7 Things You Should Always Buy Generic

Save just $5 a day, or $150 a month, for 30 years – earn 10 percent on it – and you’ll end up with a nest egg of $342,000. Would that make a difference in your life? (By the way, if you’re wondering how the heck you can make 10% on your savings, you can’t – at least without risk. It is possible, however: see my stock portfolio.)

The tricky part is saving that $5 without sacrificing your quality of life. And one of many ways of doing that is to pay for name brands only when name brands make a difference. Sound obvious? Take a quick stroll around any grocery store and you’ll see that it must not be at all obvious, because the shelves are stuffed with products that cost extra – sometimes a whole lot extra – in exchange for nothing more than a name.

I recently took a camera into a local grocery store and found some amazing price differences between name brand items and their generic equivalents. Check out the video below, then meet me on the other side for more.

As we walked around my local Publix to shoot that video, I jotted down the prices of some of the stuff we were looking at. Check out this list – it’s amazing that people will pay this much extra for substantially identical products, presumably simply because some commercial told them to.

1. Pain relievers and other over-the-counter medications

Acetaminophen – the active ingredient in Tylenol – is available in many generic products. Note that the generics aren’t similar: they’re identical. Why would you ever pay more for an identical product? This also applies to everything from cold medicine to eye drops – virtually every over-the-counter medication. The labels are right there – read them.

Name-Brand Acetaminophen: $10.99
Store-Brand Acetaminophen: $6.99
Difference: $4.00 (57 percent)

2. Water

Although I should certainly be used to it by now, I can’t get over the fact that people go to the store to buy something in a bottle that they could be getting nearly free in their kitchen sink. But even if you can convince me that bottled water is worth the money, you’ll have a heck of time convincing me that the gallon jug from Crystal Springs is noticeably better than the one from Publix. And if you’re really concerned about water quality and/or taste – why aren’t you buying a filter and making your own bottled water? I just don’t get this entire concept.

Name-Brand Water: $1.25
Store-Brand Water: $.85
Difference: $.40 (48 percent)

3. Milk

I’m sure there are connoisseurs of moo-juice that could distinguish name-brand milk from store-brand – but I’m not quite sure how they’d do it. Bouquet? Finish? Sounds like a bunch of bull to me.

Name-Brand Milk: $5.45
Store-Brand Milk: $3.39
Difference: $2.06 (60 percent)

4. Margarine

It’s already a substitute for butter. Is it really going to negatively impact your quality of life to substitute the substitute?

Name-Brand Margarine: $1.79
Store-Brand Margarine: $1.19
Difference: $.60 (50%)

5. Bleach

You’re taking a cup of chlorine and adding it to gallons of water in your washing machine. How could any TV commercial possibly convince you that a brand name will make your clothes come out better?

Name-Brand Bleach: $2.25
Store-Brand Bleach: $1.67
Difference: $.58 (35 percent)

6. Cleaning Products

Many – if not most – cleaning products are already overpriced substitutes for stuff you already have around the house. Two of the most popular news stories we’ve ever done were Household Products Vinegar Can Replace and Do-It-Yourself Laundry Detergent. But let’s assume that you have a fetish for spray bottles and insist on buying ready-to-use cleaning products: is the name brand getting your counter that much cleaner?

Name-Brand Cleaner with Bleach: $3.29
Store-Brand Cleaner with Bleach: $2.39
Difference: $.90 (38 percent)

7. Spices

Think your job is hard? Imagine if your career entailed convincing the public that your company’s salt – the most basic of ingredients – was better than some other company’s salt. The whole idea is preposterous. And yet, there they sit, side by side, with nothing but their labels and their prices to set them apart. And where spices are concerned, that’s just the beginning – can you tell your oregano from mine?

Name-Brand Oregano: $5.48/oz.
Store-Brand Oregano: $1.24/oz.
Difference: $4.24 (342 percent)

I’m going to stop this exercise here. Not because I couldn’t go on – I could turn this into a book – but those are all the specific prices that I wrote down while we were shooting the above story. There are literally hundreds – if not thousands – of examples of people routinely swapping hard-earned cash for something virtually worthless: a name brand. It happens in the grocery store, it happens in the clothing store and it happens at the car dealer. It happens everywhere.

Am I saying that name-brands are never worth the money? Of course not. I can tell the difference between Dunkin Donuts coffee and store-brand – that’s why I pay extra for it. But I certainly can’t tell the difference between brands of oregano, bleach, orange juice, bananas, cheese, spaghetti, flour, sugar and a plethora of other products.

