Which Products Do You Always Go Generic For?

Last month, we asked readers to tell us which food brands had earned their undying loyalty. Now it’s time to go the other way and take a look at those products — not just food this time — that you only buy in their most generic forms.

For example, I’ll never be caught dead buying anything but generic or store-brand paper towels. And I’ve found — at least in my grocery store — the store-brand nuts and chocolates are often as good if not better than the brand-name products that cost significantly more.

So what’s filling up your shopping carts with labels like “corn flakes” and “beer” that make you look like you just stepped out of a scene from Repo Man?

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  1. backinpgh says:

    Napkins, cutlery, paper plates–picnic type stuff is always generic.

  2. backinpgh says:

    Oh yeah, and trash bags.

    Plus random home stuff like dish towels, I always get at the Dollar Tree.

    I love Targets store brands for almost anything.

    • caradrake says:

      Agreed with the trash bags. A couple of years ago, I got rather tired of the bags falling into the can, so I grabbed a couple of black binder clips and use that to secure the bag to the can. Works like a charm. :) I’ve never had a bag split open on me, either.

    • friendlynerd says:

      My new favorite trash bags (tall kitchen) are the Husky ones from Lowe’s. $10 for a box of 100 drawstring bags, haven’t had one break yet, and they stretch like crazy if you need them to.

    • longdvsn says:

      +1 on Target store brand anything

  3. madanthony says:

    trash bags (eff it, they are just going in the trash), pretty much any paper/plastic good (aluminum foil, napkins, tissues, paper towels, ect), vitamins, mouthwash.

    If there’s a sale and I have a coupon where it ends up being cheaper, I’m willing to go brand name on any of those categories, though.

    • formatc says:

      You should be careful with generic vitamins. There’s little to no regulation from the FDA on dietary supplements sold in the US, and actual dosages can be wildly inaccurate compared to the labels. On one end of the scale, they’re ripping you off, and on the other end, you may overdose. Name brand vitamins are not necessarily more reliable, so in the end you may be better off just going as cheap as possible.

  4. iloveblueberries says:

    EVERYTHING!

    really though unless theres a better sale on the brand name I go after the store brand.
    However my usual supermarket Wegmans has very very high quality items under their name. Perhaps other store brands are lower quality?

    FYI for anyone in the wegmans market, the wegmans branded shredded cheese is sargento labeled as wegmans.

    • mbz32190 says:

      Some other tidbits:

      Wegmans brand tissues are the same as Scotties
      Certain cereals come from Quaker
      Meat comes in shipped in Tyson (yuck) boxes.

    • SugarMag says:

      I totally agree on the Wegman’s brand.
      I wish all generics were as good as Wegman’s *sigh*….(Safeway and Target’s are pretty good too but not Wegman’s….)

      • iloveblueberries says:

        yeah its nice, wegmans refuses to be cheap and if a customer complains they will genuinely try to fix the problem whether it be the packaging or whatever

  5. Alvis says:

    Everything but potato chips – no store brand has yet to measure up to Lay’s.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      I’m not big on chips myself, but my partner likes them and is VERY picky. I’ve found several flavors of Clancy’s chips (Aldi’s store brand) that he really likes, and they’re about 1/3 the price of the name brand. Their nacho cheese tortilla chips and barbecue-flavor potato chips as well as their unflavored tortilla chips have so far been satisfactory for Mr. Picky.

    • mbz32190 says:

      Lay’s potato chips are nasty. Of course, I’m in PA, the land of potato chip and snack food country. Herr’s, UTZ, Wise, Goods, etc. all make a much more “natural” tasting chip than Lay’s

    • fourclover54 says:

      I feel the same way about Oreos. I don’t buy them often but the generic versions are just missing something …

      • jessjj347 says:

        Trader Joe’s generic Oreos are really good. But so is everything in their store brand.

    • Jubes says:

      In Canada at the Superstore/Loblaws chain, their brand (President’s Choice) of chips are amazing! Plus they have tasty flavours like Greek, BBQ Baby Back Ribs, but my fave is their sour cream and dill, hands down best dill chip out there.

  6. Snaptastic says:

    I ALWAYS get generic OTC medicine–unless I have a coupon that makes the name-brand a better price.

    • iloveblueberries says:

      good move, i work at a pharmacy and think its hilarious that we have people coming in every week to see if theres any tylenol in (currently its been recalled). these people will be quick to pick up a product that was just recalled but not a generic

    • backinpgh says:

      Same here. I don’t think I’ve ever taken a real Tylenol in my life.

      • nbs2 says:

        Probably because even with sales and double coupons, I’ve never seen Tylenol run cheaper than the generic. However, I’ve also never seen the infant drops in a generic. We get one of those to keep in the diaper bag when the infant was/is teething, as it is smaller and more convenient than the children’s bottle.

    • Not Given says:

      I get the Member’s Mark kind at Sam’s that come in the big bottles for about 1¢ per pill.

  7. lucifa says:

    tinned kidney beans and dried pulses

  8. Jamie All Over says:

    everything except for salsa. for some reason, I have to yet to find a store brand salsa that isn’t water.

    • cash_da_pibble says:

      If you like sweet and spicy Salsa, Safeway makes a delicious Peach-Pineapple salsa that’s thicker than most. It’s the only salsa I eat, unless I make it myself.

    • giax says:

      Salsa is one of those things I just always want to make my own. :)
      It’s easy and fast to make – less than 5 minutes including gathering the items from the fridge to getting it ready to serve. And I get enough salsa in it, I get it totally not chunky (hubby’s preference), no onions (allergic), lots of herbs and enough spice and no preservatives.

