August 13, 2018

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It's OK to buy generic. Buying store brand foods is the way to go when saving money. Here, we provide you those items that taste just the same no matter store or name brand.

If you're trying to win brownie points in taste and texture by purchasing name brand items only, you're really just losing money and not helping the flavor of your dishes. If you've stuck to name brand items only in the past, break away today and start buying generic brands so you can save your grocery budget for specialty items and organic produce.

Follow along as we debunk these pantry staples to start shopping smarter today.

1. Sugar

Store brand is just fine.

2. Whole and Ground Spices

Store brands deliver plenty of aroma and flavor.

3. Block Cheese

If you're not buying artisanal cheese, go for the cheapest option.

4. Precut produce

Buy whole fruits and veggies and slice them yourself to avoid the nearly 40% markup.

5. Nuts

Buy in bulk, and store extras in the freezer for up to 9 months.

6. Tomato Paste

Because most recipes use little more than a tablespoon or two, it's practically impossible to tell the difference between premium paste and less expensive options in finished dishes.

7. Fresh Herbs

Buy combo packages, sometimes labeled "poultry mix," that give you smaller amounts of several herbs to avoid waste.

8. Milk

Now that most supermarket store brands have eliminated growth hormone (check labels to be sure), there's no need to splurge on organic or name brand.

9. Canned Beans

Any difference you might notice is lost in the rinsing and draining.

10. Brown Rice and Other Whole Grains

No quality drop-off in cheaper bulk offerings.

11. Bagged Lettuces

Store brands are just as good and often on sale.

12. Popcorn Kernels

Cheaper brands pop and taste about the same as premium kernels. They keep for as long as a year, so buy in bulk and store in airtight containers.

13. Table Salt

No real difference in taste or size of grain among brands.

14. Panko

You'll get the crisp crumbs regardless of brand.

15. Neutral Cooking Oils

Canola, vegetable, and safflower—they're flavorless. Buy cheap.

16. Cooking Spray

All that matters is that it lubricates the pan, which they all do.

17. White Vinegar

The most fundamental of vinegars, what matters here is its 5% acidity level. While taste does indeed vary among brands of other vinegars, such as white and red wine, balsamic, and sherry, white vinegars are consistent.

18. Dried Beans and Lentils

Just as with rice and whole grains, you're fine to go with cheap bags here.

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