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10 Groceries to Buy Generic

Written by Adrienne Wolter, Community Blogger | Sep 8, 2014 10:00 AM

We all know that walking into the grocery store can be a toss-up. It can be a small escape from your work week, a couple hours to run into some neighbors and friends or one of your worst nightmares.


Photo by Nathan Rice

Think about it. Not only are you concerned with your own personal well-being and health, but also that of your family. You worry about nutritional value and what foods will satisfy cravings and fill stomachs. What's more, there's another side of the story as well... it costs money.

Buying local and fresh produce can get expensive. Plus, just like our cars, electronics, and care products, we all have our favorite brand names and indulgences. However, at what price? Buying a name for its name is not always what it's cracked up to be. It's important to understand the pros and cons of buying generic brands at the store.

Sure, there's always a positive and negative side to everything. For example, generic food can be less expensive and comparable to the brand name. In some blind tests, some cannot even distinguish taste between generic and brand names. However, often times the nutritional value is not always up to par with quality, as some of it is more processed, or you may be compromising on taste.

Don't let this stress you out. In fact, don't make the decision to buy generic versus brand name items turn into another contingent that affects your shopping experience. Instead, take a look at 10 of the best generic items to buy at your local grocery. You'll be surprised how much it will save you and preserve your healthy lifestyle.


Photo by Jonnie Andersen

1. Baking Essentials

According to a recent poll, many chefs and doctors have gone generic when it comes to the bases of some of their best dishes. You can too when you get a little baking fever. Base ingredients like baking mixes, sugar and baking soda are excellent substitutes for brand name products. Not only is it less expensive, but since these items are not in high demand, their quality is not compromised.

2. Dairy Products

While some may stray from the generic dairy products, they actually taste the same as some of your higher end brands. Items like cheese, milk, sour cream, cream cheese and ricotta cheese taste great from your local grocery. On the plus side, these products cost less and typically come in larger sizes. However, be more selective with your eggs and yogurt; often times the generic brands contain more processed ingredients and sugar.

3. Lunch Meats

Grocery stores provide the best quality and freshness when it comes to their deli. Often purchased from local farms, lunch and ground meats are typically quite high quality. Save more money per pound to get some of the best tasting lunch meats and bring back the flavor and freshness.

4. Nuts

It's true that nuts provide a great source for on-the-go protein and energy. Yet, they are one of the more expensive options for a nutritious snack. So, why not go generic? Sort through great trail mixes and buy nuts in your store’s bulk section. You'll keep a little more cash in your wallet. Go for delicious almonds, pistachios and peanuts, which pack the most nutrients for the lowest price.

5. Herbs & Spices

Want to top off your newest creation with some spice and flare? Spend a little "dough" to flavor-up your dough with generic spices and herbs. You can find smart-sized containers filled with basil, thyme, oregano and even cinnamon at a reasonable price, or load up from the bulk section.

6. Produce

Who wants a delicious smoothie or protein shake on the way to work? When time is a crunch and it's important for you to include your fruits and veggies, try them frozen. The generic brands contain fresh, frozen produce like strawberries, blueberries, carrots and spinach. Especially if you want your food to last, frozen produce lasts longer than fresh.

Once you save the money on frozen food, you should splurge on fresh produce when it’s really necessary. If you’re a fan of homemade juices, save up for a good quality juicer to make all your smoothie dreams come true!

7. Canned Goods

Canned foods have had some negative reviews in the past for higher sodium and high fructose syrup and preservative content. Yet, not all canned foods are created equal. Just like brand name canned fruits, vegetables and beans, the store brand cans also come in lower sodium and with less syrup for a lower price.

8. Dry Food Products

Many generic pastas and cereals have the same great flavor as that of their brand name counterparts. Always check the ingredients to make sure there aren't extra preservatives and other additives in the generic brands. Dry food products are a great place to pinch pennies, however. Peanut butter, granola bars and other snacks are a safe place to start for the best value for less money.

9. Paper Products

So, you may not want to go generic with your toilet paper, but as far as paper plates and napkins are concerned, why not? Spend less on disposable products, especially if you intend to use them once. Try to go for recyclable varieties when available – you’ll save the environment and the green in your pocket.


Photo by Adam Lederer

10. Over-the-Counter Options

When you go to the doctor's office, a lot of times they'll prescribe you the generic brand. Why? Well, because most of the over-the-counter remedies are the same product, just in a more boring package. Items like vitamins and aspirin contain the same active drugs as their brand name counterparts. Sometimes, you just pay for the name. Again, with all things, do what is important to you, and if you love a brand name, stick to it. Just don't be afraid to think outside of the box.

At first, it may take you a little bit of research and trial and error to know what works for you and what the best products are. However, you'll soon be able to figure out what you care about and what makes no difference to you as far as quality and quantity. Don't be afraid to explore what's out there!

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