    • He says:

      Store brand pico de gallo is usually good. Giant and Safeway both call it deli salsa and both make good stuff. Safeway’s regular salsa’s are tambien muy bueno. Safeway select regular medium salsa has beans and corn. It’s more of an original salsa than a clone of anything and comes in a huge jug that makes it a vastly superior deal to gourmet type salsas.
      Kirkland Signature salsa is good in small doses too.

      • Jamie All Over says:

        Alas, I’m from Michigan, so no Safeways. I’ll check out Sams Club, but I usually just stick with Pace Picante. Their hot salsa is absolutely delicious.

    • pixiegirl says:

      I second the Costco brand salsa! I was surprised I actually liked it when I sampled it. I usually only get the freshly made stuff from whole foods it’s expensive but I don’t get it very often.

    • Michaela says:

      Publix salsa is pretty thick. I don’t know if they have that store in your area though…

  9. A.Mercer says:

    Lets see. Napkins, towels, stuff like that, sugar, spices, salt, flour. The basic cooking ingredients I like to go for the generic. I have not noticed a difference.

    I once experimented with generic peanut butter and got burned really bad. It was oily and tasted horrible. I should give it another try. They probably have upped their standards by now.

    • BryDawg says:

      don’t do it!!! I typically buy generic everything…the only two name brands I have to have are named brand peanut butter (Jiff) and cola (Dr. Pepper….ok, ok…to those Dr. Pepper fans out there – I KNOW it’s not really a cola…it’s a soda).

      • Not Given says:

        I can’t eat store bought peanut butter since I started making my own, it always smells off now.

      • Daniellethm says:

        I used to swear by crunchy Jiff, but then I tried Smucker’s Natural pb, that stuff is amazing. Wanting to cut back a bit on my next grocery stop (Natural is too pricey to be an “always have” purchase) I went with my old buddy Jiff, and for some reason I can’t even bring myself to eat it, it taste sickeningly sweet to me now.

        I think I might try to make my own, so I can have lots of little peanut bits (Smucker’s is peanuts/salt/oil, and has lots of little bits of peanuts in it, so good)

  10. NarcolepticGirl says:

    Well. Depends on where I’m shopping. At Target, I’ll buy pretty much all food with their store brand “Market Pantry” or “Archer Farms”.

    I will usually buy generic tampons and OTC drugs.

    I don’t buy generic toilet paper, dishwasher detergent or paper towels unless we’re poor that week.

    Other than, those – whatever is on sale and/or has better ingredients.

    • ConsumerPop says:

      +1 for Target brand tampons!

      • PatrickPortland says:

        My S/O got tampons at Whole Foods last night. I’m afraid to look at the receipt… I may be wrong, but I can’t imagine that they were competitively priced, be it store brand, name brand, or, uh, “gourmet”?

    • Vinasu says:

      I bought some generic drug store panty liners a while back and the glue was so sticky I had to throw my underwear away–I wouldn’t even wash the glue out. It was awful. So I never use generic feminine hygiene products. Haven’t tried generic tampons, though.

  11. GearheadGeek says:

    I buy lots of store-brand stuff from Costco. Their Kirkland Signature products usually compare quite favorably in performance with the name-brand stuff and cost less than the quality would suggest. I suspect they’re made by some of the big names under contract, but have no real evidence to support that.

    I regularly buy Kirkland paper towels, toilet paper, olive oil, frozen fish and chicken, etc. I’ve had good luck with a couple of Kirkland-labeled wines, too.

    • FigNinja says:

      I really like their eco-friendly laundry detergent and dish soap, too.

    • ellemdee says:

      Kirkland OTC medications are crazy cheap. Kirkland brand Claritin and Zyrtec are like $15-$16 for a 300-count bottle. I buy the Kirkland brand Lactaid as well. No other stores’ store brands are anywhere near as cheap as Kirkland, which just goes to show you how much profit the other stores are making on their generics (and how much profit the name brands are making). CVS store brand Claritins are almost a ridiculous dollar a pill.

    • Powerlurker says:

      Kirkland coffee is made by Starbucks and their cereal is made by Quaker.

      • GearheadGeek says:

        Coffee! How did I forget that? I buy their coffee beans regularly… what I save on coffee beans alone more than pays for my membership.

    • matt314159 says:

      I’ve read that the Kirkland batteries were made by duracell…can’t find the link at the moment, and hell, it was probably just a forum post I read somewhere…but their quality is easily the same as the name brand batteries. Can’t beat a 48 pack of AA’s for $11, @ this quality.

  12. chaesar says:

    everything except motor oil and soft drinks

  13. Anne Boleyn says:

    - dairy products (butter, milk, yogurt, half & half, cheese, etc)
    – most cereals (with the exception of Rice Krispies – no generic even comes close)
    – coffee (it’s more important how you brew it)
    – paper products (paper towels, napkins, TP)
    – canned veggies and soups
    – frozen veggies
    – breads
    – potato chips
    – juices
    – most medical things (saline solution, ointments, bandages, allergy medication, etc)
    – detergent and fabric softener

    Disclosure: I shop at Wegmans and their generic everything is awesome.

    Pretty much the only things I absolutely won’t buy off-brand are Heinz Ketchup, toothpaste (I use Sensodyne Pronamel), Oreos, Coca Cola, Breathe-Right nasal strips, and Rice Krispies. Everything else is fair game.

    • mbz32190 says:

      Try the Wegmans “Oreo’s” sometime. They are just as good at Oreo’s from my experience.

    • whogots is "not computer knowledgeable" says:

      Ew, yeah. I went through a period where I didn’t want to pay for Breathe-Right strips and just wound up cleaning various adhesives off my nose. I wouldn’t have guessed that particular product would be so hard to copy.

  14. CoachTabe says:

    Cold medicine and painkillers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, for sure.

  15. GTB says:

    Soda. Once the big two switched to 100% HFCS there was no reason to buy pepsi over whatever the generic cola is. I also buy generic cereal usually, though there are some brands that are better. Honestly the more I think about it, I really buy almost everything generic except for very specific things. Niquil for instance, is worlds better than the generic version most of the time.

