11 Generic Products That Are Just as Good as Name Brand

MANAGE MONEY - BUDGETING
Buying generic items instead of the name brand versions could save you some real cash.
Updated Feb. 12, 2024
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Road style sign with brand name and generic written on it

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Many everyday items are being affected by inflation, including what we buy at the grocery store. But there are still ways to save more money shopping — including choosing to buy some products generic.

The next time you go shopping, opt for the generic (also known as off-brand or store-brand) versions of the following items.

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Baking staples

Yakobchuk Olena/Adobe Dad and daughters pulling baked goods out of oven

Basic pantry items like sugar and flour can be very similar whether you buy the name brand or the generic. Other kitchen staples, such as salt, powdered sugar, and even vanilla, are also on this list.

Buy generic, and you’ll bake an extra dozen of those chocolate chip cookies without worrying about how much the ingredients cost.

Condiments

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe Cooking spices on spoons

Items like mustard and mayo use almost the same ingredients between the name-brand and generic versions.

In most cases, you may only be using a small amount for sandwiches or barbecue dishes, making it less likely that you’ll be able to notice a difference.

Pro tip: When you’re budgeting for groceries, you may want to find a way to splurge on condiments on occasion if you’re using them as a major ingredient for things like your neighborhood-famous potato salad.

Milk

Thitiwut/Adobe Milk being poured into glass

Milk is a staple for some households, which is why stores have begun to stock their own generic brand instead of going with a brand name for their dairy aisle — even offering an organic version.

In fact, more than 57% of milk sold in the U.S. is a store brand.

Check the label to see where the milk in both the name and generic versions came from. It could have been supplied to both from the same regional dairy farm.

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Snacks

beats_/Adobe Bowls of various snack foods

Cookies and chips are great foods to have around when you’re in the mood for a late night snack, but have you ever tried the generic brand?

In some cases, they may be just as good at satisfying your snacking as the name brand — but for a fraction of the cost.

Frozen vegetables

bodnarphoto/Adobe Man looking at label of frozen food in grocery store

Frozen vegetables may have little to no variance in the taste from farm to farm. Once they’re frozen and packaged, the biggest difference between your two options may just be the label on the outside.

Prescription drugs

Right 3/Adobe Woman shopping for medication

In the United States, prescription drugs are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. That means any drug you receive has been approved to be safe regardless of what the name is on the side of the bottle.

If you decide to ask for the less-expensive generic version, know that you’re not alone. In 2019, the FDA found that 9 out of 10 prescriptions filled were generic drugs.

Pasta

OlesyaSH/Adobe Pile of various types of dry pasta

Pasta may not vary much from brand to brand, which means you might not recognize the difference between the name brand and a generic version. Once you add different sauces or other ingredients, chances are your pasta will be delicious.

Fresh produce

posh/Adobe Fresh fruit at market

Like with frozen vegetables, you’re likely to see more of a variation in the packaging of produce than in the actual taste of it.

And with packaged produce like salads or baby carrots, the generic version probably won’t be much different than the pricy name-brand option.

Bottled water

DariaTrofimova/Adobe Bottled water on shelf

While there are differences between one bottled water manufacturer and the next, the taste will remain basically the same.

So feel free to pick up a pack of the generic version, knowing it’s similar to the name brand.

Pro tip: If you’re working on paying off your debt or saving money, skip bottled water and invest in a reusable water bottle. It’s not only good for the environment, but it’s also good for your wallet.

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Aluminum foil

pioneer111/Adobe Hands rolling out sheet of aluminum foil

You may want to try out the generic version of aluminum foil at your local store and see how it holds up compared to the name-brand versions.

Chances are it may not be that different and could still save you money. Also think about doing the same test with name-brand plastic wrap compared to its generic version.

Cereal

pauchi/Adobe bowl of cereal

Those cartoon characters on the boxes in the cereal aisle may be inviting, but they also could cost you more money to put them on your pantry shelf.

Instead, try the generic version of those cereals the next time you head down that aisle. The box may not be as visually inviting, but it could save you some cash.

Bottom line

Odua Images/Adobe Mom grocery shopping with baby

If you’re working on how to manage your money, try the generic version of your favorite foods the next time you go shopping.

In some cases, it might not only save you money, but you may find there’s no difference from the name-brand version or you actually may prefer the generic.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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