Aldi, the German grocery chain that's been rapidly expanding throughout the world for years now, has a dedicated fan base of customers who are loyal to the company for its famously low prices on private-label products. But beware; not everything the store offers is a bargain. Money-savvy customers have compiled lists of items you'll be better off skipping at Aldi, and we're sharing their tips here.
Many of these suggestions stem from the fact that Aldi doesn't accept manufacturers' coupons, meaning that purchasing name-brand items there can cost you more money in the long run. Others are due to issues regarding product quality or availability. Read on to learn which products to avoid at Aldi!
Breakfast Cereal Tends To Be More Expensive At Aldi
As a rule, Aldi only stocks name brands when they're not able to make their own product that's of equal quality or better. Name-brand breakfast cereals are hard to beat, so the store doesn't offer many of its own private label versions.
The problem is that name brands are almost always more expensive at Aldi since the store doesn't accept manufacturers' coupons. As a result, you'll be wise to purchase your favorite breakfast cereals at the grocery or big-box store.
Buy Baby Food Elsewhere
Many baby essentials, like formula and diapers, are almost always a better deal at Aldi than at other stores. Items like baby snacks are also a good deal and well worth stocking up on while you make an Aldi run.
However, when it comes to baby food, you're better off going to big-box stores or traditional grocers because the selection at Aldi is just not a bargain. And you can use name-brand baby food coupons in conjunction with the sale prices at other stores.
Some Chips And Snacks Are Great But Others Aren't Worth The Savings
Snack items are a great food to stock up on while at Aldi. That is, some of them. People have said that the taste of Aldi-brand potato chips are nowhere near as good as name-brand varieties.
Some other types of Aldi chips score high with the store's fans, though. The person behind the blog Thrifty Frugal Mom said that Aldi brand tortilla, corn, and kettle-cooked chips are consistently "just as good as any name brand."
There Are Quality Issues With The Zip-Top Bags
Aldi's zip-top storage bags are another product that knowledgeable customers tend to steer clear of. While they're a great price, the quality leaves much to be desired.
Many people say that they have noticed a dip in quality over time and recommend that people get the name-brand versions of zipping bags instead. After all, a bag that tears and spills its contents isn't really helping out in the long run, even if it costs a little less!
Aldi's Store-Brand Soda Comes Up Flat
If you drink a lot of soda, you can save quite a bit by buying Aldi's store brand beverages. But unfortunately, the trade-off isn't worth it to many people. The taste and quality just aren't there, which means that "savings" were actually wasted money.
Don't be tempted to buy the name-brand versions there, either! You'll pay top price at Aldi. Save the Coke and Sprite purchases for your trips to the grocery store, and use those coupons.
Meat Might Be Less Expensive At The Local Grocery Store (Except On Certain Days)
While Aldi does occasionally offer some good deals on meat, their regular prices aren't all that great. Smart Aldi shoppers know to go on Wednesdays for the best discounts because the store tends to offer some pretty fantastic sales on select meat items those days, but it's generally a better idea to buy staples like chicken and turkey at your regular grocery store.
Additionally, Consumer Reports has found the quality of Aldi's meat to be questionable at times.
Many People Don't Like Aldi's Yogurt
Yogurt is another of those foods that people develop pretty strong preferences for. However, quite a few Aldi fans have reported that they don't like the store's private-label brand. Charice M. of St. Louis, Missouri, told Reader's Digest that she won't buy her yogurt at Aldi, saying that it tastes "a little off" to her.
Name-brand yogurt products are nearly always going to be cheaper at regular retailers, so if Aldi's brand doesn't suit your tastes, get yours at the grocery instead.
Did You Know That Aldi Sells Clothing?
Some Aldi locations sell clothing these days, in the non-food "Aldi Finds" department. Unfortunately, quite a few consumer experts who have given the store's fashionable offerings a try say they're not a good buy.
A contributor on Aldi Reviewer shared that she bought some pajamas at the store. They weren't even machine dryable and lost a button in the wash right away. She also tried a pair of slippers and a golf polo with equally disappointing results. Our verdict: save the clothes shopping for another store.
Skip The Gel Dishwasher Detergent
Dishwasher detergent is dishwasher detergent, right? Not according to many customers who have tried Aldi's brand. In general, the retailer's powder packs receive decent reviews but the gel version is nearly universally disliked.
The dishwashing gel "leaves cloudy marks all over my glasses and plates and spots on my silverware," shared one consumer on Aldi Reviewer, while Redditors called the product "garbage" among some other choice words.