Paying extra for name brands that don’t offer higher quality in return is nothing less than stupid. If you can use that money to instead build a $342,000 nest-egg, you absolutely should. Even if you don’t need the money, maybe you should still refuse to do what the commercials tell you and donate the difference to charity. In either case, the world ends up a better place.

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Comments & discussion

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  • http://www.facebook.com/simicich Nick Simicich

    Medication and generics are an interesting choice. Generic drugs, in general, are poorly tested. Consider the case of generic Coumadin (Warfarin). When the generic was first brought out, a number of people died. Turns out that bioavailability is a big deal, and it matters how it is made. A dose of a generic in the case of Warfarin is not bioequivalent. They took the generics off the market and tested it and then brought it back out, but pharmacists are warned not to just substitute, you have to do blood tests to be sure that the drug has the same value. Another case was effexor XL – the generic was poorly tested on a very small population by a lab that was owned by the Indian company that made the drug. It really had no extended release, it would just dump all of the drug into your system at once, and people taking it said it was like riding a roller coaster.

    2. Water. Different waters taste different. San Pelligrino tastes completely different than Zephyrhills or Calistoga. Now, you were showing bottled water that was in the gallon size. stuff that one would stock up for a hurricane with, and I’ll agree that you should go cheap with that, but in other sizes, different waters are like Coke and Pepsi. Just because you can’t taste the difference, don’t put down people who can and have a preference.

    Milk. Look at the milk. Does it look a little pink? Low grade milk is frequently taken from cows with Mastitis and has blood in it. Also, cows eat different grass in different areas, and the grass flavors the milk – as anyone who has drunk milk or eaten butter from a cow that has eaten wild onions can tell you. So premium milk may be worth it – while the milk is completely safe after pastuerization, I prefer to drink other milk, or, if all the milk is pink, I’ll drink soy, Sometimes I drink soy anyway, and in soy, brand names are thicker, they have more bean and less water.

    Margarine. Margarine is made by bubbling hydrogen gas through vegetable oil to harden it. I believe that water and flavorings are added. You use cheap oil, or nasty tasting flavors, you get bad tasting margarine. There are enormous differences in the taste of Margarine by brand. Before making claims like this, try some blind tasting. That said, the cheaper brands sometimes taste better.

    Bleach is sodium hypochorite solution. But the purity is important. I’ve seen generic bleach that essentially had small amounts of black sand in it. If you really want to go cheap, buy granulated sodium hypochlorite from the pool store and mix a teaspoon into a cup of water. Use long handled implements, and eye protection, open the granulated chlorine outside and add it to the water but be careful not to get the dry chlorine wet, use eye protection. Then add a touch of perfume to the water. Or you can pay someone to do this slightly dangerous thing for you – and you can pay more for the Clorox bottle, which the company says is safer.

    My wife believes that there is a different in the strength of cleaning products. Since I don’t do much of the cleaning, I buy what she prefers. If she is happier cleaning with this product or that I will not argue. What I’ve noticed is that many non-brand name stuff is thin. They don’t have the amount of detergent that the name brand stuff does. Is it cheaper when you have to use twice as much?

    It is important to buy the most popular brand of salt, but not for the reason you think. Salt in this country is iodized. Iodine evaporates from table salt over time. You probably should toss out any salt that is a year old and you should buy only the most popular brands to insure that they are fresh. It is way more important to get enough iodine in your diet than to save a few cents on salt.

    Finally spices, which is why I initially said, “OMG this reporter is really a fool.”

    There are enormous differences in the quality of spices that are sold in the store. Badia oregano may be from the same plant as McCormick Oregano, but it does not taste the same, and is full of little sticks that never soften and seem to have an odd taste. I have wasted more money trying to buy cheap spices, just to have to throw them away as unusable. These days, I try and get into a warehouse store or a restaurant supply store to buy my spices (or to an Indian grocery), I save money by buying in quantity, not by trying to go cheap on brands.

    It would have been one thing if you had actually said, “We compared these products and could taste no difference.” But many things you claimed were just as good have been, in my experience, wrong.

    Please do some research before claiming authority,

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stacy-Johnson/100000015026105 Stacy Johnson

    Great comment, nick! And obviously well thought out – except the part about calling me a fool. I expressed my opinion in the story I did, and I stand by it. As I said, when I can tell a difference that’s worth the price, I’ll pay it. When I can’t, I won’t. If you think one brand of salt, or bleach is worth more than another, I’ll respectfully disagree – what I won’t do is call you names.

