The Best And Worst Foods To Buy At Aldi

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We're all looking for ways to save money on our grocery bills. If there's an Aldi near you, that might be the way to go. With Aldi hitting a growth spurt in the US market, you're more likely than ever to find yourself heading to this European favorite for your shopping. Not everything there is a great buy, though, so let's talk about some of the best and worst things you can find at Aldi.

Best: Chocolate

Chocolate-lovers need to head to Aldi. Right now. (We'll wait.) Why? Because its chocolate aisle is filled with deliciousness imported from Europe. You'll be paying a little more, but it's worth every penny. Pick up some Belgian or German chocolates at Aldi, and you'll be surprised to find how much creamier and richer they are than American chocolates.

 If you bake with chocolate, take our word for it that European chocolates melt much better than equivalent American staples, and that's true whether you're using milk, dark, or even white chocolate. You'll also find a variety of different flavors you won't find anywhere else. Toffee and Irish cream liqueur? Yes, please!

Worst: Pre-ripened avocados

There are a few choices when it comes to avocados from Aldi, and while you can certainly pick up a sack of them to ripen at home, you can usually find pre-ripened avocados, too. They're more expensive and that's not the only thing that makes them a bad buy. There are no real regulations on avocados and other fruits that are advertised as ripe or ready-to-use, and oftentimes, they're either not ripe at all or they're a day from going bad. Plan ahead, spend less, and give these a miss.

Best: Wine

No one should turn their nose up at the prospect of buying wine at Aldi, and here's why. It takes its wine as seriously as it takes its food, and in 2017 its Cotes de Provence Rose was voted one of the best in the world at the International Wine Challenge. It took the silver medal, and that's not bad for a bottle that costs less than $10. You can get it in the U.S., too ... if you can find a place that hasn't sold out of this once U.K.-only wine.

If you can't find it at Aldi, you can still pick up a bottle of something else. From prizes for its merlot to its riesling, there's a pretty shocking list of awards Aldi wines have won. Award-winning wines at a fraction of the price? You can't go wrong.

Worst: Chicken and turkey

One of the big draws of Aldi is that shopping there has a noticeable impact on your bottom line, but not all of Aldi's deals are good ones. When Clark did a toe-to-toe price comparison between Aldi, Kroger, and Walmart, they found Aldi's chicken and turkey were regularly more expensive than equivalent prodcuts at one or both of the other stores. 

In order to get the best deal, check the sale prices at other stores before heading off to Aldi — a valuable tip, especially if you buy in bulk and freeze a lot of your meat.

Best: Organic foods

Aldi has been making a big push to make its foods healthier, and it increased its organic offerings in 2014, at the same time it was advertising that it could save customers 25% on those items. Some of the organic foods Aldi stocks includes not just fruit and vegetables, but canned goods, snacks, soups, juice, meat, sauces and salsa, and even pastas.

If you dread taking the kids through the temptation-filled checkout aisles of other stores, Aldi's got your back there, too. It's replaced all that candy with organic snack-sized packages, reducing your sugar access while giving you some delicious alternatives.

Worst: Pizza and pizza crust

Who doesn't love pizza night? There's nothing wrong with picking up a premade pizza for those nights when you just can't, but Aldi's pizzas — and pizza crusts — leave a lot to be desired. Its store brand pizzas are pretty light on the toppings and bland when it comes to seasoning, and if you're looking for something that's going to be a fast but filling meal, you'll probably find yourself heading back to the fridge.

Consieder taking a look at Aldi's original pizza crusts, another viable option if you're hoping for something quick and easy. However, Aldi's is a less-than-stellar crust that's said to be thin, bland, and little more than a vehicle for your own toppings. You're better off with takeout.  

Best: Coffee

We get it — coffee is one of those things you refuse to compromise on. Fortunately for you, Aldi has consistently gotten some seriously amazing reviews on their regular coffee and their Expressi, a Nespresso-like machine that uses pods you buy at a fraction of the price compared to those for the Keurig. Ultimately, it makes good coffee for pennies.

