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Aldi vs. Trader Joe’s: Which grocery store is a better deal?

Aldi vs. Trader Joe’s: Which grocery store is a better deal?

Mike Timmermann April 17, 2017
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All year long, Clark.com’s Michael Timmermann is sharing quick and easy ways to save money as part of our Michael Saves series. Check in every Monday as he puts new and familiar savings strategies to the test. Sign up for our newsletter to have these stories delivered to your inbox!

If you like to save money on groceries, Aldi is probably already part of your weekly routine. But how does the discount grocer compare to Trader Joe’s?

When you really think about it, the two grocery store chains have a lot in common!

Read more: 15 things every bargain shopper needs to know about Aldi

Aldi vs. Trader Joe’s price comparison

Here’s some history for you: Trader Joe’s is owned by Germany-based Aldi Nord, which operates Aldi stores in much of Europe. A separate company owns Aldi locations in the U.S.

Significantly smaller than a typical supermarket, both stores emphasize the value of their private label items, including plenty of organic and gluten-free choices.

However, as someone who shops at both places, I’ve noticed a few key differences:

Aldi, Trader Joe's comparison

Another important difference is the price! We went to Aldi and Trader Joe’s with the same list of 15 items to see which one really has the best deals!

1. Bananas

  • Aldi: $0.89
  • Trader Joe’s: $0.95

Aldi sells bananas by the bunch, so I got five of them (all still green) for $0.89. The bananas at Trader Joe’s were yellow but noticeably smaller, priced $0.19 apiece.

2. Berry medley, frozen

  • Aldi: $2.09
  • Trader Joe’s: $2.99

Although Aldi’s frozen fruit is nearly a dollar cheaper, you have to consider the unit price. Aldi’s bag is 12 ounces and Trader Joe’s is 16 ounces.

  • $2.09 / 12 ounces = $0.174 per ounce
  • $2.99 / 16 ounces = $0.186 per ounce

Aldi still offers a better value, but only by a penny an ounce!

3. Whole wheat bread

  • Aldi: $1.49
  • Trader Joe’s: $2.99

There’s nothing complicated about this one. Aldi’s whole wheat bread is $1.50 less than the cheapest comparable loaf of bread sold at Trader Joe’s.

Aldi also regularly sells sandwich bread for $0.85. That’s hard to beat!

Read more: 9 budget breakers to avoid at Trader Joe’s

4. Brussels sprouts, frozen

  • Aldi: $0.99
  • Trader Joe’s: $0.99

This looks like a tie, but Trader Joe’s has the advantage. As with the frozen fruit, Brussels sprouts come in a 16-ounce bag at Trader Joe’s. Aldi’s bag is just 12 ounces.

5. Ground coffee

  • Aldi: $3.99
  • Trader Joe’s: $4.99

The house brands of coffee from Aldi and Trader Joe’s made this list of 7 cheap brands of coffee that people really love. You’ll pay $1 more for a bag at Trader Joe’s, but it’s slightly larger.

6. Eggs

  • Aldi: $0.99
  • Trader Joe’s: $0.99

Another easy comparison and this one really is a tie! $0.99 isn’t bad for a dozen eggs. I remember buying a couple dozen when I saw them on sale for $0.49 at Aldi.

7. Hummus

  • Aldi: $1.99
  • Trader Joe’s: $2.99

$2.99 seems to be a pretty popular price at Trader Joe’s! For hummus, the difference between the two stores is a buck. Aldi wins on price, but I have to say I prefer the taste of TJ’s hummus.

Read more: These are the 13 most popular Trader Joe’s items

8. Vegetable broth

  • Aldi: $1.79
  • Trader Joe’s: $1.99

Aldi’s vegetable broth is cheaper than Trader Joe’s, but this is one item that you can probably find cheaper on sale at traditional supermarkets and big-box stores.

9. Milk

  • Aldi: $2.49
  • Trader Joe’s: $3.39

These containers may not look the same size, but there’s a gallon of milk in each of them. Buy it from Aldi and you’ll keep $0.90 in your pocket.

10. Mozzarella cheese

  • Aldi: $1.79
  • Trader Joe’s: $2.99

This one was a little tricky. I bought this block of cheese at Aldi before heading to Trader Joe’s, which only had fresh mozzarella (both 8 ounces) for more than a dollar extra.

11. Steel cut oats

  • Aldi: $2.49
  • Trader Joe’s: $3.49

Oatmeal is the 16-cent breakfast that will satisfy you for hours! You save another dollar when you buy it from Aldi. These containers are both 30 ounces.

12. Pretzels

  • Aldi: $1.29
  • Trader Joe’s: $1.99

Pretzels are my favorite snack food and Aldi is a great place to get them for less! I couldn’t find a similar bag at TJ’s, so I picked up the cheapest bag of pretzels they had in stock.

Read more: Your local Aldi is getting a whole new look!

13. Sweet potatoes

  • Aldi: $1.49
  • Trader Joe’s: $1.69

This comparison isn’t quite as close as it seems. Aldi’s $1.49 bag contains 3 pounds of sweet potatoes and Trader Joe’s sells a 2-pound bag. Both taste great!

14. Chicken breasts

  • Aldi: $6.16
  • Trader Joe’s: $5.94

Chicken breasts from Aldi and Trader Joe’s were both priced at $2.69 a pound, so let’s call this one a tie. Again, this is a case where you can save by shopping the sales at a regular grocery store.

15. Sweet onions

  • Aldi: $1.49
  • Trader Joe’s: $1.99

Back in the produce section, Aldi gets the advantage again. A 2-pound bag of sweet onions costs $0.50 more at Trader Joe’s.

And the winner is…

If price is the only thing that matters to you, Aldi wins this comparison easily. The total price for these 15 items was $31.42 at Aldi and $40.36 at Trader Joe’s, a 25% difference.

Here’s a secret way to save even more at both of these stores.

Quality is another main factor that goes into determining the best grocery store, but it’s very subjective. Both Aldi and Trader Joe’s want you to shop risk-free and offer full refunds if you’re not satisfied with a product.

Which grocery store do you prefer? Tell us why on Facebook and Twitter.

Check out more from our Michael Saves series:

Clark’s key tips for avoiding long supermarket lines

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Michael Timmermann paid off his mortgage in two years. Now, he shares his money-saving tips on his blog, Save on Almost Everything.
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