Some of us shop at high-end grocery stores and some of us choose budget-friendly supermarkets where we can get great food for a great deal. Aldi and Walmart stand as mighty contenders in the realm of low-priced venues, each boasting an arsenal of store-brand products that can help us eat well and save a buck.
For this taste test, I looked at pasta sauces to see if one store has a better selection than the other. The objective was clear: to determine which store-brand pasta sauce reigns supreme in terms of flavor, texture, cost, and overall satisfaction. I grabbed six different types of pasta sauces, ranging from your typical marinara to creamy Alfredo, in hopes of finding the real stars of this Italian show. Will Aldi's pasta sauces prove to be the unsung heroes of the dinner hour, or will Walmart's contenders reign supreme in the battle for taste-bud domination? Let the sauce war begin!
Aldi Marinara Vs Walmart Marinara
First up is a classic marinara sauce -- the gold standard of pasta greatness. I started with the Aldi brand Simply Nature, having high hopes for this cult-classic company.
This organic option had the consistency of ketchup rather than pasta sauce, but it did contain some chunks of tomato. When it came to taste, there was more salt than anything else, and the aftertaste was less than desired. There wasn't a real flavor profile, and no note of herbs to be found. Overall, this one was bland, but the sauce rang in at under $2 a jar, so I didn't expect much. You could definitely dress it up with some additions of your own, making this a really cheap way to make a "homemade-tasting" sauce.
Up next was Walmart's Great Value organic marinara, and this option wasn't much better. Regarding consistency, there were chunks of tomato present, but it's pretty watery for a pasta sauce, even more so than Aldi. The taste was very traditional, but the overall flavor profile was watered down compared to a hearty marinara. There was some herb and salt in the bite, but it dissipated quickly. This one wasn't rich by any means, but there was some garlic flavoring left at the end.
The winner: Honestly, both of these marinara options weren't great. Since I had to select a winner, I went with Aldi because of its thicker consistency. While the Walmart brand had a little more happening in the aftertaste, that subtle flavor got lost on the pasta.
Aldi Mushroom Sauce Vs Walmart Mushroom Sauce
Next on this battle is a savory mushroom sauce, and I was interested to get tasting as I'd never tried a sauce like this before. I started with Walmart's Great Value brand, and what a great value it was at well under $2 a jar. This one had a medium thickness with a gritty texture, seemingly from the diced mushrooms. Overall, it held a decent flavor, but it wasn't super rich like those sauces your Italian grandma makes. The first part of the profile was salty and savory, with the mushroom pieces adding a lot to the taste, but the flavor quickly died out, just like its marinara counterpart.
After Walmart, it was Aldi's turn with their Reggano brand. This one was smooth, yet thick, and a little more refined than the sauce from Great Value. There was still some texture to it, just enough to give it some oomph on your pasta. The flavor was rich but not overpowering. It's essentially a great marinara base with that added savory push from the mushrooms. Final thoughts: This sauce is great, especially for the $1.59 price tag.The winner: Aldi wins this round by far. The depth of flavor held up throughout the profile, and the nice thick texture added a lot to the experience. While Great Value did offer a nice texture, the flavor just wasn't there.
Aldi Meat Sauce Vs Walmart Meat Sauce
I know they say Arby's has the meats, but so do Aldi and Walmart. My next taste test was all about meat sauces, hoping for a thicker texture and more flavor.
I started with Aldi -- the Reggano brand. Overall, I was a little disappointed to see how watery this option was when I opened the jar. However, the flavor had depth, offering that salty, savory kick with a little extra taste of beef. I felt like I could actually taste the meat in this one, as if there were chunks of beef mixed in, even though the texture was pretty smooth. For under $2 a jar, it's a pretty decent sauce and flavor profile without actually making your own. But how did it hold up to Walmart?
Walmart's Great Value meat sauce was thin and watery, even more so than the Aldi brand. However, the flavor was bold and yummy. You get the base of marinara and that savory blast from the meat flavoring. For a lack of texture and consistency, this one wasn't bad by any means.