Produce Quality Can Vary
Many Aldi fans are dedicated to the store because of its produce, and specifically because of the bargain prices on tropical fruits such as kiwi, pineapple, and mango. However, the bananas for sale are frequently past their prime, and other produce has been found to be of inconsistent quality, according to a Consumer Reports survey.
Another common complaint is that the store uses a ton of unnecessary plastic packaging on produce. Today's eco-conscious consumers notice things like this!
Butter Isn't The Best
Aldi shoppers seem to have a love/hate relationship with the chain store's butter. On the one hand, it's a great value and many people cite it as a "must-buy" item when they're stocking up.
However, it seems that how you use the butter seems to make a difference. For everyday use it's fine, but people who cook and bake a lot say the butter quality is not up to par.
Coffee Snobs Should Skip Aldi's Bargain Coffee
Everyone who enjoys a cup of java in the morning seems to have some pretty strong opinions about coffee, especially when it comes to purchasing it at Aldi's. People who have refined taste are probably better off getting their beans elsewhere.
"If you're even a little bit of a coffee snob, you’ll want to leave it on the shelf," shared Ruth Soukup of Living Well Spending Less. "If you’ve already given up your Starbucks trips to save money and you’re brewing your cuppa at home, do yourself a favor and spend an extra buck or two on a decent bag of coffee." At least don't buy the very cheapest bag that Aldi has in stock.
Ready-To-Bake Cookies And Other Goodies
Ready-to-bake items like cookies and cinnamon rolls are enticing to people who want the experience of baking at home without all the time that making treats from scratch entails. Sadly, the pre-made doughs and ready-to-bake cookies offered by Aldi fail to meet expectations of deliciousness for many customers.
Additionally, you could end up paying more for one of these products at Aldi than for a higher-quality name-brand such as Pillsbury, since Aldi doesn't accept manufacturer coupons. This is another item to add to your regular grocery list.
Don't Skimp On Kitty Litter
Pet lovers enjoy treating their furry (and scaly!) companions to the best in life. When it comes to staples like kitty litter, however, many of us prefer to save as much money as possible. Aldi has a store-brand cat litter but according to those in the know, it's not worth the price.
Aldi Reviewer reported that Heart to Tail Scoopable Cat Litter doesn't work as well as name brands. The product is dusty and smells weird, and they wrote that any "liquid waste doesn't always clump well." It's probably worth a few extra bucks to get the good stuff, and your cat will thank you for it.
Would You Buy Frozen Sushi?
Although a lot of people wouldn't even consider eating sushi that came from a grocery store, this is a judgment-free zone. We're here to share that there are actually a few people who have reported excellent experiences with the frozen sushi that Aldi offers.
However, the majority of folks who have tried Aldi's frozen sushi don't have anything positive to write. In fact, Aldi Nerd reports that the store's Thaw-and-Serve Fusia Shrimp and Avocado Roll is a product to steer clear of. "While it's only $4.99, you probably just want to skip this," says one consumer. We'll take their word for it.
Paper goods like toilet paper, napkins, and paper towels are easy to score deals on when using coupons. Unfortunately, this means that Aldi isn't the best place to get these products if you're looking for big discounts.
Although the store's everyday prices on paper goods are reasonable, people interested in buying name brand products and/or using coupons should shop elsewhere for the absolute best prices when they're stocking the pantry.
Go To The Drugstore Or Big-Box For Deodorant, Shampoo, And Other Toiletries
If your only stop for the day is Aldi, you'll certainly be able to find many of the toiletries you need, such as deodorant, shampoo, and soap. But you're not going to get a stellar deal on them. The folks at Cheapism found that Aldi's store-brand toiletries were more expensive than other retailers' private labels.
Considering that other stores have better selections and take manufacturers' coupons, you're nearly always going to be better off skipping the personal care aisle at Aldi if you can.
Steer Clear Of Most Frozen Shrimp Except The Jumbo Size
Ruth Soukup, author of the popular blog Living Well Spending Less, has shared that Aldi's frozen shrimp is not usually a terrific deal. One exception, however, is the chain's jumbo frozen shrimp.
Soukup explains, "Don't bother with the other sizes of shrimp. They aren’t worth the price compared to their weight." Frozen fish like salmon and tilapia are usually a good buy at Aldi though, said Soukup.
How Do Aldi's Kitchen Appliances Stack Up?
