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I Switched to Store-Brand Groceries for a Week. Here's How Much I Saved

Give up those shiny name-brand cereals, snacks, canned goods and coffee, and you'll save hundreds on your monthly food spend.

Pamela Vachon Contributor
Pamela is a freelance food and travel writer based in Astoria, Queens. While she writes about most things edible and potable (and accessories dedicated to those topics,) her real areas of expertise are cheese, chocolate, cooking and wine. She's a culinary school grad, certified sommelier, former bartender and fine dining captain with 10 years in the industry. When not sitting at the keys, she leads in-home cheese classes, wine tastings and cocktail demonstrations.
Expertise Wine | Cheese | Chocolate | Cooking
Pamela Vachon
6 min read
various 365 brands

Swapping store-brand products for name brands can save you big money at the supermarket.

Whole Foods

This year saw price hikes on many of our favorite goods and services, and groceries were no exception. While inflation is headed in roughly the right direction, some categories are still high, which has us wondering where we can save money around the edges. Generic, store-brand groceries are nothing new, but folks are giving them a second look as a cheaper alternative to snazzy name brands. Often, the taste difference is negligible, and so store-brand groceries present a suitable option to keep that food budget intact when overall prices are up. 

To see how much cheaper generic groceries are versus name brand I put all store-brand groceries in my cart one week and name brand the next. In a previous story, we calculated whether it's cheaper to buy groceries online or in person and laid out some strategies for saving at Whole Foods. But it turns out one of the most surefire ways to save at the supermarket is letting some of that brand loyalty go. Hey, you can always go back if the generic stuff isn't doing it.

Read on for a full savings breakdown of how much you'll save buying generic at the supermarket. (You can also check out how much more it costs to buy organic, and how much your Starbucks habit costs you over time.) 

Who makes store-brand products?

First things first, it's well documented that most major food manufacturers label their products under different brands, including generic or store brands. According to recent statistics captured by the Private Label Manufacturing Association, one in five store-brand products is manufactured by a private label manufacturer. It makes sense: Those manufacturers can then appeal to people who are paying at either price. 

But they want you to go for the brand name price, rather than the store brand. That's why advertising exists; to make you believe that brand name products are somehow better, when the truth is that identical products are often going down parallel conveyor belts, getting two different labels at the end of the production line. 

toasted o's next to cheerios box

This store-brand toasted cereal sells for around $2. A box of General Mills Cheerios is more like $5.

David Watsky/CNET

Now, this doesn't necessarily mean that all store-brand, O-shaped, toasted oat cereals are actually General Mills Cheerios in disguise, but it stands to reason that for a lot of store-brand products, the quality or flavor is potentially equal to their name- counterpart. And considering the opportunity for savings, they're certainly worth a taste test. While some brand-name products are unlikely to have a generic equivalent, (like, is anyone seeking off-brand Cool Ranch Doritos?) commodity items like canned beans or rice would seem especially safe bets in the store-brand category.

pepita salsa

Trader Joe's beloved pepita salsa is just one example of a store-brand item that's gained fandom and loyalty all its own.

Trader Joe's

Here's how much you can save buying store brand: Wegmans vs. Stop & Shop

I chose both Wegmans and Stop & Shop to represent high-end and average grocery store chains, using Instacart to generate current prices. 

Discount grocery stores such as Trader Joe's and Aldi keep their costs low because they deal primarily in their own brands. Wegmans is an interesting example since it has a lot of brand loyalty, not only as a grocery store chain but also for its Wegmans label. (Seriously, I know people who would cross state lines to stock up on its flavored seltzers. Take that, LaCroix.) Stop & Shop is generally perceived as a midrange grocery chain, with good selection and good quality, and not considered expensive, but neither is it revered for its generic brand, called SB or Store Brand. 

Despite perceptions, however, both Wegmans and Stop & Shop are relatively aligned on prices, for both national and store-brand products. Wegmans came out a little ahead in price for name-brand products, in fact: The whole order was about $2 less than Stop & Shop's. Store-brand prices were within 20 cents of each other for the full list at both stores.

