Day 3 – Switch to store brands

One of the things I always tend to ask people is do you remember what you had for lunch three days ago or how was your dinner that you had two nights ago? Chances are the person doesn’t remember unless it was out to eat at a restaurant or memorable. The chances are also that it was cooked at home with groceries they picked up at the store. Name-brand products are good, but store-brand products are often just as good (if not identical). Make the switch to the bargain labels, and you’ll slash 25-50 percent off of your weekly grocery bill. With more and more grocery chains launching their own line of organics and other premium products, there’s never been an easier time to switch. Each and every product at the grocery store besides things such as fruit and vegetables tend to have a store-brand product.

Why spend an extra .50 to $1 on brand named pasta? When it comes out as the same product. Store brand products are typically not cheaper because of the quality or taste. It’s because there is $0 that has to go into the store marketing their product to consumers. They don’t have to pay extra to be on a higher level shelf. Whenever I got grocery shopping I always look for store brand products for an item that I need to purchase because I not only save money but I also get the same product just in different packaging.

Store-Brand vs. Name-Brand Meal Plan

How does the price of store pasta compare to the price of name-brand noodles? And can you really taste the difference between store-brand cheese and the name-brand stuff? We compared three dinner recipes for a family of four based on the prices at Kroger (tax not included).
Here’s the breakdown:

Recipe #1: Spaghetti

Ingredients Store-Brand Price Name-Brand Price
Ground Beef 80% (16 ounces) $3.99 $4.99
Spaghetti Noodles (16 ounces) $1.00 $1.49
Onion (1) $0.74 $0.74
Tomato Sauce (1 jar, 24 ounces) $0.99 $2.19
Total: $6.72 Total: $9.41

Recipe #2: Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole

Ingredients Store-Brand Price Name-Brand Price
Chicken Breast (1 can) $1.77 $3.99
Instant White Rice (1 box) $1.69 $2.29
Cream of Chicken Soup (1 can) $0.79 $1.50
Cream of Celery Soup (1 can) $0.79 $1.50
Cream of Mushroom Soup (1 can) $0.79 $1.50
Butter $2.79 $4.79
Frozen Mixed Veggies (1 bag) $1.00 $1.99
Total: $9.62 Total: $17.56

Recipe #3: Loaded Beef Tacos

Ingredients Store-Brand Price Name-Brand Price
Ground Beef 80% (16 ounces) $3.99 $4.99
Taco Shells (12 count) $1.00 $1.79
Flour Tortillas (8 count) $1.49 $3.29
Taco Seasoning $0.37 $0.99
Shredded Cheddar Cheese $1.99 $3.49
Onion (1) $0.74 $0.74
Tomato (1) $0.50 $0.50
Canned Tomato Sauce (8 ounces) $0.33 $0.49
Shredded Lettuce $1.19 $1.99
Salsa (16 ounces) $1.29 $2.49
Sour Cream (16 ounces) $1.25 $2.19
Total: $14.14 Total: $22.95

Comparing these three meals, you’d save nearly $20 a week by switching to all store-brand products—just for dinner alone! That’s $80 a month, or $1,040 a year! And that’s not even counting how much you could save by buying store brand for breakfast and lunch items, cleaning supplies, toiletries and snacks.

So, if you can’t seem to trim your grocery budget, try going completely store-brand for a few months. You might end up with a little more breathing room!

Is it always cheaper to buy store-brand?

As much as you might think this is an easy yes, the simple answer here is actually no. That is, if you’re into couponing.

Most coupons are for name-brand items, and if you have a good coupon (or several that you can stack!) it can drastically lower the price—sometimes even less than the store brand. So don’t automatically assume store-brand will be the least expensive option every time. It pays to compare prices, coupons and sales flyers!

Which tastes better: store-brand or name-brand?

This really all comes down to personal preference. There will be loyalists who believe baked cheese crackers only taste good when made by that one certain name-brand of choice.

But the truth is, a lot of our beloved name-brands taste just as good as their store-brand counterparts. A group of Consumer Reports “taste testers” found that most store brands measure up to the name brands in overall taste and quality—and they’re usually 15–30% lower in price!

Are there store-brand options that are also organic?

Yes! Some of the “big box” stores have store-brand store that include organic options. And many grocery stores are now offering their own organic store brands too! So the next time you’re in the grocery store, take a look around to see if they carry their own store-brand organic options. It can be a great way to get some dollars back in your budget, and get the benefit of eating organic! Win-win.

Are name-brands higher quality?

A recent market research study by IRi found that 75% of those they surveyed believe store brands are just as good in quality as the major national brands.(3)

Even professional chefs have caught the store-brand bug. According to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, when buying staples like salt, sugar and baking soda, chefs were more likely to buy store-brand.(4) If it’s good enough for the pros, than why not for you too?

Again, this is really based on your personal preference and the way you feel about the brand itself. The marketing and even packaging of the product can play a large role in how we perceive the quality of an item.

What are the best items to buy store-brand?

It’s worth noting that, in some cases, certain store-brand and name-brand items contain the same ingredients—and they might even be manufactured at the same location! Which means they’re pretty much in the same family . . . just with packaging that’s a little different.

Even if you aren’t ready to convert to purchasing all store-brand all the time, there are a few staple items you should be buying store-brand if you’re really trying to save money:

Milk and Juice

Because items like milk and juice are produced regionally, there are usually less processing and transportation costs that come along—which means the cost to you is going to be cheaper than the name-brand options.

Spices, Flour and Sugar

The next time you need to whip up some homemade pancakes or waffles, consider buying all store-brand products. store-brand flour, sugar and salt are basically the same as that precious name-brand you’re always drawn to anyway.

Produce

Your local grocery store won’t always have fruits and vegetables that are name-brand or store-brand. Sometimes an onion is just an onion. But when it comes to other items like certain name-brand bananas, you’ll find that the batch of “no-name” bananas will likely taste like—you guessed it—bananas.

Will buying store-brand really impact your budget?

Like a lot of things that look budget friendly, you have to weigh it against your family’s own personal budget and consider what works for you. Maybe you can get name-brand cereal at a fraction of the cost when your store doubles coupons! That’s pretty tough to beat! So, read the labels and start taking a good look at comparing store-brand and name-brand products item by item.

The truth is, one of the easiest ways to drastically cut your food budget is by switching to store-brands. In my three-meal example, you could drop over $1,000 a year from your food budget. And that’s only dinner. This is money that can be used to pay off debt!

Think about how much you could save if you bought store-brand for all your grocery needs. It requires pretty minimal effort on your part, and it can save you big bucks in the long run. All you have to do is make the choice to grab the store-brand item off the shelf. That’s pretty easy! And it’s a difference you’ll be able to notice right away in your budget.

“Never spend your money before you have earned it.”
– Thomas Jefferson –

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