Generic Foods Save Money, But These 19 Name Brands are Worth the Higher Price

Generic foods are suburb. They are low-cost and, in most cases, just as good as their name-brand counterparts. Buying generic is a surefire way to save money at the grocery store. 

What Are Generic Foods?

Generic groceries are store-brand items shelved right next to the name brand. Walmart has its own Great Value brand of many things, which are generally cheaper than the name-brand alternatives. Most grocery stores also have generic offerings to offer shoppers more affordable options. 

These generic grocery items are cheaper than their name-brand alternatives, and in most cases, they are just as good. 

Generic groceries aren’t just limited to food. The word “groceries” encompasses household items like cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items, and anything else you stock up on at the grocery store. 

Why Are Generic Brands Cheaper?

Generic groceries are cheaper than name-brand goods because the store brand doesn’t pay anything to market them. How many Doritos commercials have you seen versus store-brand nacho chip commercials? 

The marketing team makes you want to buy Doritos, but advertising them is costly. 

Marketing is a top reason name-brand items are more expensive than generics, but there are others. Prestige, supply chain, labor costs, and product development all play a part. 

Top Generic Food Products to Avoid

Most of the time, generic foods are just as good as their name-brand counterparts. 

But “most cases” doesn’t mean all the time. Sometimes, the big companies know how to do things right. 

If you want quality, you should always buy the more expensive version of these classic grocery store items!

Toilet Paper

Have you been to those chain stores that fill their stalls with the cheapest industrial toilet paper imaginable? It’s single-ply, thin, scratchy, and a hassle to use.  No one would want that in their own homes. 

Generic toilet paper is never the answer. Pay the premium for a soft, durable brand that gets the job done. 


Not all pickles are created equal. You can find cheap pickles in the canned fruit aisle or on some non-perishable shelves, but they aren’t as good as the ones you find in the deli aisle. 

I had an ex-boyfriend question my pickle-choosing skills. He said we could get a massive jar of pickles for about the same price as my favorite brand, and we’d have tons more pickles. 

But does it matter if you have twice the amount of pickles if they aren’t as good? He thought I was stubborn and that all pickles were created equal. 

So, we got both, and I told him that he could do a taste test and tell me if I was stubborn, but other than that, he had to eat the big jar and couldn’t have my name-brand ones. 

We never bought the big jar of pickles again. 

Head to the deli aisle and grab the Kosher Dill pickles in the refrigerated section. You’re welcome. 


There’s something immensely satisfying about the salty crunch of a potato chip. There are so many flavors and varieties, each pairing well with different meals. Consider eating Flaming Hot Cheetos with your bagel and cream cheese and choosing sour cream & onion with your roast beef sandwich. 

There’s a perfect chip for every occasion. 

Store-brand chips taste a little off. They are either too crunchy, too salty, or too something. They’re missing something.

Oddly enough, this applies to nearly all the different types of chips. Doritos, Lays, Cheetos, etc., are far better than most generic brands. 


Generic toothpastes may be cheap, but they taste awful. It’s worth the extra few dollars to buy a paste you can actually brush your teeth with. 

Those with sensitive teeth may want to pay even more. Sensodyne is very expensive, but it’s the only brand that helps with the sensitivity.  It’s worth the hefty price tag. 

Laundry Detergent

I refuse to negotiate on laundry detergent. It has to be Tide’s original liquid offering, which smells good, works great, and isn’t overpowering. 

I’ve tried powders, but they often leave a crusty powder trail on freshly washed clothing. Other liquid detergents have powerful orders, leave clothes dirty, or make me feel unclean. 


Most generic cereals taste exactly the same as their name-brand counterparts, but General Mills does something special with Cheerios. 

The generic offering, Toasted Oats (or something similar, depending on the store), has a weird, indescribable aftertaste. It probably tastes fine for people who didn’t grow up with Cheerios, but the flavor is so different that off-brand just won’t do for me. 

I’ll stick to Cheerios when I need my oat fix. 

Feminine Hygiene Products

Cheap tampons come with a stiff cardboard applicator that’s almost impossible to operate. They’re also less absorbent, which is never the answer for something as sensitive as feminine hygiene. 

I never regret paying extra for Tampax. 

Lunch Meat 

Lunch meat is a tricky beast. 

Many grocery store brands have quality deli meats at the deli counter. But if you opt for the cheapest meats, you’ll likely get overly processed slices rather than fresh meat. 

Mid-range cuts usually offer the best of both worlds: they’re reasonably priced and not overly processed. 

The prepackaged offerings are a different story. Most of them are overly processed, so if you want quality, you need to go to the counter. However, always go for the name brand if you get the prepackaged stuff. I sometimes question whether the cheapest offerings are even meat. 


Generic ketchup tastes like acidic acid and has the consistency of muddy water.   If you want vinegar on your fries, by all means, go with the cheapest store brand. 

