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31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Don’t Be Brand Dependent

One way to save a great deal of money on your grocery budget is to learn to like and use a variety of brands. The sooner you can get over being a brand-snob, the more your pocketbook will thank you.

Be Brave; Try New Things!

I have a confession to make: when we first started shopping at Aldi, I was really leery of buying their products. I figured they’d taste icky and cheap.

But since my husband and I were living on a beans-and-rice budget, we had to make a meager budget work. It was either that – or pretty much starve! So we hesitantly started trying different items from Aldi.

And guess what? We were pleasantly surprised! Not only was most of it not icky or cheap-tasting, we actually liked some of the food better than the brands we were used to buying.

Base Your Purchases on the Price Rather Than the Brand

Let’s say your shampoo stockpile is running low and it’s time to build it back up. If you’re stuck on only buying Herbal Essence shampoo, the cheapest you may be able to buy it is for $1.50 by combining a sale with a coupon. If, however, you’re willing to look for the lowest price on any brand of shampoo, you may very well be able to find shampoo priced at $0.50 per bottle after coupon and sale.

While the savings of $1 per bottle of shampoo might not seem too significant, think about how the savings could add up if you saved $1 on 15 different items each week at the grocery store because you choose price over brand. That would be a savings of $60 per month — or$720 per year. And in most people’s cases, the savings would likely be much more than that.

Don’t Stockpile 35 Bottles of Something If You’ve Never Tried the Brand Before

While I’m all for trying new things and looking at the purchase price rather than the brand, I do want to caution you not to go overboard. If you’ve never tried Cheeseburger and Cream shampoo before and it’s on a great sale and there’s a good coupon out for it, I’d suggest you buy a bottle or two and determine whether you like it or not before you stock up for the rest of the year.

It’s not saving money if you get a sweet deal on 30 bottles of shampoo and then they stay in the stockpile closet for five years because no one will use them!

Yes, Brand Does Matter Sometimes — But Not Much of the Time

Okay, before any diehard brand-dependent person flips out on me, I must clarify that I believe it’s totally acceptable to have a few items where you are stuck 100% on a certain brand.

For instance, we only use Pampers diapers. I have two children with extremely sensitive skin and we’ve tried multiple brands of cloth diapers, Huggies, Luvs, store-brand, you name it and Pampers are the only diapers who don’t break them out in severe diaper rash. So it’s worth it to me to spend the extra money on Pampers (though, since the advent of Swagbucks, I’ve not been paying for diapers out of pocket, so the extra costs don’t hurt as much!).

We also use Shout almost exclusively for stain removal. We have three young children and oh do we have need of a good stain remover! Shout is the only stain remover I’ve found which consistently gets out pretty much 100% of the stains. However, I can usually get it for under $0.75 per bottle by matching a coupon with a great sale, so I’m not really spending much more on it.

Other than Shout and Pampers, we try to keep a pretty open mind when it comes to brands and shopping. And we save so much money by doing so!

What brands are you non-negotiable on? Have you been pleasantly surprised when trying new brands?

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  • Kellie says:

    I’m not brand dependent on razors, but I have become a razor snob. Thanks to this website, I found I can get high quality razors cheap, and have been using them instead of the 12 for $1 kind. I can’t stand the cheap ones anymore! My only other brand name loyalties are to Dawn and Scott TP. Everything else, I’m open to.

  • Megan says:

    Yuck, yuck yuck, I LOATHE Aldi’s! The only thing I’ve ever found palatable was their cinnamon raisin granola cereal and they discontinued it! Thanks to smart couponing, I never have to compromise. I enjoy the generic brands from the major stores but there’s just something about Aldi that I hate.
    Things I don’t compromise on:
    Diapers – Pampers or Huggies. My DD is allergic to Luv’s and pees through generic diapers. (rarely do I spend more than 6 dollars per package due to coupons)
    Shampoo – I prefer Infusium (and always seem to find a coupon for 2 or 3 dollars off when I’m close to running out – pair with a sale at Wags + my sister’s discount and I get darn near free shampoo!)

