”Culinary Confessions” is a series that opens the books on our eating habits and shares our shopping, cooking, dining and diet strategies with you.
When we talk about grocery shopping with family members and other folks, it always surprises us how many people are loyal to name brands. We’ve simply found that store or “off” brands normally offer just as much quality as, occasionally more than, big names.
We decided to do a little comparison exercise. It’s nothing scientific or sophisticated. We just want to see how much more a shopper spends just for the sake of buying a name-brand product.
We went to two stores, the discount grocery Aldi that we use for most of our purchases and a local Food Lion store, which is akin to the dominant regional grocery in your area if you don’t live in the western Carolinas like we do.
During these trips we picked up the same 10 items. Here’s what we spent on each store visit.
ALDI: Bread 1 Loaf White (59 cents), Corn Flakes (1.19), Sugar 4-Pound Bag (1.92), Flour 5-Pound Bag (1.15), Cola 12-Pack Cans (2.15), Eggs 1 Dozen (.54), Milk 1 Gallon (1.47), Bacon 1 Pound (2.59), Ground Beef 80/20 Blend 2.5 Pounds (6.72), Butter 4 Sticks (.84), TOTAL: $19.16.
FOOD LION: Bread 1 Loaf White (2.89), Corn Flakes (3.38), Sugar 4-Pound Bag (3.19), Flour 5-Pound Bag (2.99), Coke 12-Pack Cans (5.49), Eggs 1 Dozen (2.99), Milk 1 Gallon (3.39), Bacon 1 Pound (3.98), Beef 80/20 Blend 2.5 Pounds (8.37), Butter 4 Sticks (4.99), TOTAL: $41.66.
If you’re thinking in terms of cash, these same 10 items can be bought with a $20 bill at Aldi. At Food Lion, you’ll spend more than twice as much for the same amount of food products, and you can’t buy everything for two $20 bills.
Aldi mostly offers its own specific low-cost brands of products. Of course, at Food Lion there’s an option to purchase a store brand that costs less. However, we see so many people when we do go in these stores who are buying the name brand. We’ve shopped with family members and suggested store brands that are cheaper, but they’ve usually told us they want “the real thing.”
These are prices we observed at our local stores for comparison’s sake. Yes, we are aware that prices vary by location, even with the same products at the same name of store in the next town. This was just an illustration.
What’s the point? So many people are hurting financially. We need to save money everywhere we can. Food is one big way to do that. Recently, someone told my wife Molly that she must be rich if she’s buying spices and seasonings for our kitchen. She kind of found that funny and told them we buy most of our seasonings at the dollar stores. Sure, you can do with McCormick and other such names, and those are fine. But how much does your brand of pepper or garlic powder really matter at the end of the day compared to saving a little money?
We try to get the most out of our money that we possibly can. Food is one place we do that every time we shop. Why spend more money when we don’t have to? I just don’t understand that. It’s truly equivalent to throwing money away.
The 10 items we bought are basic staples that we often buy for our kitchen for many different uses. If we repeated this practice once every week with the same 10 products (and obviously we and you buy many other foods), here’s what you would spend in a year.
FOOD LION: $2,166.32
My father will eat store brands except for the equivalent of Cheerios. He doesn’t like the cheap brand of those. (My wife would say that all toasted-oat cereal is not worthy of eating.) There are some products that do taste better in name-brand form. That’s often not true, however.
If you are loyal to certain brands, that’s absolutely okay. We’re not judging you one bit. But to be quite honest it does amaze us that people are willing to spend that much more money just for the sake of getting products that are certain brands. This is just something you might consider next time you’re thinking you need to save money but have to stop by a grocery store.
Are you loyal to certain brands for certain or all products? We’d love to know what you think. Share with us below in the comments or “like” our Facebook page and tell us there!