Maybe you like the taste of a particular drink or you want a certain brand of baby formula, it’s totally understandable. Sometimes paying a little more on a name-brand product gives you some sort of satisfaction and security. But not all name-brand products are necessarily better than their cheaper counterparts.
In many cases, generic products have the exact same ingredients and the exact same results as their pricier competitors. Not to mention you can save around 20-30 percent if you go generic. That being said, here are 15 products you should buy generic next time you go shopping.
Contrary to what many people might think, water does not come cheap. At least not bottled water which is between 240 and 10,000 times more expensive than tap water. That being said, if you really can’t live without bottled water, at least buy store brands which are a bit cheaper than brands such as Evian, Acqua Panna or Badoit.
But if you really want to save money (loads of it actually), stick to tap water, which is the epitome of generic. And if you’re worried that tap water is not safe to drink, just know that around one-quarter or more of bottled water comes from a tap, according to the National Resources Defense Council. More than that, “it’s important to note that the federal government does not require bottled water to be safer than tap. In fact, just the opposite is true in many cases. Tap water in most big cities must be disinfected, filtered to remove pathogens, and tested for cryptosporidium and giardia viruses. Bottled water does not have to be.” Need we say more?
Most health specialists confirm that generic drugs are just as safe and effective as brand-name medicines. Not to mention way cheaper. So why pay hundreds of dollars on brand-names when you can get generic drugs with the same performance as their costlier counterparts for much less?
Whether they are generic or brand-name, all medications have to comply with certain safety standards imposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to the FDA, “when a generic drug product is approved, it has met rigorous standards established by the FDA with respect to identity, strength, quality, purity, and potency.”
To understand the difference between generic and brand-name medications, just know that generics have helped Americans save $1.67 trillion over the last decade!
Every mother wants to give her baby the best things in the world. However, you don’t need to go the extra mile and buy your baby expensive name-brands when certain store-brands are just as good. Like brand-name baby formula, store-brand baby formula needs to comply with the same quality standards and nutrient specifications that are listed in FDA regulations. Therefore, parents should feel comfortable and at ease with buying generic baby formula as well, especially if this also helps them save some money and use them for other baby necessities.
Sunscreens must meet FDA standards, just like medications and baby formula. Brand-name products might look better and catch your eye but don’t let their fancy exterior deceive you. It’s the ingredients that make the difference, not the bigger price which is usually the result of marketing strategies.
For instance, Walmart and Target sunscreens were highly praised in 2018, according to Consumer Reports. Therefore, look for sunscreens with SPF 30 or more and UVA and UVB protection. Make sure the product you intend on buying has “broad spectrum SPF” followed by an SPF number written on the front side.
Seasonings and spices
When it comes to herbs and spices, what matters most is for them to be fresh. Freshness, however, is not necessarily an attribute of brand-name products only. Store brands can be just as fresh but less expensive. “Seasonings and spices are another good bet for going generic because the taste difference is minimal, but you’ll also save a lot,” said David Bakke, author of personal finance book “Don’t Be a Mule.” So, try some generic spices and herbs and see what you think before ruling them out completely.
Forget about nationally advertised brand-name products and go for generic frozen fruits. There’s little to no difference in taste between the two, especially if you use them for smoothies, cooking or baking. The difference however resides in their price, which is way lower in the case of generic frozen fruits.
Stores like Walmart or Trader Joe’s usually have great options. “Shopping at Trader Joe’s is great for staying within your budget while still receiving a great quality product,” according to Maria A. Bella, MS, RD, CDN. “Most of its store-brand items are actually from brand-name food companies that sell their product to Trader Joe’s under its own brand name and Trader Joe’s saves money by not advertising.”
Similar to frozen fruits, frozen vegetables “have their nutrients locked in since they’re picked and then immediately frozen,” say The Nutrition Twins Lyssie Lakatos and Tammy Lakatos Shames, authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure. Since the freezing process is practically the same, it pays off to buy the cheaper but just as nutritious generic version.
