Generic Brands vs. Brand Names- Which is Worth It?

Generic Brands vs. Brand Names- Which is Worth It?
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Generic Brands vs. Store Brands

Taking a trip to the supermarket is something that most families do at least once a week, and the buying decisions that are made can either make or break a budget. One question that many shoppers face is the debate between generic brands vs. brand names. While some may question the quality of generic brands, there is no question that they are a lot cheaper and result in an overall decrease in the family expenses.


When it comes to food items, savings on generic brands vs. brand names can range from a few cents to a few dollars per item. There will be some brand name items you just can’t live without because their generic counterparts aren’t as good, such as sauces and salad dressings. However, while a generic brand cola may not taste as good as Coca Cola Classic, the store brand may provide better taste in other flavors, such as grape or orange. So don’t discount generics just because of one bad experience.

Fruits, vegetables, sauces and frozen foods are a consistent area we purchase almost every week. Vegetables are vegetables no matter what the label says but the price will add up in cents. The big payoff here comes from switching to generic frozen vegetables instead of fresh, which have just as many vitamins and nutrients.

Milk, eggs, bread, and butter are equally good when it comes to either store or regular brands, except the store brand comes with a lower price tag. So there’s no room for failure here.

Cleaning Products and Paper Items

Cleaning products is a very competitive area as far as pricing goes and the same applies to paper products like toilet paper and paper towels. While it may be worth it to buy store brand paper towels if you frequently scrub carpets, every one else can stick with the generic brands and save some money. In fact, Consumer Reports has tested many of these products and found that paper towels and food storage bags perform the same whether they are generic or name brand.

With cleaning products, most of your cost comes from the scent of the product, which tends to be better with brand name products. However if you are only concerned with how they clean, compare the ingredient list on the back of the store brands and the name brands. You may be surprised to see the only difference is in fragrance and coloring, and of the course price.

Pharmaceutical Drugs

One of the biggest cost savings in a household budget comes from switching to generic medications instead of brand name medications. Saving on drugs can be accomplished on both over the counter medications (OTC) that do not require a prescription and prescription medications as well.

Over the counter medications such as pain relievers, cold medications and allergy medications are sold in stores like Rite Aid, Save-A-Lot, Wal-Mart, and Duane Reade under their store names. These generic OTC medications all contain the very same active ingredients as their brand name brothers and sisters sitting alongside them in the aisles. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that the drugs have the very same active ingredient and the total ingredient list must be within 5-10% of the same formula of the brand name counterpart.

Consumers can save even more money on prescription medications. Just as with the non-prescription medications, the FDA requires that generic prescriptions contain the same levels of active ingredients as the name brand. The reason that generic brands cost less is that they do not spend the same amount of money on advertising as the brand names do. Although many pharmacists can tell you whether there is a generic brand of your prescription available, it’s best to discuss the change with your doctor.

At the end of the day, the one thing you need to remember when it comes down to shopping generic brands vs. store brands is that comparison between quality and quantity is key in determining which side you should choose for each individual product.


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