  • Preparedmom says:

    I find it interesting how some people love a certain brand while others cannot tolerate that very thing! I think it shows once again that there is not a one-size fits all solution when it comes to shopping and budgeting. We each need to figure out what works best for us and our family.

    I have lived in various parts of the USA and have found different products perform differently depending on location. Part of that is the hardness or softness of the water. In NW Indiana I couldn’t use the same brands as in CA. The brand I used in CA worked great, but in IN it lathered up like crazy and woudn’t rinse clean. I think that is why some love Dawn and others love Palmolive…they perform differently in different locations.

    Our bodies are all unique and react differently to different ingredients/chemicals. What works great for one person causes a rash or reaction for another person. I’m one who can’t use Crest…it gives me canker sores. Other people love crest! We’re all created uniquely, aren’t we?

    We all have different things that are important to us as well. My dh used to love Heinz ketchup, but I’ve switched over to Hunts because it has no HFCS and he doesn’t mind at all. I used to buy whatever meat was cheapest, but now we buy local grass fed beef whenever possible as that is a priority for us.

  • CJ says:

    The thing I like best about Aldi is its easy to choose what to buy – if you want french fries or corn flakes, there’s only one brand so you dont have to stand there and compare brands or prices. I am only brand loyal to Hellmans mayo, Jif peanut butter and Mountain Dew.

  • Sara says:

    Aldi’s is great! I wasn’t too sure about all their stuff to begin with either. There are a few things there that we don’t get for taste reasons but not many.
    Peanut butter is what I’m a snob about. I can’t do the store brand from anywhere. It has to be Jif or Skippy for me. =)

  • Mary says:

    I am totally loyal to Cottonelle toliet paper! My sister and I were talking about this recently. She doesn’t care what kind of toliet paper she buys but is brand loyal on ketchup and peanut butter.

    I have also been pleasantly surprised by Aldi products. But don’t give up if your first product or two doesn’t work out. I find their regular bacon much too thin, but their “premium” is tasty! And it’s $1 cheaper than bacon at other stores.

  • Carol says:

    I’ve got to have Hershey’s Cocoa, but other than that, we’re open to non-national brands.

    We’ve found we like store brand crackers–almost any store brand–more than Nabisco crackers. They have more substance and don’t break as easily.

  • Janell says:

    My husband has to have Mitchum, Safeguard & Extra soft Scott TP. He works really hard, so he deserves it. I do buy others for the kids bathroom though. We also love Tide & Pantene.

  • Janell says:

    Also, I’ll only use Cetaphil face cleanser. I love it!

  • Andrea says:

    Tide I can not live with out Ive tried and wasted my time and money on other brands or having to pretreat entirely to much, of course I love the coupons and stockpile heck I hoard Tide I mean it cant go bad right:)

  • Merlin says:

    I had to chuckle at this: Cheeseburger and cream shampoo! Is there really such a thing as that?!? LOL….

    I do have a few brands I prefer, but other than that, not brand specific either.

  • Marsha says:

    Until recently I’d been pretty brand-flexible about most things, but new health issues at my house have forced me to be more mindful. Some of you would faint dead away, I think, if I told you how much I know spend on hot dog buns just to get a type that my husband can safely consume (You might rightly ask, “Why not just give up hot dog buns?” – it’s not the buns, it’s everything. Our house is now wheat-, beef-, most poultry-, pork-, soy-, legume-, cow dairy- and nightshade-free. Really, it’s just Too Much. But the dear is cute and kind, so I guess I’ll keep him.)

    One thing to keep in mind about discounted or off-brands is to always check the ingredients. My sister liked a particular off-brand of soup more than the mass-market version and found out later that it had MUCH more sugar and salt added. Sugar, salt and fat are often added to products to make them more palatable and they can be used in abundance in discount brands to “fool” us unto thinking that they are tastier than we’d otherwise believe. Where ingredients between brands are comparable, by all means go for whatever taste/cost balance makes sense, but do be careful.

