The Good And The Bad Generic Grocery Brands

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Photo: Flickr / *Grant*

Sometimes it just isn’t worth it to buy the name brand grocery product.We asked The Grocery Game’s Teri Gault to weigh in on when to buy generic.

It turns out the choice varies by brand and by product.

For macaroni and cheese, for instance, Kraft really is cheesier than Walmart. When it comes to lettuce, however, Kroger’s is just as good as Dole.

GOOD: Kroger's Peanut Butter

At 18 oz., this is 'just as good, and bigger,' Gault says. However, with a coupon and during a sale, Skippy is cheaper.

BAD: Walmart's Great Value Macaroni & Cheese

'Many generic brands just aren't as good as Kraft,' says Gault.

Like Walmart's Great Value: 'The brand is too orange and it just doesn't taste cheesy.'

GOOD: Safeway O-Organics Yogurt

'These are just as good as name-brand organic yogurt,' says Gault.

BAD: Kroger's Brand Chicken

'It seems like over-grown chicken that's been pumped with water,' Gault says of Kroger's brand chicken.

'Foster Farms brand is all-natural and almost as good of a price when it's on sale.'

GOOD: Albertson's Butter

Comparable to Costco's Kirkland brands, this is cheaper on sale at the supermarket.

BAD: Kroger's Double Filled Kids O

It's pretty hard to top Oreos, and this offering from Kroger's doesn't even come close.

Says Gault: 'It's too crispy and the flavour is off.'

GOOD: Safeway Select Lasagna

Per Gault: 'Safeway's brand of lasagna is less than $1 per serving on sale with a store coupon--much better than Stouffer's and it's tastes just like it was homemade.'

BAD: Whole Foods 365 Tortilla Chips

Gault says these chips are dry and not light or as crispy as Tostitos.

GOOD: Kroger Fresh Selection Bagged Lettuce

'Just as green and nice as Dole's,' Gault says. And the price is right, too.

Kroger's bagged lettuce costs 89 cents on sale (regularly $1.79) versus Dole's, which costs $1 on sale and is regularly priced at $2.79.

BAD: Kroger Value Sandwich Singles

Compared to Kraft Singles, 'the Kroger brand doesn't taste like real cheese,' Gault says. 'These are imitation slices that are overly processed.'

GOOD: Safeway Taco Shells

Sorry, Mission--these are fresher, crisper and seem to just hold up better. On sale they're only $1 a box.

'I usually buy eight to 10 at a time when they're on sale,' says Gault.

BAD: Meijer baby diapers

These aren't absorbent or effective, Gault says of Meijer's diapers. Better stick with Pampers.

GOOD: Publix Ice Cream

Homemade taste and a creamy texture make this store brand a favourite of Gault's.

'And it's still a full gallon compared to Breyer's,' she says.

BAD: Walmart's Great Value Creamy Peanut Butter

Walmart's offering isn't as creamy, as 'peanutty,' or just as good as Skippy, says Gault.

GOOD: Jewel Flour

This is a great value and 'seems to be just as good as Pillsbury,' Gault says.

And you can't beat the price: At Jewel stores in Chicago, a 5 lb. bag of PIllsbury flour goes for $4.39 whereas Jewel's 5 lb. bag retails for $2.79.

BAD: Safeway's Whole Grain Bread

Though she'll buy it when it's on sale, Gault generally steers clear of this Safeway brand.

'(The bread) just isn't as fresh, chew and nutty as other whole grain name brands,' she says. Her pick: Any Bimbo Bakery brand like Arnold or Brownberry.

GOOD: Safeway O-Organic Granola Cereal

There's something about this line of food that makes it a standout.

'This one's just as tasty as Cascadian Farms or Barbara's,' says Gault. 'I've also tried Kroger and Publix, but these seem fresher. I think they move the product faster due to the great price.'

BAD: Target's Market Pantry

A funny taste and off-colour scent make this Target tuna a loser. Even mayo won't help, says Gault. Stick with Bumble Bee.

GOOD: Kroger Grated Cheese

'This costs a little more than buying the individual Kraft cheese on sale with a coupon,' says Gault, 'but generally the grated cheese or even block cheese is just as good as Kraft's.'

BAD: Wegman's Unsalted Butter

Usually you can't go wrong with sugar, butter or flour from any store, says Gault, but Wegman's brand tastes bland.

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