    • Doubts42 says:

      Does that apply to the current Nyquil? I used to swear by Nyquil until they gelded it so soccer mom’s didn’t have to worry little johnny might be making meth with it.

      • ellemdee says:

        Pseudophedrine was replaced by phenelephrine in many medications. I don’t know anyone that actually thinks the phenelephrine does anything for them. Pseudophedrine is the only thing that even makes a dent in my sinus headaches. If it’s behind the pharmacy counter, it’s pseudophedrine, if it’s on the shelf, it’s phenelephrine. The last time I bought NyQuil/DayQuil (generic version), I noticed that it uses phenelephrine. Bought it anyway just for the cough suppressent, but the phenelephrine may as well be water for as well as it works.

  16. Robofish says:

    Generic’s for things headache meds, dayquil etc. We use target’s generics. Paper Towels, plates, granola bars, some cereals. ( some of them really don’t taste the same ). Sometimes vitamin supplements. If you compare ingredients before buying you can at least make sure are getting the same thing as the more pricey option.

  17. Draygonia says:

    Never get generic chilli, always go for the Hormel… same with beans… go with Hunts. Salad dressing should never be generic if you get the catalina… other than that, everything should be generic.

    • SilentAgenger says:

      Agreed for the most part (as long as we’re not talking Kraft or Wishbone), but as an exception I like Kroger’s store-brand fat-free Italian dressing. It’s good, inexpensive, and one of the few dressings (even among other fat-free dressings) that does not contain high-fructose corn syrup.

  18. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I buy store brand pasta if I’m in a hurry – I know Cook’s Illustrated rated Barilla very high, but I really don’t see a huge difference between it and store brand. I find there’s more of a difference between the generic and the very high end brands of pasta (that are about $5 per box and up), but not much of one with Barilla.

    Target is absolutely shameless in copying products – any name brand item you can find, Target has made a copy of it. I’ve saved at least $20 by buying the Target store version of the facial cleanser I use.

  19. dreamcatcher2 says:

    Everything Trader Joe’s… TJ’s is the ultimate anti-brand. It has all the emotional and quality associations of a heavily-advertised consumer brand name, but it’s also all about low cost and I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ad for their store brand.

    One of the many things I love about TJ’s is the packaging… since they are not competing with all the other brands on the shelf for your attention (because they don’t let many other brands on, in many cases) the packaging is really descriptive rather than flashy. For example, pecans come in so many forms – (un)roasted, (un)salted, whole/pieces…. each of which can be mixed and matched. Because they carry just one brand, as opposed to three brands each of which must emphasize the 1-2 best-selling feature combinations to make the most of their tiny slot of shelf space, they can stock many variations, and the packaging clearly describes which is which. This makes for a simple shopping experience in which I can get exactly what I want, even though they stock very few items overall!

    • jessjj347 says:

      I agree. I would buy everything Trader Joe’s brand if I could. I like they’re frozen entrees a lot.

      The only problem is that they tend to be pretty expensive when you consider the size of the portions and also that you can’t use coupons.

    • kmw2 says:

      Oh yeah. I do a good portion of my weekly shop at Trader Joe’s, and have found very few things I was disappointed in. (Most of those were “not to my taste” rather than “poor quality”, even.)

    • erinpac says:

      TJ’s advertises there stuff like CRAZY here. Oddly I have yet to see one of their stores. >.

  20. NeverLetMeDown says:

    Pharmaceuticals. Paying 50% more for something chemically identical so the package says Tylenol rather than Walgreens makes zero sense to me.

    • grumpygirl says:

      i grew up with physicians and always, always trusted generics till a really bad incident with wellbutrin a few years ago–the generic just does not work for me. it’s taken nearly three years to get my depression meds back on track, and now i’m paying extra for brand.

      It’s not 100% identical, it’s 80% identical. for some people that can make a huge difference.

    • grumpygirl says:

      i grew up with physicians and always, always trusted generics till a really bad incident with wellbutrin a few years ago–the generic just does not work for me. it’s taken nearly three years to get my depression meds back on track, and now i’m paying extra for brand.

      It’s not 100% identical, it’s 80% identical. for some people that can make a huge difference.

      • npage148 says:

        It’s not 80%, its the 90% Confidence interval for the Max concentration and expsoure of the generically must fall within 80% of the innovator. so you are trying the squeeze a box inside a slightly bigger box. Also, it’s the same guidelines that brand must use when they change some process in drug manufacturing and need to demonstrate that the new product is the same as the old product. So in reality, the brand is allowed to vary in an equal extent as the generic.

        That 80% is a scare tactic the brands use to scare people from generics. People need to strop trotting it out when they don’t feel like taking a generic

        • grumpygirl says:

          sorry about the percentage mix-up. i believe the drugs need to have the same active ingredients, but this does not mean that they have the same delivery method. regardless, the generic was about the size of a horse pill, and the brand tiny: they cannot be the same formula.

          i’m the last person to be down on any generic, i use generic *everything* (except ketchup), but this drug screwed with my depression remission, and that’s not ok. (and if you ask a doctor, or a pharmacist, both will tell you that the generic “should” work as well as the regular, but it doesn’t always turn out that way.

  21. TuxRug says:

    OTC Medication. The name brands are just way too much more expensive for the exact same medicine.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      Ah, I forgot about that when listing mine. I definitely always buy the store brands for things like triple-antibiotic ointment, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, bandages, allergy meds, ibuprofen, etc. The price difference is amazing.

  22. Anjow says:

    Hayfever drugs. £2 for 30 pills (generic) or £3 for 7 pills of the exact same drug (brand) – it’s a no-brainer. The reason I say hayfever drugs specifically is because I prefer some of the branded painkillers simply because I find their shape/coating easier to swallow without water.

