Grocery Shopping Series Part II: Generic vs. Name Brand?

This is Part II in a series on saving money on groceries. This post will discuss purchasing generic vs. the name brand.

Do you always buy the name brand?
Or do you always buy the store brand/generic? An equal split of both?

We all seem to have our loyalties when it comes to name brands.

Years ago I remember my sister would get stuck on a name brand item and she wouldn’t budge to try another. I used to think she wasn’t very frugal (and secretly I thought to myself that our mother was right, she sure was stubborn!) and thought how lucky I was to have inherited the frugal gene from my frugal grandmother.

One item we disagreed on that comes to mind was dish washing detergent. I always bought the cheapest brand, Crystal. It came in a huge container containing 46 ounces of detergent and was by far the cheapest per ounce. Compared to my sister’s favorite, 22 ounces of Dawn Dish Washing Liquid. They cost the same amount of money, but my bottle was more than twice the size of hers! I thought I was getting such a great deal.

One day I noticed that they’d changed the container shape of my favorite detergent with the words “New, easier-to-grip bottle!” blared across the front.

I remember thinking the bottle looked smaller and sure enough, it contained fewer ounces. For the same price!

My sister came to stay with us for a few months and she brought her Dawn with her. I steadfastly refused to use her name brand detergent for several weeks, until one day when I ran out. My sister wasn’t home, and I thought what would it hurt to use it just this once.

To my surprise, her brand was much thicker! And it took only a few drops to make as many suds as my detergent. As it turns out, my sister had tried the cheaper brand and found it lacking, and instead of steadfastly buying the cheapest, ventured out and bought the name brand.

Up until that point in my life, I bought the cheapest of anything I could find. But once I experienced the higher quality dish washing detergent, (it really irked me to think my younger sister was right and I was the stubborn one this time!) I started questioning my habit of buying only the store brand, or generic. It turned out that this wasn’t the only area where I was buying the cheapest but getting a much lower quality product. From that day forward I decided that I would at least check into the other brands, and not insist on buying the cheapest items only.  I also found that my sister was a good source to learn which products might be higher quality so I wouldn’t have to do so much testing on my own.

I do still buy store brand and generic, with a lot of items. But sometimes the name brand ends up being the best buy, especially when the item lasts longer.

Visit Part I of my Grocery Shopping Series: Cheaper Ground Beef.

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