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Do You Buy These Generics?

I know we all buy generics of some things at least, but what do you think of these “7 Things You Should Always Buy Generic“?  Here’s my take on it:

1.  Pain relievers.

We only buy name brand over-the-counter medicines when we shop at Sam’s Club – it’s about the same price as the generics at Wal-Mart or CVS and we like to buy as much in bulk as possible.  I hate running errands and bulk buying means I get to skip out on shopping as often, lol.  If we are at CVS, we only buy generics since it’s all the same ingredients anyway.  🙂

2.  Water

We only buy 2-3 cases of bottled water a year simply because we like using the bottles for travel and refilling them for the mini-fridge.  Those cases are almost always Kroger brand.  One of my friends swears that Aquafina and Ozarka are the absolute best, but I honestly can’t taste the difference and we’ll just be refilling them with tap water anyway.

3.  Milk

Maybe it’s just our local Kroger, but their store brand milk is more expensive than Springdale, so we buy Springdale.  Why pay $3.50 for Kroger brand when they always sell Springdale for $2.50-$3.00 max?  I also have a major complaint with HEB’s brand of milk – it doesn’t ever last until its sell by date!  That annoys the crud out of me since we never can finish a full half gallon as it is…anyway, it’s usually Springdale milk for us.  🙂

4.  Margarine

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I use coupons to buy Country Crock.  Mr. BFS and I agree that is just tastes better than the generic margarines we have tried.  We buy generic butter though.  It works fantastically for baking!

5.  Bleach

I’ll buy Chlorox if a coupon makes it cheaper, but otherwise, it’s generic for us.  I just don’t see any difference in the cleaning power between the two.  We seem to go through one container of bleach every year or two…

6. Computer and printer supplies

I know people who will only buy the most expensive stuff in this category because they swear that its worth it in the long run because electronics last longer. I don’t agree because they become outdated so quickly. Also I don’t see why I can’t just get printer ink cheap versus paying for the name brand stuff.

7.  Cleaning Products

I use vinegar the most around the house, but there are three name brand cleaning supplies we do buy.  Shout, Oxyclean, and Comet.  Shout works way better than the generics we’ve tried for my husband’s mud stains on his reffing gear.  Oxyclean works magic on the grass stains on his white knickers.  Comet cleans the stuff off of the shower grout way better than anything I’ve tried so far and costs less than $2 a bottle.  🙂

8.  Spices

I can’t think of any name brand spices we buy.  We did get a bottle of real vanilla while we were in Mexico, but I don’t think that counts.  We also buy McCormick seasoning packets for tacos and chili, but that’s just because we like their blend, not because we think they use superior spices. Generally we look at the best Amazon Prime Day deals and go with whatever and stick with it if the prices stay low.

What do you think?  Do you buy any name brands on this list?

26 thoughts on “Do You Buy These Generics?”

  1. Nicole

    1. I am convinced that it is the candy coating on the advil that actually makes it work. Generic ibuprofen just doesn’t seem to work as well for me. I’m ok with generic acetaminophen and generic aspirin though.
    2. We buy whatever water is available when we need bottled. Usually in these (emergency) situations they don’t have generic.
    3. I’m picky about milk… I like local organic best. Sadly they no longer seem to carry my favorite or second favorite local organic brands in town so we’re back to store organic brand, even though it doesn’t taste as good (it is still better than Horizon though). I blame the recession. 🙁
    4. Ick. Margarine is gross. (We were recently at a restaurant that served country crock and the mouth coating feeling was … like eating plaster. It had been a long while since we’d last had it.) We get generic butter for cooking, but for regular use we’ve been getting Vermont cultured butter. AMAZING.
    5. Yes, store-brand bleach.
    6. Vinegar is the bizbomb. And it doesn’t give me a rash. We also get barkeep’s friend. For the dishes Cascade works best in the washer, and we use 7th generation for the sink and clothing (also no rashes).
    7. Very picky about spices. We actually buy from Penzey’s when we can get to one. We were just at one and DH spent $130 on spices. If we’re at the grocery store, we will just get the generic Mexican brand because store spices all seem pretty much the same (not great).

    So when it comes to food we’re pretty picky, it seems.

