I don’t have an allegiance to many commercial brand name products. I couldn’t care less for shoe logos or which country my car comes from. I own both Apple and PC products. I’m not attached to getting coffee from a split-tailed siren and I’ll drink both Pepsi and Coke without complaint.
But there’s one exception to my brand-neutral lifestyle; I prefer the grocery store Aldi. It started out of necessity. I was newly married and working as an intern, while my wife was starting her first year of grad school. We we’re both trying to stretch our pennies just a little further.
And I remembered that my parents shopped at Aldi for a few years when I was growing up. My dad had gone back to college, so we tightened our belts, became a single-income family and immediately started grocery shopping at Aldi. My mom never said anything, but we knew it was because she thought Aldi was the more affordable option. So when I found myself in a tight financial spot as an adult, I turned to Aldi as well.
And after a while, I became a fan of the Aldi lifestyle, including its bring-your-own-bag system and its no frills, simple options. Even when I transitioned to a full-time job at Zing, I continued shopping at Aldi. I had a good thing going with the grocery store, and I frankly just assumed that other stores were going to be overpriced.
But I had a moment of reflection a couple of weeks ago. I realized that I’d never actually compared the prices at Aldi to those of a competitor store. I just assumed that, because Aldi had signs and branding saying they were a more cost-effective option, it must be true. I never questioned it or compared prices. So in order to put my brand allegiance to the test, I decided to do a comparison shopping trip between Aldi and Wal-Mart.
Below you’ll find the results of my test. On Feb. 26, 2017, in Sterling Heights, Michigan, I shopped at both Aldi and Wal-Mart. I picked out 23 grocery items that I considered to be staples in our house. When possible, I tried to use the store brand option for each product to compare and contrast the two stores. But if that wasn’t an option, I stuck with the cheapest available product.
Note: This test just focuses on the prices of these food items. It doesn’t take into consideration the ingredients used in each product, nor the quality of those ingredients.
Below are my results. I’ve highlighted the cheaper options.
Based on my independent research, with a few exceptions, Aldi is clearly the more affordable option. My mom knew what she was talking about. For the 23 items at Aldi, it cost only $43.78, while it was $55.07 for similar items at Wal-Mart. That difference comes out to $11.29 for these items.
But let’s look at this on a grander scale. American families, on average, each spend about $150 a week at the grocery store, which comes out to $7,800 a year. For the sake of this example, we’re going to assume that the test above holds true for all grocery store items at Aldi and Wal-Mart.
What would cost you $7,800 at Wal-Mart would likely only cost you about $6,200 at Aldi. In other words, you could save about $1,600 a year just by doing your shopping at Aldi. It’s amazing how making small changes can create big results for your finances.
Other Things to Consider
The clear disclaimers to this are the variety of products available and the quality of the food. Measuring the cost of something is only a single part of the equation. While Wal-Mart has nearly a dozen brands for each type of grocery product, Aldi usually only has one or two. And as far as the quality is concerned, there may be some small differences on a few of the products, but nothing substantial. If anything, there are a lot of exciting developments happening in the quality department at Aldi, such as going full organic in 2017 .
But if you’re most focused on getting the best bargain for your buck, consider a visit to Aldi to see for yourself…
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