Off-brand items, despite the slight stigma that comes with them, often taste basically the same as their more expensive counterparts. While there are some foods that have a noticeable difference in taste, things like sugar really aren’t any different. But how do you know which ones to stay away from and which to always go for?
Well, I tested it out for you, and here are some items that I found were almost always the same (if not better) when you buy generic:
Things like sugar, salt, flour, baking soda, and baking powder are really all the same across the board, and many professional chefs actually use generic products.
Spices and seasonings
For the most part, the only difference between generic brand and name brand spices is the company, so why pay extra?
I don’t even know why anyone would buy name brand produce as the generic brands are actually probably from local sources and therefore are fresher AND help the local economy.
There are certain standards that all milk must go through in order to be sold, so generic milk is exactly the same as the name brand. Except, of course, one usually costs $1.50 more.
Name brands will have more juice options, but if you’re a fan of regular apple or orange juice, then the generic brands taste the same. This, unfortunately, isn’t universally true for non-frozen juices, but I’ve had good luck with orange juice across the board so you’re probably safe with that.
Most brands of cereal have an off-brand version, and they really taste very similar. It’s not going to be exact, but for $2 less, it’s worth the slight difference.
Much like flour and other baking items, oatmeal is essentially the same, although some of the flavored breakfast packets may have a slightly different taste. Honestly, I tend to prefer them, but that might just be me.
You might be tempted to think that the name brand pasta somehow cooks better or tastes better, but I haven’t ever noticed a difference.
Most generic brand rices (including minute rice) are the same, although I found that with off brand minute rice, you sometimes have to let it sit a little longer.
Since vinegar is a chemical, there is really only one way to make it. This means that name brand white vinegar and off brand white vinegar are the same product.
Bleach really is bleach, no matter who packages it. There is zero difference.
Window washing fluid, sponges, and other kinds of cleaning supplies are often exactly the same—all you’re paying for is the brand.
Medicine (over the counter)
Some kinds of medicine (like Tylenol and Advil) have cheaper alternatives (acetaminophen and ibuprofen, respectively) which work just as well. If you buy generic, be sure to compare the labels, though and make sure you’re getting the same thing!
Soap is soap—there is literally no difference in how the generic brands work. It’s worth noting that they may be a little harder on your hands, so be sure to moisturize.
Cheaper paper towels are sometimes a little thinner, but they still get the basic job done. Besides, for major spills you really ought to be using a cloth rag or washcloth anyway.
A majority of sodas are the same off-brand; especially the lighter colored sodas. The darker sodas are a little bit different and dedicated drinkers may notice, but if you only drink soda every once in a while, chances are you won’t notice.
Most brands of chips, especially the more simple brands, are exactly the same generic. However, some of the more unusual flavors aren’t quite as good, and occasionally the cheese flavors are a little off, so be cautious.
So, what things do you always buy generic? Leave me a note in the comments below!