Spending money is a bit too easy to do. Step out the door, walk down the road and poof, suddenly you’re down 20 bucks without even realizing it! Going to the store can yield equally disheartening financial results. Even if you do everything right—stick to a pre-planned list, use coupons and avoid pre-cut vegetables and fruit — you can still end up spending a small fortune on weekly groceries.
The truth is, if you are buying big brand-name items, you are probably spending more money than you need to. Brand-name items can sometimes cost almost double their generic equivalent, and in certain cases the items within the packaging are indistinguishable from one another. After all, bleach is bleach, right? So why should one bottle of name-brand bleach cost more than one that isn’t?
By choosing certain generic items over well-known brands you can certainly save money, but that’s not to say that one should buy everything generic. Compare the listed ingredients to determine if you are getting a good deal or if you are paying for something that is slightly different. Consider whether the differences between items are truly negligible or whether they really make a difference. Do you already buy, use and like any other items of the store’s own brand? You may already be buying some generic items, but you probably could be buying more! Read on to discover 23 items you should always buy generic.
In the United States, baby formula is very strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. That means that the ingredients in both generic and name brands are likely to be basically identical and any generic baby formula sold must meet the same nutrition and safety restriction as brand names.
If you were already opting for canned beans and vegetables over fresh (which can definitely save you money and result in some delicious dinners), buying generic cans is unlikely to make a discernable difference in the final dish. Just make sure to compare the listed ingredients to make sure one brand isn’t more loaded with sodium than the other.
If you look at the ingredients, once again, name brand and generic boxes of cereal are likely to be almost identical, with the latter costing a faction of the price. While it may be more difficult to find generic brands of really specific types of cereal, finding generic substitutions for popular cereals like cornflakes, Cheerios and raisin bran should be really easy.
For day-to-day household upkeep, generic cleaners will definitely get the job done! If you are looking for something a bit stronger to wash away stubborn mildew or unblock a drain, you might find that generic cleaners aren’t quite as effective, but then again, trial and error will quickly reveal which generic cleaning products are as effective as their name-brand counterparts.
Condiments are a pantry staple, and buying generic mustard, ketchup and mayo is a great way to stay stocked up on a budget. Sure, they might not taste identical to some of the fancier versions, but the ingredients are probably very similar to the most widespread brands, and in a sandwich or burger the difference is sure to be fairly indiscernible.
Unless you’re buying the super fancy, local, organic dairy, chances are the difference in quality between big name dairy brands and a supermarket’s own generic brand is likely to be minimal. Milk is likely to be sourced from a similar region or area as the milk sold by bigger names — but, as always, compare ingredients! Some highly processed dairy, like light yogurt, could contain a lot more additives or sugar, so keep your eyes peeled.
Babies can go through a whole lot of diapers in a single day. Buying generic diapers (that will get the job done just as successfully) is likely to save you a small fortune — but make sure to test out different generic brands, as some will be better than others.
As with canned fruits and vegetables, it is unlikely that you’ll notice the difference between brand-name frozen produce and the generic stuff once dinner is made and on the plate!
Stick to generic paper towels, generic tissues and other paper products and you’ll definitely save that hard-earned cash. As with many other items, if you don’t have a paper preference, definitely opt for the cheaper generic brand. If, however, you can only use a specific brand of tissue, by all means buy it; buying generic brands is about conscious spending and choosing to splurge on those things that matter to you.
If you are paying a premium price for a well-known brand of pet food, you might want to rethink that. A lot of brand-name pet food has packaging that leads one to believe it is a healthier option, but in reality, many brands are no better than the available generics. Check the ingredients and see if your supermarket offers any wholesome generic brand of pet food that is not full of fillers. Check the brand that you currently use and compare the two!
If you have the option to choose between a heavily branded piece of fruit or bag of vegetables, always opt for the unbranded, unpackaged produce. If you are struggling to decide between organic and not organic, choose depending on the item, as the distinction is less important with some vegetables and fruit than with others.
Obviously some foil and plastic wrap might be stronger than others, but test your local store’s generic brand and see if there is any discernable difference compared to the name brand you normally buy. Chances are even if the quality is not identical; the cheaper price tag makes it worth buying.
You can definitely save a few dollars if you choose a generic shampoo instead of a name-brand item. Compare active ingredients and you will see that most of the active ingredients are the same.
Whether you’re looking for cookies, chips, trail mix or any other kind of snack, chances are you can find a pretty decent generic knockoff that costs a fraction of the price. Trial and error will reveal which generic brands will satisfy a sudden snack attack craving and which ones simply do not live up to their name-brand counterparts.
Spices can be expensive, which can make buying them totally infuriating. Compare name-brand spices with the generic offerings and you will quickly realize that they are basically the same thing being sold at wildly different price. Now, the quality of spice can vary significantly depending on freshness and whether they are whole or pre-ground. If you are on a mission to get the very best spices, a specialty store is your best — but if you just want some red pepper flakes to sprinkle over your pasta, the generic supermarket brand will be definitely be good enough.
Here’s another item that is regulated by the FDA. Make sure any sunscreen you buy offers both UVA and UVB protection and also mentions the phrase broad spectrum SPF — which can legally only be used on products that pass a strict testing process.
Who doesn’t like a good old-fashioned ice cream sundae every now and then? The problem is, if you’re pulling out all the stops — sprinkles, chocolate syrup and the rest — you can end up spending more money that you might want to. For many sugary treats, generic brands are just as satisfying and fun as the same items produced by big brands
Every so often you really do need one of those impenetrable trash bags — you know, the kind from the infomercials that are shown being filled with shards of glass, hot oil and nails and then dragged across an uneven stone pavement without the plastic breaking. While those can be handy, they also cost a whole lot more than the cheaper, generic options. Unless you regularly fill your trash will sharp object s, you’ll probably be fine using generic trash bags for daily use.
There’s certainly no need to buy name-brand water — in fact, why buy water at all? Instead, buy a water filter and simply drink delicious, filtered tap water (make sure you’re drinking enough!) and avoid buying endless plastic water bottles — they’re more expensive and also one of the least eco-friendly things you can buy at a grocery store.
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