Aldi Vs Walmart: Which Grocery Store Is More Affordable?

For many, Walmart is synonymous with low-cost living. The Arkansas-based retailer, founded in 1962, rose to fame in the '90s by offering the lowest prices around on everything from baking soda to bicycles (per Britannica). But as the first Walmart Supercenter approaches middle age, is the discount retailer still the low-cost wunderkind it was decades ago?

When it comes to prices, grocery chain Aldi has been giving Walmart a run for its money. According to CNN, even Walmart CEO Greg Foran was impressed by the rival retailer's price-chopping prowess, the trademark tool in Walmart's own corporate toolbelt.

You may know Aldi's popular cousin brand, Trader Joe's. What's a cousin brand? According to kitchn, Aldi Nord operates Trader Joe's in the US and Aldi Sud operates Aldi stores in the US and Trader Joe's in Europe. Aldi Nord and Aldi Sud split into two separate but related companies in 1961 following a rift between the founding brothers. Confusing, right? The untold truth of the brothers who started Aldi could make anyone's head spin.

Regardless, Aldi grocery stores keep prices low the same way Trader Joe's does. According to Aldi's website, 90% of what they offer are "Aldi exclusive brands," which helps keep prices down by cutting marketing and advertising costs that accompany name brands. The house brand-only approach also acts as a built-in wide-range quality control. As the Wall Street Journal reported in 2017, every item that bears an Aldi house brand label is not just carefully selected, it's also taste-tested.

Aldi takes the cake, but it depends on what you're buying

While both stores have great deals, according to grocery information site Aisle of Shame, Aldi offers the best prices overall. There is, however, an exception — goods prone to price variation, as from inflation, volatility, or regional variation. According to CNBC, the most inflation-sensitive groceries include bacon, ground beef, and dairy. Dairy and beef prices also vary regionally — ground beef on the West Coast costs nearly a dollar more per pound than in other U.S. cities (via U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Likewise, seafood prices are famously volatile (via BlueCart). While Aldi's prices change to reflect fluctuating market prices, consumer giant Walmart can afford to eat the difference and hold prices low and steady on things like fresh seafood, dairy, and bacon.

Now for the good stuff — Aldi's best bargains. According to Aisle of Shame, in the cereal aisle, you can find Frosted Flakes for about half Walmart's price, though keep in mind that the store brand won't feature Tony the Tiger. Aldi cleans up in the pantry aisle, too — with staples like peanut butter running about 2/3 Walmart's prices. But the Germany-based supermarket chain really brings home the bacon in frozen foods, with some prices as much as 50% below its competitor.

While Aldi doesn't have a rewards program, it does offer promotions. Traditionally, Wednesday is the day for meat and seafood specials, though according to the Star Tribune, shopping early is key.