shoppers shared their disappointment in both the Aldi brand graham crackers and bear-shaped graham cookies (think along the lines of Teddy Grahams), so you can skip these purchases without experiencing any FOMO. However, it’s important to note that Aldi sometimes goes back to the drawing board to reformulate products, so if you don’t care for an item the first time around, perhaps the next iteration will be more to your taste.
The fan favorites you should buy
We’d be remiss if we didn’t end on a high note, because savvy shoppers do love Aldi. What are some of the must-have items they go back for during every visit? The customers we spoke to love rounding up charcuterie ingredients at Aldi, like brie and various meats. Similarly, they rave about the German candy and treats, as well as Aldi’s fresh pizzas. As with any store, it’s important to know before you go! What else should you know about this store? You won’t hear any music at Aldi, and here’s why.