This is a post from Edward Stern who is a guest blogger for An Apple a Day and a writer on earning your nursing degree online for the Guide to Health Education.
In times like these, it’s important to pinch pennies. Thankfully, it’s not that hard to find great money-saving deals, particularly at the grocery store. Generic store-specific brands often cost significantly less than their more recognizable brand name counterparts and are of comparable, if not equal quality. In fact, many store brand products are just your favorite brand name products under a different label — manufacturers bid for the store brands so they can average out the cost of ingredients and play both the high and low ends of the market and get the most out of their factory output. Check the ingredients of store brand and brand name products and if the ingredients are the same, give it a shot.
Of course, there’s some products that you should splurge for to have that extra kick, better taste, or higher quality food. Follow our guidelines for which products to buy generic and save loads of money, and which to spend just little extra on for a lot better quality.
- The staples: Rice, sugar, salt — these are products where buying high end is only ripping yourself off. You won’t be able to notice the difference, and these aren’t hard products to manufacture, so paying a premium is paying for a name only. Really, it’s all about your prepration and how you use the products; a high grade grain of rice isn’t going to turn your stir fry into a smash hit. Buy in bulk and save a significant amount of money.
- Milk: As explained earlier, manufacturers bid for store brands to sell the most product possible and average out their profits over low-profit store brands and high-profit name brands. The generic milk you buy at a grocery store is the same milk you’ll be getting from a name brand, at a much lower cost.
- Frozen vegetables: For those quick healthy meals during a busy schedule, many people use frozen vegetables. Buy generic — you know what you’re getting, and I’ve found the store brands at high end grocery stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are delicious, if not better than their name brand counterparts, and still dirt cheap.
- Aspirin and other over-the-counter drugs: Basic over-the-counter drugs like aspirin, cough medicine, and allergy medicine is often comparable to name brand drugs in effectiveness but cost a lot less money. That said, they don’t work for everybody, and I’d caution against anything less basic like sleep aids. Give them a try and see what works for you.
- Bottled water: Seriously, it’s water. I’ve never been able to taste all the supposed minerals and high-tech purification of name brands, so when tap water or reusable water bottles don’t work, buy generic.
- Boxed Mac ‘n Cheese: This may sound strange, but seriously–name brand box macaroni ‘n cheese is a million times than generic. Your children will definitely notice the difference if you don’t, because generic just is not as creamy or tasty.
- Olive oil and balsamic vinagerette: With these kinds of oils, you get what you pay for. Stick with your favorite brand for cooking oil and creating salad dressings.
- Toilet paper: This is one case where the manufacturers don’t just slap different packaging on the same product. Again, you get what you pay for. Toilet paper isn’t even that expensive, so spend a couple more bucks and get something that will be more comfortable and hold together better.
- Sports drinks: Sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade taste exponentially better than any generic concoction out there, which are basically water with food coloring. Treat your body after a hard workout to a trusted name brand rather than a subpar generic.
- Coffee: It’s like buying coffee from 7-11 or Starbucks — one is brown water, the other is a refreshing way to start the day. Especially if you’re a coffee snob, spend more and get your favorite brand so you don’t start your days off on the wrong note with bad coffee.
Edward Stern is a guest blogger for An Apple a Day and a writer on earning your nursing degree online for the Guide to Health Education.