June 2011 - Posts - Name Brand vs. Store Brand: Putting them to the Test
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Name Brand vs. Store Brand: Putting them to the Test

June 2011 - Posts

  • $50/week Grocery Challenge - Join me!

    This past year and a lot of last year, I have tried to only spend $50 per week for our family of 4 to eat.  Now we are down to 3 people and I am still going to keep it at $50.  I wanted to prove that it could be done when I heard that a family of four typically gets $200 to $225 in food stamps each month when they are on welfare.  Would you like to join me and try to spend only $50 per week?  What things do you do to save money and keep your grocery bill down?

  • Living on Social Security: Is it enough to get by?

     I recently talked to someone who said that they couldn't afford to have a car while living on Social Security.  They didn't have enough money to pay the car insurance or pay for gas and still have enough to eat.  I was wondering if other people felt the same way.  Is living on Social Security really enough to get by?  I would sure appreciate hearing your experience:  what you have done to make it work out, what you have had to cut back on or what changes you have had to make.   

  • Name Brand vs. Store Brand: Chocolate Milk


    Before my son went off to college, I told him he could choose something for me to compare.  Since he loves chocolate milk, that is what he chose.  We got a little carried away with the number of brands that we tried.  You can see that some of the milks are different shades of brown.  We were able to eliminate the worst ones right off the bat:  Smith's and Great Value were awful compared to the rest.  


    Great Value  $3.64 for six 8 oz. bottles    (7.58 per ounce)

    Hershey's  1.39 for 12 oz.    (11.58 per ounce)

    Nestle's  1.59 for 16 oz.   (9.94 per ounce)

    Albertson's   1.39 for 12 oz.   (11.58 per ounce)

    Viva   1.29 for 16 oz.    (8.06 per ounce)

    Darigold   1.39   for 16 oz.  (8.69 per ounce)

    Meadow Gold   1.79   for 32 oz.   (5.59 per ounce)

    Smith's   2.19 for 64 oz.   (3.42 per ounce)

    Organic Valley   2.39  for 32 oz.  (7.47 per ounce)

    Results:  We put them into 4 different catagories according to taste.  Organic Valley and Darigold were the best.  Next came Meadow Gold and Nesquick.  Albertson's, Hershey's and Viva were in the next group.  Last awful were Smith's and Great Value and they were awful.  Hershey's was really, really sweet and Viva was 1 percent, so that is probably why it didn't do as well as the Low fat ones. 

    What is your favorite chocolate milk?  

  • Name vs. Store Brand: Salsa

    We tried 6 kinds of salsa.  I was a bit surprised at the results.

    Herdez    1.68

    La Victoria    2.14

    On the Border   2.06

    Great Value    1.98 for 24 oz.

    Pace    2.48 

    Chi Chi's    2.28    

    All of the salsas were 16 ounces except for the Great Value Walmart brand which was 24 ounces.  So, the better value is definitely the Great Value for the price.  As for taste, Great Value and Chi Chi's were the best.  The middle ones were Pace and On the Border.  the worst was Herdez and La Victoria wasn't much better.  I must say that I was surprised.  I would have thought that Pace would have been the best, but it didn't work out that way.  

    Maybe you can see the salsas better here.  I had a hard time getting a good picture.  The On the Border salsa had a more orange color than the rest and had more spices.

    What's your favorite brand of Salsa?  Have you tried another brand than the ones we tried?  

  • Name Brand vs. Store Brand - Soft Soap

    Soft soap brand was $1.24 for 7.5 oz.    (16.53 cents per ounce)

    Equate (Walmart brand) was 88 cents for 11.25 oz.  ((7.82 cents per ounce on the 50 percent more free; if it was the same size it would be 11.73 cents per ounce)

    First of all, I didn't realize that soft soap was down to 7.5 oz.  I thought they were always 8 oz.  That was the first surprise.  From testing the two brands, we noticed the following:

    Equate brand had more fragrance

    Soft soap lathered better

    Equate brand was not as concentrated as Soft Soap

    Equate brand was less expensive 

    My kids liked the stronger fragrance of the Cucumber Melon in the store brand, but my husband liked the milder fragrance of the Soft Soap.  We also tried the clear soap, which I thought wouldn't have a smell but it did.  It was also stronger with the store brand.  There really was a big difference in price, even though the equate was not as concentrate.  If you want to stretch your soap, you can add water to make it last even longer.  I think I would probably just buy the cheapest (in this case, it was the store brand) for soap, unless I could get the name brand for less than the cost of the store brand.  I have always bought Soft soap in the past... at least until now!
  • Name Brand vs. Store Brand - Cream Cheese

     We tried 3 brands of cream cheese this week:  Philadelphia ($1.97 regular price), Kroger ($1.87 regular price) and Great Value ($1.78 regular price).  They were all  1/3 less fat. 