    As I’m sure you’re aware if you watch the news, recalls aren’t limited to generics, in drugs or many other products. As for store-brand milk: I kind of like the pink color! :-)

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZBZYDTFWPR3PWUWGQCWNGXCDPU Anonymous

      Obviously, Stacy, you do not do your homework. There many, many data sets on the cleaning power of the top laundry detergents, and how good they are. Cleaners with bleach? Same thing. There are patented ingredients inside many of them, and they do make a difference. Water, spices, I’ll go along with you on that. Generic pain relievers? Not all are created equal. Many of the generic brand pain relievers use bulk ingredients, which are not AS pure. I have conducted my own “tests” of pain relievers, and the generics of some of the top brands do not match up. Better test things out next time before reporting. Bad habit.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6PXZMJ77EPJYYJYBXCB24KEGHQ lostmymarbles

    This article is badly misinformed about generic medicine. Yes, the ingredients for the medicine part must be the same, but the things that hold the pill, tablet, capsule together do not have to be the same as the name brand.

    I found out the hard way, when a medication I take went generic and my insurance required me to get the generic. It was a nightmare. I suffered with horrific stomach distress and after only a week of using the generic, I almost ended up with an ulcer.

    That was when we found out that the fillers and binders in the generic, do not have to be the same makeup as in the name brand medicine. The generic maker had used different fillers and binders and what they used, I was having a severe reaction to.

    Their own pharmacist said I was not to use it because it was causing such an extreme reaction. He said to use the name brand. My insurance let me go back to the name brand medication and I have been fine since.

    As for not understanding why people would buy water when they get it for free out of their own faucets: we have well water. Our water has a lot of iron and sulfur in it. We do have a filtering on our home’s water lines (yes, we do regularly change the filter) and we have a water softener. But they do not remove all of the iron nor sulfur. We still get a very strong smell and terrible taste. It is so bad, that to drink the water is not possible. So we buy bottled water to drink.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if know it all journalists really did know the facts about things, before they went off and jotted down their informative articles?

  • danedw

    Seriously, if you can’t taste the difference between tap water and bottled water then you are clearly not going to care about the differences between brands. Like saying, “I can’t tell the difference between cheddar and american cheese, so just buy the cheapest version of american that’s available.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OZHVCQCIPHPBHEGZZOK3644QYI Harry

    Your math is completely wrong.Name-Brand Acetaminophen: $10.99Store-Brand Acetaminophen: $6.99Difference: $4.00 (57 percent)Lat time i checked $4 is 36% of $10.99It seems the author derived the percentage based on the store brand. So what she did was $4/$6.99 = 57% but since this is the DIFFERENCE, it should be $4.00/$10.99 which is 36%The store brand Acetaminophen is 36% cheaper than the name brand.The math is wrong with every one of these. Being a writer for a personal finance site such as MoneyTalksNews, you would think you would have the math correct.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stacy-Johnson/100000015026105 Stacy Johnson

      I’ve now gotten several of these emails regarding my math in this column, so I’ll respond with an answer – but then I want to ask a question of both Harry and you.

      The answer to Harry’s math complaint: Harry’s assuming I’m implying that the store brand is 57% cheaper than the name brand – which would be incorrect. The problem is that nowhere in this article do I say that.

      What I’m implying is that the name brand costs 57% more than the store brand – which is absolutely correct. That’s also something that I didn’t specifically state anywhere in the article. I just presented the numbers and assumed the reader would figure it out – it’s simple math. And most apparently did understand that or didn’t notice – which is appropriate, since precise percentages are totally beside the point of the article anyway.

      Now the question: why do some (not all) readers who take exception to things in articles feel so compelled to include a snide remark when they disagree? “Being a writer for a personal finance site such as MoneyTalksNews, you would think you have the math correct.” I’ve had other such remarks, including about 10 just on this article: I just responded to an email from someone over this issue that said “No wonder you save $5 a day.”

      Hey, I’m not immune to mistakes – I make plenty of them. And I appreciate readers pointing them out – in fact, I count on it. Unlike the major sites against which we compete, I don’t have full-time editors, or even part-time fact-checkers. I work long hours with no second set of eyes, and that sometimes results in errors. I’m happy this wasn’t one of them, but if you read my stuff for long enough, I’m sure you’ll find some.

      But I’m not an idiot, Harry, and you have no cause to write to me as if I were. I’ve been a CPA for almost 30 years, have produced more than 3,000 consumer news stories, and I’m not just a writer: I started this company 20 years ago.

