Brand names can invoke nostalgia, but they can also come at a cost. Just because you’ve bought a brand name since you were younger, doesn’t mean it makes sense to continue to buy that product if there is a generic version that saves you some coin.

Sometimes the national brand names offer something special, but more often anymore, they don’t. Here are 10 grocery store items you should always buy generic:

1. Cereal

Think that tiger is totally original? Think again. The contents of brand named cereal boxes are nearly identical to the generic versions — and the latter can come at half the price. Invest in a airtight container so store the cereal once it’s opened, so it doesn’t get stale in that bag.

2. Water

If you still buy bottled water, choose the store brand to stop yourself from washing dollars down the drain. Better yet, buy a water filter and drink it right from the tap — what’s more generic than that?

3. Frozen fruits and veggies

It’s seriously unlikely that you’ll notice any difference between brand name frozen fruits and vegetables and generic fruits and vegetables. Broccoli is broccoli, no? Especially since frozen foods are easier to pack at their peak of ripeness and ship without waste, what you have is a great product, no matter the brand or lack-there-of.

4. Canned vegetables or beans

If you’re unsure if your recipes will hold up with a generic version of say, canned tomatoes, try them out and compare. It’s a pretty low cost trial that is likely to save you some big bucks over the course of your lifetime.

5. Pasta, rice, and oatmeal

When it comes to shelf-stable pantry items, buying generic makes sense if you are trying to save some money. Once these items are cooked and on your plate, the brand name will be the last thing on your mind.

6. Produce

Not only are national brands often going to come with more packaging, but they also have likely been shipped longer distances. If you can, always opt for unbranded, unpackaged, local produce. The shorter shipping distance means that the product probably doesn’t cost as much, plus you’ll be helping your community.

7. Snack foods

You may have a love affair with certain cookies, chips or trail mix, but you can probably find a pretty good generic version that will save you some cash. In your search, you might even find a few new snacks you can’t live without.

8. baking items

Baking mixes, baking soda, brown sugar, powdered sugar — when you’re baking, these items can start to rack up your receipt. Buy generic — and in bulk when possible — and you’ll save yourself some money, which means you can make even more cookies, cakes, and pies!

9. soda / pop / cola

No matter what you call it, this fizzy drink is really just carbonation and sugar. It’s not complicated. Big name brands might have specific recipes, but there are tons of knock-offs that will suit your tastes — especially if you’re mixing them with alcohol.

10. Foil

Some foils are better than others, but you should try your store’s generic brand before you write it off. Chances are, even though it has a cheaper price tag, the quality is pretty comparable to the national brand.

Also see, Millennials are the worst tippers, study shows.

Follow us on Instagram.




Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.