We Compared Prices for a Dozen Items at Aldi Versus Dollar Tree — And One Is Clearly Cheaper

published Apr 20, 2024
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Aldi vs Dollar Tree: storefronts
Credit: Mackenzie Filson

I’m not sure when it happened, but I’ve somehow become “In my day, dollar stores sold items that were an actual dollar” years old. You might have noticed it too — that discount chains like Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, and Dollar General are more like $1.25 stores these days. Strolling the Dollar Tree aisles on a recent trip for household basics got me thinking: Could a discount grocer like Aldi possibly be cheaper these days?

Of course, these retailers don’t have nearly the same amount of food inventory (or offer all the same quantities) — you’ll only find shelf-stable, refrigerated, and frozen food items at Dollar Tree, while Aldi is a full-service grocery store. And yet, there’s still a good deal of overlap (see: the best dinosaur chicken nuggets). 

To suss out which retailer could help me stretch my grocery dollars further, I gathered some of my usual basics at each store — touching on pantry staples, frozen shortcuts and dinners, plus one very essential refrigerated item — and compared the prices, accounting for differences in size. In the interest of keeping things fair, 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 less than five miles apart.)

To my surprise, there was a clear standout between the two.

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

1. Frozen Waffles

If you’re willing to “l’eggo” of name-brand Eggo Waffles, you’ll be very happy to know that Aldi offers the same amount of its store-brand frozen waffles for nearly a full dollar less than Dollar Tree.

  • WINNER! Aldi: Breakfast Best Frozen Homestyle Waffles, $2.09 for 12.3 ounces
  • Dollar Tree: Eggo Homestyle Waffles, $3.00 for 12.3 ounces
Credit: Mackenzie Filson

2. Frozen Pepperoni Pizza

As you’ll quickly see, so many of the ounce-by-ounce price comparisons between Aldi and Dollar Tree come down to mere pennies. In this case, Aldi’s not only offers more pizza per package, but also for five cents less per ounce than Dollar Tree’s. 

  • WINNER! Aldi: Mama Cozzi’s Pepperoni Pizza, $4.39 for 30.2 ounces ($0.14 per ounce) 
  • Dollar Tree: Tony’s Meat Trio Frozen Pizza, $4.00 for 20.6 ounces ($0.19 per ounce)
Credit: Mackenzie Filson

3. Frozen Chicken Nuggets

Truth be told, I gasped when I spotted these Yummy Dino Buddies at Dollar Tree for only $5. I thought it would be a neck-and-neck matchup with the bigger box available at Aldi, but there is a clear winner: Dollar Tree is the place to stop for chicken nuggets. Who would have thought?

  • Aldi: Yummy Dino Buddies Alphabet Shapes, $8.99 for 35 ounces ($0.25 per ounce) 
  • WINNER! Dollar Tree: Yummy Dino Buddies, $5.00 for 21 ounces ($0.23 per ounce)
Credit: Mackenzie Filson

4. Applesauce Pouches

Dollar Tree, across the board, offers smaller versions of staple items — it’s a major part of its $1.25 pricing strategy. In this case, you can get four pouches for way less per ounce at Dollar Tree than Aldi’s larger package, so these would be well worth stocking up on. 

  • Aldi: Simply Nature Unsweetened Applesauce Pouches, $6.49 for 38.1 ounces ($0.17 per ounce) 
  • WINNER! Dollar Tree: Kari Fruits Unsweetened Applesauce Pouches, $1.25 for 12.8 ounces ($0.09 per ounce)
Credit: Mackenzie Filson

5. Pancake Mix

This matchup was an ultra-close one, but Aldi clinched it by just a penny difference (!) per ounce. Especially if you love pancakes (Aldi’s box is double the size of Dollar Tree’s), this mix will keep the stacks piled high.