  23. ericfate says:

    Asprin, flu medication, paper towels. For a long time I really used to like the Safeway generic soda, but I don’t really drink soda anymore so I stopped buying it.

  24. MattS says:

    My mother long ago trained me to never, ever buy generic paper towels, toilet paper, or napkins. Almost without exception, they are cheaply made, and you will use more than you would with a name brand, rendering your savings moot. Target brand napkins, for example, shred with the slightest moisture.

    Generic toilet paper is particularly bad. Do not wipe yourself with anything normally used in prisons and high schools.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      If you’re a Costco shopper, try Kirkland paper towels and toilet paper. a) 100% guaranteed, take it back if you’re unhappy. b) I suspect they’re made by name-brand factories under contract, or are VERY good copies.

      The toilet paper is like quilted Northern… if you’re a lint-loving Charmin devotee you may not like it, but if you like Northern you should find the Kirkland stuff to be great and cheap. I don’t buy paper napkins much, so I can’t speak to that.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      If you’re a Costco shopper, try Kirkland paper towels and toilet paper. a) 100% guaranteed, take it back if you’re unhappy. b) I suspect they’re made by name-brand factories under contract, or are VERY good copies.

      The toilet paper is like quilted Northern… if you’re a lint-loving Charmin devotee you may not like it, but if you like Northern you should find the Kirkland stuff to be great and cheap. I don’t buy paper napkins much, so I can’t speak to that.

    • tgrwillki says:

      We call the generic Toilet paper John Wayne Toilet Paper: Rough, Tough, and wont take crap off anybody.

    • lim says:

      The generic paper towels from Price Chopper prompted an email from me detailing just how disappointed I was, especially as I have been pleased overall with their other PC products.

      I got a refund plus a bit. I don’t know if they’ve improved and I haven’t had the courage to try their tp.

  25. nodaybuttoday says:

    All OTC and prescription drugs is the first thing that came to mind. Otherwise I kind of go with what is on sale. I don’t really like generic soda or juice, I find it to be of lesser quality. Does Target’s brand count? That archer farms I think it’s called? It’s so good… and I have to add so well designed!

  26. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    I would buy more if BJ’s generic brands weren’t always so absolutely horrible in quality every time I try them.

    Costco! Please set up shop in my town!

  27. MercuryPDX says:

    Mostly everything except: American Cheese singles and certain pasta sauces.

  28. Cantras says:

    Trash bags. medicines, feminine items when I needed them (cost saved by not buying even the generics x 5 years > Mirena, omg, i love it) Shredded cheese,

    Though, the two grocery stores we hit up both have two store brands, an okay one and a really crap one. Will not buy Midwest County Fair foods (except sugar, because, it’s sugar) at Hy-Vee, will not buy SuperValu at Cub.

    • Vinasu says:

      Mirena is the worlds greatest invention and best kept secret. I’m on my second one and the blush of first love has not worn off.

      • haggis for the soul says:

        Yep. And a $25 copay for five years of awesome is the greatest bargain ever.

  29. FooSchnickens - Full of SCAR says:

    Basically anything but Oreos, Coke, Dr Pepper, Heinz ketchup, hershey’s syrup, mac n’ cheese, and a few others. I buy generic whenever I can, but there are just some things that can’t be replaced, either in taste or texture.

  30. Aeirlys says:

    Quite a bit from the spice aisle is just as good generic – salt, pepper, garlic, vinegar, etc. Paper products and cleaning supplies are also good. Dried pasta is always fine.

    Depending on which store I’m in, the options expand. Target’s Market Pantry and Archer Farms foods are good, and I’ve had good luck with Kirkland products at Costco.

  31. Mike says:

    Condoms.

  32. Khaos_Child says:

    Nutrigrain Bars. The stop n shop ones are less sugary.

  33. Trance says:

    CVS Cheese Crackers.

    Amazing. Think of a Cheez-it, but REALLY good.

  34. photoguy622 says:

    Medications.

  35. spartie says:

    pretty much everything except shoes and frozen juice. Thats only because I got weird shaped feet and New Balance is the best at making non-standard size shoes, and minute maid is the only frozen lime aid available in these parts – mix it with a 2L bottle of generic soda water and you got a damn good summer beverage.

  36. dulcinea47 says:

    OTC meds and first aid stuff like band-aids; most canned goods (although I don’t tend to buy a lot of food in cans); frozen veggies- at the grocery store where I shop they have two generic brands of some things, the cheap and the ULTRA cheap. I tend to buy the cheap, the ultra cheap kind of scares me.

    I don’t buy generic toilet paper or paper towels or kleenex, I’ve tried them and they’re flimsy so not worth the “savings”.

    • suedehead4 says:

      I’ve actually had several bad experiences with generic band aids–just no stickability–so no more for me.

  37. CaptCynic says:

    I always buy generic otc meds. I always try generics of foods and switch to brands if I don’t like them. I’ve found some stuff I prefer brand name.

    Speaking of… I just bought some walmart generic oreo’s and was really surprised at how good they were. It really shocked me. Or perhaps it’s just been so long since I’ve had one, that it didn’t matter.

  38. Bakergirl says:

    I shop Grocery Outlet. Alot of name brands I’ve never heard of, but I’ve never been dissapointed in the quality or the price. They have have a great selection of trendy cheeses at decent prices.

    • PercussionQueen7 says:

      I love Grocery Outlet too, but I will never do their produce after getting food poisoning from some Roma tomatoes. They hadn’t gone bad, but were improperly handled. My purchases from Grocery Outlet have to be sealed.

      • Bakergirl says:

        I agree with you there. Great products, really iffy produce. The nice thing about the one near me is that there is a good produce mart a few blocks away.

