What store brands are you willing to use?

After my first trip to Costco I posted on Facebook photos of what I bought and how much I spent. A good friend, who is a mother of five, commented you’re doing it wrong. Those are all name brands. You need to be buying off brands. Well a lot of the stuff at Costco is name brand but it begs the question what store brands are you willing to use for which products? Which products do you insist on name brand? Which products will you not compromise on?

In general I like the Publix store brands more than other store brands. I will also buy the Target store brands pretty readily. I buy some Wal-Mart and Kroger store brands.

Here are a few products we won’t compromise on:

Diapers – I bought Pampers for the girls and Huggies for my boy (they seemed to leak less with a boy). The only time we ever  bought the store brand was when we were trying to potty train and wanted it not to feel quite as dry.

Pop Tarts – Michael has an issue with off-brand toaster pastries. I think it involves the PX where his mother bought all their food and he still recalls a terrible taste.

Quilted Northern Brand – the extra soft one – toilet paper – Michael feels very strongly about his toilet paper. If I brought home the wrong brand – not even a store brand – there would be heck to pay.

Kraft Singles – I think other other cheeses like this taste waxy on your tongue.

Coca-Cola products (sometimes by the Pepsi product) – Can you tell I was born in Georgia?

Yogurt – I do have specific brands that I like for the kids and that I like for me. (I am totally into the Greek yogurt now.)

Mucinex – I will only buy the 12-hour long-acting Mucinex. I have terrible allergies and this stuff keeps me from getting sinus infections. The store brands don’t last as long so I end up taking four a day. But man this stuff is expensive!!!

I’ll trade out orange juice, milks, breads, peanut butter, pasta, pasta sauces, canned veggies, cereals, veggies, crackers, potato chips, cookies, lotions, toothpaste, floss, frozen pizzas …. Lots of other stuff.

What products are you brand loyal to? What products do you always buy the store brand on? Which store brands do you like the most?

What do you think of the quandary – Costco price on name brands versus store brand price from other store? Which is less or is it case-dependent?

by Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, ajcMomania

76 comments Add your comment

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gtmom

February 15th, 2011
6:55 am

Diapers at Costco…unless you have a coupon – the brand name Huggies is cheaper than the Kirkland brand (Costco’s brand). Don’t compare the prices – but the cost per unit.

gtmom

February 15th, 2011
6:56 am

That should be are not is.

DonH

February 15th, 2011
7:00 am

Mayonnaise…..there is NO SUBSTITUTE (no matter what the price difference) for mayo and Duke’s Mayonnaise is all we’ll buy. Highest brand loyalty item in the house!

Store brands are fine for any other condiment.

Name (required)

February 15th, 2011
7:06 am

I can never find that “BEER” brand beer I always see in sitcoms.

Mr. Freeze

February 15th, 2011
7:07 am

Always explore the store label option first.In many cases, it comes off the same assembly line as the national brand. When you purchase a national brand remember you are paying their advertising budget.Publix, Costco and Kroger all have “signature” labels that usually offer a money back guarantee. Rarely, if ever, am I disappointed with a store brand.My only little quirk for some reason is ketchup. I have to buy Heinz, for what logical reason is beyond me.

IG2BAFG

February 15th, 2011
7:09 am

Ketchup. Only thing I’ll buy is the “Simply Heinz” or the organic varieties. Neither have the HFCS-laden stuff they try to force into us. Yuck.

(and you can all go to hell, corn farmers!)

jg

February 15th, 2011
7:10 am

When we “blended” our family – my “bonus” daughter insisted on Frosted Flakes – HAD TO HAVE THEM – and my husband agreed – sorry but I bought one box – then saved the box and each week just added the Kroger brand frosted flakes into it…….she is 24 now. We just told her last week!!

Lisa

February 15th, 2011
7:16 am

I LOVE the frosted flakes switchout!! Great idea!!

Brandie

February 15th, 2011
7:18 am

I’ve tried store brands and have determined they are not worth the two pennies you can save. I’ve bought cling wrap that didn’t cling, cereal that tasted like the cardboard box it came in, hand lotion that was like putting lard on my hands and laundry detergent that smelled similar to my son’s gym clothes.