    Two of the cream cheese packages look exactly alike.  The other has the Kraft name brand on it.  The Kraft brand opens from the middle; the other two open from the side.

    The Great Value brand was the top choice of two people; Kroger was the top choice of one. Philadelphia Cream cheese came in LAST place.  I have been a die hard Philadelphia cream cheese fan for years.  What a shock.  I am not going to be spending extra money on that brand any more!

    In case you are wondering what I will do with all this cream cheese, I will probably make some homemade bagels or my favorite Carrot cake found here.
  • Name Brand vs. Store Brand - Peanut Butter

    We tried 6 brands of Peanut butter this past week:

    Great Value - $1.50

    Kroger - 1.97

    Western Family - $ 1.99

    Skippy - $2.68

    Peter Pan - had in storage and forgot to check regular price

    Jif - 2.74

    I didn't pay these prices for all of the peanut butter above.  I buy them on sale and don't pay more than a dollar for a jar.  I had 3 different ones in my pantry.  I found the prices for two of them when I did my weekly grocery shopping, but the store I went to didn't carry the Peter Pan. 

    Everyone liked Jif the best.  Western Family and Kroger were split between second and third.  Skippy was 4th, Walmart 5th and Peter Pan 6th.  Some of the comments were as follows: 

    Slightly burned flavor for Great Value, Kroger was saltier than the others, Skippy has less peanut flavor, Peter Pan has less flavor and a bad after taste.  Jif was the creamiest and tasted the best.  I don't know if you can see the picture very well, but the Peter Pan brand was greasier looking than the others. I almost went and bought several Peter Pan peanut butters today on sale for 99 cents, and I am glad we did this test before I did! 

    Recommendations:  I personally wouldn't pay more than $1 for a jar of peanut butter.  When it goes on sale, buy as much as you would regularly use by the expiration date or until it goes on sale again.  You can match store brand for store brand at Walmart so even if it Walmart brand doesn't go on sale, you can match it to get it on sale.  My husband and son eat peanut butter in our household, and they would prefer to have me pay a little extra for Jif.  They are willing to eat the top 4 brands though. 


    If you are busy or don't want to shop sales, Walmart Great Value peanut butter is the cheapest at the regular price.  
  • Name Brand vs. Store Brand - Rice Krispies


    We tried 4 different brands of Rice Krispies this week:

    Western Family - $2.24 (18.66 cents per ounce)

    Rice Krispies - (I already had them in my pantry, but they were less than a dollar - on sale combined with a coupon)

    Kroger - $1.99  (16.58 cents per ounce)

    Great Value - 2.38  (13.22 cents per ounce)

     Even though Great Value was more expensive, it came in an 18 oz. box compared to a 12 oz. box.  We noticed that the sodium levels were different.  All of them except the Rice Krispies were over 300 mg.  The name brand had only 190 mg of sodium. 

    As for taste, 2 people preferred the Rice Krispies, one person preferred the Kroger brand, and one person couldn't tell the difference between any of them.

    I am finding that it is hard for me to spend so much on store brands.  I am used to shopping sales and using coupons from time to time, but I get much better deals for my name brands on sale then the store brands.  If you have some time each week to shop sales, I would stock up on name brands you like and use when they go on sale.  If you work outside of the home or don't like to shop sales, then shopping at Walmart would probably be your best bet.  The store rice krispies we tried for this post tasted just fine. I try not to pay more than 50 cents for a box of cereal.  I wouldn't pay more than a dollar unless is it a special occasion like a birthday, etc.  Quaker has a great sale every fall and I stock up for the year.  Kellogg's and General Mills have great sales too.  Don't pay full price for cereal.  It can really put a strain on your grocery budget if you do.  If I can't get cold cereal for a good price, we have hot cereal or other alternatives like muffins, breakfast burritos, pancakes, hash browns etc.  If you don't like getting up early to cook breakfast, make it on the weekend and freeze portions for the week.  You can microwave or toast them when you are ready to eat them.     

     Are you curious about what I have done with all the chocolate chips and rice krispies?  I made a favorite treat of ours that is quick and tastes great.  Instead of using Special K, I just substituted Rice Krispies.  We tested different peanut butters too and I will post the results later this week.  I tested these three ingredients close together since I knew I would have to make lots of treats for high school graduation parties, etc. this past week.

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