August 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

August 2011 - Posts

  • Debt Free Christmas - Join Me!

    I know it is a little early to be thinking of Christmas, but I think it is good to have time to plan ahead so you can have a greater chance to be successful.  This year we are doing a Debt Free Christmas.  We have done this the past few years and it feels so good not to have any bills to pay after Christmas.  It doesn't matter how much you decide to spend, as long as you only spend what you have saved and don't go into any debt.  

    Have you done a Debt Free Christmas in the past?  What are some things you have done to make it work out?  

  • Name Brand vs. Store Brand: Orange Juice



    We tried 7 different kinds of orange juice.  I apologize about the picture.  It uploaded sideways.  This test ended up surprising us a lot.  Our favorite orange juice that we have bought for years ended up being 2nd to the bottom.  I couldn't believe it.  If you don't compare them sided by side, you really don't notice whether it tastes better or worse than the next.  But, when you compare side by side, you notice a difference.  We had 8 taste testers. 


    Great Value  2.33

    Florida Natural  2.98

    Minute Maid  2.74

    Western Family  2.64

    Tropicana  3.08

    Great Value Plastic 2.68

    Simply Orange 2.98

     A few of the people who tried this test liked the Great Value carton the best.  The other 2/3 of the taste testers liked Tropicana or Simply Orange the best.  I thought it was interesting that people either really liked the Great Value carton or they thought it was too tart.  Minute Maid ranked at the very bottom and was too watery and some said it was bitter.  Florida Natural, which is the one we USED TO swear by, ranked as 2nd worst.  That was the big surprise for us.  A few of the people thought that Western Family was a little sweeter, but didn't rank it as their favorite.  People had very different opinions about the orange juices, but Great Value carton, Tropicana and Simply Orange were favored.  If you can handle tart orange juice, Great Value carton is the best value of all.  

  • Are Food Prices Rising?

     I saw a video today that said that food prices are on the rise again because of weather mostly.  Have you noticed a change in your grocery bill?  Have you been getting less for your money?    I noticed that mayonnaise was much higher at our local store than in the past.  

  • Looking for Bean recipes

     I am going to try to make a different bean recipe each day next month and would sure appreciate some recipes if you would be willing to share.  I need about 20 more recipes and would prefer tried and true instead of finding something new on the internet.  Thanks!

  • Name Brand vs. Store Brand: Spaghetti Sauce



    We invited some friends over to help us do this test.  It was fun to spend time with them and it was nice to get more opinions.  We tried 6 different sauces.  The names and prices are below:

    Prego  1.88

    Great Value  1.29

    Classico   1.98

    Kroger   1.37

    Ragu   1.54

    Newman's Own   1.88


    The best TASTING were between Prego and Classico.  Great Value was close behind.  The WORST sauce was Ragu with Kroger very close behind.  Those two sauces seemed like watered down tomato sauce.  They were much thinner and I will never purchase either of those two again.  The best VALUE over all with a taste that wasn't too bad was the Great Value.  

  • Name Brand vs. Store Brand: Granola Bars

    I compared 3 different brands of granola bars: Kroger, Nature Valley, and Great Value. 

    Here is the price breakdown: 

    Kroger: $2.90

    Nature Valley: $2.99

    Great Value: $2.00 

    The tastiest granola bar was definitely Nature Valley. You could tell it had more oats just from looking at it. The Kroger and Great Value brand were comparable, but had a little bit of a weird after taste that wasn't in the Nature Valley bars. Overall, I didn't think it warranted only buying NV. But, if you have a coupon for Nature Valley, it makes it about the cost of the Great Value brand. In that case, I would definitely buy them. 

    One thing I like about Nature Valley granola bars is the variety. None of the other brands have nearly as many different varieties. I particularly love the trail mix bars and the chocolate granola thins. So, the 'best deal' is the Great Value, and the 'best tasting' is definitely Nature Valley. 

    But, if you don't want to buy granola bars, try making them! This is the best recipe I've found, and has  extremely flexible list of ingredients.


  • The Joy of Less

    I have been reading a book by Francine Jay called the Joy of Less:  a minimalist living guide.  It is interesting and makes you think about what you have, why you have it, and if it is worth having.  Since I have been doing the Clutter challenge this week of getting rid of 25 items a day, I have found that things are less cluttered and easier to clean.  

    Have you found that living with less helps you to be happier?  Does it decrease stess in your life?  


  • Consumer Debt Rising - Would you go into debt to pay for what you want?

     I read in the newspaper this morning that consumer debt is rising.  People borrowed more recently than in any other month in almost 4 years. People are borrowing money to pay for cars and using credit cards to get them through hard times.  I just don't get why people don't just cut back and skip buying things that they can't afford.  Getting into more debt in a economically challenging time just don't seem like a good idea.  Wouldn't you be concerned about taking on more debt when times are hard?  

  • Cooking From Scratch: Make Your Own Potato Salad

    Potato salad is one thing that I think is worth it to just make yourself.  I have never had a potato salad from a store or restaurant that I have liked.  The potatoes are too firm or I just don't like the dressing they use on it.  Unless you can get the mayonnaise and potatoes for a great price, it really isn't cheaper to make it yourself.  But, the taste is definitely worth it.  I just don't eat potato salad any more unless it is homemade.  


