6 of the Worst Things to Buy at Aldi

ALDI food market branch in St. Louis.
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Aldi is quietly becoming one of the most respected grocery chains in America.

In its latest ranking of grocery stores, Consumer Reports awarded Aldi 84 of 100 possible points for overall satisfaction. That puts it just behind some of the nation’s most beloved grocers. Trader Joe’s, for comparison, earned an 87 and Costco received an 86.

Every retailer has strengths and weaknesses. Don’t buy a laptop at Walmart if price matters, for example, and Trader Joe’s is not the best for low-priced meat and seafood.

The “no frills” Aldi — which currently serves the Eastern seaboard, Midwest, Arizona and California — earns a perfect CR score of 5 out of 5 for competitive prices. CR also points to the chain’s store cleanliness, for which Aldi earned a 4 out of 5.

Aldi falls down, however, in the following areas, based on Consumer Reports’ findings or our own.

1. Store-prepared fresh foods

Woman shopping for groceries at Aldi
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Aldi earns a rock-bottom low grade from Consumer Reports — only 1 of 5 possible points — for its store-prepared fresh foods.

That can include, for instance, freshly made salads, deli sandwiches and whole roast chickens prepared in stores. The chain says it has increased its fresh food offerings since 2018, but Consumer Reports, in its 2019 assessment, wasn’t impressed.

For better bets, check out “My 7 Favorite Things to Buy at Aldi.”

2. Avocado oil

Avocado oil
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The reputation of the avocado as a healthy food might make you crave avocado oil, a relatively new grocery product. It’s full of minerals, vitamins and healthy fats.

But in a recent review of seven brands by ConsumerLab.com, Aldi’s Simply Nature 100% Pure Avocado Oil was the only one that didn’t earn ConsumerLab.com’s approval. The company, which independently tests the quality of health and nutrition products, said of Aldi’s brand:

“[I]ts fatty acid profile did not fully match that of avocado oil, suggesting adulteration with another oil.”

3. Sandwich bags

bagged lunch
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We’ve done the math on Aldi’s sandwich bags so you don’t have to.

“Every time I have done the per-unit math, Walmart’s Great Value sandwich bags have been cheaper than Aldi’s Boulder sandwich bags,” says Money Talks News managing editor Karla Bowsher.

Walmart’s bags are cheaper even than the ones Costco sells, she reported in “7 Things I Never Buy at Costco.”

4. Name brands

Kellogg's name brand breakfast cereals
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Store brands typically offer more for your money, and more than 90% of Aldi’s products are house (or “private-label”) brands.

“One reason [Aldi’s] prices are so low is that a majority of the groceries it carries are private-label,” affirms Business Insider.

However, shop beyond these private-label products and you might end up digging more deeply into your purse or wallet.

At Aldi, “not only are these [name brands] usually over-priced, you can’t use coupons on them to save more money,” says blogger MoneySavingMom.

5. Disposable shopping bags

Aldi shopping bag
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Unlike many stores, Aldi doesn’t give shoppers free bags at checkout. You bring your own or buy disposable or reusable shopping bags.

Aldi’s FAQ explains that “we not only save our customers money — by avoiding adding the cost of the bag to our prices — but also precious resources.”

Don’t get stuck paying for a disposable grocery bag, though. Plan ahead and bring your own for free. Or, if you don’t own reusable shopping bags, buy some reusable bags at Aldi rather than paying for disposable bags that aren’t made to last.

6. Locally produced products

Aldi produce department
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Shopping for locally grown and crafted goods? Try local food cooperatives, farm stands and farmers markets. A sore point for Aldi in Consumer Reports’ ranking was its score — just 1 of 5 possible points — for its selection of locally produced products.

Aldi shines, however — earning 4 of 5 possible points — for its prices on organic products.

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