Unpopular opinion: Why Save A Lot is better than Aldi

Let's get one thing straight right from the get-go — this isn't going to be an Aldi diss. We love Aldi; who doesn't love Aldi? Aldi's a great place not only to save on groceries, but make exciting new discoveries in the aisles. That being said, though, there's another budget grocer out there that's captured our hearts despite — or, to be honest, because — it's got a much lower profile than it's more glamorous European cousin. Yep, talking about Save A Lot, which basically plays Walmart to Aldi's Target in that it's got a similar selection, slightly lower prices, and nowhere near the cult following that its trendier counterpart can claim.

So what is it that makes Save A Lot our favorite fly-below-the radar grocer? Not only do they offer what may be the best prices of any U.S. supermarket chain, but they go out of their way to serve the under-served, as well as to bring their customers exactly what they want.

Save A Lot custom-tailors its offerings

Not only does Save A Lot bring its stores to those locations where they're needed the most, but they also try to supply exactly the kinds of groceries that their neighborhoods are demanding. Save A Lot's Chief Operating Officer Kevin Proctor spoke to the National Grocers Association's 2020 NGA Show and told the grocers gathered there that Save A Lot is committed to offering localized product selections custom-tailored to each neighborhood, as this will allow store operators to build relationships in their communities (via Supermarket News). As he explained it, this gives his store an edge over other budget grocery chains: "What Aldi and Lidl can't do is they can't differentiate on the shop floor to a local community. And what that means is they can't bring in local...product." Save A Lot, on the other hand, with its locally-owned stores, not only can, but does cater to each community it serves.

While in the past having community-specific items might have been limited to "special offerings" within a store, Supermarket News reports that some Save A Lots in heavily Hispanic areas have been integrating items imported from Mexico and El Salvador throughout their product range for the past 10 years. While everybody knows Aldi's big on imports as well, the fact is, most modern immigrant communities in the U.S. today may be more interested in getting a taste of home through Jarritos soda, or Mama Lycha crema Salvadoreña than they are in sampling Bavarian bratwurst, or Swiss Gruyère (tasty though those Aldi offerings may be).

Save A Lot's prices are even lower than Aldi's

It's always a bit tricky trying to compare grocery store prices since these tend to vary from item to item and week to week. While one chain might have great deals on milk and meat, it's possible that their cereals are too expensive, or perhaps there's a fantastic sale on produce at a store where pantry staples and condiments are usually overpriced. In order to get the best deals on every item on your shopping list, you'd have to hop from store to store, and honestly, who's got the time to do that? (Plus you might be canceling out any savings by all the money you waste on gas.)

If you prefer to get all your week's shopping done in one trip, it's best to track overall store price trends, and for that we have market research companies. One such survey conducted a few years back found that when it came to food items, Save A Lot's prices were the lowest of the low, beating out not only Aldi, but also even the much-maligned (and sometimes deservedly so) groceries offered by dollar stores (via Cheapism).

Save A Lot names its products after real people

Save A Lot, like Aldi, carries a lot more store-branded products than it does non-generics. We love that some Aldi products have slightly exotic-sounding product lines like Deutsche Küche, and Choceur. But we love more that Save A Lot's products bear names like Ginger Evans baking products, J.Higgs snack chips, Gilmore Gourmet popcorn, McDaniel's coffee, Coburn Farms dairy products, Hargis House chili, and Shaner's frozen chicken.

While we're not entirely sure who Ginger Evans may be (or even if she's a real person as opposed to Save A Lot's answer to Betty Crocker), we do know the real-life inspirations for some of the other product names. Supermarket News tells us that Joe Higgs was Save A Lot's Chief Financial Officer, Larry Gilmore was their controller, David McDaniel was once VP of grocery purchasing, Coburn was the last name of the mother in law of Save A Lot's former president William Moran, and Mary Hargis was a label artist who presumably designed her namesake chili can. Store Brands adds that Bill Shaner of fried chicken fame was another former Save A Lot president, while the company's World's Fair ice cream novelties are a shout-out to its St. Louis roots.