We Compared Prices for a Dozen Items at Aldi Versus Trader Joe’s — And One Is Clearly Cheaper

updated Apr 28, 2024
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Aldi vs. Trader Joe's store front.
Credit: Mackenzie Filson

Of all the grocery stores I’ve compared head-to-head (see: Aldi vs. Lidl, Target vs. Walmart, and Aldi vs. Dollar Tree), there’s one match-up I’ve been the most curious about: Aldi vs. Trader Joe’s. As you’ve likely heard through the grocery grapevine, Aldi and Trader Joe’s have more than a few things in common. They are (albeit distant) branches from the same family tree and have a wide selection of items under their popular store brands, including everyday basics and ultra-seasonal items at affordable prices. 

Speaking of low prices, both Aldi and Trader Joe’s have incredibly devoted followings for that aspect alone. It had me wondering the following question: Which is actually the cheaper of the two? To answer this ultimate question, once and for all (okay, for this calendar year), which retailer would help me stay well under my grocery budget, I gathered 12 of my usual basics at each store — touching on pantry and fridge staples, fresh produce, meat, and freezer favorites — and compared the prices, accounting for differences in size. 

In the interest of keeping things as fair as possible, I tried to match quantities as best as possible and visited the two retailers on the same day, within an hour of each other. (The stores are both located in Southern California and just over two miles apart).

Truth be told, I predicted there’d be a landslide win for one of the grocers, but spoiler: It’s probably for the best that I didn’t bet on it as a 100% win. Here’s how the two stores’ prices shook out. 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

1. Whole Milk (Half Gallon)

When it comes to picking up a half gallon of milk for your cereal or coffee, Aldi snatches the win for this staple by saving you nearly two quarters (important cart rental money, TBH).

WINNER! Aldi: Whole Milk, $2.10 for 1 half gallon
– Trader Joe’s: Whole Milk, $2.59 for 1 half gallon

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

2. Cheddar + Parmesan Cheese

Another similarity between the stores? Their popular wedges of cheddar + Parmesan cheeses. Even with a near photo-finish (10-cent difference!) Aldi wins this duel.

WINNER! Aldi: Not Your Average Cheddar + Parmesan Cheese, $3.89 for 7 ounces
– Trader Joe’s: Unexpected Cheddar, $3.99 for 7 ounces

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

3. Cream Cheese

Oof, once again Aldi creams Trader Joe’s prices — this time with its store-brand cream cheese coming in well under the Trader Joe’s equivalent.

WINNER! Aldi: Happy Farms Cream Cheese, $1.45 for 8 ounces
– Trader Joe’s Cream Cheese, $1.99 for 8 ounces

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

4. Cheese Tortellini Pasta

In the one instance I noticed a slightly smaller item at Aldi (a mere 1.2 ounces less than Trader Joe’s), its cheese tortellini pasta still is a total steal.

WINNER! Aldi: Priano Cheese Tortellini Pasta, $1.79 for 8.8 ounces ($0.20 per ounce)
– Trader Joe’s: Cheese Tortellini Pasta, $2.99 for 10 ounces ($0.29 per ounce)

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

5. New York Strip Steak

Color me surprised, but I was expecting a much larger difference in price per pound here. Still, Aldi swept the steak category, too, and for a dollar less per pound. While you’re at it, keep an eye out for extra markdowns in Aldi’s meat department.

WINNER! Aldi: New York Strip Steak, $11.99 per pound
– Trader Joe’s: New York Strip Steak, $12.99 per pound

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

6. Raspberries

With the biggest price difference yet (Trader Joe’s raspberries will cost you more than double), Aldi offers fresh raspberries at a bargain.

WINNER! Aldi Driscoll’s Raspberries, $1.69 for 6 ounces
– Trader Joe’s: Naturipe Raspberries, $3.49 for 6 ounces

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

7. Buttermilk Pancake Mix

It’s a duel of the store brands, and Aldi once again reigns supreme when it comes to buttermilk pancake mixes. You’ll save another two quarters here (add it to your growing cart money stash).

WINNER! Aldi: Millville Buttermilk Pancake Mix, $1.95 for 32 ounces
– Trader Joe’s: Buttermilk Pancake Mix, $2.49 for 32 ounces

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

8. Olive Oil

EVOOh my god, would you look at that: Aldi’s olive oil is a staggering $3 and change less than Trader Joe’s. Note: While Aldi’s oil is not organic, this was the closest size/price comparison available between the two stores.

WINNER! Aldi Priano Extra Virgin Olive Oil, $5.79 for 16.9 ounces
– Trader Joe’s: Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, $8.99 for 16.9 ounces

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

9. Everything Bagels

One thing I’ve noticed (and respect) about Aldi is that it hasn’t “shrinkflated” many products, when several other grocery retailers have. The store’s everything bagels are further proof of that, with you getting two ounces more for less than the ones at Trader Joe’s.

WINNER! Aldi: L’Oven Fresh Pre-Sliced Everything Bagels, $2.19 for 6 bagels (20 ounces) or $.10 per ounce
– Trader Joe’s: Everything Bagels, $2.99 for 6 bagels (18 ounces) or $.16 per ounce

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

10. Organic Ketchup

Yes, the one thing Trader Joe’s priced cheaper (and with a larger quantity) was … ketchup? Now you know! 

WINNER! Trader Joe’s: Organic Ketchup, $2.29 for 24 ounces ($.09 per ounce)
– Aldi: Organic Ketchup, $2.15 for 20 ounces ($.10 per ounce)

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

11. Frozen Waffles

If you could never l’Eggo of having some frozen waffles on hand, Aldi offers a bigger box of waffles for less than those similarly sold at Trader Joe’s.

WINNER! Aldi: Breakfast Best Frozen Homestyle Waffles, $2.09 for 12.3 ounces ($.16 per ounce)
– Trader Joe’s: Whole Grain Waffles, $2.69 for 9.3 ounces ($.28 per ounce)

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

12. Frozen Pepperoni Pizza

In an Aldi world, you can often get way more for less — in this case, nearly double the pizza for over a dollar and a half less than Trader Joe’s pizza. If pepperoni’s not your thing, there are over a dozen other flavors to choose from, including these three standouts.

WINNER! Aldi: Mama Cozzi’s Pepperoni Pizza, $4.39 for 30.2 ounces ($0.14 per ounce)
– Trader Joe’s: Wood Fired Naples-Style Uncured Pepperoni Pizza, $5.99 for 15.2 ounces ($0.39 per ounce)

My Final Thoughts

All things considered, Aldi was the clear winner in terms of price. Of course, this doesn’t account for item quality differences between the stores — you might prefer to buy your cheese at Trader Joe’s, produce at the farmers market, and meat at Walmart or Costco. But if you’re looking for the most consistent deals at the grocery store, Aldi is still the one to beat (and is likely waiting for its next opponent).

Which store do you prefer? Tell us about it in the comments below.