5 Generic Products Totally Worth Buying (And 5 to Skip)


generic paper towelsI am all for saving a few cents here and there ... alas, I'm not a big coupon gal (I never remember them and then when I do, they've expired), so I had to find an easy way to save some cash. So I've been buying generic. Buying the store-brand of whatever it is I'm needing.

Good idea, right? Yes, in theory. The sad thing is not all generic items are, well, very good. In my quest to pinch pennies, I've discovered a few things that I will never, not ever buy generic again and some fabu generic scores in the grocery store aisles that can save you $$$$! Let's all do the thrifty dance as I pass my list on to you ...

What I never buy generic:

1. Paper towels -- Really, there is nothing worse than cleaning. When you have to don your housework cap, you want it to go quickly, efficiently, be done with it ASAP. Generic paper towels just don't cut it. They dissolve within one swipe of the table, they leave behind little paper towel turds (the rolled-up little remnants that look like some small rodent pooped them out), they make me work harder ... which Mama doesn't like.

2. Trash bags -- You're loading up the trash can, peeved that your husband didn't take out the trash before he left for work. You hoist it up and rrrrriiiiippppppp. Yes, that has happened to me -- but only when I bought generic trash bags. I am not sure why these bags aren't like the rest, but they do feel a tad flimsier. Flimsy. Not a word you want to describe what's holding your trash during "clean out the fridge" week.

3. Tampons -- Do I really need to illuminate this reason? It is that time of the month, you're making your way to Hormonalville on the Crankypants Train ... and the tampon you're using doesn't quite, ahem, work as it should. Another pair of underwear ruined.

4. Antibacterial lotion -- You know those hand sanitizers. You may think the store-brand is just as good as the brand-name kind, but it isn't. Look at the percentage of alcohol -- it isn't enough to kill the germies. Also, the smell of the generic one is aw-ful.

5. Toilet paper -- If there is one thing in life I need, it's a nice-feeling tushy. Be kind to your tushy and your tushy will be kind to you (and do its best to get into those pre-pregnancy jeans). The generic toilet paper just doesn't cut it, folks. Scratchy, coarse, linty. Not good, not good at all.

What I always buy generic:

1. Ibuprofen -- I am getting old. How do I know? Every morning I wake up a little sore. Not a lot, but a little. Not to mention all of the aches and pains still left over from carrying Kiddo for 40 weeks. I pop the ibuprofen often. Even your doctor will tell you the generic kind is just as good.

2. Sheets -- Now, I'm not saying to grab the negative 83-count sheets from the dude on the corner, but stores like Macy's and Wal-Mart have their own lines of homegoods and sheets, which are just as good as some of the designer sheets you may be drawn to purchase. Especially as your back-up set of sheets, store-brand is the way to go. 

3. Antibacterial soap -- Different from its lotion cousin, generic antibacterial soap is a must if you have a pretty soap pumpy-thing and buy the big jugs of hand soap. Read the ingredients on the store-name antibacterial soap. Same as the brand name. Same does-not-exist-in-nature shade of orange. Grab it.

4. Light bulbs -- Not sure why there is even a distinction here ... you can only make a light bulb so different. At the end of the day, they all are made of glass and filament wires. What makes the most difference: a good lamp shade.

5. Printer paper -- You don't need fancy-schmancy heavyweight paper anymore ... because who is printing out photos these days anyway? For random school forms or address labels to return those shoes that didn't fit, just nab the cheap store-brand ream of paper (look for recycled paper and help the planet).

What do you buy generic? What don't you buy generic?


Image via Tony Crescibene/Flickr

budget finds, bathroom, chores, home finances, home life, thrifty solutions


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Jennifer Kupper Swan

Actually, you may want to be wary of where the generic medications are being produced.  I became wary of a few medications made in China about the time of the melamine scare.  And not all generic formulas are created equally.  I am having to resort to some generic meds though with the recent recalls.

I do vote for name brand Band-Aids but mainly because I lose skin with Curad and other generics and sometimes risk hives.

PonyC... PonyChaser

I've cut WAY down on paper towel use by using those big "flour-sack" towels (you can get them in bunches of four, I think, at Target, for something like $4. Well worth it, I keep about 20 of them in the drawer next to the stove, and we use them as hand-cleaners while we're cooking, I use another set for cleaning the house. They dont' leave behind lint, they are better for non-streaking windows, and they're washable. Which means that I use WAY less paper towel, so I can justify my Bounty!!

I use Wal-Mart's brand of "Dawn" Dishwashing liquid, because it's cheaper, does the same job, and DAwn went and changed their "original" scent. Walmarts has the old one.

Name brand toilet paper, tampons, and band-aids for me. I do like a lot of Target's house-brand stuff (Archer Farms)... is that considered "generic"?

KateS... KateShesGreat3

Actually, Giant Eagle store brand stuff is awesome! That is usually all I buy, unless I have a coupon for something else. I've switched my laundry detergent, paper towels, and baby wipes for giant eagle brand. Love it!

daisy... daisygirl913

I'll use alot of the Hannaford products, but hate hate hate Market Basket brand. Pads, make-up, soaps, shampoo and laundry soap all have to be name brand since I have such severe skin allergies.

Young... YoungHold

I've learned everyone has different thought on what must be name brand.  Four of your "must be brand name" I always buy generic.  Rarely use tampons, and while I don't buy much hand sanitizer (they are not as effective as you think), if I do, it must be Purell.  The generics leave your hands sticky.

Not all generics are created equal, so while one store's generic brand may suck, another might be better than the name brand.  (Great Value Veggie Juice is way better than that V-8 juice).  So you never know till you try it.  My son was allergic to Target brand diapers, and I was allergic to Pampers and Huggies wipes (yay for Sam's Member's Mark baby wipes!)

Thinks that MUST be brand name for me:  Hershey's choc syrup, Miracle Whip, toothpaste, Goldfish crackers, Puffs/Kleenex,Q-tips, face cleansers and body lotions.  I can't really think of much else at the moment.


Dawn Felhaber

The only name brand I have to have is Kraft peanut butter. lol most of the other stuff is store brand. But I do find that some stores have better generic products than others. Its really hit and miss, but when I find a good one, I grab it

chipp... chipper87

I buy mostly generics unless I'm getting it cheaper with a coupon, but a few things I NEVER buy generic:

tp, not partial to one specific brand, but generic RARELY ever impresses me!
A1 steak sauce
dish detergent, really, the name brand stuff feels more concentrated! 
ketchup, ever had generic ketchup? ewww
pickles! Mt.Olive dills all the way, store brand never tastes the same. 
cafe bustelo coffee! its not "name brand" per say, but it is so much better than any other :)
diapers, my daughter leaked in every store brand I tried! Luvs all the way!

and while I buy kotex tampons, I have to say, the target and wal mart brands arent too bad.  

skrawli skrawli

I always buy name brand cookies-the generic taste like it. Also generic is fine for my condiments but if I price match and coupon usually I get name brand free or close to it.  Gold fish-never the cheapie stuff.

Emilypit Emilypit

Right on with the generic tampons and for that matter all other female products wont use them no way in hell other things that must be name brand mac n cheese and coffee i am Folgers girl all the way.  I do buy generic canned goods

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

Clean out the fridge week?!?!?! Please tell me that a typo and you meant to say clean out the fridge day each week.

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