7 Off-Brand Foods Worth Buying (and 3 That Aren’t)
Off-brand foods could help you stretch your grocery budget. Here's how to shop for store-brand groceries without sacrificing quality.
It’s no secret that American shoppers are paying more money for almost everything right now, including our grocery bills. Unfortunately, experts predict that food prices will continue to rise another 7.5% in 2023.
You can’t do anything to change the costs you face at your grocery store. Yet there are shopping habits that will save you money, and buying generic food items is one potential way to cut costs. In fact, evidence suggests that in some cases the same manufacturers produce both name-brand and store-brand products at the same facilities.
If you’re thinking about shopping for store-brand items instead of name-brand products, the following guide can help you. Below are seven off-brand foods worth adding to your shopping cart—and three that you’ll probably want to skip.
Pasta can be a solid choice if you’re looking to save money by buying generic brands. Many people can’t taste a difference between the two types of pasta, especially if you use a pasta recipe that calls for sauce. Plus, buying generic pasta could cost around 35%-45% less than its name-brand counterparts. See how the store brands fared in our macaroni taste test.
Another food to consider buying off-brand is cereal. If your family doesn’t have strong preferences where cereal is concerned, purchasing generic cereal products could add up to some significant savings on your monthly grocery budget. Opting for the generic brand of Cheerios at Walmart, for example, could save you around 60% per box.
If you’re a fan of a specific cereal brand, try to find savings by shopping in bulk at a warehouse store like Costco instead.
Grocery shopping on a budget can be a challenge. But one area where you’ll probably never notice the difference between the store brand and name brand is with eggs. When you select generic brand eggs over the brand-name option, you could save over 30%.
Milk is a must-have item on many grocery lists. And since a lot of shoppers are unable to notice a difference between the taste of store-brand vs. name-brand milk—especially in recipes that call for milk—there’s an opportunity for savings. You could save around 35% at the checkout when you opt for store-brand milk instead of name-brand options.
Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
Frozen produce can be great to keep on hand for smoothies, stir-fry recipes, desserts and more. And since many fruits and veggies are picked and frozen while they’re at peak freshness, opting for the store-brand version could result in taste and quality that’s just as good as what you’d experience with a name-brand counterpart. Depending on the frozen produce you buy and where you purchase it, you could save between 25%-75% per bag.
Whether you’re making a fresh batch of sugar cookies or trying out another easy dessert idea, sugar is another product where most shoppers can’t tell much (if any) difference between the taste and quality of generic and brand-name items. And while the savings on private label sugar typically isn’t huge, you could pay around 10% less for a bag of off-brand sugar compared to name-brand alternatives.
Store-brand ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard and other condiments can often taste close to the other name-brand condiments with which they share a shelf at the grocery store. It might make sense to choose the generic brands the next time you need to restock your refrigerator! Depending on the specific condiment you select, you could save between 20%-65% by choosing a private label product.
When to Skip the Store Brand
Although choosing off-brand grocery products can stretch your budget, it’s not always the right choice. There are times when opting for the generic brand might mean sacrificing taste or quality. And in rare cases, the store brand might not even be the most affordable choice!
Here are three times when you might want to skip the store brand.
In taste tests, coffee drinkers often preferred the taste of name-brand coffee products over generic alternatives. However, there are other ways to enjoy your favorite cup of joe without breaking the bank. Check out these helpful tips on how to make a good cup of coffee if you’re looking for inspiration.
Off-brand cookies don’t always hit the spot the way that your favorite name-brand treat does. If you’re going to indulge in a high-calorie comfort food, most people prefer the taste, texture and look of a brand they’ve grown to appreciate over time. Of course, you could always try these junk food aisle copycat recipes instead!
Peanut butter is another food where people seem to have big opinions in taste tests—and the generic brands often don’t measure up to the name brands. You could save up to 45% by purchasing the store-brand peanut butter, but that savings might not be worth the difference if you regret your choice every time you make a sandwich.