Cost of store brand vs. name brand

WegmansWegmans store brandStop & ShopStop & Shop store brand
Goya chick peas, 16 ounces $1.49$1.09$1.19$1.09
Barilla thin spaghetti, 16 ounces $2.29$1.19$2.49$1.49
Arnold whole wheat bread, 24 ounces $4.99$3.49$5.69$2.69
Bird's Eye frozen broccoli florets, 12 ounces $3.29$1.79$3.39$3.29
Skippy creamy peanut butter, 16 ounces $4.29$2.69$3.49$2.89
Honey Nut Cheerios, 10 ounces* $4.39$2.29$6.49$2.79
Organic Valley/Horizon reduced fat organic milk, half-gallon $6.39$5.09$6.29$5.19
FAGE nonfat Greek yogurt, plain, 32 ounces $7.49$4.99$7.89$5.79
Bonne Maman strawberry preserves, 13 ounces* $6.39$4.09$6.99$4.19
Mission flour tortillas, soft taco size, 10-pack $3.49$1.79$4.49$2.59
Rao's homemade marinara, 24 ounces $9.19$1.19$9.79$1.99
Finlandia/Sargento sliced swiss cheese, 7 ounces* $6.89$3.09$5.79$3.69
Starbucks Breakfast Blend ground coffee, 12 ounces $12.69$7.49$12.69$5.19
Smithfield thick cut bacon, 16 ounces $9.79$7.89$9.49$7.99
Heinz Original tomato ketchup, 20 ounces $3.49$2.09$3.19$2.89
Lay's Classic potato chips, 8 ounces $4.59$2.69$5.29$2.39
LaCroix sparkling water, 12-pack $6.89$4.09$7.39$4.69
Swanson chicken broth, 32 ounces $4.59$3.79$3.49$2.79
Colavita extra virgin olive oil, 17 ounces $13.79$8.09$12.49$5.79
Hellman's mayonnaise, 30 ounces $6.89$4.89$6.99$4.19
*Indicates store-brand item whose quantity was greater for listed price

Buying store brand will save you roughly 40%

For both Wegmans and Stop & Shop, the huge savings in buying generic products can't be denied. The original shopping list of 20 staple items amounted to about $125 in both locations, with the store-brand version of the list coming to just under $75. That's an average of 40% savings over the whole list

For my list, the net savings were roughly $50 at both stores for one week of groceries. Expand that over a month, and you're looking at more than $200 back in your pocket. 

Granted, this doesn't represent a complete shopping list, since certain grocery categories were excluded intentionally. Some of these items, such as condiments, are products that you might shop for once in a while, rather than weekly. Regardless, the math is clear: Store-brand products are significant potential savings in your grocery shopping experience.

various wegman's branded groceries

Certain grocery stores including Trader Joe's and Wegmans have managed to cultivate cult-like fandom for their own brands.


How I evaluated name brands vs. store brands

Using grocery shopping list templates available online, I generated a list of 20 common staple ingredients from the pantry, bakery, dairy, deli and freezer sections, covering a variety of prices. Items such as whole fruits and vegetables and butchered meats aren't typically subject to brand (or they're rarely revealed) and I discluded them for this analysis. 

For each of the items I selected, I compared prices between national, well-known brands and the store brand of the same item, at roughly the same size, using Instacart. If there's a discrepancy in size, I've noted that with an asterisk, but did not adjust the price accordingly, since I wanted to reflect an accurate total of what you'd pay for a grocery list's worth of either name-brand or store-brand products. 

In most cases, the store-brand model was the larger size of the two items anyway, meaning even more savings if you factor in its relative value. For example, at Wegmans, Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves are $6.39 for 13 ounces, whereas Wegmans brand Strawberry Preserves are only $4.09 for a full 18 ounces, nearly 50% more product. The savings on your grocery receipt will amount to $2.30, but if you scale up the Bonne Maman price to match the same amount of store-brand product, its price would become $8.85, representing a savings of $4.76, or over 50%, for the Wegmans brand.

bonne maman cherry preserves jar

Certain upscale and imported goods like Bonne Maman preserves will cost you significantly more than store brand. 

Bonne Maman

Where are the biggest savings on store-brand items?

Between both Wegmans and Stop & Shop, the more the brand-name item cost, the more savings were typically available, not only in terms of pure dollars and cents but also as percentage savings between the brand name and store brand. Brand-name items above $5 tended to result in the largest percentage discount, with bigger-ticket items such as olive oil, coffee and spaghetti sauce pushing 50% off or more for their generic or store-brand counterparts. 

olive oil being poured

Pricier items such as olive oil and marinara sauce are where you're likely to see bigger savings if you opt for store brand.


Less expensive items, especially those under $2 to begin with, may offer only 10% to 30% savings overall. For example, approximately 17 ounces of Colavita Extra virgin olive oil costs $12.79 at Stop & Shop, whereas the equivalent store-brand olive oil costs only $5.79, which amounts to over 55% off the name-brand price. 

On the other hand, 16 ounces of Goya chickpeas are only $1.19 to begin with. With the store brand being only 10 cents less, the savings only amount to 8%. Olive oil, however, is more likely to be subject to quality and flavor nuance, so while the savings can be much larger, it may be a matter of personal preference if the savings are worth it. Chickpeas are generally less subject to flavor or texture scrutiny.

kirkland sign

Costco's Kirkland is another budget store brand that has garnered its own customer loyalty. 


Does every grocery store have its own brand?

While store brands are growing, not every grocery store has its own brand, and many just carry no-name or generic brands in addition to name-brand products. Among store brands, some carry the name of the store in its proprietary labels, such as Wegmans, Publix, Kroger and others that have a separate label for store-brand products, such as Stop & Shop's SB, Walmart's Great Value and Costco's Kirkland Signature. Whichever the case, it's worth getting to know your local grocer's store-brand products, to see where you may be able to generate huge savings in your grocery bill.