We're learning that Aldi sells a lot of non-food products in its stores, including Ambiano brand kitchen supplies and small appliances. So what's the verdict with buying something like a hand mixer or pressure cooker at Aldi versus a larger retailer?
While reviews of Aldi's appliances are pretty mixed, the consensus among many consumers, including the team at Cheapism, is that spending a little more on a name brand item will probably save you more in the long run.
Avoid "Special Buys" For A Specific Reason
Now, here's a category of Aldi offerings that made the list for a different reason than a lot of the others. Many Aldi regulars warn people against buying the store's "special buys" or "Aldi Finds."
It's not because there's anything wrong with the specialty items. No, it's just that you're probably going to fall in love with these delicious products and when you go back to restock, they'll already be gone from the store's shelves! Aldi labels its products as special buys as a way to let customers know that they won't stick around for long.
Oil Only Lasts A Few Months
Even if you're someone who uses oil every day for cooking or making dressings, it's unlikely you'll go through the vats they sell at Costco before it goes bad. According to the USDA's Foodkeeper application, any oil should be used within three to six months after it is opened.
And, unfortunately, it doesn't matter which type of oil. Canola, vegetable, peanut, and even sesame all start to go bad around the same time. Settling for a smaller bottle is always a good option.
Spices Go Stale
Contrary to popular belief, spices, in fact, do go stale. Considering the whole point of spice is to make a dish more flavorful, it'd be sad to have to get rid of bags full of cumin or paprika just because it was bought in bulk.
Ground spices will start to lose their potency within six months! It may seem like a long time, but only a pinch of spice is used here and there. Most likely, you won't be able to enjoy all of it.
Flour Absorbs Moisture
Flour of all different varieties have one thing in common: they attract water. So, the longer you have a bag sitting in the pantry, the more time it has to soak up moisture and go bad.
Even though flour is great for baking and thickening soups, if you're not using it every day, it's not worth buying in bulk. Although, you can extend the six-months to one-year lifespan of flour if you store it in the fridge.
Coffee Should Be Brewed Within Two Weeks Of The Beans Being Roasted
Buying coffee in bulk is a great way to lose the aroma and flavor of the wonderful drink. Any coffee enthusiast will tell you, the best cup of joe is brewed within two weeks of the beans being roasted.
That means go for bags that you're able to get through within a week or two. Don't be coerced into buying tubs of ground beans at Costco because of the price. All that will happen is the fragrance will be sucked into the air.
A 30 Count Of Eggs Isn't Worth It
Unless you're baking a lot or a huge egg advocate, there's probably little to no reason for you to purchase the 20 to 30 count flat of eggs sold at Costco. If purchasing a flat for a large household, it would probably be a sound purchase.
But a home with two or so people would probably be throwing eggs away after the three to five-week expiration. So, if you made the 30 egg commitment, we're going to assume you eat at least one with each meal.
Milk Goes Bad Too Fast
Aside from the fact that Costco's huge containers of milk are nearly impossible to pour, there's also little chance of it being finished ahead of the expiration date. According to Eat by Date, you're able to consume milk only a few days after the printed expiration.
But there's no reason to when there are alternative options. Try switching to soy or almond milk. Both variations last longer than regular milk. Also, Costco sells the cartons in multipacks instead of one huge jug, allowing for a longer shelf-life.
Fresh Cookies And Other Baked Goods
Sure, that $18 tray of freshly baked cookies always tends to look very yummy, but ask yourself a few questions. Are you and your family really going to go through a huge Costco-sized tray of baked goods before they go stale?
If you're in the mood for something sweet, you're better off grabbing something at a local bakery. Your wallet, and sweet tooth, will thank you for not throwing away stale treats.
Baking Powder & Yeast
Much like flour, baking powder also attracts moisture. So, it's probably for the best to take the product off your Costco shopping list. When stored properly in a cool, dark place, baking powder's shelf-life can last up to a year.
Unless you're baking a few times a day for a year, most of the product is going to go to waste. The same goes for dried yeast. It will last up to six months, but if you get a fresh variation, the potency will dilute much sooner.
Nuts & Seeds Will Spoil
When it comes to nuts and seeds, it's better to buy them in smaller quantities than a huge bag at Costco. Even though they don't get freezer burn or grow mold, nuts and seeds are full of oils and unsaturated fats that, unfortunately, tend to spoil quicker than we'd like.
But if you do happen to find yourself with a mountain of macadamia or hazelnuts, there is a solution. Stick them in an air-tight container and freeze them. They'll last up to a year.