However, if you want a thick ketchup that actually tastes like ketchup, spend the extra dollar or two for Heinz. 

Ranch Dressing

If it’s not Hidden Valley, is it even ranch dressing?

Store-brand ranch sauces are watered down and flavorless compared to the original. Hidden Valley is the only way to go for a thick, creamy dressing that tastes like ranch. 

String Cheese

Generic string cheeses aren’t even stringy. Part of the appeal is pulling the treat apart piece by piece, but the cheapest store brands are too thick and processed for that. 

If you want to bite a chunk of fake mozzarella, the store brand will work. But if you desire real cheese that comes apart in strings, you’ll want to splurge on name-brand string cheese. 

Ice Cream

Many store-brand ice creams aren’t even made with real milk. They’re “frozen dairy products.” 

Kids might be unable to tell the difference between cheap and good ice cream, but our refined adult palates can. If you want a real sweat treat, get a name-brand. They’re so much better. 


We aren’t supposed to put Q-Tips in our ears. It says so right on the box. 

But you do, don’t you?

The generic “cotton swabs” sticks aren’t strong enough for ear cleaning (or anything else). They buckle under a tiny bit of pressure and don’t have enough cotton on the edge to get a good clean. 

Trash Bags

I’d rather spend an extra $3 on sturdy trash bags than risk spilling garbage all over the floor when the generic bag inevitably falls apart under pressure. 

Generic trash bags break far more quickly than their name-brand counterparts. 


The cookie part of generic “sandwich cookies” is a dry, stale shadow of the cookie from the original. The popular name brand also developed the perfect balance of cream and cookie, making a delectable treat that imitators can’t replicate. 


Once you’ve used a good razor, you won’t go back. 

Cheap razors barely cut; when they do, you’re left with nasty razor burn. It’s worth the price to upgrade from the bulky plastic dollar razors to the multiple-blade pricey offerings. 

Cream Cheese

Philadelphia cream cheese tastes better than its generic counterparts and spreads better. It has the perfect creaminess and light flavor, and it easily smears on bagels for a delicious snack. 

Store brands can’t seem to get the right mix. They’re either a tad too sour or a bit too bland. Philadelphia gets the flavor profile just right. 

Frozen Pizza

No frozen pizza is good, but many generics are so bad they aren’t even worth it. Eating generic frozen pizza is like eating processed cheese on cardboard. It hardly even tastes like food. 

The name brands are at least close enough to authentic pizza that we can trick ourselves. 

Orange Juice

Calling generic orange juices “juice” is a bit of a stretch. I doubt some have any real orange in them. They taste like watered-down processed sugar with orange coloring and a slight hint of orange flavor.

Real orange juice has a texture. It’s worth splurging on a name brand to get the real thing. 

Exceptions to Every Rule

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Some store brands are better. 

Costco enthusiasts swear by the Kirkland brand for toilet paper, and HEB potato chips are just as good as Lays (better now that Lays put “extra flavoring” on their chips, which makes them greasy and disgusting). 

Some people prefer generic oreos, ice creams, and frozen pizza, while certain generic stores do specific products really well. Your mileage may vary depending on where you shop and what you enjoy. 

Most Generics Are Great

Most generic groceries are just as good as their name-brand counterparts. Opting for the generic option can save you loads of money at the grocery store, and it’s well worth experimenting with different brands to see what works best for you. 

But keep in mind that not all generics are equal to their name-brand counterparts, and sometimes, paying the extra money is well worth it. 

Author: Melanie Allen

Title: Journalist

Expertise: Pursuing Your Passions, Travel, Wellness, Hobbies, Finance, Gaming, Happiness

Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation and is a certified happiness life coach. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life. 

6 thoughts on “Generic Foods Save Money, But These 19 Name Brands are Worth the Higher Price”

  1. With you on all of these and would add in cereal. The own-brand ones just don’t cut it. Ever. Someone tried to convince me that Kelloggs and Weetabix etc just make breakfast cereal for the supermarket own-brands and they are exactly the same. I tried a couple and they went in the bin. If the brands do make for the supermarkets, they change the recipes because they are definitely not the same. Also, baked beans. They have to be Heinz and they also have to be bought in the UK. Heinz baked beans in the US are not the same as Heinz Baked Beans in the UK! I know a lot of this is what you are used to but I am afraid I am one of those people: I like what I know and know what I like!

    • Generic shredded cheese is the worse. It has absolutely no flavor and won’t even melt in the microwave! By the way…Scott tissue is not generic. Just wait until you have plumbing problems from using “soft” tissue.

      • Scott tissue is terrible!! So much scratchy! Quilted Northern is the way to go! I love generic shredded cheese though, it’s exactly the same. It melts perfectly in my microwave!

    • I think it depends on the cereal. Generic corn flakes and rice crispies taste exactly the same, but generic cheerios do not. I don’t eat a lot of sugary cereals, so I’m not sure about them.

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