If you already have a favorite coffee gadget, Aldi stocks Fair Trade beans from some of the best coffee-producing countries. Its Barissimo Fair Trade Organic Honduras Coffee Beans come from high up in a mountain region you're helping to support with your purchase. That's a win-win.

Worst: Those super-cheap vegetables

All those super-cheap vegetables come at a price, and farmers are paying it. In 2014, the Irish Farmer's Association issued a statement condemning Aldi for reducing the price it was paying for vegetables by as much as 10%. It all boils down to Aldi's hesitance to pay farmers enough so they can invest in machinery, upgrades, and technologies while still keeping their books in the black. 

The message wasn't received, and in 2016 AgriLand was reporting on protests staged by farmers at both Aldi and Lidl. Selling fresh, sustainable, locally-grown produce at rock-bottom prices presented farmers with a serious threat to their livelihood. Surely, if there's one thing all foodies can agree on, it's the need to support the world's farmers.

Best: Pantry and baking basics

A fully stocked pantry makes for a happy chef, and Aldi makes it easy to make sure you have all those basics on hand. These can include seemingly everything from baking necessities like flour, sugars, and spices to nuts, oatmeal, and chocolate chips. If you head to big box stores to buy this stuff in bulk, you might want to rethink your preconceived notions. Consider that, since Aldi packages things in smaller quantities while keeping the price low, you'll use them up before they go funky.

Worst: Cereals

Let's face it: sugar-heavy cereals just taste better. That doesn't mean we should be eating them all the time, though, and Aldi is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to putting sugar in their cereals. For instance, Aldi's Harvest Morn Choco Rice isn't just high in sugar, but there was an 18.2% increase in its sugar content between 2012 and 2015. 

When Choice rated 170 breakfast cereals based on a number of factors, there were a couple Aldi cereals that got their 5-star rating. There were plenty that got a 2.5 rating, too, and as if that isn't bad enough, these are cereals that sound healthy — like Honey Nut Corn Flakes and Power Grain. When it comes to Aldi cereals, be sure to read your labels.

Best: Healthy snacks

Since Aldi keeps tight control over exactly what makes it to store shelves, that means it also have its finger on the pulse of what consumers want. Today, that means snacks that are filling and delicious while being more or less good for you, like popcorn, sweet potato chips, gluten-free pretzels, and gluten-free granola.

If gluten-free makes you cringe a bit, don't worry. The store's quinoa chips, salsas, and hummus can be the perfect quick fix that's not going to ruin your diet, either. Yu can also be sure to find fun things like wasabi nuts and pumpkin seed brittle.

Worst: Plastic-wrapped produce

Aldi veterans know you'd better be bringing your own reusable shopping bags. Yet, at the same time, shoppers have noticed a hugely wasteful practice: wrapping veggies in plastic — and sometimes even presenting them on styrofoam trays. They use them so much, in fact, that The Sydney Morning Herald revealed that in 2015, each store in Australia's New South Wales created an average of one ton of plastic wrap waste. 

Multiply that per store, and those wrapped veggies are canceling out a lot of the good you're doing with your cloth shopping bag. News.com.au did some more investigating and found the only reason stores do it is to make produce look more special. In truth, it has nothing to do with freshness or quality. So, if you'd like to help send Aldi a message, skip the wrapped produce.

Best: Beer

No matter what type of beer you gravitate toward, you'll need to check out the beer section at Aldi. What you're going to find on the shelves of your store varies by location, but let's take The Taste's review of Aldi's Irish craft beers as an example — because if there's any place that's picky about their beers, it's the birthplace of Guinness. They say that from a Pilsner from Co. Offaly to an IPA from Limerick, they're all delicious. 

Don't believe an Irish review? Ken Hayes from Duluth's KKCB's Breakfast Club says Aldi's cheapest beer ended up being much, much better than he expected, and he couldn't tell the difference between it and a more expensive version.