  2. Annie Jones

    1. We buy pain relievers at Sam’s, too, but we buy their generic versions when they carry one. We also buy their generic vitamins.

    2. We buy whatever water iss cheapest and only for camping or similar outings. My in-laws only buy Ozarka. I can taste a difference in Ozarka and I don’t like it.

    3. We buy milk at Aldi, so yes, it’s generic.

    4. We don’t use margarine, but we buy generic butter at Aldi or Sam’s Club.

    5. Again, our bleach comes from Aldi or is another generic.

    6. I make my own cleaners but they include a few brand names. Dawn for handwashing dishes and to make multi-purpose spray cleaner along with generic rubbing alcohol and generic ammonia and water. Fels-Naptha soap for making laundry detergent along with 20 Mule Team Borax and Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, as those are the only brands of borax and washing soda I can find. I use generic dishwasher detergent.

    7. I buy spices and flavorings in bulk at either a health food store or an Amish grocery store. No brand names if I can help it, but if I need something special, such as lemon or mint extract, I buy whatever I can find, which is usually McCormick.

  3. Everyday Tips

    I always buy generic ibuprofen.

    I don’t buy much bottled water either, but I do love my Ice Mountain

    Kroger has the cheapest milk prices where I live. I pay only 1.99/gallon for white or chocolate milk up here in Michigan. I am surprised at the price difference. I wonder why?

    I love my Fleishmann’s and am pretty brand loyal using the sticks for baking. However, I will buy whatever is on sale regarding tub butter/margarine.

    I have bought generic oxy clean, don’t know if it did a better or worse job than real oxy clean. I also use a lot of vinegar around the house for cleaning.

    Spices – again, whatever is cheapest.

    I also buy some generic cereal. I did try generic dryer sheets once and my son got the worst rash, and so did my mom. So, only Bounce Free for me!

  4. Mrs. Money

    I’m all for generics! I have a friend whose dad works at a bottling company for salsa. They take the SAME exact salsa that’s a name brand and bottle it in the Great Value jars for Walmart!! I was shocked when I found that out.

  5. frugalscholar

    We’re generic on almost everything.

    Exceptions: We only use butter, however. We buy small amounts of bulk spices at a food coop (cheaper and better). We are cheese-a-holics and generally stick to Cabot for cheddar. Oh yeah, my baking hubby says that King Arthur flour really IS better.

  6. Sandy L

    My grocery bill is usually huge, so I’m a bad gauge.

    No on generics – aspirin, cleaners, spices, margarine.

    Yes on milk, bleach, vinegar, water (when I do buy it which is almost never)

    I love Zout by the way..way better than shout. I have 2 filthy kids and I’ve tried them all.

    I actually prefer the local organic milk but my husband says it tastes funny. Oh how sad to not know what real fresh milk tastes like anymore.

  7. Lauren

    Actually, the only thing I won’t touch generic is pain relievers. I have chronic migraines and the generics just don’t seem to touch ’em. Placebo or not, it’s worth it for me to by name brand in that case.

    For everything else, I’m totally with ya.

  8. BFS

    @Nicole and Lauren, hey, if the name brand works better for you all, I will never judge! I hate headaches and would use whatever works to make them go away – luckily the generics work for me, but it would not even be an option if they didn’t. 🙂

    @Sandy L and Nicole, I don’t know if I’ve ever had organic milk…how sad is that? I grew up on 2% whatever-was-cheapest and then switched to whole milk of whatever-is-cheapest when I got married since Mr. BFS “don’t do” 2%. 🙂

    @Annie Jones, I’ve heard of Aldi’s before. Apparently their brand actually tastes pretty good overall. Maybe they use the same factories as the name brands use…

    @Everyday Tips, I wonder why you all have cheaper milk too. I mean, we are surrounded by cattle in Texas…maybe they are all for beef after all. Is Ice Mountain a water brand name?

    @Mrs. Money, I knew that some name brands and store brands were exactly the same, but the trick is figuring out which ones. Our Wal-Mart brand stuff is completely hit or miss. Kroger brands are good 99% of the time.

    @frugalscholar, I will have to look into getting King Arthur when I bake. I haven’t tried them yet.

