February 17, 2011

Tip of the day—Thoughts on Generics

  • If you’ve been couponing for any amount of time, you’ve probably learned that when you can match a coupon to a sale, the name brand product is usually cheaper than the generic. This isn’t always the case, and I recommend doing the math and looking at the unit price to make sure you are getting the best deal.
  • The meat, poultry, and fish that we don’t buy directly from a fish monger or farmer is usually store brand.  This section of the store is where you can save a lot of money by purchasing the generic version.  We like Kroger bacon, for instance, just as much as the pricier name brands.
  • You don’t have to settle.  Many stores are now carrying an organic line.  Some stores produce their own lines and others carry an organic line that is priced much lower than the other organics in their store.  As I mentioned above, when we aren’t able to buy from a farmer, we stick with the organic or natural option at our store in meat and poultry.  The same goes for milk.  I much prefer Cruze Dairy Farm milk, but if I run out or can’t drop into a store that carries their milk, I’ll purchase the Kroger line of organic milk.
  • Some stores offer a risk free trial of their generic.  Ask store manager for details on this or look on the product packaging.  AND BE HONEST!  Don’t return a product for a refund unless you really don’t like it!
  • Store brands aren’t what they used to be.  It is amazing how much better the quality is for store brands as compared to years ago.  Sometimes we even prefer the store brand to the national brand.  An example of this is the Kroger brand of Club crackers.  When I needed crackers for an event at church last year, I compared the prices and looked at the prices with the coupons I had.  Because I needed the crackers that week and I didn’t have enough extras in our stockpile, I opted for the best price, which were those crackers in the wheat version.  We enjoyed them much better than we had any crackers in a long time.  They were lighter and less greasy than the national brand, and whenever I need crackers, I gravitate towards that box at the store. 
  • Look at the side panel.  Sometimes when I compare store and national brand products, the store brand has less junk—fewer dyes, less sodium, less fat or calories, simpler ingredients.  I won’t say that this is always the case, but many times the store brand is a little healthier of an option than the national brand.  This doesn’t just apply to foods.  The Walgreens brand of children’s Tylenol was the only one we could find without any added dyes and with a shorter list of ingredients when our daughter was a baby.
  • Talk to your doctor about generic medications, then talk to a nurse, social worker, and other healthcare providers.  Get the general consensus on how well a product works.  Drug companies really push doctors to recommend their meds over others.  Sometimes this is because the name brand really is showing improvements over other options but not always. 
  • Some stores will send you coupons for their store brands.  Ingles, Food City, Kroger, and Earth Fare have all had options for store brand coupons and/or freebies in the past.  Sign up for their company email and loyalty card if you aren’t yet receiving coupons.  Make sure when you do sign up to give them permission to mail you things.  Sometimes people check this box thinking that stores are going to send them a bunch of junk mail, and they are sending coupons and store information instead.
  • Savings add up.  Even if you are only saving a few pennies on one product, it adds up over the course of a year.  You can easily save hundreds of dollars per year by comparing prices and picking store brands when they are less money.
  • Buying straight from the farmer is the original “generic”.  Whenever you can, choose to support local farmers and businesses.  I much prefer to buy farm fresh lettuce than trucked-in-from-thousands-of-miles-away lettuce.  You won’t find many labels at the farmers markets, but you will find friendly, hard working people who sell honest products.  Often the prices at local markets are a lot less than the grocery stores.  Last year for example, I bought a pound of garlic from a farmer for only a few dollars.  I looked at the grocery, and a two pack was priced right at the same amount. 
  • As with anything I recommend, do what works for your family.   There are some things that we stick with the name brand—toilet paper being one of them.   If your family has certain things that they only want to be purchased in the name brand lines, then couponing can help you do that for less money.

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