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To buy or not to buy: When to go generic at the grocery store


With inflation and rising cost of living, many Edmontonians are looking for ways to save money.

Home economist Getty Stewart says switching to generic can help cut costs at the grocery store. However, that doesn't mean it's the only option when it comes to saving a few dollars at checkout.

Switching to generic brands can save 20 to 30 per cent on groceries, but Stewart said shoppers who prefer big brand names don't necessarily have to sacrifice what they love.

Because there's almost always a difference in formula or recipe between generic and branded, she said it's up to shoppers to find what they like and find what they're willing to compromise on.

"Of course, when it suits your flavour and you like the ingredient list, what's in that product, then absolutely go for it. It's definitely a great way to save money."

One way to save money and not sacrifice on personal taste is to choose generic when buying single ingredient items, Stewart said.

"If I'm looking at just dark red kidney beans, it's a single ingredient," she said. "It's pretty hard to distinguish yourself from one dark kidney bean to another dark kidney bean, so this is someplace where I might look and test out generic brand products."

People aren't necessarily losing nutrients when choosing generic, she said, since branded foods aren't guaranteed to be more or less nutritious than the other.

"It really depends on each specific item, and always, unfortunately it's up to the consumer to read those ingredient labels to get what they really want."

The areas where people are likely to notice greater differences between generic and branded items are in prepared foods, flavoured items and paper products.

"Your paper towels or your toilet tissue, that's where there may be a difference in formulation and quality versus your generic brands and your national brands," she said. "So your tush may experience a difference between toilet papers.

"Let it tell you what it prefers."

Stewart said another difference is in the frequency in sales, and shoppers can save just as much money by taking advantage of sales and promotions rather than reaching for generic.

"That is a difference between the generic brands and the national name brands, is they often go on sale or have coupons you can find," she said. "Where it's almost impossible to find coupons for (generic) brands." Top Stories

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