    6- 12 potatoes-cooked in jackets                     1 ½ tsp. salt

    1 onion-chopped                                              ¼ tsp. paprika

    3 hard-boiled eggs-chopped                             ¼ c. French dressing

    1 c. chopped celery                                          ½ c. mayonnaise (maybe a little more)

    1 cucumber-diced

    Combine ingredients except French dressing and mayonnaise.  Chill and marinate in French dressing 4-6 hours. Just before serving, add mayonnaise and mix carefully.

    I tried this recipe years ago and loved it.  It still is my all time favorite.  I don't remember putting a cucumber in it.  My husband doesn't like celery or cucumber in potato salad and I usually don't have French dressing on hand, so I make one that my husband grew up having (pictured) with mayonnaise, a little bit of mustard, relish or pickles, eggs and potatoes.   I add salt, pepper and Tony Chachere's Cajun seasoning to it.  I hate mustard, so I use very little when I make it and I substitute dill relish for sweet relish since no one but my husband likes the sweet. 


    Do you have a favorite potato salad you would like to share?  


  • Name Brand vs. Store Brand: Disposable Diapers

     Anyone who has children knows how expensive diapers can be. If you have a child in diapers until they are two, and assuming you can get diapers for $0.20 each, and you use an average of 4 a day, you will have spent $584 on only diapers for that one child! That doesn't even include wipes, diaper cream, etc. And, chances are you will use more than 4 diapers a day when they are little, or for the times when you change their diaper and they poop less than ten minutes later, and they may not be ready to potty train right when they are two. The kicker? I only found 3 scenarios where you can get diapers for 0.20 or less per diaper. Based on my research, the average price per diaper is $0.25, meaning the average person will spend $730 on diapers for one child. And that is if you buy big boxes, not the small packages.

    If you are buying the store brand now, for about $0.28 per diaper, you can save $120 or more a year by switching to a diaper that costs $0.20 or less...So, where do you find the cheapest diaper? Keep reading, I'll tell you what I found out:

    So, I performed an experiment and did some research to find out what is the best deal on diapers. First, the research: (note this is based on size 5 diapers, but results are comparable to other sizes. Prices may vary. Typically, the smaller the diaper, the cheaper it costs.)

    I thought it would make a lot more sense to buy diapers in bulk. For the most part, this is true. Small packages cost a lot more per diaper than large packages. However, if you can find a good deal and have good coupons, it may be cheaper to get the smaller packages. In my experience, even with coupons, the name brand are more expensive than the store brand.

    Since I am not a coupon pro, I just looked at the price comparison for the big boxes. I looked at Amazon, diapers.com, Wal-mart, and Costco to see what was the best deal. Here's what I found:

    The Research

    • Diapers.com: Not a great deal at all. Unless you can find a great promotion for free shipping and money off of your order, I wouldn't buy diapers from here. The best price (which means the biggest box) for Pampers is $0.26 a diaper, and Huggies is $0.29 a diaper. 
    • Costco: You can get Huggies for $0.28 each. Kirkland, their store brand, is slightly higher ($0.29), unless you buy two boxes at a time. I don't know if the 2-case deal is only online, or if it is a limited time offer, but those diapers are $0.23 each.
    • Amazon.com: If you combine your Amazon mom discount with the subscribe and save discount, you can get an awesome deal on Huggies. ($0.19 each), and an even better deal on Luvs ($0.16). I'm not sure what the intricacies of the subscribe and save deal is, but you have to set up a periodic payment/delivery. If you don't have the Amazon mom discount, or the subscriber discount, the prices are still cheaper than diapers.com, but only by $0.02. 
    • Wal-mart: If you buy the box of 72 of the Parent's choice diapers, they end up being $0.20 each. Not a bad deal 

    So, in summary, the BEST deal is Amazon.com's Luvs diapers for $0.16, with the Amazon Mom discount and the Subscribe and Save discount. 

    The Experiment:

    The research assumes that all diaper are equal quality. I put this theory to the test with my experiment. I tried four different brands, Pampers, Huggies, Mom's choice (found at Safeway), and Parent's Choice (Walmart). I was going to get Luvs, but couldn't find them at Safeway, and was a little too anxious to do the experiment. Then, I used 1/4 c increments of water to determine at what point the diapers leaked. So, this experiment doesn't look at the ability of the diapers to retain the 'real stuff', the odor control, or the ability to keep the baby's bum dry. However, after using all 4 brands on my son, I haven't found there to be a significant difference in the 4 brands. I do think that Huggies and Pampers were constructed with more care, but not enough to warrant spending $200 a year more on diapers.

    Overall, there wasn't compelling evidence that the name brands are better. While they have a cool picture on the front, and they aren't quite as bulky, they still didn't do the job they were intended to do (retain fluid without leaking). The winner was the Safeway brand: It retained 4 cups of water! Huggies came in second with 3.5 cups, and Pampers and Parent's Choice were tied at 2.5 cups.

    Here is the breakdown:

    1. Mom's Choice ($0.25, $16.99 for a box of 70): 4 cups
    2. Huggies ($0.29, $19.99 for a box of 70): 3.5 cups 
    3. Tie at 2.5 cups for the following: Pampers ($0.29, $19.99 for box of 70) and Parent's Choice ($0.20, $13.97 for a box of 70)

    The Verdict:

    Just buy the cheapest diaper. 

    Even though I wasn't able to do the experiment on Luvs brand, the fact that Pampers was tied for last place AND that a store brand came in first place is compelling evidence that name brand doesn't really make a big difference. Amazon's deal on Luvs is the best, but Wal-mart brand is not bad either.



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