Brenda

February 15th, 2011
7:34 am

There is no substitute for Hershey’s brand chocolate syrup or Heinz Ketchup. I am also “hooked” on Captain Crunch with Crunchberries– no substitute is the same!!

food consumer

February 15th, 2011
7:34 am

Why don’t you tell the processing plant that creates high fructose corn syrup to go to hell instead of the farmer?
Personally, I like to eat corn and other crops produced by farmers. Seriously, you are blaming farmers for something created in a factory. High fructose corn syrup is not grown by a farmer! Educate yourself.

Clay

February 15th, 2011
7:34 am

We buy a few store brand items at Publix (milk, ice cream, even cheeses); but, for the most part, when we are out of certian items, we only buy:

Paper towels–Bounty select a size big rolls
Toilet paper–Charmin
Laundry detergent–Tide Sport with Febreeze
Fabric softener–Downey April Fresh
Dishwasher detergent–Cascade with Dawn
Potato chips–Lay’s
Soft drinks–Coca-Cola (even when Pepsi is on sale)

We know what we like…

PS, jg, there is no way that Frosted Flakes story is true. The box would have worn out or they would have noticed the expiration date or they would have noticed the box hasn’t changed designs in a really long time. If they acted surprised, they were just being nice. That said, I have noticed store brand frosted flakes taste pretty good; but, nobody but General Mills can make Cheerios.

mom of 3

February 15th, 2011
7:36 am

I did the cereal trade out on my kids too. Honey Nut Cheerios vs a store brand. They could tell the difference right away. When I tried I had to agree with them. Loyal to Dukes Mayo – Heinz Ketchup – All laundry detergent – Dove bath soap – Kraft dressings – Guess I am more of a brand shopper than I thought.

Mom of 2 babies and 1 adult husband

February 15th, 2011
7:40 am

I buy target brand, trash bags, laundry detergent, diapers definitely for daycare because they change my 8 month old every hour on the hour. But we buy Pampers brand for the house. I love love love the Publix Brand anything specifically the instant oatmeal packs. I will not do store brand cheese singles, cold cereal ( its just different)

motherjanegoose

February 15th, 2011
7:44 am

We are not picky about toilet paper here but I will not buy the store brand nor Scott.
Any of the other softer varieties are fair game….including: Charmin, Northern, Cottonelle or White Cloud.

TWG…maybe let Michael get his own TP? It’s funny what folks argue about…everyone is different!

I do not care for Duke’s Mayo either…it is in our fridge now and I will not buy it again. I prefer Helmann’s (Sp?)

Pepsi…when we moved here from Texas we drank Pepsi. I taught K and had a project that used a Pepsi bottle for a class project, as it had the little black cup on the bottom…back then. I sent home a note requesting PEPSI 2 liters to be brought in from each child. A parent pulled me aside and explained the THIS WAS ATLANTA…NO ONE DRINKS PEPSI. I learned something that day!

Ketchup…my mom had SO many tomatoes one year that she made home made ketchup. Let’s just say it did not taste the same but being frugal…she made us use it.

I am not too picky and will try most things but I HATE cheap paper products or cleaning supplies. Just me. I am really not brand loyal on much but some folks are. Maybe others will chime in as to what brands they will not relinquish. I remember my Grandma ALWAYS had Dial Soap and Prell Shampoo… fond memories!

See you soon for lunch DB!

motherjanegoose

February 15th, 2011
7:47 am

WOW…I guess we can say some are picky…LOL. That’s o.k….I typically fly Delta and stay at Hilton, Holiday Inn and Choice hotels…in that order. That is where I am picky! Oh yeah…I rent from National Car rental too!

Me

February 15th, 2011
7:55 am

I agree with DonH as it relates to the Mayo (really picky on that one) — but with toilet paper, I’m okay with whatever brand provided it is not of the John Wayne variety (rough, tough, and takes no crap off anyone). Only the son eats the fake cheese stuff, i.e. Kraft Singles – the better half and I won’t touch it but we generally stay with either the Kraft or Publix brands. Only the son eats the cereal and he’s okay with the “bargin brands” no matter where they are purchased. Household cleaners, laundry and dishwashing detergents, etc. are all purchased elsewhere as we have something of an “inside track” on these.

