I came across this article today about saving money on groceries by purchasing store brands. According to the article, switching from name brands to store brands can save you about 25 percent. The article does go on to state that not all store brands taste the same as name brands, and that the nutrition content may be different.
Personally, I believe that buying store brands only saves money if the store brand is something you will actually use. Here are some tips I’ve picked up along my quest to reduce our grocery budget:
- Store brand ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, spices, etc) seem to be more similar to name brands. We’ve never noticed a difference in using these store brand ingredients instead of name brands in cooking and baking.
- Store brand prepared foods seem to taste very different than their name brand counterparts. We notice the biggest difference in things like pasta sauce and canned soup. It doesn’t save money to buy “cheaper” jars of pasta sauce we’re never going to eat. We are better off to wait for sales on the brands we like.
- Vegetables seem to be equally as good when purchased as a store brand instead of a name brand. We buy a lot of frozen spinach and canned beans, usually store brands, and have never noticed a difference. This is especially true if they’re going in a casserole, soup, or chili.
- If you have skin allergies or sensitive skin laundry detergent is not something to try to save money on by experimenting with different brands! I have very sensitive skin and most laundry detergents turn me into a miserably itchy walking rash, sometimes leading to a doctor’s visit for a steroid shot. In addition to making me miserable, that costs a lot more money in the long run. I have learned to just stick with the three brands of laundry detergent that I know won’t trigger a bad reaction. I try to save money by stocking up on them when they’re on sale, not by buying “cheaper” alternatives.
- Once in a while some grocery stores will run a “buy theirs try ours free” special where you receive the store brand version of certain items free when you buy the name brand. This is an excellent, risk free, opportunity to try the store brand and determine what you like and don’t like. You can find out about promotions like this by signing up for the store’s emails.
- Don’t underestimate the value of shopping sales and using coupons. We’re fortunate enough to live close to several different grocery stores, so I always check the sale ads to see who has what on sale before we go shopping and only get what is the best deal at each store. Many times the sale price on a name brand is cheaper than the store brand. Name brands also have coupons sometimes, which just add to the savings. Watch for in-store promotions where buying a certain number of items from the same brand will take money off of your total bill. I love to use this when I can match coupons to the items that are on sale. They usually work out to be anywhere from about 75 percent off to free.
I also try to stock up on things we use a lot when they’re on a really good sale. Most grocery stores seem to have about a six week sale cycle, so I try to buy about six week’s worth of items we use a lot of while they’re on sale instead of paying full price for them later on.
Shopping this way has resulted in a few amazingly cheap shopping trips. My best to date has been $125.00 worth of groceries for $25.00. I wish I could tell you this happens every week, but it doesn’t. Shopping this way on an average grocery trip usually saves us between 40 and 60 percent, which is still good enough to make me really happy.