    • Kam K. says:

      Oh man Grocery outlet is like cheese heaven…well not heaven but I was surprised at the variety of cheeses that I could get at a discount. And good cheese too!

      • Bakergirl says:

        **nods** not to sound like an ad, but yes, the cheese selection at Grocery Outlet may not be as big as say Whole Foods, but the quality is right on par. I can’t leave that place without buying cheese.

  39. Big Mama Pain says:

    I use generic for durables; the biggest money saving generic I use is generic Cetaphil. I’m particular about canned tomatoes; generics usually have a pre-chewed flavor and lower drain weight-there seems to be a huge difference in brands (some add sugar or HFCS). I eat generic Cheerios, too, because regular Cheerios give me weird burps.

  40. Ken V says:

    Pills, I never buy brand-name pills, or any pill with even branding. It’s got nothing to do with price, either;

    A branded pill might list several (obviously bogus) ingredients, from herbs to horse hair most of it makes no sense. Others might claim to have super-secret ingredients. So if I want a sleep aid, or a multivitamin I immediately look for the store generic. They’re cheap, they don’t try to compete with bogus ingredients, and you know that it’s literally generalized versions of selected brand names. Most are even in the same bottle, and I found one even had the same instruction leaflet (brand name included!)

  41. giax says:

    OTC medicines.
    A lots of stuff from Costco’s Kirkland brand (about anything), and most things at HEB (esp. their spiced coffees), Central Market, Sprouts or wherever we do the secondary shopping.

    The only things I don’t go with store brands: gluten free products (I don’t think there even is such as thing as a store brand gluten free range), electronics… I guess that’s about it.

  42. ElleAnn says:

    Just about everything other than salad dressing and toilet paper. I recently got married and my husband refuses to eat generic cereal, so I have to buy him namebrand and get myself the generic. I also buy a fair amount of organic products, and I wonder if it’s unusual to have a cart filled with 2/3 generic products and 1/3 organic.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I make my own cereal because I got tired of buying a whole box of cereal and then realizing that I really wasn’t in the mood to eat cereal for the next two weeks. Mr. Pi, however, can decimate one box in about a week.

  43. lizzybeans11 says:

    Basically everything unless the Brand Name is on sale for less than the store brand. There is very little difference between generic and Brand, and they are often manufactured in the same place, with the same ingredients but slapped with different labels.

  44. ahecht says:

    Paper and plastic goods (paper towels, toilet paper, bags, etc.)
    Aluminum Foil (but not plastic wrap!)
    Dairy (cottage cheese, sour cream, butter, eggs)
    Pasta and rice (except mixes such as Mac and Cheese)
    Frozen and canned veggies
    Baking supplies (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, etc.)
    OTC medicine (loratadine, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, loperamide)

    If Costco counts then add tuna (once your drain the water out, Costco Tuna has twice as much meat per can), and if Trader Joe’s counts, then add in tomato sauce and oreos.

  45. Thyme for an edit button says:

    Unless I have a coupon, I buy generics for all medications and most foods.

    One thing that is never generic: Mac n’ Cheese. It has to be Kraft. There are no acceptable substitutes.

    Also, I don’t drink generic beer. I have tried generic beers and none I have tried are up to snuff. I wait for sales on beers that I like then stock up.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      I make my own mac-&-cheese at home. Really, I do. ;) It tastes WAY better than anything that ever came from a Kraft box.

  46. Tippady says:

    OTC drugs, just need to make sure the dosage is the same as the name brand (some stores have 1/2 the active ingredient therefore you have to take more pills…)

  47. LexLuber says:

    Pretty much anything except for ketchup. Heinz or nothing.

  48. Outrun1986 says:

    Usually if the generic product is of quality that is a lot worse than the brand name we go for the brand name.

    The brand names can also come out cheaper if you use coupons or buy carefully when things are on sale.

    We usually buy generic for anything disposable, paper goods, plastic baggies, napkins.. etc

    If I am baking something or making something for an event or family function then we make sure to buy good ingredients, no margarine when butter could be used etc. Raw baking ingredients are fine when they are store brand unless you need a specific kind of flour.

    One thing I will not skimp on is grocery store ketchup, the store brand is NEVER the same as the brand, and the brand names are so close in cost to the store brand its a no-brainer. Many ketchup’s are now made without HFCS and the store brands are still made with HFCS so no more store brand ketchup for me until they remove the HFCS. Mustard tastes the same to me regardless of brand (I have tried many generics and don’t notice a difference from French’s) and ingredients are usually the same or close on the packages.

    Another thing is peanut butter, I buy regular not organic but Wegmans brand just tastes better, costs $1.49 a jar and has less oils than Peter Pan making it better for you, you can actually see the oil settling in a can of Peter Pan, ridiculous. Wegmans brand is spreadable too unlike organic peanut butter which has to be refridgerated and is not spreadable and impossible to get out of the jar. Peanut butter needs a little bit of oil to make it spread but not so much that it looks like the jar is pure oil.

    • Not Given says:

      I can’t tolerate any store bought peanut butter since I started making my own, it just tastes off.

  49. JasonR says:

    6% Chlorine Bleach – awesome for the pool without the pool store price.

  50. Etoiles says:

    Ibuprofen (advil) always. And Acitominiphen (tylenol). And now, always the generic of whatever Claritin is, since I’ve developed allergies as I’ve aged.

    Also for whatever reason I prefer the CVS brand dental floss to the name brand it’s a knockoff off.

    Other things, I’ll often buy name brands when they’re on sale, with coupons etc, so they’re cheaper than the store brand.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      Claritin => Loratidine. 300 count from Costco (Kirkland AllerClear) is about $12. Yes, those are real #s… 300 for about the price of 30 Claritin, same formula and strength.

      • Etoiles says:

        Yeah, we got a bottle of 100 from Target for something like $5. The store-brand sheet of 10 tablets at the supermarket costs $5.19 so it seemed like a good deal!

