Aldi vs Costco

Today I’m looking into which place is better for grocery shopping: Aldi vs Costco.

These two stores aren’t exactly the easiest to compare. Costco requires a paid membership and carries mostly bulk items whereas Aldi is more like a typical grocery store…except for the fact that you need a quarter to get a cart. 

Also you don’t get free bags and there are virtually no brand name products. 

Ok, so maybe Aldi isn’t a typical grocery store. 

Both stores are a little weird, but sometimes to save money you have to do things a little differently.

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aldi vs costco price comparison icon

Aldi vs Costco Price Comparison

For the price comparison, I looked at 45 items across 7 categories: 

I know 45 items is a limited selection, but there were only so many things I could compare that were an exact match between the two stores which were available on Instacart.

Since I did all of the research via Instacart, I should mention that they add a slight markup to the store prices in order to pay for their services, so these prices might not be exactly what you would see in the store. 

aldi instacart page

For the sake of comparison between the two stores, this should be safe to use. For most of the categories, I compared 5 items, but for the fresh produce and other categories, I compared 10. This is because “other” is a broad category and fresh produce is what I buy the most of since it’s much cheaper and healthier to make things from scratch.

For each item in each category, I will show you the price difference between the two stores measured in cents per ounce (CPO) and the name of the store that had the better price. For example, if you see: 

ItemCPO DifferenceWinner
Turkey Deli Meat8.47Aldi
CPO is cents per ounce

That means that turkey deli meat was 8.47 cents per ounce cheaper than Costco.

For each category, I’ll pick a selection winner and a savings winner

🏅 Selection Winner: the store with a better price on more items in the category. 

🏆 Savings Winner: the store with higher overall savings if you were to buy every item in the category.

Comparing Bulk vs Non-Bulk

I usually like to select items that are about the same quantity when comparing stores. In most cases it would seem unfair to compare the prices per ounce of a 25 pound bag of brown rice and a 1 pound bag of brown rice. 

bulk items

However, selling in bulk is Costco’s unique advantage over Aldi (they’re called Costco Wholesale after all). 

So, wherever possible, I found the best unit price item at Costco and compared it to the equivalent best unit price item at Aldi. In just about every case, that leads to comparing two items that are vastly different quantities because Aldi just doesn’t sell things in bulk. 

aldi vs costco apple comparison

That being said, I think you’ll be surprised at just how competitive Aldi is even without the wholesale advantage.

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Aldi vs Costco Snacks

For the 5 snack items I compared, Aldi had better prices on 3 and Costco had better prices on 2. 

Just based on these 5 items, Aldi wins on selection and Costco wins on overall savings. 

That being said, this category could probably go either way if we compared a lot more items, so I’d say it’s probably closer to a tie.

snacks comparison chart
ItemCPO DifferenceWinner
Whole Salted Cashews1.76Aldi
Chocolate Chip Granola Bars3.74Aldi
Movie Theater Butter Popcorn2.47Costco
Milk Chocolate Almonds6.80Costco

🏅 Selection Winner: Aldi

🏆 Savings Winner: Costco

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Aldi vs Costco Spices

Costco is the clear winner when it comes to spices. 

This is one category where bulk savings make a huge difference. Most of the Aldi spices were between 1 and 3 ounces, whereas Costco spices were 10+ ounces. 

Of all the items I compared, the organic ground cinnamon was the largest difference with Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand being nearly a dollar per ounce cheaper than Aldi’s Simply Nature brand.

spices comparison chart
ItemCPO DifferenceWinner
Garlic Powder2.17Aldi
Crushed Red Pepper7.40Costco
Onion Flakes13.27Costco
Black Pepper59.83Costco
Organic Ground Cinnamon99.50Costco

🏅 Selection Winner: Costco

🏆 Savings Winner: Costco

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Aldi vs Costco Fresh Produce

Aldi is the clear winner when it comes to produce. 

I was surprised how, even when comparing things with a significant difference in quantity, Aldi kept coming out ahead. 

Of course, produce isn’t something that’s usually sold in lots of bulk, so the wholesale savings of Costco are naturally limited in this category.

I compared 10 items in this category rather than the usual 5 because I was surprised at Aldi’s savings, so I wanted to keep comparing more to make sure I was right, but also because I was curious since I mostly buy produce.

ItemCPO DifferenceWinner
Yellow Onions1.43Aldi
Sweet Potatoes1.58Aldi
Green Grapes1.86Aldi
Organic Gala Apples2.66Aldi
Red Potatoes2.68Aldi
Whole White Mushrooms4.75Aldi

🏅 Selection Winner: Aldi

🏆 Savings Winner: Aldi

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Aldi vs Costco Dairy

In the dairy category, Costco didn’t always have the best prices, but when they did, they were significantly better. 

Despite Aldi having better prices on milk and sharp cheddar cheese, both of these items were within 1 cent per ounce between the two stores, so basically a tie.

dairy comparison chart
ItemCPO DifferenceWinner
1 Gallon 2% Milk0.34Aldi
Block Sharp Cheddar Cheese0.72Aldi
Salted Butter3.70Costco
Organic Greek Yogurt3.72Costco
Plain Goat Cheese14.32Costco

🏅 Selection Winner: Costco

🏆 Savings Winner: Costco

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Aldi vs Costco Meat

This is the category that surprised me the most. 

I had always heard that Costco had great deals on meat, but all 5 of the items I compared between the two stores were cheaper at Aldi. 

This could be caused by some quality differences, I noticed that it looked like Costco had a higher selection of premium cuts of meat.