      So maybe Harry and some of you other readers can help me understand something that’s been confounding me since I started writing for the web: Why are so many people – especially when they write to point out what they think is an error – so mean? It’s truly a mystery to me.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OZHVCQCIPHPBHEGZZOK3644QYI Harry

        Actually you do say that. You say it plain as day with: Difference: $4.00 (57 percent)

        The difference between the name brand and the store brand is 36% not 57%

        For your answer to be correct you should have wrote it this way: Difference: $4.00 (57 percent increase over store brand). This shows how you came up with the 57%, you calculated for increase.

        Because you failed to show what you were calculating, and just put the 57% into the Difference calculation, the math is wrong.

        With any math, if you do not declare how you come up with the answer, it will be wrong. In this case you have difference stated, but you calculated the INCREASE of the name brand over the store brand, which is a completely different math problem.

        Difference: $4.00 (57 percent) INCORRECT

        Difference: $4.00 (36 percent) CORRECT

        Difference: $4.00 (57 percent increase over store brand) CORRECT

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OZHVCQCIPHPBHEGZZOK3644QYI Harry

        I forgot to answer this: Why do some (not all) readers who take exception to things in articles feel so compelled to include a snide remark when they disagree? “Being a writer for a personal finance site such as MoneyTalksNews, you would think you have the math correct.”

        Here is your answer:

        Because you claim: I’ve been a CPA for almost 30 years, have produced more than 3,000 consumer news stories, and I’m not just a writer: I started this company 20 years ago.

        With that kind of a record, you are open to scrutiny for everything you write. My comment stands. Being a CPA for 30 years, you of all people should know the importance of getting your math correct. As such, when you make a mistake, we, as your audience, have every rite to criticize you for said mistake. WE are getting financial advise from YOU. If you math is wrong, how are we to trust you ever again? I for one am glad you are not my CPA, or i might end up owing the IRS a ton of money because you miscalculated something, or failed to show the IRS how you came up with the figures you did.

        That being said, fire your editor, or QA person for not catching this simple mathematics mistake. If you have received numerous emails about this problem, then obviously you are wrong.

        Also, being online, you are subjecting yourself to everything the internet brings with it. You think my comments were snide? You apparently have been lucky and have not felt the sting of the trolls that lurk in the depths of the internet. Tread with caution.

      • http://www.moneytalksnews.com/ Dan Schointuch

        Harry…

        The math is correct. You’re just not understanding it, which is making you look a little silly. Unless you have something pertinent to add to the conversation on generics vs. brand name products, I’m going to ban you as a troll.

        For anyone who doesn’t know what a troll is… think of the Internet as a bridge that connects people and ideas. Trolls are those who live under the bridge and try to make everyone crossing miserable.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OZHVCQCIPHPBHEGZZOK3644QYI Harry

        Ok Dan, then explain how it is correct. The equations for DIFFERENCE and INCREASE are different.

        Difference:

        A = 10.99
        B= 6.99
        X = %

        (A – B)/A = X
        (10.99 – 6.99)/10.99 = X
        4/10.99 = X
        X= .36 or 36%

        Increase:

        A = 10.99
        B= 6.99
        X = %

        (A – B)/B = X
        (10.99 – 6.99)/6.99 = X
        4/6.99 = X
        X = .57 or 57%

        Show me where in Difference: $4.00 (57 percent), the author states the 57% as being the % increase of name brand over store brand? The author clearly states DIFFERENCE.

        Once again, if you do not state how you come up with your answer, your math will be wrong. If he wrote it as Difference: $4.00 (57 percent increase over store brand), that would indeed be correct, as he would have clarified how he came up with the 57% answer. As he did not, and left it in the DIFFERENCE calculation, it looks like he did (A – B)/A = 57% which is WRONG.

        Ask any mathematician if it is acceptable to submit an answer without clarifying how you came up with said answer. Have you never had a math instructor in school reprimand you for not writing out the solution to an equation?