      • mmcnary says:

        Sam’s has the same kind of deal on their OTC stuff. I get 300 generic Zyrtec for ~$13, pretty close to the same for Claratin.

        I still prefer Velveeta for Rotel dip, I had a really bad experience with generic velveeta once, it turned all oily and inedible. Although the wife got some generic velveeta recently, and it didn’t suck.

  51. Spooky says:

    Ibuprofen!
    If you look at advil and the generic active ingredients it literally has the same thing. Ibuprofen USP, 200mg. I have no idea why any one would pay more just for a logo.

    • Sparkstalker says:

      The only reason I’ll buy name brand Advil is that there’s no generic Liqui-gels. But the ones I keep in my desk at work are all generic.

  52. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Toilet paper is the one thing I will never shop generic. I’m not willing to endure the awful generic stuff at work, and all public restooms, only not endure the same crappy toilet paper at home. Pun intended.

    Beyond that. It’s all fair game.

  53. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    There’s never a good excuse for buying name-brand medicines when a generic is available.

    I’ve started buying dill pickle chips at the dollar store – they’re fine. Store-brand cheese doodles are usually crap though – poor replacement for Cheetos, although the Frito knock-offs might be passable.

    Cheap pop is fine. Store-brand ice cream is fine, particularly if you’re going to slather it with toppings anyway. Cheap pasta. Get pasta sauce in a can instead of the bottles, even name-brand…way cheaper and quality is the same. Generic paper products. Dollar-store storage containers, dish soap, shampoo, candy – just be aware that just because something’s in the dollar store, that may not be the cheapest place to buy it. And be wary of the expiration dates on stuff in the dollar store.

  54. Darkneuro says:

    I’ve tried store and/or ‘generic’ brands on just about everything… The ones I’m in love with?
    Condiments, pasta sauces (store brand has SUGAR! not HFCS..and it’s cheaper than named brands with HFCS), spices, ‘staples’ like flour/butter/sugar…
    I’m lucky because I have a Kroger and the Kroger brand (as well as their slightly higher ‘Private Selection’ brand) is a lot better than a lot of ‘name’ brands, and always worth the price drop, IMO.

  55. thriftinyc says:

    I’ve learned the hard way to compare ingredients and nutrition information between generic and name-brand foods. Case in point: My local grocery store’s off-brand bouillon cubes contain MSG, while the famous label version does not.

  56. JulesNoctambule says:

    I shop based on sale prices and coupons more than brand loyalty for the majority of products though for things like paper towels, rubbing alcohol and such, I tend to go for the Target house brand because I’ve been pleased with the quality so far. When it comes to food, a good portion of the things stocking my pantry are from Trader Joe’s — can’t beat their selection and price on a lot of things we use often.

  57. aleck says:

    In this day and age, the concept of “generic” and “brand” are not really distinct. Many generic products are produced at the same factories that make brand name products. They are just sold in different boxes (and for a different price). Store brands also vary in quality, because each company negotiates with different producers. Even the same store may carry different generic brands. Plus, a lot of stores now come up with a name for their own products to build up their “brand”.

    For me, brand loyalty is a thing of the past. I am always on the lookout for a better deal/better quality product. There is a set of established product brands in my mind, but I periodically buy cheaper or more expensive versions of these products to see the difference. And then decide if it is worth trading up or down.

  58. ajlei says:

    Virtually everything. I shop at Fred Meyer, which is a Northwest chain that sells Kroger brand stuff. I’ve never had any sort of problem with Kroger at all.

    I will say, though, that generic “Marshmallow Stars”, or whatever they’re called, do NOT compare to General Mills Lucky Charms.

  59. finbar says:

    I think the Trader Joe’s house brands are superior to name brand items at other stores for most things. For a while they even had a soda called Mountain Joe’s that was like Mountain Dew, but way better.

  60. jenjenjen says:

    My prescriptions are always generics because my insurance won’t pay for anything else. I had a really bad intestinal infection once (sorry) and the pharmacy was out of the generic for the antibiotic I needed. They waited (and made me wait) THREE DAYS hoping they’d get more in before finally grudgingly giving me the name brand. They basically relented because I told them I wasn’t going to leave without it and would just stand there til the infection killed me.

    • Mike says:

      Gotta love our health care system. I have waited for more things like this than I ever waited for anything when I lived in Canada.

  61. doodlebug says:

    Canned or frozen fruits and veggies (except tomato products)
    Disposable items
    Basic dairy
    Staples (flour, sugar, oatmeal, some baking mixes, etc.)
    Legumes
    Breads
    Juice
    OTC meds
    Bath and body products (except some for me because I’m allergic to nearly everything)
    Snack foods

    All spices and herbs are purchased at a bulk herb shop.

    It might be easier to list what I buy on brand, hopefully on sale although some I will only buy on sale- Cereal only on sale, soda on sale, pancake syrup, cake and muffin mixes (but there aren’t any good off brand options), tomato products, tortillas, butter (use a special low fat kind), specialty pastas, raisins and canned pumpkin (only because it isn’t sold off brand which is really weird).

  62. AliceMaz says:

    We buy almost exclusively store-brand items. The only store-brand I try to avoid is Acme/Shaws. For some reason, their ketchup and cheese items are really off so I’m wary of their other products.

    Shoprite, Wegmans (especially!!!), Stop and Shop/Giant and Target are almost always either indistinguishable or better than brand names.

    We also try not to buy processed foods which limits my need to buy brand names stuff, too.
    The only things I can think of that I don’t make from scratch are Kraft Mac and Cheese (so salty, but so good) and Black Bear deli meats (who has time to make their own deli meats?).

  63. AliceMaz says:

    We buy almost exclusively store-brand items. The only store-brand I try to avoid is Acme/Shaws. For some reason, their ketchup and cheese items are really off so I’m wary of their other products.

