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Two-thirds of generic foods match or beat their name-brand counterparts in taste tests, according to a report, but Americans are still hesitant to give up the familiar names or logos they love to save a few bucks. For a household that spends $100 a week on groceries, store brands can mean a savings of $1,500 a year, Consumer Reports says. Here are 10 safe bets for buying generic.
- Cereal: Store-brand cereal and oatmeal don't leave you wanting better crunch or flavor. Kroger brand Frosted Shredded Wheat and Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal are always in my cabinet!
- Baking supplies: Basic pantry staples like salt, baking powder, baking soda, dried milk powder, and graham cracker crumbs can be deeply discounted and don’t function or taste differently.
- Cream cheese: Whether it's bricks of cream cheese for baking, or tubs of the whipped stuff for bagels in the morning, that rich, creamy flavor is identical to Philadelphia brand.
- Cookie dough: Kroger cookie dough often goes on sale for about $1. Out of curiosity, I tried out a bunch of varieties — peanut butter, chocolate chip, oatmeal cranberry, and they all baked beautifully and tasted delicious.
- Granola bars: Like their versions of name-brand cereal, the generics do a pretty good job. They may look a little different than Special K bars, Nature Valley Granola bars, NutriGrain bars and Chewy granola bars, but the taste is more similar than you think.
For more off-brand products to buy, read on.
- Cleaning supplies: Target Up & Up brand offers a wide selection of cleaning supplies, which have pleasant smell, convenient packaging and work well. May I recommend their disinfectant wipes?
- Dried pasta: Off-brands now make regular and whole wheat pastas in all kinds of shapes. While the other brands may have fancy, Italian names, I think dried pasta is dried pasta.
- Lunch meat: The generic lunch meats at Target now come in thin slices and those nice plastic containers, plus some varieties were actually healthier than the name brands.
- Napkins and paper plates: Even if they're flimsy, you'll be throwing them away anyway!
- Hand soap: There's a good selection of scents and styles, plus they can run as cheap as 89 cents a bottle — dollars less than Method, Softsoap and others.
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