Generic VS Name Brand

I started answering readers' questions in this post. But this one question in particular started getting so long, I had to move it to its own post! 🙂 I get asked this question a lot and figured it was time to answer, officially, once and for all! Now, please just remember, we are all entitled to our own opinions. The #1 most important thing is to DO YOUR RESEARCH before deciding what is best for you and your family! That being said, here's MY personal opinion on the whole thing, based on the research that I've done:

“I notice you recommend buying off-brands. Do you compare ingredients in off-brand products to name brand? I have found that off-brand products contain more sodium, preservatives, fillers and other unhealthy ingredients. It is worth it to me to spend a little extra for a higher quality product. You get what you pay for… -Rachel”

Great question, Rachel!

  • Are organic, all-natural, name-brand products worth the cost?
  • Where can I find balance in wanting to cook healthy for my family, but keeping shopping costs down?
  • Off-brand foods are way less unhealthy for you, so why would you buy them?
  • Is it better to save the money, or keep my family healthy?
  • Are you really getting a better product by paying more? Are you getting less product by paying less?

I hear you! So many questions.
  Here's my best take on this whole situation…

Yes, I do compare ingredients sometimes. Not with everything, but I try to when I can. I guess it depends on how strict you are health-wise. In my mind, it's worth saving the money because the differences in the food – if any – are so minimal. 
For example:
We needed Jam (and go through it pretty quickly) so I had my husband grab “the healthiest kind you can find” at Costco. He bought an organic, real-fruit jam that was quality, and expensive. When we ran out of that jam I went to Costco to buy another jar. I noticed that there were two different kinds that caught my eye. One was the more expensive organic kind that we bought before, the other was a cheaper, non-organic, bigger jar…so I assumed it to be less healthy for those reasons. 
The non-organic jam
My frugal self couldn't let go paying more for the “healthy” organic jam until I investigated further, so I compared the labels. 
I was S-H-O-C-K-E-D to discover that the non-organic, cheaper jam had: 
  • Less carbs
  • Less sugar
  • More real fruit in the ingredients
  • Less carbs
  • and 0% fat.
The organic jam didn't even come close – it was a complete wash. And frankly, the cheaper, non-organic stuff tasted better! I slapped myself on the wrist and told myself I'd never be fooled again. 
Moral of the story?
You just have to do your research! 

Read the labels. Shop around. Ask around. Take two seconds and make a decision based on education, NOT on emotion or convenience.

This is the same with other store-brand things, such as over the counter meds. I'm pretty sure the FDA wouldn't let the Walmart brand Tylenol put anything in it that the name brand Tylenol doesn't, or NOT put anything important in that Tylenol does. I'm no expert, but I'm guessing they have to follow basically the same rules.

Name brands become BRANDS because they put hundreds of thousands, and even millions of dollars into advertising, market research, and expert endorsements to create a “brand”. Store brands don't have that cost, and can simply keep their prices down!

You also have to remember, right now “green” and “organic” are trends. Often times “organic” “all-natural” “full of anti-oxidants” is just a marketing ploy. Do you know that 7-up now claims it has anti-oxidants?? Just because it says it's healthy, doesn't mean it is.
Likewise, just because something DOESN'T say it's healthy, doesn't mean it's a worse choice. And furthermore, just because something is CHEAPER doesn't make it a poorer quality product.

Yes, be health-conscious and mindful of what your family is eating.
Yes, cook home-made, healthy meals using as many fresh ingredients as possible.
Yes, live a balanced life where you are mindful of what you are eating, how much exercise you are getting, and the values you are teaching your family.
Remember that balance is key.
Are your family members going to die an early death if you don't feed them organic celery, canned beans, or jam? No, probably not. But does that mean you should blindly buy the cheapest of everything just to save a buck? No, I don't recommend that all the time.


Read labels, and offer a little give and take. 
You might pay “a lot” for a bag of flax seed that you'd rather have the money go toward something fun, but to add it to your meals will help keep your family healthy and full. But to pay double the price for a jar of jam because it calls itself organic?
Now, that's not doing yourself – or your family – any good.

Let's cut to the facts. Check out this interesting study:

In blind tests, our trained tasters compared a big national brand with a store brand in 29 food categories. Store and national brands tasted about equally good 19 times. Four times, the store brand won; six times, the national brand won.
What’s more, the store-brand foods we tested cost an average of 27 percent less than big-name counterparts—about what you’d find across all product categories, industry experts told us. The biggest difference: 35 cents per ounce for Costco’s vanilla vs. $3.34 for McCormick’s. (Prices are the averages we found across the country.) Price gaps have less to do with what goes into the package than with the research, development, and marketing costs that help build a household name.
As a result of that extra spending, national brands are more likely to have the latest in convenient packaging, and foods may have the newest tastes or be fortified with trendy supplements, says Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst for the NPD Group, a leading market research company. That’s the nationals’ main advantage.

Read more:

I found this information HERE:


Generic brands, also called store brands, offer consumers a less expensive alternative to national brand foodstuffs. Packaged foods such as cereal, convenience foods, canned goods and frozen fruits and vegetables are often available in generic brands. Store brands have a cheaper overhead because they aren't nationally advertised, explains the Clemson Cooperative Extension, adding that although the packaging is different, nutritional variances are usually minimal.

