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How to Save Money Buying Off-Brand Instead of Brand Name Foods

Updated on April 11, 2017
janshares profile image

Janis is a bargain shopper and makes it a point to always look for the best deals in quality groceries, clothing, and household items.

Which Peanut Butter Tastes Better?

Peanut Butter is Peanut Butter Except for the Price: Skippy Retail Price $2.50/Panner $1.99
Peanut Butter is Peanut Butter Except for the Price: Skippy Retail Price $2.50/Panner $1.99 | Source

What's Your Favorite Brand Name Peanut Butter?

See results

How Do You Rate Off-Brand Peanut Butter?

4.2 out of 5 stars from 6 ratings of Taste of Off-Brand Peanut Butter

The Logic Behind Buying Off-Brand: Saving Money

If you told me a couple of years ago that I would have purchased an off-brand jar of peanut butter at Save-A-Lot gorcery store, I would have told you that you've lost your mind.

Well, guess what? I bought a jar of "Panner" Peanut Butter a couple of weeks ago because it was $1.99.

Yes, the Peter Pan knock-off became an option for me and it tastes surprisingly good with a smooth, creamy texture and nutty flavor.

An 18 ounce jar of the popular Peter Pan or Skippy retails around $2.50. I did the math.

More Consumers are Buying Affordable Off-Brand Foods

Over the past several months, consumers have witnessed the price of food continue to skyrocket to heights unseen.

But it's actually been going on for the past several years, where the average family unit can barely afford a basket full of grocery staples.

In our dismal economy, it's very difficult for the average middle class family, couple, or senior citizen to make ends meet as they juggle living expenses and basic sustenance in the form of food.

As a result, more consumers are finding themselves altering the way they shop for food by choosing store brands, off-brands, or knock-off brands because they are more affordable and are, at least in most cases, equal in quality.

Off-Brand Buying Trend is Growing Fast

In a 2008 ABC News report by Ely Brown and Chris Bury, featured was the no-frills grocery store chain, Aldi, which at the time was a hit spreading across the country.

It's a low-cost grocer known for its off-brand, oddly-named products, giving customers deep discounts and significant savings on groceries.

The privately-owned company purposefully expanded at a time when the economy was beginning its infamous decline.

Pancake Syrup and Batter Mix

Aunt Who? Aunt Maple's Pancake Mix at $1.59 tastes as good as Krusteaz Retail Price $2.49
Aunt Who? Aunt Maple's Pancake Mix at $1.59 tastes as good as Krusteaz Retail Price $2.49 | Source
Aunt Maple's Pancake Syrup, $1.49 compared to Mrs. Butterworth's Retail - $3.99
Aunt Maple's Pancake Syrup, $1.49 compared to Mrs. Butterworth's Retail - $3.99 | Source

The Changing Face of Cereal

In the summer of 2012, Becky Worley of ABC's "Good Morning America" reported that knock-off brands of cereals are winning the war against traditional, beloved brands.

She found that off-brand cereals were consistently fifty cents cheaper than brand name cereals.

However, in a blind study, she found that quality varied depending on the type of cereal, age of participants, and taste preference.

Due to the surge in demand for store brands, consumers have come to expect better quality.

It was reported by Brad Tuttle in his blog on Smart Spending, that of the 14,000 new foods introduced in 2011, about one-third have been generic supermarket house brands.

Which Cereals Taste Better?

Quaker Oatmeal Squares Retail $4.50 compared to lesser quality Shoppers Food Warehouse Store Brand at $2.50
Quaker Oatmeal Squares Retail $4.50 compared to lesser quality Shoppers Food Warehouse Store Brand at $2.50 | Source

CBS Feature Story on Buying Store Brand Foods

An Off-Brand Bag of Potato Chips

Save-A-Lot's J.Higgs Ripple Potato Chips, $1.79 compared to Lay's Retail $3.99
Save-A-Lot's J.Higgs Ripple Potato Chips, $1.79 compared to Lay's Retail $3.99 | Source

Compare and Save Using Quality Off-Brands Foods

I'm a Lay's Potato Chip girl and will buy a large bag on sale for $3.00 in a minute. It lasts a few weeks (if my hubby doesn't get to it) with a bag clip to maintain freshness. But when I purchased "J.Higgs" Ripple Potato Chips because they were $1.79, I was pleasantly surprised after tasting them.