Canned vegetables and beans
If you want to amp up your grocery saving game, choose store canned beans, vegetables and fruits. Canned goods usually vary in flavor and taste, but not because they are brand-name or generic.
So, try your grocery chain’s canned goods until you find the ones that match your taste. Your wallet will surely be pleased with your choice. And don’t forget that “no matter which brand you opt for, you’ll get a fiber and protein-packed, phytonutrient- and iron-rich bean,” the Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos and Tammy Lakatos Shames say.
The price of fresh produce may vary by store. But what stays the same is the fact that generic is always cheaper than the brand-name.” When it comes to fresh vegetables, depending on where you buy your produce, buying generic may be better in terms of price, taste, and nutrition,” says Bella.
If you’re looking for fresh fruits and vegetables, going for local, no-brand ones is the best choice because they aren’t brought from distant places which means they get to keep their freshness and flavor. Farmers markets, independent grocers and farm stands are usually the best places to find fresh products but don’t rule out Trader Joe’s or Costco either.
Baking and cooking supplies
In their study called “Do Pharmacists Buy Bayer?”, researchers analyzed how chefs and other specialists in the field buy groceries. Prepare to be shocked by the conclusion. It turns out food professionals buy store brands much more often than normal shoppers like you and me.
Here’s what chefs and other food specialists usually buy generic:
- Baking mixes
- Baking soda
- Powdered sugar
- Brown sugar
- Baking supplies
Frozen pizza at the end of a long busy day doesn’t sound that bad when all you’ve got to do is stick it in the oven. Netflix binging is definitely better with a bag of chips by your side. The best part? You can get these products at ridiculously cheap rates if you stick to store-brand ones instead of branded products. Here are some of the generic snack products you can save money on:
- Spreads and dips
- Dried fruit
- Pickles and olives
Most generic cleaning products such as bleach, detergents and oven cleaners have the same ingredients as their name brand competitors. Therefore, there’s no point in wasting countless dollars for overprices products that provide the same degree of cleaning. Just because a product is brand name doesn’t mean it works better than its cheaper counterpart. In many cases, popular and expensive products are just the result of smart marketing campaigns.
If you peruse the drugstore aisles, you’ll see a myriad of products, from fancy name-brands to popular generic ones. Once you get past their high-end packaging and flip them over, you’ll notice they all have the same active ingredients in the exact same order. So, what the real difference between them? The price.
To avoid paying hundreds of dollars for products which have the same effect, opt for generic or low-cost versions of products that don’t stay on your skin for too long such as soaps, facial cleansers, bubble bath and hair products. You will be more than satisfied with their performance and pleased that you’ve also managed to save some money in the process.
According to the Orange County Register, it’s perfectly safe to buy cheaper gasoline. You don’t have to worry that it will damage your car, because “at the end of the day, all the gas sold in the U.S. needs to meet a minimum standard,” explained Denton Cinquegrana, chief oil analyst at OPIS, an industry news service in New Jersey.
According to Steve Mazor, chief automotive engineer with the Automobile Club of Southern California Automotive Research Center who has performed gas tests for more than 30 years, you should “buy the cheapest gas you can get that’s convenient and close”.
Is there really a difference between generic soda and brand-name soda? The answer to this question is a bit trickier.
We are not saying that all generic cola is as good as its pricier counterparts. But one thing is for sure: taste is very similar. So similar, in fact, that participants in a study told researchers that they liked they believed was a brand-name drink but in reality, the dink was generic.
In relation to the study, the Huffington Post commented the following: “Interestingly, when the scientists scanned the subjects’ brains using MRI technology, drinking what they thought was name brand soda created activity in the reward center of their brains. But drinking what they thought was generic soda triggered activity in … the part of the brain used to make value judgments.”
You might have a favorite brand-name soda drink already but don’t rule out generic soda just yet. Try a generic soda as well to see if you like it; and don’t worry about the money, it’s way cheaper than a brand-store one.