Did you know that Name brands cost 20-50% less than their name brand counterpart? Several years ago we ran a “scientific” budget experiment in our home. Unbeknown to my unsuspecting family, I purchased several store brand items and literally swapped them with their brand name counterpart. I saved the packaging of the brand name when they were empty and then refilled them. I wanted to see for myself whether my kids had turned into food snobs based on marketing ploys or whether the brands truly tasted different or of lesser quality. Here are our results:
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese v.s Great Value Mac-n-Cheese : Full disclosure, we did NOT try this one on our own family as I don’t purchase boxed mac-n-cheese, my kids have no idea what it tastes like. Instead, we enlisted the help of a friend with 3 kids ages 5, 8 and 11. She reported back, quite happily that her kids not only didn’t mind the switch but asked if she added extra cheese because it tasted better this time. Kudos!
Rice Krispies v.s Walmart Store Brand– the kids didn’t seem to notice the switch, however, dh -who is a HUGE fan of rice krispie treats, made them and then couldn’t stop commenting about something “just not being right, the texture was off”, etc. Honestly, I couldn’t believe he could tell the difference.
Ritz Crackers vs Great Value Crackers– Kids were unable to taste the difference at all, I thought they tasted like they had a bit less salt than the Ritz, but all in all, we were happy to make the switch.
Oreos vs. Twist-o’s (Dollar Store Item)-The kids don’t eat too many store-prepared foods, but we do buy oreos on occasion during the summer months. As long as they had a glass of milk to go with the cookies, they didn’t seem to care either way.
All- Purpose Flour vs. Great Value Flour (which is nearly $1 less per 5lb bag!) – no difference
McCormick Real Vanilla Extract v.s Aldi’s Store brand Vanilla– This one was a miserable fail for me, I ended up using nearly 3 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla to match the flavor of a single teaspoon of McCormicks.
Hershey’s Chocolate syrup vs. Homemade Copycat clone Syrup: No one knew that I made the syrup myself, but my dh was thrilled that Hershey finally “Changed their recipe so it’s easier to stir”. The syrup was a touch thinner than the original, but the flavor was exactly the same.
Conclusion: Over the course of our unofficial home study we tried more than 40 items and what we’ve discovered is that some store brands actually taste better than their name brand counterparts. I won’t skimp on baking supplies like extracts and certain types of seasonings/spices.
I do, however, purchase store brand items such as chips, pretzels, cereals and crackers. If you look on the back of the packaging of MOST store brand items you’ll notice that they offer a 100% satisfaction money back guarantee. It’s worth it to switch out a couple items each week and taste test them with your family. In the event that you aren’t happy with the switch, you can always get your money back.
We would love to hear your experiences with swapping out foods with your family as well!