When you go shopping, you are almost always faced with a decision – the decision of whether to buy the generic brand of a product or the name brand.
Many people view buying generic food as “gross” or “cheap,” and they simply won’t do it, even though it means missing out on big savings.
However, in many cases, there is nothing wrong with going for brandless grocery items or store brand grocery items. The key is simply to understand the difference between generic food and non-generic food and to know when to choose which option. This is something you can get quite good at with a little know-how and a lot of practice.
The Ingredients are Often the Same
To start off with, one of the easiest ways to tell whether you should buy generic food or spring for the name brand is to take a careful look at the ingredients.
Take off brand cereal, for example. The next time you go shopping, pick up the name brand cereal and then the off-brand option. Turn both over until you find the ingredients list.
If the ingredients in both cereals are the same or close to the same, then you know that it’s not worth it to spend the extra money and buy the brand name. In that instance, what you’re paying extra for is not the product itself but its label.
If you can get into this habit of comparing the ingredients list of brandless products to name brand products, you can easily educate yourself on when it’s worth it to buy generic and when it’s better to choose the brand name. You’ll probably find that, more often than not, in the brand name vs generic battle, generic foods win out most of the time.
Consider if Nutrition Standards are in Place
Something else to think about when making the decision between brand name and generic is whether or not any nutrition standards exist regarding the product that you are buying.
Baby formula is a great example to take into consideration. There is a national formula act in place- there has bee since 1980- that states that all infant formulas must meet the same standards of nutrition and quality in order to ensure healthy, thriving children.
In this case, since standards are in place, you can choose any formula you want, name brand or not, and still be guaranteed to get a quality product. And, if you can do that and spend less money, why wouldn’t you?
Unfortunately, nutrition standards do not exist for most foods, but some foods, like meat and produce, do have to meet certain quality standards in order to be sold, so you aren’t taking a risk with your health and wellbeing if you choose to go with the store-packaged option in these cases.
Just research standards that pertain to where you live and then make your purchasing decisions accordingly.
Remember, “Generic” Often Means Local
Something else you should understand is that a lot of times, the generic brand of a product is actually the more local brand of the product.
Consider products such as orange juice or milk, for example. Obviously, the big brand name products are going to come from a factory owned by the manufacturer, which is often very far away.
The generic brands, on the other hand, might come from a local grove or farm and are able to be priced more cheaply due to not having the name brand packaging but also due to not having to be shipped to the store.
With research, you can easily find out which generic brands at your store are actually local brands. Thus, by buying these products, you can not only save money but also support the local economy and end up getting a product that is even better and more fresh than the name brand product.
There is No Harm in Trying
Everyone has different tastes and preferences. With that said, even when ingredients are not similar from one brand to the next, you might find that you don’t mind the taste of a particular generic product or, in some cases, that you may even prefer it.
So, if saving money is important to you and you aren’t hung up on having the “big name” all the time, do a little experimenting. Try out generic products and see what you think. You might just find that you like a generic brand just as well as or better than the name brand.
Either way, you don’t really have anything to lose. You’ll still save money no matter what, and you can always go back to your original preference.
Just remember, as covered here, that the gap between generic and name brand isn’t always as vast as you might think.