Consumer Reports compared name brand and generic brand foods and found the nutritional quality between comparable products to be similar. In fact, generic foods often have the same ingredients as name-brand products, according to the Oregon State Extension Service. Exceptions are what Consumer Reports refers to as second-tier store brands, which cost less than typical store brands but may fall short in taste and nutritional quality.


Store brand foods may be manufactured and packaged by nationally known brands, according to Consumer Reports, although this is not always the case. In some instances, products are identical. However, generic foods that come from national brand companies may have different recipes, tastes and nutrients than their name-brand counterparts, depending on the client's specifications.

The Facts

An effective way to compare vitamin content in generic and name brands is to read the labels. The American Dietetic Association recommends you compare products using the percent daily value for nutrients listed on the label. If the nutritional content of store brands and national brands for products you buy are similar, it may come down to taste. You can sometimes try off-brands risk free if you ask the store manager about store brand incentives.


The Private Label Manufacturers Association reports that consumers save 30 percent on their grocery bill, on average, when purchasing store-brand food products. More than 90 percent of surveyed grocery shoppers rate store brand quality as “good” or “excellent,” with 40 percent reporting that they purchase store brands at least once a week, according to the Food Marketing Institute.

Read more:

Generic and Store Brands vs. Brand Names

Painkillers, Tylenol, Advil

Painkillers, Tylenol, Advil (AP)
The security of buying a name brand product may cost you a little extra, but is it worth it when the generic or store brand version of the same item is sitting right there on the store or supermarket shelf?

Lifestyle expert Robyn Moreno, author of “Practically Posh,” said on “The Early Show on Saturday Morning” that — it depends on the product.

Pain Relievers

When it comes to pain relievers,if there's a generic version available, go for it.

To be certified a “generic” by the Food and Drug Administration, a pain reliever hasto have the same “active ingredient” as its brand name equivalent. For instance, the “active ingredient” in Advil is ibuprofen. The generic also has to have an efficacy rate similar to that of a name brand, usually within a 20 percent range.

Name brands cost more because those companies spend money on research and development, as well as advertising, and generics ride their coattails, so to speak.

All this means if you have a headache and want ibuprofen, you can get a store brand, such as Equate from Wal-Mart, at a cheaper price than Advil, and they'll work essentially the same.

The main difference between the two is that store/brands can contain additives, like caffeine, which will have side effects. And generics might be absorbed differently in the body (gel caps compared to pills, for instance), which affects efficacy. So, check with your doctor and try out the more affordable versions for yourself to see if they work for you.

To find out if there's a generic version of a drug you take, check here.


When it comes to “trend-of-the-moment” items you'll only wear one season, there is NO point is spending hundreds of dollars. For instance, cargo pants are always popular for summer. Intermix stores have some great ones for $255, but you can save money on less expensive cargo pants from TJ Maxx for only $55. The styles are similar, but the savings are huge.

For classic fashion pieces you'll wear year-after-year, invest in quality items like leather wallets and shoes, and cashmere sweaters. They can be paired with less expensive clothing, but give a more chic look. The quality stands out with these items, because the leather is often hand-made, as opposed to a factory-produced, and will last for many years, saving money in the long-run.


There are specific items you can buy at the drugstore that are just as good as prestige brands at the department store. Items such as Maybelline the Colossal Volumn Express Mascara work just as well as a high-end one. With higher-end brands, you pay for the name. Makeup artists consistently call out Maybelline as their favorite mascara.

But splurge on higher-end department store foundation, such as Laura Mercier, which has more pigment, and comes in more varieties for skin type (oily/dry) and skin tone. Plus, it's not as irritating to the skin as some less expensive drugstore cheaper brands. Another benefit of buying high-end foundation is that you can try it at a department store to get right shade, as opposed to a drug store, where you can't. You can save money there alone in time and frustration.


When it comes to hand soaps, the cost of name brands, such as Soft Soap for $2.49, isn't much more than their store name counterparts, such as Walgreens liquid hand soap for $1.99. Plus, the packaging is more attractive, which is better for aesthetic purposes.

For toilet paper, some store brands aren't much cheaper than name brands, so why not go higher-end for them? Brand names are better quality and more absorbent.

Manicure kits are ideal to keep in the bathroom for the whole family. The Kiss brand version is great for men and women for $9.99, while the Walgreens store brand, Studio 35, is $10.79. So the brand name is cheaper here. So, when it comes to toiletries, go for quality, since the savings aren't too huge.


The price difference between the gasoline at the name-brand stations, such as Exxon/Mobil, and “off-brand” stations can be about 20 cents a gallon. That amounts to $14 a month for the average driver, and that adds up to more than $170 per year.

Studies have shown, in essence, that “gas is gas” — that the gas at the two types of stations is essentially the same.

Moreover a recent report showed that off-brand stations often receive their delivery from the same tank trucks that deliver to the name-brand stations, and even name-brand stations can receive gasoline from a different name-brand refinery!

Some people are brand-loyal because they might have credit cards with a name brand store, but if you want cheaper gas, go off brand.

So you see, it's all bout doing your research and not being fooled by brands. Just do what is best for your family, but remember that BALANCE is the key to everything!