Unless you're throwing a huge neighborhood-wide Fourth of July party with a lot of hotdogs and hamburgers, you should forgo buying condiments at Costco. Even though mustard, ketchup, and mayo are "shelf-stable," they are still slowly going bad.
Jordan Page, a family finance and frugal living expert, advises people to go to regular grocery stores for their condiments. She says, "It almost always will go bad before you can go through it." Ketchup, for example, starts to lose its color and taste after five months.
Care Products Are On A Clock
Bargain hunters say that shopping at a superstore like Costco isn't the best for things like toiletries and other self-care items. Sure, buying a six-pack of toothpaste is fine, since you don't open them all at once. But other items, such as large bottles of shampoo or lotion, are on an expiration clock.
During an interview with Good Housekeeping, Ni'Kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist, said, "the clock starts once you bring a product home and open it. When air hits the formula, certain ingredients start to oxidize and degrade."
Things You Don't Need And You Have No Storage For
Costco is a great place to bulk-buy much-needed items, such as dry paper products. But when you're cart starts to overflow, you should think twice about the storage space you have in your home. Maybe ask yourself if you really need five cases of water and three packages of paper towels.
Think about prioritizing your purchases because impulse buys are a real thing when it comes to stores like Costco. Here's an idea, think about buying a Brita instead!
Who Knew That Liquid Laundry Detergent Goes Bad?
It might come as a shock to some, but liquid laundry detergent goes bad after a few months. According to About.com laundry expert, Mary Marlowe Leverette, detergent tends to lose its effect on clothing after six months. The same goes for bleach. Once it is open, the six-month period goes into effect.
Of course, Costco's big detergent bottles are great for families who do multiple loads of laundry a day. For those who do laundry once a week, maybe opt for smaller containers from other outlets.
Fresh Produce For Obvious Reasons
It goes without saying, but fresh produce tends to go bad very fast, anywhere between a few days to a week or so. And while Costco tends to have really nice deals on produce, it's not worth buying in bulk.
If you do, you're probably going to have a trashcan full of rotten fruits and vegetables in a few days. So, unless you live in a house with a lot of people, we recommend going to a local farmers market for your produce.
Vary Your Canned Goods Buying Them At Grocery Stores
Ironically, canned goods are probably not the best thing to buy at a superstore such as Costco. The reasoning is simple. It's because you're better off purchasing a variety of canned items at a grocery store, and not settling for a 10-pack of black beans, for practically the same price.
Some days it might even be cheaper to scope-out the grocery store selection because of all of the deals and coupons available for canned products.
Flowers Are overly Pricey
If you happen to be in Costco and remember it's you're anniversary and need to buy flowers, think about waiting until you pass by a Trader Joe's or another grocery store on the way home. Unfortunately for the superstore, their bouquets can be priced upwards to $30.
Instead, try a different shop. You'll purchase a similarly styled flower arrangement for half the price. And the quality will be just as good!
The 50-Gallon Bag Of Shredded Cheese
Even if you have mac and cheese, quesadillas, cheesy eggs, or anything else that can use shredded cheese all day every day, it's unlikely you're going to get through Costco's gigantic bag. Seriously, the thing is enormous!
If you're able to get through the cheese before the expiration date hits, more power to you, we just don't recommend that much cheese in one's diet. But, if you do have one of these bags, feel free to throw it in the freezer.
There Is Such A Thing As Too Much Butter
Unless you're on a baking spree during the holidays, there really is no reason to buy a bulk-size package of butter. Not to mention where are you planning on storing it all! Butter shelves in the fridge are not too big, folks.
The last thing you're going to want is five pounds of butter taking up space, only to be used sparingly. Then, it's all in the trash after a few months. Take it from us, buy a tinier quantity at a local grocery store.
Jerky Could Go Bad In Days
You'd think jerky would stay fresh due to all of the spices it's dried in, right? Well, actually, whether it's turkey, beef, or chicken, the meat snack has to be refrigerated after its vacuum seal is opened.
In fact, most packaging usually says to eat the jerky within a few days. So, unless you want to get super fancy re-vacuum the seal of the bag, we recommend buying the snack in smaller quantities and not in bulk.
Dried Pasta Can Be Bought For Less Elsewhere
Even though buying dried pasta in bulk isn't going to bankrupt you or have you throwing out a soiled product, there are better places to buy the pantry staple. The Kitchen went ahead and made a price comparison between Costco's pasta and that of Trader Joe's and Walmart.