The purchase itself was monumental as I felt that I was stooping to a lower grade of junk food (lovely oxymoron). This was the same day I purchased the Panner Peanut Butter. What does this mean? Am I losing my good taste? Or am I now in the same boat as most Americans, regardless of socio-economic status, who are just trying to save a dime?

As a self-employed business owner, I humbly submit to the latter as I have been adjusting financially to no longer having a salaried pay check. This means much less money coming in and much less to spend on desired treats, as well as, necessities. So I make it a point to shop for quality off-brand products on a regular basis to make ends meet.

Try Off-Brand and See If You Like It

If you haven't already, I recommend trying store brand or off-brand foods, if chosen carefully for quality.

Try those foods with a smaller amount of basic ingredients that don't vary much from brand to brand, regardless of the label, i.e., peanut butter.

Processed foods and cereals are usually the worst. Also try the produce. I find that fresh fruits and vegetables are consistently superior and cheaper compared to produce sold in the major supermarket chains.

Produce sold in off-brand stores usually come from local farmers with minimal transport time and is, therefore, less bruised, fresher, and lasts longer.

I must say that in most cases, buying off-brand foods in a dismal economy can be a "win-win" for the consumer in quality and savings, which is not bad . . . . not bad at all.

What's the Best Coffee?

Shoppers Food Warehouse Organic Coffee Sale Price: $4.99 vs Gevalia Retail Price: $9.99
Shoppers Food Warehouse Organic Coffee Sale Price: $4.99 vs Gevalia Retail Price: $9.99 | Source
Save-A-Lot Creamer for $1.99 is rich and smooth, blends well with coffee compared to Coffee Mate Retail - $2.49
Save-A-Lot Creamer for $1.99 is rich and smooth, blends well with coffee compared to Coffee Mate Retail - $2.49 | Source

© 2012 Janis Leslie Evans

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great suggestions and you are absolutely right. I can't give up my Jiff Peanut Butter, though. :)

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      I hear you, billy. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for sharing this good and practical advise. There are extreme few item with brand names I buy. Like Show Boat sausages.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      You're welcome Mhatter, good for you. Thanks for commenting.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Very helpful hub and I practice this as well. It's a perfect way to provide economic savings while purchasing stellar products with out the added expense of purchasing the "well known label."

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Absolutely, shiningirisheyes. Thanks for stopping by and reading this hub, my review entry.

    • HoneyBB profile image

      Honey Halley 4 years ago from Illinois

      I have been doing this too lately. The specialty grocery store near me has their own brand that is much cheaper than the name brands and most items are just as good or better than the name brands. I have also noticed with some generic brands that many items are made by the Name Brand companies...many have most if not all of the same ingredients. Thanks for sharing. Voted +++

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks so much for your comment, HoneyBB. I appreciate the vote and validation.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Great hub! I have been buying store brands for years. Upvoted and shared.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Hi Sherry,

      So glad you liked it and can relate. I appreciate your stopping by. Thank you for the vote up, grateful for the share.

    • JanMaklak profile image

      JanMaklak 4 years ago from Canada

      My job brings me into many food manufactures. Almost invariably a private manufacturer contracts with the brand name to make a product whether it's margarine, cooking spray, muffins, cookies, etc. The private label stuff comes from there too. The recipe is the only thing to change. If you can tolerate the 'no name' brand taste (not really that different) you're all set.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Hi JanMaklak, good to know this, basically the same food, eh? Thank you for stopping by and reading this hub.

    • JanMaklak profile image

      JanMaklak 4 years ago from Canada

      Betty Crocker has a simple pancake mix all of one's.

      1 cup flour

      1 cup milk

      1 egg

      1 teaspoon baking power

      1 teaspoon baking soda

      1 teaspoon salt.