Me

February 15th, 2011
7:59 am

@MJG, we virtually always fly Delta, prefer Hilton (but do choose “all inclusive” resorts in locales such as Mexico and Jamaica) and we almost always use Hertz for rental cars. And, the vast majority of our purchases are made using our Platinum AMEX. An upcoming trip to Jamaica was paid for totally with rewards points. (Don’t like the annual fees so much but access to the Sky Clubs and the $200/year baggage fee reimbursement helps make up for that.)

new mom

February 15th, 2011
8:06 am

We rarely use store brands–they are typically way more expensive than national brands since I ‘coupon’ (buying items when they are at their rock bottom price, then using a manufacturer’s coupon). For example, I do NOT spend more than $1 for a box of cereal–usually they are free to .50, for cheerios, but also other really good kinds…and I think the store brand cereals are usually $2.39 and up. Same goes for nearly every other item–if you look at our pantry, you’ll find national brands for nearly everything because they are so much cheaper. One of my few exceptions–we love the Publix premium ice cream. We think it’s better than the over brands, and I really try not to ’stock up’ on ice cream when it’s on sale, we don’t need to have too much of it in the house!

Nickie

February 15th, 2011
8:07 am

I like most Publix house branded items. Some of Kroger’s items are OK – milk, cheddar cheese – but have found some others to be a bit “off”. Really have to watch expiration dates in Kroger, too. We are Coke fans for cola type drinks but some of the Walmart ones like diet Dr. Thunder are really good. Can’t speak to Target brands because I rarely shop there. Hellmans mayo is a must – tried Dukes and found it yucky. No brand loyalty on gas – have seen no difference in how out cars run no matter what brand I buy so I shop by price only. I am pretty loyal to Arm and Hammer w. oxyclean for laundry – does an excellent job at a good price.

Me

February 15th, 2011
8:08 am

A little off topic as it relates to “store brands” but, inaddition, I am partial to my BlackBerry devices (yeah, I have two) over an iPhone or iPad; I definitely prefer Tanqueray gin, I buy most of my gasoline at QT, we use Express Oil Change (or similar) for the Saturn and Durango but the BMW always goes to the dealer since maintenance is included. I am curious, however, as to where most of you buy meat and produce… Does everyone generally accept the meats and produce at Publix, Kroger, etc. or do you have a favorite butcher and visit Whole Foods and/or farmer’s markets? We do some of all of this. I love the Cajun Meat Market for their steaks and stuffed chickens!

Carla

February 15th, 2011
8:08 am

I’ve realized that when trying to use coupons…it is cheeper to buy the store brand. I pretty much stick to Kroger everything and I’ve only had to use the money back guarantee twice, once for diapers…Learned the hard way only Huggies for a boy…and I didn’t care for their Ketchup..too watery. Oh, and I try to buy Jiff peanut butter instead of Kroger brand cause we did all notice the difference. Some of their salad dressings are ok…some I just avoid and stock up on Kraft or Ken’s when on sale. Cheese slices…yeah kraft is better but we buy large blocks of Kroger block cheese and slice as needed. Much cheeper. Oh, and I don’t work for Kroger…just where I’ve been shopping since having my own household. In fact, my mom and I like to call eachother after going Krogering so we can compare the great deals we got!

DB

February 15th, 2011
8:11 am

I’m trying to think of something that I absolutely MUST have that is name brand. Dove soap is the only thing that I can think of, and I buy it in quantity from Costco — my daughter and I have pretty sensitive skin, and even with Dove, sometimes I have to switch out to the dermatologist’s cleanser. I like Publlix ice cream and toilet paper, I buy Kirkland fragrance-free laundry detergent and paper towels, Publix cranapple juice or canned veggies for casseroles, etc.

The only thing I absolutely won’t buy generic is soup. Generic soup is generally pretty gross. Anything else is fair game.

And if a restaurant dares try to serve Pepsi instead of Coke products, I switch to ice tea!

motherjanegoose

February 15th, 2011
8:16 am

@ Me…I have almost 1 million points on my AMEX and also use them for travel with my family.
I have never used Hertz, so I do not know much about them. I have a friend who travels a lot and just switched from Hertz to National. She did her research and said the National perks were better.
I also have 8 free rental days with National….any car any location I think. Who knows?

I like my meat from Publix or Costco,…just me.

newmom…yes, when you are serious about couponing you do not need to consider store brands much…I absolutely agree!