    @Sandy L, heck, now I have to try Zout. Mr. BFS does get pretty filthy when he’s on the fields…

  9. Squirrelers

    I tend to agree with all of those, though I don’t buy margarine at all. Regardless, for each of these, there’s no need to waste money on a “brand” when you can get something that’s just about identical for less money.

    Am I going to feel “cool” if I buy a brand name pain reliever vs a generic? Will I feel like a superhero if I drink a brand name milk, vs a generic? No on both counts.

    For those that would buy generic of these 7, is it the “comfort” factor of the the brands? To that, I can understand…I’m a believer in the “sleep well at night” theory, where it’s sometimes ok to do irrational things as long as you can recognize that there is some irrationality in what you’re doing, but it makes you rest easy. If that makes sense:)

    For some things, I totally understand brand name purchases. For these commodities, I won’t spend extra on a brand. Pocket the difference and save more.

    Hopefully I’m not offending anybody:)

  10. Jenna

    Why would you ever “buy” water?

  11. myfinancialobjectives.com

    I buy allll Off brand cereal alll the time. I’d say about once a month or so I will “treat” myself to buying not only something that’s unhealthy, but something namebrand too.

    I don’t really buy clothes.. If I do, it’s at the outlets during sales, so I guess I DO buy namebrand clothes..

    Sam’s Club Water ALL THE WAY!! Member’s Mark is what it’s called.. It tastes just as good as any other bottled water.

    I do buy name brand milk… But then again, I am a milk fiend!

  12. Nicole

    Jenna– When we’re out and it’s hot and I’m dying of thirst and we’re out of the water we brought and there’s no water fountains. Then I buy water. I buy water because it is better for me than buying soda or fake lemonade.

    With milk, the big difference is transport. In East TX, I think Borden(?) is the local milk (and there’s a local ice cream too… um… BlueBell? Bluebonnet?). The flavor really is different. In California there are a million different flavors of local. I like Clover best (and this one ice cream from Santa Barbara… Mcconnell or mccormick or something). In Illinois I love Oberweis. Wisconsin has a ton of choices… Organic Valley milk is usually relatively local to wherever you are, so it’s often my second choice if I can’t get my local favorite. I can’t tell any differences between non-local milks, so if I can’t get local it really isn’t that important whether it is store brand or brand name. There is no good milk in Boston.

    Can you tell that I spend a lot of time thinking about food? (I’m also a super-taster, so I tend to notice little differences that don’t bother other people.)

    Aldi is a German grocer. I don’t think many of their store brands are American. They have some pretty weird (European) stuff. I heard they were moving into TX.

  13. Money Reasons

    I, I, I do what my wife says 🙁

    I only thing I think she busy that’s generic is the kitchen trash bags (and only those, not out side ones…).

    Oh, I just remembered, she will also by the store brand of bread and juice for my daughter.

    Grocery shopping is our frugal kryptonite…

  14. Sandy L

    To add to Nicole’s comment, my eyes were opened about milk when I took a cheesemaking class. Our local brand used to be Garelick (I’m in New England) and I thought I was doing a good thing by buying it, but then I learned that a big farm bought them out. Now, the milk travels across country to get processed and pasturized and then travels back again to get sold. So that gallon of milk that I’m buying for $4+ has traveled at least 3000-4000 miles before it even hits the shelves. What do you think the carbon footprint on a glass of that milk is? Plus, it’s kind of gross to think about it sloshing around, getting old an losing what little nutrients it has in it.

  15. Nicole

    Ha! That explains why there’s no good milk in Boston, despite all the cows (and good cheese) in Vermont. I remember Garelick, but not as anything special. I buy for flavor instead of the environment… usually the two just happen to mesh. There is good ice cream in Boston though… local favorite: Blue moon. It’s been several years since I had a pint though.

  16. BFS

    @Squirrelers, another no margarine eater, lol. I guess I shop on the whatever’s cheapest method – whether that’s generic or brand name with coupons. 🙂

    @Jenna, I don’t know about everyone else, but we refill the bottles and use them in our mini-fridge as a cola substitute and we take them with us in the car if we’re thirsty…so I guess we buy 2-3 cases of bottles a year and the water is just a tag-along, lol.