      It's a good recipe that will give you fluffy pancakes. I learned this years ago and the fact that is was one of everything made it simple to remember.

      Now you don't have to buy pancake mix!

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks! I'm too much in a morning rush to do scratch but at least I now have the recipe :-)

    • JanMaklak profile image

      JanMaklak 4 years ago from Canada

      I see we grew up less than 10 miles apart. I was in Crystal Beach

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      How about that, small world. But I'd like to limit exchanges here to comments and replies about the article. It can affect google indexing from my understanding. Thanks, see you around.

    • renegadetory profile image

      Carolyn Dahl 4 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

      I find it hit or miss with store brand products. Peanut butter doesn't taste much different but frozen vegetables, ugh! Big difference there! Overall, most of my groceries have been store brand to save money and I can't taste a big difference, but I have saved money!

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Good analysis, I agree. Thanks for stopping by and for you comment.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Lots of good ideas here, more people should try out the different brands, they maybe pleasantly surprised. Great hub, very timely.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you so much for reading it, tobusiness. Good to see you. I appreciate your comments.

    • Flightkeeper profile image

      Flightkeeper 4 years ago from The East Coast

      There's an Aldi store near me that I"ve never gone into before and you got me thinking about going. I'm like you, I tend to think that off-brands are things that have to be tried to see if the quality is the same and sometimes it's better. It's definitely hit or miss but once you find the ones that are just as good or better, it's a great value.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      You're right, Flightkeeper, hope you have some luck. There are items I wouldn't use if it was free but for the most part, it works for me. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      We're all creatures of habit, no matter what the cost. Thanks to the rising cost of everything that's changing and JanMaklak is right, often the no-name brand is made by a brand name company but sold under the different label. Nice review Jan!

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 4 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Funny, this topic keeps coming up; I guess it's how we tell the state of the economy. I wrote a similar article a few months back. LOL

      I'll tell you what, though--many years ago, I vowed never to buy "Jif" peanut butter, because I viewed them as providing false advertising. Why? Because their ads said, "..tastes more like fresh peanuts.."

      Then I read the label. Molasses is among the ingredients. I'm sorry, but I never heard of fresh peanuts tasting like molasses, so I fail to see why they added it.

      But, your article and your points are right on track, and backs up the things I said about how and where made. Good work.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks, tillsontitan for stopping by and commenting, I appreciate it.

      Thank you, DzyMissLizzy for stopping by and reading. Your comment is very much valued.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      If you read the ingredients you are good to go. Better yet make your own peanut butter eh??? Great hub with a dwindling economy we have to save somewhere.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Absolutely, Carol. Thanks for stopping by, appreciate your comment.

    • profile image

      ElleBee 4 years ago

      This is great advice about buying "off " brands. I think your advice to try it and see if you like it is definitely great. It is always worth trying another brand to see if you think it tastes as good, I - and most people I know - say there are certain items they have no problem going bargain brand on, and certain items where they definitely want the "real thing." Cereal, pasta, and spices are all bargain brand or "whatever's on sale" items in my house, but if you try to replace Diet Coke with store brand cola, and you'll be sent back to the store! Also worth noting that many groceries have a satisfaction guarantee on their own store brand items, if you try it and don't like it they will grant you a refund or replace w/ a national brand product.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Hello ElleBee, thanks for the tip about returns, didn't know that. I'm so glad you liked the article. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

    • Learning in Life profile image

      Megan Harvison 4 years ago from SW Florida

      I don't think I have ever purchased brand name foods. I really don't see a point. The store brand almost always tastes the same to me. I'd rather not pay more for the label.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      You're a very smart shopper. Thank you for stopping by.

    • Man of Strength profile image

      Man of Strength 3 years ago from Orlando, Fl

      Hi Jan,

      As a new single parent, I've began shopping at Aldi and Sav-a-Lot. The items are of the same quality of the name brands. Of course, I still buy my name brand ice cream. This is a great, informative, and useful hub. Voted all the way up.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you so much, glad you found it useful. I swear by Aldi and Save-A-Lot.

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