  • Amy says:

    We use shout in our household, but I’ve found another awesome stain remover: M30. I get it at the dollar store and it works great. I had gotten popcorn butter on a light jacket of mine about 3 years ago. The shout wouldn’t take it out. My mom told me about M30 and how she used it on my dad’s greasy work clothes. I tried it last year and popcorn butter stain – GONE! I’ve used it on several things since then and most of the stains are gone! Just thought I’d share :)!

  • Natalie says:

    Oh wow. I got to thinking about, and my gosh I really AM a brand snob!

    Heinz ketchup
    Pantene (good thing there’s lots of coupons / sales)
    Hershey’s syrup
    Campbell’s soup
    Axe body wash (for my husband – and 6 yo lol!)

    But, after several failed attempts on my part the ABSOLUTE, ONE thing I can NEVER compromise on again (or risk a complete veggie boycott) is HIDDEN VALLEY RANCH. Whoa!! Learned my lesson on that one… Yikes. ; )

  • Terri says:

    Dawn and Tide and Tide Stain Release. I love all of these products and only use them. I can always get the Dawn either really cheap or free and the same with Tide, and have so far been able to get the large Tide Stain Release for around $4.00 by stacking store and manufacturer coupons.

  • Nicole S says:

    Bounty and Charmin-we never use any other paper product brands!

  • Ginni says:

    I’m non-negotiable on my dishwashing detergent. I tried a cheap brand and was having to rewash the majority of my dishes. I switched back to Cascade Complete powder and no more rewashing!

  • Susan says:

    We used to always buy Gorton’s or Mrs. Paul’s fishsticks for my son, but when they were all gone one day at Walmart, we bought the store brand (Great Value), and now buy only those – they are much higher quality, and cheaper!

  • Carrie says:

    Tide laundry detergent and bounce fabric softeners. I have extremely sensitive skin. If I use a diffrent detergent I get itchy. Very itchy, and sometimes get a rash

  • Rachel says:

    Gotta be Old Spice deodorant for my husband (the only one he’s found that works for him, and now I’m a sucker for the scent), Dove deodorant for me, and Charmin TP (we find we use much less of it versus the cheaper brands). The only other things are Pace salsa and when we buy soda, it’s gotta be genuine Coca Cola.

  • Tara says:

    I haven’t seen this mentioned yet…feminine products. Tampons, I buy whatever’s on sale, but pads/panitliners, I will only buy Always brand. Also, my kids will only eat Ragu Marinara Sauce and husband will only eat Activia yogurt. Pretty much everything else is fair game.

  • Tara says:

    I just have to say, what’s up with all the husbands being so brand loyal?? Not fair!

  • We are brand snobs at our home about saltine crackers. Only Zesta will do according to my husband. No store brand for us on that one.

    Also, spaghetti sauce you must use Ragu Traditional. Although on that one we are starting towards making our own sauce which is awesomely good!

  • Traci says:

    So funny to read all these comments! It reminds me of my very first attempt at doing my own grocery shopping. I was scrutinizing all the prices – comparing brands, different sizes, etc., to try stock my pantry starting with nothing. I chose a less-expensive brand of peanut butter than what my mom had always bought. It was so bad I couldn’t finish even one sandwich. To this day, I have been a Jif snob!

  • Glenda says:

    Now that I think about it, I’m a brand snob for a number of things–Jif pb, Helman’s lite mayo, 7th Generation detergent, Diet Dr. Pepper, & Claussen Garlic Pickles to name a few. But I buy them on Publix’s BOGO sales and stock up (even more fun if I have a coupon). Great deal ESPECIALLY on that pb!

  • Kathleen Feller says:

    I’m so glad to hear that someone else couldn’t use cloth diapers. My youngest son would break out in a yeast rash everytime I put one on him. It didn’t matter what I did or which ones I used. He is allergic to almost all disposable too. The only brands that don’t give him a rash are 7th Generation, Earth’s Best, Huggies Pure and Natural, and Nature Babycare. Right now 7th Generation is the cheapest so we’re using them.
    We are also brand dependent on laundry detergent and kids bath soap. This is again because of sensitive skin.

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