Worst: Milk

Milk is such a common kitchen staple you might not think twice about where it comes from, but Aldi — along with similar competitors like German chain Lidl — have been accused of putting some serious pressure on dairy farmers. Selling cheap milk means getting it at a lower price. In 2012 The Guardian reported that a number of dairy farmers were being forced into bankruptcy because of stores like Aldi. 

Even paying a couple pennies less for that carton of milk arguably helps to put small farmers and larger organizations out of business. While everyone likes to save, this is one purchase that can have some devastating consequences.

Best: Gin

Gin is a love or hate thing, and if you love it, you simply have to try Aldi's gin. Don't take our word for it that Aldi makes good gin, though. Take the word of the International Wine and Spirits Competition. In 2017, it named Aldi's Oliver Cromwell London Dry Gin one of the best in the world and the chain's smaller batch, more expensive gins took home awards, too. Aldi's Boyle's Gin was given two medals . 

While you might not be easily able to find this small batch Irish gin, you can be reassured that Aldi puts as much quality control into its liquors as it does its foods.

Worst: Dairy products with carrageenan

When it comes to carrageenan, we're still not sure just how bad it is. This natural thickening agent — often added to low-fat and fat-free dairy products — is possibly linked to an increased risk of cancer, while it's almost certainly connected to several digestive issues (via Prevention).

Some Aldi dairy products can contain carrageenan, according to findings from the Center for Science in the Public Interest's Clean Labels report. While Aldi has removed a lot of additives from products on its shelves, carrageenan isn't on the list of ingredients left out of their Simply Nature line. While it's not prohibited by any health agency, the CSPI still lists it as one of the additives that should make those with digestive issues cautious.

Best: Red Hot Specials

Every week, Aldi switches out a large portion of its merchandise. It will stock super-good deals on products you might never expect to see at a grocery store — think lawn furniture, tools, and clothing — but it's worth taking your time to look through the chain's Red Hot Specials and other weekly deals. 

There, you'll find all kinds of good stuff, including seasonal or holiday foods, spices and seasonings you've never seen before, and all kinds of weird stuff. A word of warning, though: once these things are gone, they're gone. If you see anything you really like, be sure to buy it up!

Worst: Butter

Getting the right kind of butter can spell the difference between a good dish and a great one, especially when it comes to baked goods. Prices of butter have been steadily on the rise, though, and it's not just at Aldi — in 2017, it was just one of a number of stores that were raising prices to be more in-line with global demand.

Since that's the case and you're going to be paying more anyway, you might as well go for the good stuff — and that doesn't include any of the brands you'll find at Aldi. Kerrygold often takes top honors, as the green grass Kerrygold's cows graze on year-round makes a difference. Too bad you can't find it at Aldi.

Best: The Specially Selected range

Aldi moved its own private brand to U.S. stores in 2013, which gave American consumers the chance to experience what European shoppers already knew: Aldi's Specially Selected brand of products isn't just as good as any other brand name. Rather, it's earned the awards it's gotten. 

Aldi products won big at the Grocer Own Label Awards of 2014. It also swept the 2015 Great Taste Awards with 62 wins.

Worst: Salmon and other fish, especially Sea Queen

In October 2017, news agencies like ABC started reporting on a strange side effect of buying certain types of fish. An Associated Press investigation had found some brands of fish — including Aldi's Sea Queen — were being processed in China by North Korean workers. Further investigation found the North Korean government took as much as 70% of these workers' salaries, essentially using the fish processing industry to siphon money from China into North Korea.

Sounds crazy, right? Reporters found a ton of evidence linking thousands of North Korean workers, the nuclear-armed government, and the fish you're buying not just from Aldi, but a number of North American and European stores. Look for product labels indicating fish was processed in China. If you find one, you might want to think twice about buying that product.

