Confession Time: Why I don’t (usually) buy spices at ALDI
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Let’s have a serious little “almost” all ALDI chat today: Spices edition. I do love me some ALDI, but… recently purchased myself a Costco membership, after not having one for almost a year. Why? Well, a Costco membership deal finally popped up on Groupon, so I got a $20 gift card and some free item coupons with my membership — making it well worth the investment, even if I only go every couple of months.
Beyond cheap gas and $4.99 rotisserie chickens, one of my favorite things to buy at Costco has always been large containers of spices (and large containers of minced garlic). I use a lot of spices in my recipes, and the per ounce price there is generally excellent.
Are spices a good buy at ALDI?
ALDI reduced the size of their Stonemill spices and seasoning bottles around the beginning of 2019, which made their prices even less competitive with those at Costco. I did pick up a couple of older seasonings on clearance when they were making room to stock the shelves with new bottles, which was nice. Unfortunately, the newer ALDI spice bottles (with red caps) are significantly smaller than their older counterparts (with black caps).
Stonemill spices at ALDI seriously shrunk: Garlic power, for instance, went from 5.5 oz to 3.12 oz. Ground cinnamon dropped from 4.25 oz to 2.37 oz, and paprika went from 3.75 oz to 2.12 oz. My store did lower the everyday price on their basic spices from $1.19 to $.95, but this size decrease on spices at ALDI was significant enough to eat up the entire price decrease — and then some.
Spices at Costco vs. spices at ALDI
So, let’s compare spice prices at Costco to spice prices at ALDI. Just for example:
- Kirkland signature Saigon cinnamon is 27.9 cents per ounce at Costco; Stonemill ground cinnamon is 40.1 cents per ounce at ALDI.
- McCormick Parsley flakes are $1.60 per ounce at Costco; Stonemill dried parsley is $3.80 per ounce at ALDI.
- Olde Thompson Everything Bagel seasoning is 39 cents per ounce at Costco; Stonemill Who Needs the Bagel? Seasoning is 84.8 cents per ounce at ALDI.
In many cases, seasonings are double the per ounce price when you buy the smaller bottles at ALDI — and the Costco quality is overall on point. (That Saigon cinnamon? So good — I add some to my coffee grounds every morning before brewing, so really do go through those big containers.)
Another reason to frequent the spice aisle at Costco (and elsewhere…) is to pick up important seasonings ALDI doesn’t carry. My kitchen isn’t complete, for instance, without a steady supply of smoked paprika, and $3.79 is really a decent price for this size of a jar.
Where else do I save on spices?
Beyond Costco, I also often pick up spices at my local produce store. (If you buy them in the ethnic aisles, they’re often cheaper and fresher than their brand-name counterparts.) Also stalk the clearance sections of your local stores, especially after the holidays when they start clearing out the excess inventory from holiday baking and gatherings, and watch for sales in the bulk bins of stores like Fresh Thyme.
I’ll also sometimes pick up spices and seasonings on Amazon, especially when I find a good subscribe & save deal — and in the summer, I grow some of my own herbs and then dry them in small batches in the microwave.
And how about those spice blends?
Some spice blends, I tend just to make myself — I’ll never purchase a container of seasoned salt again, for instance, after perfecting the recipe for homemade seasoned salt!
Some spice blends, however, I pick up at Costco or elsewhere for quality purposes. While this big container of Spice Islands taco seasoning is indeed cheaper at Costco than is the Casa Mamita taco seasoning at ALDI (at $.20 per oz as opposed to $.39 for each of the 1 oz packets at ALDI), I actually buy the Spice Islands because it tastes so.much.better. (And, because it’s easier to customize the amount you use when you buy in bulk rather than using a packet.)
The top ingredients list here is from the Spice Islands taco seasoning I picked up at Costco; the bottom ingredients list is from a Casa Mamita taco seasoning packet at ALDI. Me, I’m preferring the Spice Islands. (You can get it on Amazon, too, but it’s usually much more expensive over there…)
So, when DO I buy spices at ALDI?
Clearly I do occasionally buy spices at ALDI, as evidenced by my food photos over the years. Sometimes I buy ALDI spices on clearance, or will pick up a smaller jar of a seasoning I rarely use so that it stays fresher (as opposed to a giant jar I’ll never reach the end of). In general, though, these bigger containers at Costco are my friend.
Sometimes I buy spices or seasonings at ALDI to compare the quality or to taste test one out — like when I tested out ALDI’s Stonemill Who Needs the Bagel? seasoning vs Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel seasoning. That’s one thing to be said for smaller bottles; you’re spending just a buck or two to check them out rather than investing in a giant container of something without knowing if you’ll like it.
Do you buy spices at ALDI?
Is it just me? Do you stock your own pantry with spices and seasonings from ALDI, from Costco, or from somewhere else entirely? Inquiring minds want to know!