We visited two of the best grocery stores in the US. Here's why Aldi is better than H-E-B for the budget shopper who hates to shop.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderThere’s a growing consumer need for a quicker in-and-out grocery experience, and Aldi’s small stores and limited supply meets that need extremely well.
  • The Texasgrocery scene is a crowded one, and the century-old, San Antonio-based H-E-B has long been one of Texans’ favourites.
  • But in2010, the discount supermarket Aldi decided to expand its presence to the Lone Star State and has increasingly gained popularity among Texan shoppers since then.
  • Both Aldi and H-E-B have built loyal cult followings thanks to their low prices and private labels, and both are nearly neck-and-neck in a Market Force ranking of the best supermarkets in the country, with H-E-B only slightly ahead.
  • Aldi is reportedly poised to open 400 new US stores from coast to coast, with some of those planned for Texas – meaning Texas shoppers will have even more options to choose from for their grocer destination.
  • We visited both and found that while both are budget-friendly and H-E-B has way more variety across its departments, Aldi’s streamlined shopping experience could be what is pushing it forward in the retail race.
  • Here’s how the two chains compare and why Aldi is better than H-E-B for shoppers who want to spend less time shopping and pay less, too.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.


The Germany-based Aldi has quite the foothold in Europe: the store has its roots in discounted goods and has cemented its reputation in the region as the go-to supermarket for shoppers on a budget.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderAn Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.


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The company opened its first US location in Iowa in 1976. There are now more than 1,900 stores across the US with more planned for the coming years.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

Source: Aldi


The store’s presence in Texas, however, is not as established. We visited an Aldi store outside of Austin, one of the few current locations in the Central Texas region.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

Source: The Austin-American Statesman


The San Antonio-based H-E-B, on the other hand, has a century-old history in Texas and has repeatedly attracted national attention, despite only operating in Texas and Northern Mexico across 400 stores.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderAn H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.

Source: Business Insider


The company has long embraced its strong Texan identity, one that resonates with its customers and has kept them coming back.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.


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That Texas pride is something Aldi seemed to have picked up on when we visited.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

There were slogans and signage all around that clearly catered to the Texan shopper.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

This is what we saw when we first walked in. Aldi locations typically clock in at 16,400 square feet, so they’re not known for being large. Aldi’s shtick is all about limited options, small store sizes, and low prices.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

Source: Aldi


The average size of an H-E-B store, on the other hand, is 70,000 square feet. This is what we saw when we first walked into an H-E-B Plus, which is larger than your average H-E-B store.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.

Source: H-E-B


There were shopping carts outside of the H-E-B store free of charge like they are at most grocery stores.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderAn H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.

But over at Aldi, shopping carts cost a quarter to rent while you’re inside, though you get the quarter back once you return the cart. It’s just one aspect of the no-frills grocery shopping experience.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderAn Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

Another aspect is Aldi’s displays. The store often displays its merchandise in its delivery boxes. There also aren’t baggers at Aldi stores — you bag your own groceries at check-out.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

Source: Business Insider


In the Market Force survey, Aldi won the best score for value. A carton of a dozen large grade A eggs cost 78¢ when we visited.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

Source: Business Insider


Over at H-E-B, it cost 88¢ for a carton of a dozen large grade A eggs.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.

There were 7-ounce bags of pasta priced at 25¢ at Aldi.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

Bags of pasta a little more than double that size (16 ounces) cost 79¢ over at H-E-B.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.

A gallon of whole milk at Aldi cost $US1.58.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

While a gallon of whole milk at H-E-B cost $US3.18.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.

So prices were just a little lower in general at Aldi than they were at H-E-B.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

Another popular offering from both companies is their private labels.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.

H-E-B’s brands, like Hill Country Fare, are a big hit with the chain’s customers.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.

Source: Business Insider


H-E-B’s take on Tostitos Lime-flavored chips is almost half the cost of its competitor’s.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.

And the company’s Cafe Ole coffee line is hard not to love.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.

Aldi’s brands may not be so easily recognisable though yet, which the company seems to be the first to admit.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

We spotted some big brand names at Aldi, like Kraft Singles cheese.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

But more than 90% of Aldi products are from private brands. The company won 200 awards for its private labels in 2017.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

Source: Aldi and Grocery Dive


There’s Burman’s, which carries a ketchup product that looks stunningly similar to the Heinz label.

Katie Canales/Business Insider/Shannon Stapleton/ReutersOn the left is a Burman’s ketchup bottle inside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas. On the right is a Heinz ketchup bottle in a different store.

Lots of the private labelling at Aldi closely resembles some of the bigger box brand names. This Broegel Bock beer could easily be mistaken for Shiner Bock.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

We even saw the Shiner beer stocked just shelves below the Aldi beer.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

There’s Clancy’s Stackerz Potato Crisps, which look like a Pringles alternative.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

The chain’s SimplyNature label offers organic items, like this organic tomato basil pasta sauce.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

Source: Waco Tribune-Herald


The Little Journey brand offers baby products.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

And there’s the liveGfree line of gluten-free foods.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

Source: Waco Tribune-Herald


There was a big focus on both gluten-free and organic products at H-E-B and Aldi.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.

More grocery stores have upped their focus on healthy living to cater to health-conscious consumers, and H-E-B and Aldi haven’t skipped a beat on that trend.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

Source: Business Insider


There were these vegan, chickenless tenders at Aldi.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

H-E-B’s organic Central Market line carries whole milk for $US2.98.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderAn H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.

And a carton of organic fat-free milk by Friendly Farms was priced at $US2.69 at Aldi.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

Overall, we found a wider selection of items at H-E-B than we did at Aldi.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.

There was an entire aisle at H-E-B devoted to pet products, for example. Granted, this was an H-E-B Plus, which has more merchandise across the board, but the pet section at regular H-E-B stores is still typically large.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.

The pet section at Aldi was substantially smaller.

Katie Canales/Busineess InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

Similarly, there was a multi-aisle beauty department at H-E-B.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.

There were rows and rows of makeup products …

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.

… and rows of hair products line the walls.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.

Most of the beauty items fit in a few shelves at Aldi.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

And the brand names were recognisable — there were Suave and Pantene products, among others.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

H-E-B’s household goods section was also sizable …

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.

… but we were also impressed by how many household goods were stocked at Aldi. There were aisles devoted to kitchen appliances and the like.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

We saw trash cans and mops.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

These pillows were priced at $US7.99.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

And there was even a stationary exercise bike for $US50.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

So though Aldi’s household goods section was more limited, like many of its sections were, it was easy and quick to navigate …

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.

… which is why Aldi wins if you’re shopping on a budget and don’t want to spend too much time in the store.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

There’s a growing consumer need for a quicker in-and-out experience in general, and Aldi’s small stores and limited supply meets that need extremely well.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

Source: Grocery Dive


On top of that, Aldi’s prices are super low, though H-E-B is still affordable.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

H-E-B may have much greater variety, but if you’re unfamiliar with a store’s layout, it can be overwhelming to navigate.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an H-E-B store location outside of Austin, Texas.

It will be interesting to see if Aldi increasingly becomes a favourite amongst Texans.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderInside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

At the very least, it’s catering to Texans with their favourite grocery items.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderCartons of the Texas favourite line of Blue Bell ice cream inside an Aldi store location outside of Austin, Texas.

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