Aldi vs Sams - Who has the best price?

Several years and a couple of kids ago, I was very diligent about keeping a grocery price book. I kept a small memo book with an alphabetical list of the items we bought most often, and beside the item I wrote the store that had the best price and what that price was. It was very handy, and I could tell at a glance if a sale price was really better than my best normal price.

My price book told me that Aldi had the best deals on most of the items we purchased. Before my weekly shopping trip, I would browse through the sale fliers, compare prices to my book, and choose the store that had the best deals on things we needed. Then I would shop at Aldi, and stop at one other store, (or sometimes two if there were fantastic deals to be had) for their loss leaders, and any other items that I was unable to get at Aldi.

When we moved to a new state, and I was pregnant with our fourth child, the thought of making a new price book was not appealing, to say the least. Since I was confident that Aldi had the lowest prices over all, I decided to do the bulk of my shopping there, and picked up the rest elsewhere, usually at Wal-Mart because I could get all the other items there for a good price.

Judging by a recent poll of readers here, it seems the majority of you agree. 55% of you picked Aldi as the store with the lowest prices. Followed by a tie of 14% saying it really doesn't matter, and 14% saying Wal-Mart or other supercenter. 8% picked Kroger or other full service grocery, and only 7% chose Sam's or other warehouse type store.

My husband and I had talked here and there about getting a Sam's club membership. I wasn't sure that their prices would be lower, and figured by the time we paid for the membership it would not be worth it. Then a few weeks ago we had the opportunity to get a free membership (read mystery shop.) We got the membership, and then the question arose, "Who does have the best prices?" I knew it was time for another price book.

This time the price book has been set up on Excel, and specifically set up to compare Aldi and Sams's. Want to take a peek? Go ahead; Aldi vs. Sams. It is still a work in progress, but I think there are enough entries there to give you a good idea. Aldi has the lowest price on just over half of the items I've priced so far.

These are unit prices and they compare different brands. Also a note about the Sam's prices I only used prices that were in usable quantities for me. For example; eggs can be purchased cheaper per dozen by buying ten dozen. That is not a usable quantity for me. The price shown in the spread sheet is for purchasing three dozen.

To give you a taste here is where you can get the best price on 13 common items:

1. Skim Milk - Sam's
2. Butter - Sam's
3. Eggs - Aldi
4. Cheddar shredded- Sam's
5. Mozzarella shredded - Sam's
6. Sour Cream - Aldi
7. Quick Oats - Aldi
8. Pepperoni - Aldi
9. Bacon - Aldi
10. Tilapia frozen - Aldi
11. Flour - Aldi
12. Sugar - Aldi
13. Peanut Butter - Sam's

Most of the price differences aren't huge, especially at the per unit level, but remember that is just for comparison purposes. Consider how much you actually buy to figure your savings. Add those savings up for a year, and it can make a big difference.

I haven't decided how or if I will make Sam's a regular part of my shopping routine, but it will be at least an occasional stop for this year. This year's Sam's membership was free for us. I will have to consider that cost when it is time to renew the membership. The cost of membership is about 77 cents a week.

Of course comparing unit prices isn't the only thing to consider when picking a store. You have to consider location, quantities, and personal preference. Having the price comparison though really is helpful. Now I know who has the better prices, and can easily compare prices with sales fliers. I will also print a copy to keep with me, so if I happen to be at a different store, I can compare prices before buying.

Joanna has also been working on a similar project. See her results at Finally, a price book! A big thanks to her also for telling me how to link up my spreadsheets!

For those of you who live near me:
There is one other thing to consider; sales tax. Since our state taxes our groceries, we instantly save 4% by simply driving across the river. Since Aldi is in WV and Sam's is in Ohio, I made a spreadsheet to account for the 4% WV sales tax. You can see that sheet at WV Price Book.

For those of you who don't have Aldi:
I know I know, you are tired of hearing of all the great prices at Aldi. Sorry! You could send them a note to see if they are planning to expand to your area.

Thursday Thirteen (#14): for lists of thirteen on everything from beach weddings to weird recipes.

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Aldi vs Sams - Who has the best price? + work