    Shoprite, Wegmans (especially!!!), Stop and Shop/Giant and Target are almost always either indistinguishable or better than brand names.

    We also try not to buy processed foods which limits my need to buy brand names stuff, too.
    The only things I can think of that I don’t make from scratch are Kraft Mac and Cheese (so salty, but so good) and Black Bear deli meats (who has time to make their own deli meats?).

  64. Ayumi~n says:

    Vegetables canned or frozen are always generic for me. Heck, I just look for what’s lowest in price for that.

    I also go off-brand for my clarifying shampoo since that doesn’t matter.

    I do a lot of snacks off-brand while I wait for my precious Doritos to go on sale.

    And of course meds too. Except for Theraflu. Never again will I buy off-brand Theraflu. That stuff is NASTY!

    The only place I really make no compromise is when it comes to lotions and shampoo and makeup and other body stuff. I’ve ventured with off-brand stuff when it comes to that a few times, but nothing compares to a name brand for those.

  65. wenhaver says:

    We buy mostly generic, especially Costco or Target brand. I HATE Costco’s dishwasher liquid (leaves a weird, nasty film). The only things we don’t go cheap on are: Mt. Dew, Q-tips, laundry detergent (I’m allergic to a lot of the “fillers” they put in the cheap stuff), and, strangely, Rice Krispies Treats, cause my kids love them and I can’t seem to get homemade ones to turn out right.

    I LOVE cheap, generic grape soda. I will buy the cheapest grape soda I can get my hands on, because it only gets better the less expensive it is. Srsly.

  66. Ce J says:

    Pretty much anything from Costco (Kirkland) or Whole Foods (365 Everyday – some great products).

    I buy a lot of the Target brand stuff. Archer Farms especially. The Archer Farms chips are goooood.

    Over the counter or prescription drugs. I’ve always been this way.

    Any paper goods except for toilet paper. Plastic bags (target). Baby wipes (kirkland).

    I will not buy generic of diapers, soda, canned tomatoes (unless Whole Foods), toilet paper, ice cream, beer, or cereal. I used to buy a lot of store brand at my neighborhood grocery store when it was owned by Kroeger. I buy less now because the store was bought out and the store brand is crappy.

  67. Angry JD says:

    Dish soap, laundry detergent and sponges.

  68. WagTheDog says:

    In my college days, “Beer” Beer was our official brand. They had puzzles on the caps, which were amazingly hard to solve later in the evening.

  69. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I buy mostly generic for everything except:

    –Weenies (must be Oscar Meyer. I’m trying not to eat so much of that stuff).

    –Conditioner for my hair. Generic shampoo is not a big deal, but the conditioners SUCK.

    –Prefer name TP but have found an acceptable alternative at ALDI.

    –Cheerios.

    –Mac n cheese – must be Annie’s Organic, Kraft every once in a while.

    –The ONLY generic tuna I like is Kroger in the pouch. I can get it at Dillon’s. I’ve quit buying any brand of canned tuna because it’s now all the little mushy bits and is just gross.

    –Bread. Nature’s Own or Nature’s Pride don’t have HFCS. Also artisan breads at the bakery at Walmart or grocery.

    –Pork n beans. Has to be Van Camps, but only on sale.

    –Canned soups. Campbell’s or nothing.

    –Ketchup. I tried the name brand without HFCS recently and LOVED IT. It was cheaper at Walmart than the regular kind. I don’t know how long that will last, though.

    Mostly I shop at ALDI. They carry European stuff sometimes (based in Germany) like really, really good dark chocolate so I don’t feel as though every single thing I’m buying is cheapo.

  70. Kimbeegrin says:

    Contact solution, iburpofen and most pharmaceutical goods like band-aids, aloe vera, cough medicine, cough drops, etc. Make-up, lotions, shoes (Payless/Wal-mart). Wal-mart has this great tropical trail mix I get a lot too that has dried papaya, pineapple, apricots, banana chips, and cashews. Yummy!

    Now TMI time: When it comes to Tampons, there isn’t really a generic national equivalency to Tampax Pearl or other plastic applicator tampons beyond CVS brand plastic applicator tampons, except here in Maine we don’t have a CVS around at all. Also Dayquil/Nyquil, gotta have it!

  71. KPS2010 says:

    Costco everything here or mejier

  72. Kimbeegrin says:

    Oh and NEVER BUY STEAK SAUCE GENERIC! The generic steak sauce simply does not compare to my beloved A1.

  73. Raanne says:

    meijer brand corn & black bean salsa. I haven’t found anything else that good. yum.

    but we go generic for everything unless we try it and its bad. but usually we will jsut switch to generic from a different store. IMO most generics are just as good. and in some cases (see salsa example above) better.

  74. KMFDM781 says:

    Always the cheapest and most generic box mac and cheese. For some reason, the more generic and cheap it is, the better it tastes,

  75. Raanne says:

    Oh – and baby formula. its about 1/2 the price, and is very heavily regulated much in the way that medication is.

  76. AriellaFaerie says:

    Generics- Lamotrigene (Lamictal), Benzotropine (Cogentin), Trazdone (Brand does not exist anymore), Risperidone (Risperdal), Klonopin.

    But you cant pry the brand name Wellbuterin from my cold, dead paws.

  77. SerenityDan says:

    Acme Frozen pizza is so much better then Elios

  78. Dallas_shopper says:

    Unless I have a good coupon for the name brand:

    Toilet paper
    Paper towels
    Plastic cups/forks/spoons/plates
    Rice
    Trail mix/raisins/nuts
    Block cheese like cheddar or mozzarella
    Canned beans
    Coffee filters
    Household cleaners

    Most of the rest of what I buy doesn’t have a name brand per se but I almost always buy the store-brand meat instead of, say, Jennie-O or Pilgrim’s Pride.