Whatever the reason for the difference, I can say with confidence that the meat Aldi has is significantly cheaper than the meat at Costco.

meat comparison chart
ItemCPO DifferenceWinner
Boneless Pork Chops3.75Aldi
Mild Italian Sausage4.05Aldi
Organic Ground Beef6.45Aldi
Turkey Deli Meat8.47Aldi
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast10.99Aldi

🏅 Selection Winner: Aldi

🏆 Savings Winner: Aldi

aldi vs costco other icon

Aldi vs Costco Other

I included this category to just catch an assortment of random food items. 

This is mostly prepared food, which is a category Costco seems to perform better in than Aldi. 

So, it makes sense that Costco wins this category.

dairy comparison chart
ItemCPO DifferenceWinner
Frozen Stir-Fry Vegetable Mix1.98Aldi
Basil Pesto13.39Aldi
Green Olives15.60Aldi
Jasmine Rice1.32Costco
Organic Creamy Peanut Butter2.29Costco
Artichoke Hearts5.43Costco
Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil6.98Costco
Creamy Almond Butter8.66Costco
Minced Garlic12.19Costco

🏅 Selection Winner: Costco

🏆 Savings Winner: Costco

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Aldi vs Costco Non-Food Items

For the “non-food items” category, Aldi had a significant amount of savings on triple blade razors (93 cents per razor). 

That being said, I would never tell someone to rely on Aldi for non-food items unless the Aldi where they are is significantly bigger than the one near my house. 

Still, I was surprised at the savings on non-food items at Aldi.

ItemCPO DifferenceWinner
Paper Plates9.17Aldi
Size 3 Diapers10.13Aldi
Triple Blade Razors92.96Aldi
Fabric Softener Sheets0.65Costco
AA Batteries11.42Costco

🏅 Selection Winner: Aldi

🏆 Savings Winner: Aldi

🏅 Overall Selection Winner: Aldi (4 out of 7 categories)

🏆 Overall Savings Winner: Costco (4 out of 7 categories)

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The “Full Shopping Cart” Test

So, now that we know which store is better in each category, what if we went in and loaded up a shopping cart at each store with the same amount of all 45 items? 

For this comparison, I took the quantity of the item at Costco and multiplied it by the price per ounce of each store. For example 10.7 oz of cinnamon, at $1.43 per oz at Aldi means we spent $15.30 on cinnamon at Aldi and $0.44 per oz at Costco is $4.71.

I did this for all 45 items, and the total value of the shopping cart was $546.48 at Costco and $510.18 at Aldi. So, if you bought the same quantity of all of these items at Aldi and Costco, you would save $36.30 at Aldi

I know I looked into a lot of fresh produce, and Costco is not particularly cheap for that category. I was surprised to see that even after I removed all of the fresh produce from the cart, I  ended up with $467.78 at Costco and $448.86 at Aldi, which is still $18.92 cheaper at Aldi. 

This test does tend to favor items that are heavier and more expensive, like meat, but I think it’s a much more realistic way of comparing the two stores – by buying the exact same things in the same quantities.

aldi vs costco membership icon

Costco Membership

Another thing to point out is the fact that Costco requires membership while Aldi does not. 

Costco’s membership fee is difficult to include in this comparison for several reasons:

  1. It’s impossible to say if the membership is worth it for anyone without knowing their exact shopping habits. 

The cost of the membership is $60 a year ($5 per month), and depending on what you buy and how often, you might be saving that much each year, but you might not. 

  1. There’s an Executive Membership which is $120 a year ($10 per month) and it further complicates things by offering 2% cash back on everything in the store. 

Once again, whether or not that pays for itself depends entirely on your shopping habits. The minimum you would need to spend at Costco each year for the Executive Membership to completely pay for itself is $6,000 ($500 per month). 

  1. Costco is much more than just a grocery store. You can buy everything from tires to tequila. So, spending enough at Costco to justify the membership may not actually be that difficult.
aldi vs costco quality

Aldi vs Costco Quality

Another item that’s difficult to compare between the two stores is quality. 

For each product, I always compared the generic brand of each store. For Costco that’s Kirkland Signature, and for Aldi, that’s just about everything in the store. 

That being said, despite the fact that I was comparing generic to generic, there isn’t really a solid way to compare the quality of the products. 

I always compared organic to organic, but without a taste test (and I’m probably not picky enough to even tell the difference), I couldn’t tell you if the Kirkland Signature organic ground cinnamon is better than the Stonemill organic ground cinnamon or vice versa, for example. 

What I can say though, is there is a big difference in selection. 

Costco has a lot more stuff than Aldi. That may be because my local Aldi is relatively small, but I suspect that’s the case at most locations.

The Takeaway

Aldi is better for grocery shopping for raw ingredients: fresh produce, meat, etc. Costco is better for prepared food, spices, and probably everything else. 

Your “everyday” shopping needs are probably better served at a place like Aldi, whereas the things you buy every once in a while are probably going to be cheaper at Costco. 

It’s difficult to declare an outright winner because it probably depends more on your preferences. If you like to buy prepared food, have more selection, have specific brand names, and be able to do all your shopping at one store, you’re better off shopping at Costco. 

If the majority of your grocery shopping is done on produce, meat, and staples, and you don’t mind a limited selection, you’re probably going to be better served at Aldi.

Next Steps

If you liked this comparison of Aldi and Costco, check out my comparison of Publix and Aldi and subscribe below! You’ll only be emailed when I publish a new article, no spam.

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