Angie

February 15th, 2011
8:22 am

I have to have Miracle Whip, Quilted Northern tiolet paper, Tide and Kraft cheese. Store brand cheese doesn’t melt as well. I buy store brand milk and orange juice (for smoothies). I use coupons alot as well, so I really save on brand-new products. Depends on the money in the bank. :)

Photius

February 15th, 2011
8:23 am

Mother Jane Goose and I would both agree in our product loyalty to Stoli’s, Absolut, Grey Goose, Miller, Jack Daniels, Moet and Astroglide.

ABC

February 15th, 2011
8:27 am

Yet another reason I’m not on Facebook. Who wants to see photos of what someone bought at Costco and hear all about their shopping trip? Really??

motherjanegoose

February 15th, 2011
8:34 am

What???? Photius…sometimes I do not know where you get your ideas, since we have never met. I know you try to inject humor into the blog . Often, I do not get your sense of humor, Others here do and if you can brighten their day…please go for it…even at my expense. A comedian is a valid role…not everyone laughs at the same jokes. I did not even get what you were saying on the Justin Beiber blog and had to check in with catlady.

Cammi317

February 15th, 2011
8:45 am

I only buy Glad trash bags, preferably the odor free ones, don’t like the rest. I do not buy generic mayonnaise and it has to be mayo, not miracle whip. I do not buy off brand and/or store label eggs, only organic. I like the Costco brand Kirkland. Particularly their organic oatmeal. If I buy frozen vegetables, I only buy Birds Eye Fresh Frozen. I would NEVER buy off brand tissue or paper towels. I also do not buy off brand or store brand yogurt, orange juice or bread. I surprisingly like several of Aldi’s store brands. If you have ever been in an Aldi’s you know that they have some name brand items but the majority of the labels are made exclusively for Aldi’s. Their deli sliced and shredded cheese is great, chips (the only place I will buy off brand or store brand chips), pancake/biscuit mix and their beef. For some reason, other than whole foods or the farmer’s market that is the only place I will buy 90/10 ground sirloin and beef ribs flanks. I was in the store one day last year and thought the beef looked pretty good and decided to buy some. I had never even bothered to look at the meat prior to that day. It was great and I have been purchasing it their every since.

Cammi317

February 15th, 2011
8:46 am

Oh yeah, it has to be Pepsi!

ATL06

February 15th, 2011
8:49 am

I am so with Michael on the Pop Tarts thing. It’s just not right to buy off brand Pop Tarts.

TinaTeach

February 15th, 2011
8:57 am

I never EVER buy store brand cling wrap. The stuff just doesn’t work! Now I’ll buy BJs foil and knock-off Fancy Feast. Other than that it just depends on the sales that day. I buy almost everything on sale.

JDM

February 15th, 2011
9:28 am

Duke’s mayonnaise is a MUST! I had it “imported” to me when we left the South for a number of years as our family could NOT live with out it. I agree about the Heinz Ketchup as well, Hunts and store brands are inedible!

Many of the store brand private – signature labels are very good. I really stay away from the basic store brands, because my family knows the difference. Should have done the secret switches long ago, now they can tell! Won’t buy the pricey Mayfield milk – but will buy Kroger or Publix because of their pledge not to get from hormone-free cows.

I bought a Wal-mart Great Value food item when they originally were trying to force all their store products on us at the onset of the recession. Disgusting!!! It appears Wal-mart has been forced to put many of the national – name brands back on the shelves. Sorry but I go to Walmart to save $ on the national brands, not buy their crappy store brands!

Lady Strange

February 15th, 2011
9:33 am

I usually shop by price, but there are a few things I won’t switch on. Has to be Miracle Whip & Peter Pan Peanut Butter and I’m picky about shampoos and soaps but only cause I’m allergic to lots of them. Can’t think of anything else at the moment.

JOD

February 15th, 2011
9:42 am

We like the Kirkland (Costco) brand a lot – laundry detergent, fabric softener, paper towels, kleenex, TP, etc. They are getting into more and more foods, and if you read the magazine, they are anti-additive/chemical, so we will likely keep trying until we find something we DON’T like.