  79. Beeker26 says:

    Pretty much everything that’s available as a generic, so long as a name-brand is not on sale for less. The only thing I won’t buy generic is mayonnaise — it’s Helmanns (Best Food for you westerners) or NOTHING!

  80. AlabastaJoe says:

    I don’t know if it’s actually generic, or just has an incredibly generic name, but I recommend staying as far away as possible from “Beer 30″ in either its Light or Ice varieties.

  81. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    It depends on the store. If I go to Tom Thumb, I always buy their Lucerne store brand cheeses and dairy. I wouldn’t touch most of their other store brand stuff. Target? I wouldn’t touch the dairy but love their other stuff.

  82. RubyRedJess says:

    I don’t really like generic products. They usually don’t work as well as most brand names. But I do like Target brand stuff. It seems to be better than the standard generic stuff at other stores.

  83. kmw2 says:

    * Medications, across the board, wherever possible. Absolutely no reason in the world to pay for a brand name on a medication. If there’s no choice but a brand name for a given med, I strongly consider whether an older medication will do me just as well.
    * Kitchen supplies. Target plastic baggies art the same as Ziploc, only cheaper.
    * Not really “generic”, but I buy grains and baking supplies and spices in bulk and store them in my own containers.

  84. mac_daddy says:

    “Drink” and “food” as consumed in Alex Cox’s masterpiece!

  85. Groanan says:

    water / drugs / dishwasher soap / laundry detergent

    I always get the econosize store brand version.

  86. jayphat says:

    I always buy generic pain relievers and other OTC medicines. They’re the same thing as the name brand but sometimes better than half the price.

  87. psm321 says:

    There are several products that I always buy a particular store brand for, but that’s more of a brand loyalty to the generic brand (off the top of my head, kroger fat free cottage cheese is one example)

  88. MamaBug says:

    I’m one of those “horrible” mothers that buys generic baby formula. Target’s up&up is awesome. ~$17 for 40 oz, versus ~$24 for 23.5 oz of the Enfamil. Thank you for Target! It’s worth the drive.

  89. gman863 says:

    I buy generic OTC meds (Sam’s, Wal-Mart) and love many of H-E-B and Kroger’s private label products. Sam’s Club has Members’ Mark trash bags that are the most durable I’ve ever used (and about half the price of supermarkets).

    Some generic items, however, can be total ripoffs:

    Laundry & Dish Detergent: Low end brands (Sun, Kroger Everyday Value) are watered down. Buy the good stuff like Tide – if you’re clothes aren’t horribly dirty, use less per load. Spending a few extra bucks on decent laundry detergent is a lot cheaper than throwing away a shirt because a stain didn’t come out. If you doubt this, check the ratings in Consumer Reports.

    Bleach: Read the directions on generics — it it says to use 3/4 cup per load it’s full strength (6% chlorine). If it says 1 1/2 cups it’s diluted and you’ll have to buy two gallons to equal one gallon of real (Clorox strength) bleach.

    Paper towels: Buy decent ones (I like Bounty), preferably the select-a-size. Normally one roll of Bounty lasts me as long as 3 rolls of crappy towels. Less money and less paper in the landfills.

    Toilet paper: Same issue as paper towels. I like Scott Extra Soft – lasts much longer per roll without feeling like sandpaper.

  90. Crovie says:

    Frosted flakes! I think the generic version actually tastes better than the branded version. It’s probably unhealthier too!

  91. gopena says:

    I shop at ALDI, so everything I buy is store brand. but when it comes to Favorite store brands, out of all of them, it’s gotta be Target’s Archer farms. top notch design, probably the only store brand out there that is as good or better than a name brand (in taste and looks)

  92. SanDiegoDude says:

    Pain medicine, cereal (the bag generic version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch is better than the brand name!), meat (store branded meats), and a lot of Kirkland branded stuff (yay Costco!)

    … Wait, does Kirkland branded stuff count? =)

  93. ArgusRun says:

    Rice, beans, flour, sugar. Any of the basic staples really. Shoprite has begun carrying some very nice store brand crackers that I have switched to.

    And my dog eats Kirkland dog food. The only one that doesn’t give him the runs.

  94. jsfetzik says:

    I go with store brand for most paper products. Also for over the counter drugs like pain relievers, cold and sinus meds, vitamins, etc.

  95. Promethean Sky says:

    Cereal. Seriously, a big honkin bag of “oat rings” or a box of Cheerios that will get me through 2 days?

  96. Areia says:

    I’ve moved countries twice in the last 10 years, which meant rediscovering which brands I like for pretty much my entire grocery list. My technique has always been to start with generic everything for whatever my chosen store is, and keep notes on which items I like. If I like the generic tuna, I’ll buy it again. If not, the next time I’ll buy the second cheapest, and repeat the process until I find a brand I like.

    Once I’ve set a baseline, I’ll start experimenting with other brands, ideally when they’re on sale. If I find a brand that tastes or works better than my current one I’ll consider switching to it. Depending on price and quality I might switch completely, or only stock up on it when it’s on sale.

    It’s easier now that I make more money, but even when I was quite poor, this tactic meant that I rarely ran out of grocery budget, and usually had enough left to splurge on luxury items.

  97. BobOki says:

    With the exception of a few cookies, anything Kroger has under their name is superior.

  98. madtube says:

    The wife and I get the majority of store brands. Especially from Target. They really have some good stuff. The other store was Publix; their store brand goods were awesome!

  99. QOTSA says:

    In Canada, at the Shoppers Drug Mart, they have AMAZING generic toilet paper… odd i know. We (my roommates and I) prefer it to brand name.

  100. SynMonger says:

    Prescription and over the counter meds. The only exceptions are ones that don’t have generic substitutes yet.