    @MFO, maybe if I had a better palate, I’d care more about our milk…

    @Nicole, yes, it’s Bluebell icecream and it’s so well known here that I almost choked on my bagle when you weren’t positive about the name, lol. Borden is also the brand of milk around here, along with Promise Land, Springdale, and the store generics. My crappy palate can’t taste the difference and Sprindale is just usually the cheapest.

    @Money Reasons, hahaha. Yeah, hubby usually buys whatever brand I buy, but he has put his foot down that it is Clausen pickles or nothing at all, lol. 🙂

    @Sandy L, cheesemaking class? You sound like you are pretty dang eclectic! Very cool!

  17. Sandy L

    BFS I’m constantly learning random new things. When I tell my husband about a new hobby, he rolls his eyes and says I need a new hobby like another hole in my head. Part of me wants to be self employed some day, so I try a lot of things. Not much sticks though. I’ll be sure to blog about some of them soon.

  18. BFS

    @Sandy L, I bounced around hobbies a lot until I settled into blogging. Self-defense, walking dogs, pet sitting, baby sitting, and even working at a book store on weekends. Blogging just clicked and stayed. 🙂

  19. Khaleef @ KNS Financial

    We are comfortable buying generics of every one of these – although Clorox is stronger than the generic bleach. Also, since we usually pay only a few dollars at CVS, we usually buy the brand name (they are cheaper than generics when you factor in coupons, weekly sales and ECBs)!

  20. BFS

    @Khaleef, I didn’t know Chlorox was stronger…they seem to work the same…huh. And I LOVE CVS! They have the nicest and most knowledgeable pharmacy staff in our area!

  21. Ken @Spruce Up Your Finances

    We buy a lot of generics as well. Items like water, aspirins, milk, sugar, etc. For us, the tastes are the same with the branded ones so we really did not want to pay extra. On some of the generic ones, we are able to save as much as 30%. However, if there are discounts or if the items are on sale or if we have coupons that would make the branded ones to be cheaper, then we would go with the branded ones.

  22. Sunil from The Extra Money Blog

    agreed with Ken and I am sure this is the most common practice. there was a special on TV where they showed how the generic “Kroger” or any other home brand is essentially the same product made at the same factory and simply labelled something else.

  23. Crystal @ BFS

    @Ken, sounds like we having similar shopping habits! Thanks for participating!

    @Sunil, this makes me want to try Kroger salsa instead of Pace…

  24. Funny about Money

    1. Pain relievers.

    Until I became allergic to NSAIDs, I never bought brand names. Generic is much cheaper everywhere I shop. Ditto allergy pills, first-aid supplies, diarrhea plug-em-up, and just about every OTC nostrum.

    2. Water

    Why pay for bottled water when you’re already paying for tap water with your taxes? I filter mine with Brita, an expensive proposition but probably cheaper and more environmentally friendly than paying for plastic bottles to throw in the landfill.

    3. Milk

    Don’t drink it. When I have to buy it for cooking, I usually grab whatever is the best buy with the best shelf date.

    4. Margarine

    Don’t eat that stuff. I buy butter at Costco in one-pound packages, which I slice into four chunks the size and shape of regular sticks of butter.

    5. Bleach


    6. Cleaning Products

    Depends. Safeway’s and Costco’s non-“green” liquid laundry detergent are comparable to Wisk or Tide and much cheaper. Costco doesn’t sell generic brands of stain remover, toilet cleaner, etc. I buy Lysol’s toilet cleaner and Simple Green all-purpose for bathroom, kitchen, and floor cleaning.

    7. Spices

    I buy Morton & Bassett when I can find an item I use a lot, because they package their stuff in large jars with lids that have the spice’s name on top. My spice lazy-susans are on a pull-out shelf in the pantry, and being able to see what’s what from the top saves a lot of poking around. When the expensive spices are used up, I refill the jar with a cheaper brand or with a spice bought in bulk at an ethnic market.

  25. Crystal @ BFS

    @Funny about Money, we do that spice thing too kind of. We bought a spinning spice rack that has labeled bottles. When they run out, we just refill them with whatever’s cheapest.

    Brita’s an awesome alternative for anybody who cares about the extra stuff that’s in tap water, thanks!

  26. Amanda L Grossman

    Hey Crystal,

    I find that with couponing, it’s cheaper to purchase name brand products than generics. However, if I were not couponing, than generics would be the way to go.

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