        Oh and here is my comment on name brand vs. store brand: This is nothing new. In fact, you can save much more than what was said in this article by visiting your local 99 Cent Only Store, Dollar General, Dollar tree, etc. Wow I should be a writer for a financial site as I just saved people more money than the 30 year CPA. Get real Dan, and go back to school and learn your simple math.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZBZYDTFWPR3PWUWGQCWNGXCDPU Anonymous

    Obviously, you do not do your homework. There many, many data sets on the cleaning power of the top laundry detergents, and how good they are. Cleaners with bleach? Same thing. There are patented ingredients inside many of them, and they do make a difference. Water, spices, I’ll go along with you on that. Generic pain relievers? Not all are created equal. Many of the generic brand pain relievers use bulk ingredients, which are not AS pure. I have conducted my own “tests” of pain relievers, and the generics of some of the top brands do not match up. Better test things out next time before reporting. Bad habit.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3I4NTYTIX45NQR5PUREHOIGNO4 Ryan Gray

    Stacy, while I may agree with you on some points in your article, mainly your Acetaminophen, I have to agree with the other comments. I myself have allergies to the binders in generic drugs, so I tend to try first the generics, and if they cause issues, I bail, but I have found some generics to work just as well for me.
    However, beyond the generic drugs, I certainly agree with the others in that a glass of water in say Salt Lake City, is not a glass of water in Houston, TX, there are far to many minerals in the water depending on region that can effect the flavor and smell of water; i.e. Beer Breweries of the world stake millions on the water they use to brew their beers. Often many craft brewers have to use various chemicals and additives to alter the water’s characters; it took Coors how long to locate and open it’s east coast brewery?
    Milk, margarine, and chlorine, while you make your point I’ll let someone else argue otherwise.
    Having cleaned a bar for 4 years, I will however have to argue that not all cleaners are created the same. The $5 bottle of chemicals certainly will have less water than the $2 or $3 bottle, meaning there are more active ingredients in the cleaner to cut the slime away. I have my favorite cleaners, and I stick to them. I admit, I’m not a creature of habit, and often try the new products on the shelf, but I often compare the performance, and I have only twice changed my habits.
    My biggest pet peeve is articles claiming that an apple is an apple or a spice is a spice… THEY AREN’T. I categorize the summation of “oregano is oregano” to someone who doesn’t cook, or doesn’t know what good cooking is. Take two pork chops, make your self a good, say cajun, spice rub for them, using generic on the one, and using a McCormick or better yet a Spice Island or Penzey’s. Your song will change over a bite. I cook by my spices, and a good spice can make a great meal, incredible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Amy-Isaacs-West/579002999 Amy Isaacs West

    I do agree that many generics are the same or better than the name brand and ARE quite a cost saver.

    For example, I had two friends who worked for Durkee spices in Cincinnati (now out of business, maybe this is why ) who said there were two lines to fill the containers- one for Kroger,a grocery chain and one for the Durkee containers. If you just want plain old ground cinnamon, fine, but some recipes are definitely better with the better stuff. Ask any Food Network star and they will tell you.

    My husband will argue that store brand Nyquil and the real stuff works differently for him.

    Store brand margarine – gross. Margarine may still just be margarine, but you can look at the labels and see a difference. The 50c tub still has trans fat while the $1.59 name brand does not and might even contain some Omega 3 oils if you are lucky.

    Water- definitely a taste difference. I’d take a Dasani any day over a store brand.

    I would suggest that recommending different generics for people would be a better idea.
    I have some suggestions:
    Orange juice- if you don’t mind the not-from-concentrate kind, store brand seems to be the same to me as name brand. But it doesn’t compare to Simply Orange or Tropicana.

    Shredded/block/sliced cheese – the shredded bags of cheddar, colby and mozzarella from Kroger and Kraft have proven to me to be nearly identical. Same as prepackaged slices. Cant tell a difference. One warning though- check for added starches and dyes before going generic.

    Crackers- Triscuit, Ritz, Wheat Thins and saltines all have their generic versions. I have found them to be comparable with a significant price difference. 99c saltines vs $2.99. One warning though, check the label for high fructose corn syrup. Sometimes the cheaper contains it, sometimes the name brand does too. 9and trans fats too)

    There are some store brand items my family and I even like better.
    Boxed mac & cheese and Red Berries and flakes cereal are preferable to us in the Kroger brand.

    Point being, I think some better examples of generic vs name brand may have been given. I guess it all boils down to personal preference for everyone.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_R6READ4TRHBCZ4BZ6AH2CRI3XM Mickey

    For most things I find the store brand as good as the brand name and, when I don’t, I go back to the name brand, Bush’s Baked Beans and Cheerios being two examples. But for most things, I’m not just satisified with the large-store brand, I shop at one or more discount or warehouse stores first, (Aldi, Ollies, the various Dollar stores, Costco, etc.) then shop at the supermarkets, etc. That way I’m paying 99 cents for margarine instead of $1.19 [and Amy, Aldi's has 0% trans fat and I can't distinguish its taste from "I Can't Believe.."], 49 cents for 14.5 oz of diced tomatoes instead of 69 cents, etc.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_S2IYXLRFHIS7C5W6R6ITZDD6KQ rose