  • WINNER! Aldi: Millville Buttermilk Pancake Mix, $1.95 for 32 ounces ($0.06 per ounce) 
  • Dollar Tree: Hungry Jack Original Pancake Mix, $1.25 for 16 ounces ($0.07 per ounce)
Credit: Mackenzie Filson

6. Corn Tostadas

Once again, you’ll find you can get more tostadas for less $$$ at Aldi. That’s the best kind of math in my book. 

  • WINNER! Aldi: Pueblo Lindo Tostadas, $1.79 for 12.8 ounces ($0.13 per ounce) 
  • Dollar Tree: Maizada Tostadas, $1.25 for 8.8 ounces ($0.14 per ounce)
Credit: Mackenzie Filson

7. Italian Dressing

Here’s another case of “If you aren’t a name-brand purist, you’re going to want to hit up Aldi yesterday.” The grocer’s store-brand edges ahead of the Kraft Italian dressing sold at Dollar Tree, with double the amount too! 

  • WINNER! Aldi: Tuscan Garden Zesty Italian Dressing, $1.95 for 16 ounces ($0.12 per ounce) 
  • Dollar Tree: Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing, $1.25 for 8 ounces ($0.15 per ounce)
Credit: Mackenzie Filson

8. Canned Green Beans

In some of these showdowns, Aldi proves it is clearly not here to mess around. The discount grocer is going to offer you canned green beans, and it’s going to be half the price of Dollar Tree — no mistaking it. 

  • WINNER! Aldi: Happy Harvest Cut Green Beans, $0.63 for 14.5 ounces 
  •  Dollar Tree: Del Monte Cut Green Beans, $1.25 for 14.5 ounces
Credit: Mackenzie Filson

9. Boxed Macaroni & Cheese

Similar to the canned green beans, Aldi’s prices aren’t stuck at the dollar-and-up level. Its boxed macaroni and cheese is just 58 cents — less than half the price of the Kraft one sold at Dollar Tree.  

  • WINNER! Aldi: Cheese Club Macaroni & Cheese, $.58 for 7.25 ounces 
  • Dollar Tree: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, $1.25 for 7.25 ounces
Credit: Mackenzie Filson

10. Brownie Mix

Another close call! A mere two cents all that separates the price per ounce of Aldi and Dollar Tree’s boxed brownie mixes, with Aldi’s larger box snagging the crown here.

  • WINNER! Aldi: Baker’s Corner Chewy Fudge Brownie Mix, $1.29 for 18.3 ounces ($0.07 per ounce) 
  • Dollar Tree: Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix, $1.25 for 12.9 ounces ($0.09 per ounce)
Credit: Mackenzie Filson

11. Hazelnut-Cocoa Spread

When I see hazelnut-cocoa spread in the store, my mind immediately thinks “Ooooh, deluxe,” so it was nice to see jars at less-than-deluxe prices at both stores. While both are super well-priced on their own, Dollar Tree’s was the winningest winner here. 

  • Aldi: BerryHill Hazelnut Spread, $2.69 for 13 ounces ($0.20 per ounce) 
  • WINNER! Dollar Tree: Nutastic! Hazelnut Cocoa Spread, $1.25 for 10 ounces ($0.12 per ounce)
Credit: Mackenzie Filson

12. Cream Cheese

Okay, I spoke too soon! Aldi heard me apparently and is offering a name brand at a slightly lower price than Dollar Tree. You can have your name-brand (cheese)cake, and eat it too — at a bargain. 

  • WINNER! Aldi: Philadelphia Cream Cheese, $2.89 for 8 ounces 
  • Dollar Tree: Philadelphia Cream Cheese, $3.00 for 8 ounces 

Overall, Aldi offers eight items that are actually cheaper than Dollar Tree, sometimes half the price (as is the case of canned green beans and boxed macaroni and cheese). That being said, you can still get name-brand favorites (like Kraft salad dressing, Hungry Jack pancake mix, and Pillsbury brownie mix) at Dollar Tree for a steal — even if their quantities skew on the lower side. 

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