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Should You Buy Generic Groceries?
Generic groceries are great. They are low-cost and in most cases just as good as their name-brand counterparts. Heck, one of the ways I save tons of money at the grocery store is by buying generic!
But “most cases” doesn’t mean all the time. There are definitely items that you should splurge a bit on and buy the name-brand version. Here are the top five items that you shouldn’t skimp on, feel free to add your opinions in the comments!
What Are Generic Foods?
First, let’s talk a little bit about generic foods in general. When I say generic groceries, I’m generally talking about the store-brand items that are shelved right next to the name brand. Wal-Mart has its own Great Value brand of tons of items which are generally way cheaper than the name brand alternatives. Most grocery stores also have their own brands (I shop at Giant, and there’s definitely a “Giant brand” alternative to most items.)
These generic grocery items are generally a bit cheaper than their name-brand alternatives, and in most cases, they are just as good.
Generic groceries aren’t just limited to food. When I grocery shop, I tend to buy all the household items that I need, in addition to food. The word “groceries” encompasses all of those things in my opinion.
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 isn’t cheap. This is a big reason why generic groceries are cheaper than name brands.
There are tons of other reasons for price discrepancies between name-brand items and generic items, but I’m not going to go into all the nuance here. Marketing is the big one.
5 Generic Groceries to Avoid
My parents always used to buy cheap Scott toilet paper. While still a name brand, it was thin and scratchy. Sorry, but that’s not the answer for toilet paper!
Scott isn’t even the worse. Have you been to those chain stores that fill their stalls with the cheapest industrial toilet paper imaginable? It’s single ply, thin, and horribly scratchy. I get it’s way cheaper than the alternative, but I wonder if the cost balances out because of the mass amounts of the stuff that people need to use to get clean. I guess I’ll never know.
But I digress. The point is that generic toilet paper is hardly ever the answer. I want soft, comfortable toilet paper. I usually buy Quilted Northern, but in a pinch, I’ll go with Charmin. Charmin used to be my brand of choice, but I think they changed their formula a few years back and now Quilted Northern seems softer to me. Either option is better than the generic alternative though.
So yeah, this is a weird thing to put on the list. Pickles aren’t exactly a necessity, but they sure are tasty! Unfortunately, not all pickles are created equal. You can find fairly cheap pickles in the canned fruit aisle or on some non-perishable shelf somewhere. I’m honestly not really sure of the exact location because they are gross and I never buy them.
I actually 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 just being 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 just being 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.
So, which pickles are best? The pickles in the deli aisle are where it’s at. Those Kosher Dill slices are little bits of heaven, and definitely worth the extra few dollars!
Chips are my weakness. There’s something immensely satisfying about that salty crunch. There are so many different flavors and varieties to choose from as well- and different chips pair better with different items. Bagel and cream cheese? Flaming Hot Cheetos. Roast Beef Sandwich? Sour Cream and Onion. There’s a perfect chip for every occasion.
But store brand chips just taste a little off. They are either too crunchy, or too salty, or too something. They just don’t have that special little something that the name brand chips have. And oddly enough, this applies to all the different types of chips. Doritos, Lays, Cheetos, etc. are all so much freaking better than any of the generic brands I’ve tried. I don’t know why that is, but I just can’t enjoy generic chips.
Have you ever tried Aim toothpaste? It’s like 88 cents and the worst thing you can possibly put in your mouth. It’s disgusting. Close-up is pretty cheap too, but the cinnamon flavor is so strong that it just tastes like burning. These are the kinds of toothpaste I grew up with.
Now that I’m older and can buy my own toothpaste, I don’t buy generic. I used to buy Crest, but I have sensitive teeth and the only thing that helps is Sensodyne. It’s way more expensive (almost six dollars a freaking tube!) but it does help my teeth to not hurt.
If you don’t have sensitiveness teeth, Colgate and Crest are great brands. I’ve even used Colgate’s sensitive teeth formula when I desperately needed to save on groceries, and although it’s not as good as Sensodyne, it’s better than spending six bucks on a tube and it works in a pinch.
I only buy Tide laundry detergent. It smells good and I feel like it works well to keep my clothes clean. I really hate those powdery options. Am I the only one that always ends up with crusty powder on my clothes? Or am I just not reading the directions correctly? Well, that’s just another reason to stick with Tide – it’s easy to use.
I honestly haven’t tried a lot off of brand laundry detergent, but I like it when my clothes smell like Tide, so I don’t think I’m going to be changing brands on this any time soon.
What Generic Groceries do you Refuse to Buy?
Are there any products that you refuse to buy generic? I want to hear why! Tell me about it in the comments! And if you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to share it!
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.