Buying store-brand products is always a smart, money-saving move. But it becomes even more important during times of inflation like today.
However, some people are reluctant to buy store brands because they worry the quality won’t match that of brand-name products. In fact, Consumer Reports recently surveyed around 2,500 adults and found that 43% said they only occasionally or never buy store-brand versions of products.
But CR says this reluctance is a “big mistake.” The publication taste-tested 10 types of brand-name staples against store-brand counterparts. The products included:
- Organic frozen mixed vegetables
- Ranch dressing
- Whole-wheat bread
- Peanut butter
- Plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- Mixed nuts
- Maple syrup
- Condensed chicken noodle soup
- Honey Nut Cheerios-like cereals
The store brands came from nine stores, ranging from Aldi to Costco, Target and Whole Foods. In a summary of the findings, registered dietitian Amy Keating — who led the testing — concluded:
“Of the 70 store-brand products in our test, 76 percent tasted just as good as the name brand.”
In addition, CR found these store-brand products typically cost anywhere from 5% to 72% less per serving than the name brands.
In some categories, a combination of taste and price made the store brand the clear winner over the name brand. These products earned “Top Pick” honors from CR. They included:
- Ranch dressing: Kroger Creamy Ranch Dressing (25 cents) over Hidden Valley The Original Ranch Topping & Dressing (53 cents)
- Organic frozen mixed vegetables: Kroger Simple Truth Organic Mixed Vegetables (86 cents) over Trader Joe’s Organic Foursome Vegetable Medley (53 cents)
- Condensed chicken noodle soup: Aldi Chef’s Cupboard Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup (29 cents) over Campbell’s Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup (55 cents)
- Maple syrup: BJ’s Wellsley Farms Organic 100% Pure Maple Syrup (88 cents) over Butternut Mountain Farm 100% Pure Vermont Maple Syrup ($1.05)
In other categories, the store brands performed well, but not enough to earn “Top Pick” status. However, the store brands that had good flavor and cost the least in other categories were:
- Ketchup: Aldi Burman’s Tomato Ketchup and Target Market Pantry Tomato Ketchup (9 cents per serving each)
- Whole-wheat bread: Target 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread (11 cents)
- Peanut butter: Aldi Peanut Delight Creamy Peanut Butter and Walmart Great Value Creamy Peanut Butter (21 cents)
- Greek yogurt: Aldi Friendly Farms Plain Greek Non-Fat Yogurt (89 cents)
- Mixed nuts: Costco Kirkland Signature Extra Fancy Salted Mixed Nuts (80 cents)
- Honey oats cereal: Walmart Great Value Honey Nut O’s (16 cents)
Overall, CR says you will save the most on store brands at Costco, followed by Aldi and Walmart.
For more on cutting the cost of groceries, check out “13 Unusual but Effective Ways to Save on Groceries.”