I have started buying more Publix-brand items. I used to be totally snobby about store-brand cheese, but once I tried Publix, it’s actually pretty good. That being said, I abominate singles for cheese. It has to be deli-sliced or Kraft Deli Deluxe. Hubs will eat the singles, so I buy it for him (he eats 2-3 sandwiches a day sometimes), but DD and I won’t touch it. She actually prefers extra sharp cheddar to anything else (weird, right?).

One thing I have noticed is that produce anywhere but Publix seems terrible lately (I don’t buy at Costco unless we’re having a party or houseguests). I bought celery, onions, and apples at Wal-Mart and they were gross a day later.

JATL

February 15th, 2011
9:48 am

I’ve tried almost everything in store brands and found that most are just as good if not better than the name brands! We have saved a ton of money using the store brands from Costco, Target, Kroger, CVS and Publix. I kick myself whenever I think of all the money we wasted on Huggies and Enfamil for our first son. For the second we tried Kroger Comforts and Target Up and Up brand in both diapers and formula and found them to both be fantastic! A friend of mine has a sister who is a WIC counselor, and she told her that the FDA mandates ALL baby formula have the exact same makeup, ingredients and quality. The exceptions are specialty varieties -like the ones for preemies or iron intolerance -that sort of thing. If you use regular or soy, then you should really try the store brand. It’s often 50% off the name brand! Same for diapers. I actually like the Kroger Comforts brand better than Pampers or Huggies. Some think the Target brand are too thin, but we’ve never had an issue with them (and both brands are SO cute!). We use their pull ups too. I don’t like the Kroger Comforts wipes, but the Target wipes are identical to Huggies -and again much cheaper.

Other store brand products that have really stood out as exceptional to us: Kirkland drawstring kitchen garbage bags. One $15 box lasts almost an entire YEAR and they’re just as good as Glad or Hefty. Kirkland and Kroger Home paper towels and toilet paper -really good products and the paper towels are nicer than some name brands and work as well as Bounty. Feminine products -pads and tampons. CVS, Kroger and Target tampons, pads and pantyliners (the Tampax cardboard variety, Stayfree and Always varieties) work as well and are basically identical. Any pain reliever and cold medication from any of the stores -exact same ingredients. In fact when they had the big Infant Tylenol recall, the store brands were fine! Kroger and Target brand baby shampoos and washes; Kirkland liquid laundry detergent; Target dryer sheets (smell just like Bounce) -we’ve also like Kroger and Kirkland dryer sheets -the list goes on and on! Oh -and cereal! Kroger brand and Kirkland cereals are identical to name brands.

The most lacking products I’ve found -Kroger Comforts baby wipes -not quite as big or sturdy and Kroger brand toilet wipes (like Cottonelle) -again not as nice quality-wise.

One thing to remember -all the chains have satisfaction guaranteed policies on their store brands. If you don’t like it and don’t find it equal or better to the name brand, you can take it back and either get a refund or the national brand in exchange for it. There’s no reason not to try! You’ll find lots of extra money in your account at the end of the month!

Claire

February 15th, 2011
9:52 am

newmom– and other COUPON users– do you use websites to get your coupons or mainly stick to stuff that comes in the mail? I’m trying to learn to do this better.

For pop- Coke, not Pepsi, but Wild Cherry Pepsi, not Cherry Coke.
Peanut Butter is always Jiff. Toilet paper and Kleenex are always national brands, usually whatever is on sale, but there are some I won’t buy. My sister only uses Target brand diapers and swears they’re just as good. Snack foods can be any brand- whatever I’m in the mood for at the time.
My worst “guilty pleasure” is probably that I usually only buy bread from the Publix bakery, which can be more expensive, but it’s SO worth it for me. For cheese, it depends on what kind of cheese and what I’m using it for- if I’m making my mac n cheese casserole, I only buy blocks of Kraft cheddar, because the cheese is such a vital part of the recipe and for those who don’t know- if you are putting cheese into any kind of casserole, it is always better to shred your own if it’s a main ingredient because it melts better since pre-shredded cheese is covered in cornstarch. However, if I’m making hashbrown casserole, where the cheese is not as important, I buy preshredded.
I am generally okay with most things Publix or Target brand, and sometimes Kroger and Walmart. People who are fans of Goldfish- try Whales, sold at Walmart. Cheaper and better.