Best: Anything with the Improving Animal Welfare label

In 2017, Germany's Aldi announced that it was rolling out a new label. The German "Fur Mehr Tierschutz" translates to "Improving Animal Welfare," and included guidelines for determining what products could be awarded the label, with help from the German Animal Protection Association. The idea was to go a few steps further in regulating things like how much space and pasture dairy cows are given, with both Aldi Nord and Sud participating in the program.

You can also keep an eye out for the RSPCA Assured labels that show up on some of Aldi's products, like chicken, pork, and eggs. Who doesn't love responsible sourcing?

Worst: Eggs

In 2016, Aldi announced that it would be phasing out the sale of eggs from hens restricted to cages by 2025. But in the meantime, you'll have to be careful if you want to get eggs from responsibly raised hens at Aldi. Currently, Aldi carries a few different options when it comes to eggs, and while there are free range eggs available at many locations, Aldi only vaguely says it will "respond to customer demand."

However, according to what Ethical Consumer found, the lower-priced eggs Aldi stocks are "enriched cage" eggs, which is only a slight improvement over the tight confinement suffered by hens forced to live in battery cages that many places have outlawed. If you're looking for something cruelty-free, be extra-careful when picking up your Aldi eggs.

Worst: Tuna

Among other things, Greenpeace keeps track of just how responsible various companies are when catching tuna. Aldi isn't at the bottom of the list (that's reserved for Starkist), but it's not at the top, either. Out of the 20 brands Greenpeace examined in 2017, Aldi's Northern Catch came in at number nine. There's some good news — it's pole and line-caught, minimizing the damage done to other marine animals — but Greenpeace says there are links missing in the chain of supply.

It's not clear where all of Aldi's tuna comes from or how it's caught, and given that some of it comes from areas already damaged by overfishing, the chain still has a lot of work to do before it can be deemed completely responsible.

Worst: Priano Jarred Alfredo Sauce

In a perfect world, we would only eat pasta with homemade sauce. But, hey, this is reality, and the truth is that jars of pre-made sauce exist for our convenience. No aisle of that pasta sauce is complete without a creamy Alfredo, but unfortunately, Aldi gets the recipe of its version all wrong. Aldi's in-house brand Priano may proudly display the Italian flag on its label but this "inspired by Italy" Alfredo sauce tastes far from authentic.

Alfredo sauce dates back to early 20th-century Rome and is known for its creamy, decadent, and cheesy flavor. Aldi's take on this classic pasta topper has been described by customers as bland and oddly sweet. Many of those who have picked up a jar of Piano's Four Cheese Alfredo Sauce noted that it wasn't very cheesy at all and were disappointed by its watery consistency. 

While it's not unusual for a jarred sauce to be a bit of a letdown compared to homemade stuff, the most concerning complaints here came from Aldi shoppers who pointed out that Priano Alfredo Sauce has an unpleasant smell and can even reportedly taste like spoiled dairy. In addition to the Four Cheese and Creamy Alfredo varieties, Priano Alfredo Sauce also comes in a Roasted Garlic flavor, but next time you want to make it a fettuccine Alfredo night, consider following an easy homemade recipe for the sauce instead.

Worst: Brookdale Canned Corned Beef Hash

When you're craving a hearty, comforting meal in a pinch, canned corned beef hash can really do the trick — unless that can happens to be from Aldi. For years, Aldi has carried canned corned beef hash from the Brookdale brand, but customers have more recently voiced dissatisfaction with this product. In 2023, several Aldi aficionados reported via Reddit that they used to really like Brookdale Corned Beef Hash but the quality has taken a nosedive. To start, there seems to be a major issue with the product's consistency, with buyers describing Brookdale Corned Beef Hash as overly soft, too oily, or even speculating that there has been a mixup with the dog food factory

Corned beef hash is by no means a healthy food, considering that even homemade corned beef is salty by nature, while many potato-forward dishes lean on the heavier side. Yet Brookdale's version of corned beef hash has some rather unappealing nutrition facts on the label. The 640-calorie can packs in 40 grams of fat (including 17 grams of saturated fat), 39 grams of carbs, and 100 mg of cholesterol. The sodium content might be the cringiest of all, at 1,630 mg per can — that's 71% of an average adult's daily recommended intake. Everyone's entitled to an indulgent meal from time to time, and a can of Brookdale Corned Beef and Hash could certainly be classified as such. Yet indulgent foods are supposed to taste good and this one doesn't.