Would you believe that both of the chain stores have lower pasta prices than Costco at any given time? All of the deals and coupons offered by both Wally World and Trader Joe's make taking pasta off the shopping list a no brainer.
A Tub Of Hummus Is Good For Parties
Unless you're having a big party, the mega-sized tub of hummus you can find at Costco probably isn't worth it. Store-bought hummus tends to have added preservatives, allowing it to stay fresh for a bit longer than the all-natural, homemade stuff.
Even so, the product will only stay fresh for a week or so. So, unless you plan on adding a nice sized dollop to every meal, maybe think about sticking to the normal-sized tubs found in grocery stores.
Cereal Can Be Found In Cheaper Locations
Yes, the big boxes of cereal do come with two sealed bags. But that doesn't mean you should be buying it. On the contrary, you should be grabbing your cereals at local grocery stores.
Unlike the bulk cereal found at Costco, local stores will most likely have discounts or coupons available. Instead of buying virtually two boxes of the same cereal at the superstore, buy two different ones for around the same price at a grocery store.
It's Better To Buy Rice At Local Markets
Yes, rice won't go bad over the long run, but that doesn't mean Costco is the best place to buy the product. According to some shopping experts on Bestlife, there are cheaper options when it comes to buying rice in bulk.
One Costco shopper, Flo Lum, even compared Costco's price to that of her local Asian market. After doing some calculations, Flo realized that Costco sold rice for up to 35 percent more than her local shop. Plus, it's always good to support local businesses!
There Are Better Deals On Office Supplies Elsewhere
While it's always nice to have printer paper, notebooks, and other office supplies on hand, especially during the school year and for work, Costco doesn't give great deals. Office supply stores such as Staples tend to have deals, sales, and coupons, particularly when back-to-school shopping is happening.
Even Target has low prices for supplies such as pens, pencils, and notebooks. So, before you start bulk-buying, definitely think about looking at some of the deals happening in various stores in your town.
Books Are Better Off Bought Somewhere Else
Unless you're in desperate need of a beach book or birthday present, experts recommend purchasing books at other stores. This is because warehouses only supply Costco with the best-seller titles, never reaching for the indie authors or other lesser-known people.
Going to a retail bookstore or even a used indie bookstore will give you a wider range of titles and authors at a far better price. Or, there is always the public library! Which, gasp, is free.
Look For Other Deals On Soda
According to Moms Need to Know, stocking up on Coke and Pepsi products in Costco might not be the most money-saving move, especially during the summer months. That's because, during the fun-in-the-sun months, a lot of grocery stores will put soda products on sale.
Tack on some coupons and membership deals with stores such as Vons, and you're looking at buying a two-liter bottle for practically a dollar and fifty cents. Just something to keep in the back of your mind!
Costco Is Not The Place To Buy Unfamiliar Brands
Trying new things is always a good idea. But when you have no choice but to bulk-buy a new lotion or food, it's probably for the best that you think twice. What happens if you don't like the new brand of lotion? Or if the food wasn't what you were expecting?
Now, you're stuck with a lot of products that are going to go to waste. Maybe stick to smaller adventurous purchases first, just to make sure you like what you're buying.
Find A Better Online Deal For Diapers
Diapers might seem like a great bulk purchase. But before you put a box in your cart, think about this: coupons and deals. Parents might be able to find diapers for better deals at various other stores, including Amazon!
According to Rather Be Shopping, "Amazon's subscribe-and-save deals can be a particular bargain." So, before you buy that lifetime supply of diapers at the superstore, look at other avenues. You might be surprised by the savings you find.
The Clothing Is Cheap For A Reason
If you're like us, then you've been curious as to how Costco gets away will selling their clothing for so cheap. According to Kiplinger, it's because the superstore's Kirkland branded sweatshirts, socks, and undergarments, are made with cheaper, inexpensive material.
When it comes to clothing, you get what you paid for. And if you're paying $15 for a sweater, you better believe that it'll most likely only last a few months or so.
DVDs Are Best Bought Online
For those of you still out there purchasing DVDs, don't look to Costco for the next addition to your ever-growing collection. While the superstore is reasonably priced, nothing really beats Amazon or the five dollar bin at Walmart.
Give your wallet a bit of a breather and think about looking at different stores and online options before rushing into buying a DVD at Costco. Plus, if you buy one off Amazon, it will be delivered directly to your door!