For me, in Athens, there is a Kroger and Publix literally right next to each other, so I vary which one I go to. I try to stick to Publix for all produce, but meat can be bought at either. Usually when shopping at Publix I try to just buy the “buy one get one free” items, since you get awesome deals this way and you can buy one and still get the deal. I shop at Kroger for those things that are not on sale at Publix. Also, if I am having a particularly stressful day or am just in a foul mood- I tend to go to Publix because everyone is just so much nicer there. I tend to only buy beer and wine at the liquor store, next to Publix, and have found that it is usually cheaper than at Kroger or Publix.

Coupon help suggestions?
Theresa- could that even be a possible topic, if it has never been covered? How people use coupons?

JATL

February 15th, 2011
9:55 am

@DonH -yep, Duke’s is THE BEST! Hands down! Every salad recipe and anything I make and carry anywhere involving mayonnaise gets the Duke’s treatment (I don’t eat mayo on sandwiches). People rave, and I tell them it’s because it’s Duke’s -it really does make a difference!

I also only buy Coke products. To me, Pepsi tastes like it has cleaning products in it and all of the other brands taste off. For other food stuffs -it just depends. I don’t eat peanut butter, but my kids like Kroger brand, we have had great success trying the Private Selections Kroger pizzas and just about ANY Archer Farms brand food you get from Target is really good! The best buy on the best tasting frozen pizzas is at Trader Joe’s though.

The things I am super-picky about are meat, poultry and seafood. I’m really at the point where I will only buy organic, free range, grass fed -all of that. I feel the same about eggs. Yes, I pay $3.50 for a dozen cage free, 100% organic eggs, but after saving all the $$ on store brands -I think it’s fine! It’s a lot more expensive for the meat, chicken and seafood, but it’s worth it. I’m far too uncomfortable eating the other stuff and feeding it to my family.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

February 15th, 2011
10:00 am

“After my first trip to Costco I posted on Facebook photos of what I bought and how much I spent”……..it’s official…there is nothing too inane to post on facebook.

JATL

February 15th, 2011
10:03 am

@DB -I always drink tea or water as well when Pepsi is served at restaurants! The worst is when it’s a place with a bar -sorry, but a Jack and Pepsi is NOT the same as a Jack and Coke!

ABC

February 15th, 2011
10:04 am

@Tiger, exactly how I feel. And since when is “coupon” a verb. I use coupons as much as anyone, and I shop at Costco, but you’ll never hear me use the word “couponing” or taking pictures of my Kirkland toilet paper!

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

February 15th, 2011
10:06 am

@ABC…it’s only a matter of time until we see posts on FB comparing the durability of different brands of COSTCO toilet paper for bowel movements.

Hey, JATL...

February 15th, 2011
10:12 am

…regarding Pepsi tasting like it has cleaning products in it, you do know, don’t you, that one of the things Coca-Cola is used for is to clean the battery terminals of your car battery – if you do not believe me, just try it next time those terminals get corroded…

ABC

February 15th, 2011
10:16 am

@Tiger, exactly why I’m not on FB and never will be. In fact, I’m thinking of quitting this blog altogether. The topics are insane sometimes (making food art!) and the comments even worse.

theresa

February 15th, 2011
10:17 am

tiger we watched the social network two nights ago and I am pretty the facebook founders didlt think it would be used that way either. Also wouldn’t have guessed mothers would use it to predict throw outbreaks at school.

theresa

February 15th, 2011
10:20 am

should have said throw up outbreaks. Hard to see on the phone.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

February 15th, 2011
10:26 am

@theresa…..I don’t think the founders of facebook cared what the application of FB was…as long as it made them money. You should read “the accidental billionaires”, the book Ben Mezrich wrote that became the basis for “the social network” screenplay. The invention of FB was about money. For that I hold Zuckerberg in very high esteem….even if I hate his invention.

As far as your second sentence…I’m not even sure what it means. What is “predict throw outbreaks” that mothers are doing?

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

February 15th, 2011
10:28 am

ahhhhh…..throw UP outbreaks…..I see my 10:00 post is being confirmed….there really is nothing to inane to post on FB!!! ;-)

A

February 15th, 2011
10:30 am

Throw up outbreaks at school? I’m too scared to ask.