One of the easiest ways I am able to stretch our grocery budget and stick to our $350/month limit is to buy store brands. The quality of store brand products has increased so much over the years that my family doesn't even notice a difference. In fact, there have been times when I've purchased major label products because of coupons and they comment that it tastes different, and not always a "good different."
We do not buy many packaged or convenience food items, but what we do is always store brand only. Dairy, grains, and meats are also store brand only. I can't even think of a product that we buy regularly that does not have a store brand equivalent.
I've noticed lately that the store brand labels are starting to expand. There seems to be four common options to store brands: Organic (not much different from premium label organic, at least in my experience), Select (most expensive), Regular (moderately priced) and Value (least expensive). When available, I am always willing to give the value items a shot. If my family likes them we'll stick with that option. If not, I go back to the regular store label.
We do try to incorporate organic food into our diet as much as possible, although it is getting harder and harder with the rising food prices. There are certain items I will only buy organic versions of. I have done a fair amount of research on organic items and have realized that organic junk food is still just junk food.
Needless to say, I carefully weigh all my options when it comes to buying food, both for health and cost reasons. And the store brands definitely work for me!
How have your experiences been with store brands? Do you find that it helps you keep your grocery bills down to buy store brand products?
Find more WFMW over at Shannon's blog.
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