To some, a trip to the grocery store is a daunting task. To others, it’s a food-filled adventure. No matter how you feel about making those never-ending trips to the store, there are a few things you need to know. Shopping for groceries is more complicated than ever which means you have more choices to make about what to splurge on and what ingredients to skimp on.
Large grocery store chains, like those found in most college towns across the country, carry more options than smaller, mom and pop markets and the variations in pricing can, at times, be alarming. Name-brand items are notoriously more expensive than their generic, store-brand counterparts. Often, this deludes customers into thinking that name-brand products are better than cheaper options, which simply isn’t always true.
To help you decide whether to be frugal or fickle, browse this list before your next trip to the food factory and avoid those frequent urges to cry at grocery store checkout.
1. Pharmacy Items
Both CNN and NPR agree with pharmacists and doctors on this one. Generic is just as good as the name-brand. Save your $$$ people. Opt for the store-brand of pain killers, allergy meds and cold medicine instead of shelling out for the pricey stuff. According to CNN, pharmacists buy name-brand meds only 9% of the time compared to the 26% of Americans that buy name-brands. If the pros aren’t tricked into the fancy stuff, why should you be?
However, it is curious that pharmacists are less likely to buy off-brand Alka-Seltzer than any comparable off-brand medication per NPR’s findings. If Alka-Seltzer is your preferred hangover cure, keep on getting the name-brand and get to feelin’ better.
2. Baking Ingredients
Multiple sources state that generic baking items such as cake mixes, baking soda and sugar are preferred by professional chefs to name-brand products. The Kitchn says that your buck goes farther with store brand products in this category because the quality difference is relatively small, if non-existent. Need I say more? For your kitchen basics grab the generic guy and give your wallet a break.
Every source listed thus far has found that dairy is usually a safe bet as far as generic brands go. However, let it be known that every source has specifically listed yogurt as the ONE dairy product that you should splurge on. Generic yogurt usually contains excess amounts of sugar, several artificial ingredients and has less nutritional value. If you’re a yogurt diva like me, you can finally rejoice in feeling validated in your expensive tastes in dairy. Yo-go girl!
Just like yogurt products, Consumer Report reported that name-brand juices are less likely to contain large quantities of artificial ingredients and excess sugar. After surveying customers, they also found that people enjoy pricier juice products over cheaper juices because of their taste. Unfortunately, juice is one of the more expensive grocery store items, but in this case, you should spend more on what you buy. Not only are name-brand juices more likely to be better for you, it’s been discovered that they’re more pleasant on your tastebuds.
Generic frozen fruits and veggies are just as good as the “good stuff.” The only difference might be the way the produce is grown before it hits the freezer. If you’re a big believer in organic and sustainable farming, you should probably steer clear of cheaper options and head towards name-brand, organic produce. Otherwise, by the time produce gets to the freezer, it’s pretty much all the same. As far as other frozen products go, you can’t go wrong either way most of the time. It’s all about personal preference here.
The Good News
According to CNN, while name-brands win 2 out of 5 times, college educated individuals are less likely to buy needlessly expensive products compared to Americans without college educations. Basically, you’re already smarter about not wasting those precious resources. Don’t you feel better already?