When it comes to grocery shopping, how often do you choose the generic over the name brand?
The grocery budget is always my biggest challenge. I grab generic brands probably 75% of the time. Staples like flour, sugar, butter, milk, and eggs are always an easy generic pick. However, there are certain things I splurge for the name brand on, like anything for my skin or teeth and beauty products.
I've learned that off-brand isn't always the same. Sometimes the difference is noticeable but not enough to spend the extra for name brand! You'd be surprised how often generic products are actually better than the pricey stuff. For example, you won't catch me eating the off-label instant oatmeal, and I won't ever pay top dollar for bottled water.
10 Grocery Store Generic Brand DONT'S
I've learned that these generic items are just a waste of money!
Nothing gets the job done quite like Dawn. I just water mine down and pour it in a foaming pump bottle. Palmolive is a little cheaper, but you end up using twice as much. Splurging on the pricier soap will be well worth your while if you wash as many dishes as I do!
You're just not going to get the same Oreo taste with the knock-offs. Either the cookie is too crisp or the cream tastes like glue. Speaking of cream filling, there must be a direct correlation between the price difference and the thickness.
Double Stuf vs. Regular is another debate entirely. (Team Double Stuf here.)
The flavor and crunchy goodness of Doritos just can’t be copied. I will eat the off brand if I have to, but they aren’t as good. It's definitely worth a little extra to get the real thing! Cool Ranch for me, please!
This is one of the most egregious generic products in my opinion. It's the texture, consistency and flavor that make it absolutely inedible! I literally dumped it straight in the trash after two bites. Give me my tried-and-true Quaker Oats!
This might be the single most apparent example of when a knock-off is a waste of money. Sure, Pop Tart brand is usually a whole dollar more, but I would rather eat cardboard than a Toast'Em Pop-Up! I'm just not doing it. No thanks!
Most frozen pizza brands offer different options, whether it be deep dish, topping combos or more complex pizzas, that make them worth paying for. Prices range widely and so does the quality of the generic competitors. The only off-brand I have found that tastes decent is the Great Value Supreme.
Side Note: I have serious questions about generic pepperoni.
Each time I have to buy cheese singles, I try to talk myself into the generic, fully knowing they are sub-par in every way. Ever unwrapped a wannabe Kraft single? They literally fall apart coming out of the plastic, or even better when the plastic rips, leaving your cheese slice trapped inside. Also, whatever they are made of prevents them from melting. You can’t make a perfect grilled cheese with those fake slices. Boo!
The knock-offs taste like cardboard, if you are lucky enough to get a few that aren't crushed into a million pieces. I'm splurging for the real Pringles every time! No question about it.
You have to go name brand when it comes to sodas! Store brand just won't satisfy that craving. No one, and I mean no one, has ever said Dr. Thunder tastes better than Dr. Pepper!
Side Note: Mr. Pibb vs. Dr. Pepper is a debate I can understand. I'm still voting Dr. Pepper!
Okay, this one is a close call, but just look at the label if you are still questioning the decision. The generic usually has about 10 grams more fat. My husband grew up on Peter Pan (creamy only) and can eat his weight in it. Some battles just aren't worth fighting!
During the pandemic, we stumbled upon a few finds that are now musts!
Our grocery pick-up substituted French butter when the store was out of our usual generic, and I see why it's more expensive! Even my kids noticed the difference, which says a lot for kids who have been known to eat ramen and chocolate milk together. EW! Now, French butter doesn't necessarily fit in our monthly budget, but I will make an exception for holidays!
If you can get your hands on the cantina variety of store brand tortilla chips, like Great Value, you have a winner. They are just like the super-thin chips found at most Mexican restaurants. Pop them in the oven for just a few minutes, and they come out perfect. Makes me forget I'm even on a budget. I could seriously eat chips and salsa or nachos for every meal!
For my entire marriage, I've only purchased Cascade Gel Packs. It wasn't even up for debate until our big budget cut-down when we decided to try the off-brand. Surprisingly, they not only worked, but worked really well. The price difference between the name brand and store brand is noticeably different, and they are worth a try if you are working to get your budget down.
Great Value Double Vanilla Ice Cream
I’ll put this up against any premium ice cream on the market. It’s about a dollar more than other off-labels, but it’s worth twice as much as the high dollar brands. It also comes sealed within the container - big plus! If vanilla isn't your thing, they have a double chocolate that's just as good.
What are some of your grocery generic brand DOs and DON'Ts?