The winner: Both sauces had flavor, but Aldi takes the gold. There was more depth to the profile with hints of real beef compared to Walmart's. Even though the sauces were close to identical in texture, that touch of thickness pushed Aldi over the line in this category. If I'm not making my own meat sauce from scratch, I'm going with Reggano.
Aldi Alfredo Vs Walmart Alfredo
I don't love a store-bought Alfredo sauce, but for you, the readers, I overcame my fear and continued my tasting endeavor. For this taste test, I started with Walmart's Great Value brand. This Classic Alfredo sauce was really thick, so much so it almost felt like the consistency of sour cream. I like a thick sauce, but this texture gave me pause. And it didn't get much better from there; the taste was a complete fail. While there were hints of cheese and salt, there was a weird lingering aftertaste that I couldn't place. I'm going to assume chemicals/additives. This was a big no. Pasta couldn't save this option either.
I shifted to the Aldi version made by Priano, hoping for a better Alfredo experience. Aldi's Creamy Alfredo had the consistency of a salad dressing –- think a light, creamy Italian. That was a little concerning at first, but it did seem to work on the pasta. The taste wasn't necessarily bad, having a very parmesan-forward profile. There were light garlic notes, too, but this wasn't a favorite.
The winner: While I didn't love either of these sauces, I would hands-down choose Aldi based on taste. It sat well over pasta (more so than I thought based on its consistency) and had a rich, cheese taste. I don't think I'll ever buy these sauces again, as I'd rather make my own, but in this battle, Adli reigns supreme.
Aldi Tomato Basil Sauce Vs Walmart Tomato Basil Sauce
I love a good tomato and basil pasta sauce, but it has to be done right. In my opinion, it's all about the basil, and only one of these brands captured the essence of that Goldilocks flavor profile.
Up first was Simply Nature by Aldi, and boy, was this an epic fail. It had a watery consistency, and the flavor did not hold up. There was too much basil blasting the profile, causing the herbs to overtake that quintessential tomato flavoring. It can boast an organic label all it wants, but I would never eat this one again, even for $2 a jar.
Weirdly, I was counting on Walmart to find some balance in flavoring, and I am surprised to say it did! The Great Value brand's version was also watery with some chunky pieces of tomato, but the taste was the real winner. The front end of the flavor profile came off bold with that basil flavor but died out quickly. While this one wasn't a favorite for me either, it did have a better balance of flavors overall. And hey, it's also organic.
The winner: Walmart wins this round –- hands down. There was more of a balance in flavors and no bad aftertaste. While the consistency wasn't great, I'll take that flavor profile over Aldi's any day.
Aldi Roasted Garlic Sauce Vs. Walmart Roasted Garlic Sauce
Last up on the taste test list was the roasted garlic pasta sauce option. I get a little nervous with garlic because I want it fresh and not overbearing, but when I started with Aldi's Reggano brand, I was pleasantly surprised. While I'd describe the consistency as watery ketchup, it wasn't horrible. There was a good balance of salt, tomato, and garlic that combined to create a rich flavor profile. At under $2 a jar, this was a pretty decent start and a good option for those seeking garlicky notes in their Italian dishes.
Walmart attempts to battle Aldi in this category with the Great Value brand, but unfortunately, this one was also watery with some garlic pieces thrown in. Overall, I could taste the "roasted" aspect of the garlic more than anything, and it wasn't great. It tasted like the garlic was cooked in the pan too long, leaving that singed flavor lingering in the sauce and my mouth. It wasn't inedible, but I didn't like it at all. For over $2 a jar and an organic label, I'm not impressed.
The winner: Aldi took the win with a better balance of flavor, along with better texture and consistency. The roasted aspect of Walmart's version overtook the profile, sullying the best aspect of this flavor. At the end of the day, I didn't like either of these as a go-to sauce, but if you're looking for a quick and cheap roasted garlic option, choose Aldi.
For this showdown, I focused on taste, texture, quality, and cost to determine the winner of each sauce type. The main focus was the flavor profile of each product, but the texture did add to that overall decision. While cost and quality are important, they were noted over true category checkmarks when making final decisions. Taste above all else was my motto for this endeavor.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.