It’s no secret that food prices are going up. Inflation, rising fuel prices, and environmental problems mean that this trend isn’t going away. Unfortunately, while there are a lot of things that can be cut out of a budget, food isn’t one of them. Budget-conscious shoppers will have to include store brands in their grocery lists to feed their families for the same amount of money tomorrow as they are spending today.
While coupons, shopping sales, and meal planning all have their place – an integral place – in your grocery strategy, ignoring store brands is like simply throwing money away.
Store brands are items packaged under contract for national chains intended as a cheaper alternative to traditional brands such as Kellogg’s, Jiffy, Green Giant, Dole, and others. Every supermarket has a store brand alternative for popular items. Whether you shop at a Kroger, Safeway, Walmart, Shop Rite, Acme, or any of the hundreds of smaller grocery chains, there is a generic alternative for your favorite foods.
When you buy a name brand, you are paying a premium for that name. The cost of the box of cereal isn’t just the price of the wheat, sugar, and other flavors. It also pays for their marketing costs, the CEO’s salary, and the shareholders dividends. Simply buying the store brand can save as much as 50% compared to name brands!
Benefits of Store Brands
Not Your Grandmother’s Store Brand
When people hear “store brand” they picture plain white packaging and bland food. Think generic, forgettable food in generic, forgettable wrapping. This may have been the case in the ’70s, but store brands have come a long way since then. Many generic items contain the same brightly colored packaging of their higher priced shelf-mates. But the real gains have been made in taste.
Today’s store brands taste just as good as or better than name brands. If you were to do a blind taste-test of some of the most popular cereals on the market, such as Cheerios and Raisin Bran, and compared them to their generic equivalents, you would not be able to taste the difference. The same goes for Jell-O, chips and crackers, oatmeal, bread, condiments such as mayonnaise and mustard, soups, salad dressings, peanut butter, jelly, and yogurt as well. Simply put, store brands no longer taste like cardboard.
To date, the best homemade pizza crust I have ever tasted comes from the mixes prepared by Kroger.
Definitely Buy These as Store Brand
In the event you are picky and refuse to believe that modern generics are as good as more expensive varieties, at the very least, buy these store brand items because they are identical to (and often packaged in the same factory as) the name brands:
- Frozen Vegetables
- Vegetable Oil
The list goes on and on. Once you start buying these in the store brand, you will start to notice their quality and their savings. You will return for more and more. You will discover you CAN have your cake and eat it too!
What experience have you had with store brand and other generics? What other benefits of store brands can you think of?
Edward Antrobus is a food blogger, personal finance writer, ebook specialist, and construction worker.
His mother’s favorite saying is, “if you can read, you can cook.” She firmly believes that making simple dishes is not much more difficult than reading the directions on a recipe. His goal is to take the mystery out of cooking and endow everyone with the basic skills needed to cook your own food and save a fortune by not having to dine out all the time.