    I agree with the author on most points, but I live in Florida, and believe me this is a HUGE difference between generic OJ and my Florida’s Natural. It is well worth the difference in price.  And I feel the same way about Dawn dishwashing detergent. There is no comparison to the generics. BUT, for things like spaghetti, sugar, salt, bleach, and dozens of other products, generic is definitely the way to go….you can save a lot of money!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OZCXM4UVTNOQVPRWWWG47MCOFM Laurie

    Spices: Many natural food stores (i.e. Whole Foods) carry bulk spices. Way cheaper, and hopefully fresher in that you can buy a smaller quantity and avoid having those rarely used spices in your cupboard for years.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5CBGKH37KPOSRRI2D7IA2S3N5U Planet D

    I grew up in a town with truly putrid tasting tap water.  From a health standpoint, the water there is perfectly safe to drink, but it tastes like a$$.  So now, as an adult I’m unusually sensitive to the taste of different waters.  When I lived briefly in LA for example the water was so chlorinated I could barely stand to put my nose in the glass, much less swallow the stuff.  For me, buying filtered bottled water is worth the money (in 5-gallon jugs from a local water store, not individual serving size bottles).  At $0.345 per gallon at the water store, the payback on installing my own home filtering system just isn’t there.  Believe me, I’ve done the math.

    But I think the larger point is that in economics, there is no objective “value” of a given product, because different people can value the exact same item differently.  For example, a person shopping for a halloween costume values a wig differently from a a person undergoing chemo.  Some of your commenters obviously do a lot of cooking and value
    different grades of oregano differently.  Someone simply looking to get nice green flecks on his garlic bread will value oregano differently from someone trying to impress her Italian mother-in-law with a perfect ragu.

    The part of this piece that I thought hit the mark is around the principle that if something is just a molecule – sodium chloride or chlorine bleach or acetaminophen – then why pay more for a label?  But I think you go astray when you expand your scope into areas where specific recipes (margarine) or intangible taste/grade issues are involved (milk, oregano, bottled water).

    Also, just some free editing/fact-checking for you.  Spices come from plants, and specifically do not come from leaves (those are herbs).  So, neither salt nor oregano is a spice. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_43AAFZRU4ZDSTTVGXNY2TKA5WY Alysia Morse

    I know I can tell the difference in milk between store and name brand! Hiland milk is way better!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6ZPXB5DBFDYKX36DEYLTOH6XM4 Space Vegetable

    For your basic all-purpose flour, sure, go generic. But if you’re doing specialty baking, different flours have different protein or gluten content, which makes them suited to different purposes. For bread, you want more gluten. For cake or pastry, less. Also, some store-brand cheeses have more oil or other fillers in them than name brands. For milk, well, I’m lactose-intolerant, so generic versions of lactose-free milk are often not available. Not to mention, there’s one particular brand that’s much better than all the others, so it’s worth it in that case.

    I think you have to do trial and error and see what generics work for you and your specific needs.

  • Jon Peltier

    Shouldn’t you be calculating percentage based on the higher priced item? For example,

    Name-Brand Acetaminophen: $10.99
    Store-Brand Acetaminophen: $6.99
    Difference: $4.00
    Sure, $4.00 is 57% of $6.99, but you’re saving 36% of the full price.

  • http://lovefromgirl.wordpress.com/ C.M.W.

    I actually prefer to pay a little extra if it means I can shop small and local businesses. In terms of herbs, I know an herbalist (I realize this is probably odd) and she does everything from home remedies to herb and spice blends. If I’m cooking anything Indian, I go to my nearest Indian grocery. My supermarket charges the same for two pieces of naan as the Indian grocery does for eight to ten. The Indian grocery also has larger quantities of spices for reasonable prices, so if I’m not saving, at least I’m not overpaying, either.

  • Mike McKinnon

    I will never buy food or personal items from China or other third world countries. I trust only the USA.

  • Guest

    Um, really, margarine vs butter? You can’t taste the difference? Yikes. Butter tastes so much better. Not to mention you’re not eating partially hydrogenated oils. Eek.

  • Yemeng Zhu

    I bought a lot of things from Dollar stores, most of them are good. But for my personal experience, the ‘bathroom cleaner’ I bought from walmart works way way better than another one I bought from Dollar store. I use both of them on cleaning kitchen floor and they are totally different. I also suspect the drain opener is in similar pattern but I haven’t test that yet.