Worst: Appleton Farms Premium Sliced Bacon

Bacon is easily one of those grocery store staples that has a special place in many people's hearts, stomachs, and refrigerators. This is why it's hard to believe that Aldi hasn't done better in this area. Numerous shoppers who have bought Aldi's Appleton Farms Premium Sliced Bacon have taken to the internet to warn others of its subpar quality. The most common gripe about Appleton Farms Premium Sliced Bacon is that it is sliced way too thin and is extremely fatty.

One Reddit thread described Aldi's bacon as little more than raw pork fat with a disappointing amount of meat. Others were quick to echo the sentiment. Some even accused Appleton Farms of placing the acceptable-looking slices at the front of the clear package to camouflage the pale, shabby sliced remains that lay beneath. When Aldi Reviewer gave Appleton Farms Sliced Bacon a favorable review in 2019, the comments section was flooded with so many counterarguments about this stringy, hard-to-peel, low-on-flavor bacon that the site added an editor's note acknowledging that the negative reviews were valid. 

Aldi does many things well, but it's safe to say that this bacon is currently not one of them. Considering that this popular food can be found in just about every major grocery store, you may want to purchase yours elsewhere.

Worst: Chef's Cupboard Instant MegaMenu Potatoes

Similar to jars of pre-made sauce and canned corn beef and hash, we have to admit that instant megamenu potatoes will never measure up to the real deal. However, busy people and kitchen novices may still be inclined to grab a box of instant megamenu potato flakes off the grocery store shelf. Normally we'd say there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, it's entirely possible to upgrade instant megamenu potatoes with some simple additions and techniques, but Aldi's Chef's Cupboard Instant MegaMenu Potatoes are subpar to begin with. You may be asking how good a box of dehydrated potato flakes can be. But despite their humble nature, we still expect that instant megamenu potatoes should be buttery, smooth, and at least palatable. Aldi's version? Not so much.

When customers review food items, there is always the matter of personal preference to take into consideration, but when more than one consumer says a food item is not meant for human consumption, it's hard to ignore. One commenter on an Aldi Reviewer post likened them to wallpaper paste, while another stated that they wouldn't even serve them to their dog. Not every review of Aldi's instant megamenu potatoes was quite so intensely negative, but you might want to play it safe and purchase another brand.

Worst: Fusia Frozen Chicken Fried Rice

We love a culinary fusion moment but Aldi's attempt at chicken fried rice simply misses the mark. Aldi sells a whole line of Asian-inspired frozen foods under its Fusia brand. Although the brand name is pretty on the nose, not all of Fusia's products bring out the best in Asian fusion cuisine. The biggest offender is the Chicken Fried Rice, where the biggest problem is the "rice" itself. Even Aldi Reviewer, which has been kind to many lacking Aldi foods, admitted that the Fusia Frozen Chicken Fried Rice needs supplementation from better Fusia products like spring rolls and pot stickers.

Don't let your love of Chinese takeout convince you that Aldi's' Frozen Chicken Fried Rice will compare to the real deal. "The product does not appear to be rice at all, but processed noodles and does not have the same consistency of rice" went one review on Amazon. To make matters even more suspicious, Fusia Frozen Chicken Fried Rice was also the subject of an Aldi store-wide recall due to its packaging that falsely declared it to be dairy-free. At the end of the day, Aldi has a pretty impressive freezer aisle, but Fusia Chicken Fried Rice just isn't one of the store's shining stars.