When it comes to grocery shopping, is Aldi really as cheap as they claim to be?

I recently received this advertisement (see picture) in the mail from Aldi grocery stores, which showed a sample basket of goods purchased both at Aldi and at another grocery store. The claim made is that the groceries purchased at Aldi represented savings of 42% versus the other grocery store.

While 42% is tremendous savings, the ad immediately struck me as flawed and unfair because it wasn’t comparing apples to apples (so to speak).

While the food purchased at the other grocery store were name brand goods, the food from Aldi was all store brand stuff, so of course it was cheaper.

Aldi vs. Walmart -- Battle of the Cheaps


The whole thing got me to thinking about the much more important question of how Aldi would do in a fair fight in its own weight class, against another store's house brand.

“Somebody should investigate this I thought,” then quickly realized that I was just the sort of guy who went around investigating that type of thing! So I set out to do a little grocery shopping and answer two questions.

The first question was “Is Aldi’s advertisement fair?”, but the more interesting question was “Do you really save money shopping at Aldi?”

I took a trip both to Aldi and to Walmart, the nation's largest grocery store. The first thing I did was try to price the exact items featured in the ad to see if Aldi’s claim was accurate. My results are in the following table:

 

Item National name brand
at Walmart
Store brand
at Aldi
100 sandwich bags $2.98 $1.99
14.4 oz graham crackers 2.98 1.39
12 oz vanilla wafers 3.28 1.49
26 oz applesauce 2.15* 1.39
9 oz fruit snacks 2.25 * 1.39
17 oz sandwich cookies 3.50 1.49
6 oz raisins 1.12* 1.19
8.4 oz granola bars 2.18 1.79
30 oz mayonaise 3.98 1.99
32 oz grape jelly 2.98 1.59
1 lb ham 4.98 3.29
12 oz cheese 3.12 1.79
1 lb turkey 4.48 3.29
20 oz mustard 2.11 * 0.69
     
Total price 42.09 24.76
     
Savings   41%

*Items marked with an asterisk were not available in the same size as the Aldi item. The price was adjusted to the Aldi equivalent size on a per unit basis.

As you can see from this table, Aldi’s advertisement is pretty darn accurate. Surprisingly, the prices at my local Aldi were actually a little lower than in the advertisement, and the savings of 41% were almost exactly the same as the advertised savings of 42%. But that really isn’t important. Anybody that really cares about saving money buys store brands, so how does Aldi stack up against Walmart’s store brands?

Here are those results:

Item Walmart store brand Aldi store brand
100 sandwich bags $2.48 $1.99
14.4 oz graham crackers 2.18 1.39
12 oz vanilla wafers 2.00 1.49
26 oz applesauce 1.07 * 1.39
9 oz fruit snacks 1.48 1.39
17 oz sandwich cookies 1.95 * 1.49
6 oz raisins 1.48 1.19
8.4 oz granola bars 2.00 1.79
30 oz mayonaise 2.54 1.99
32 oz grape jelly 2.92 1.59
1 lb ham 3.48 3.29
12 oz cheese 2.88 1.79
1 lb turkey 3.48 3.29
20 oz mustard 0.91* 0.69
     
Total price 30.86 24.76
     
Savings   20%

*Items marked with an asterisk were not available in the same size as the Aldi item. The price was adjusted to the Aldi equivalent size on a per unit basis.

There you have it. On the basket of goods Aldi chose to compare, the real savings versus the store brands of Walmart is 20%. While that doesn’t come close to the advertised 42%, it is very impressive anyway.

So what do you think? Is 20% enough to convince you to do your shopping at Aldi?

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About the author: More of Andy Prescott’s work can be found at ArtofBeingCheap.com, where unlike his groceries, the articles are never generic.