The Tip Jar: You can save money buying store brand groceries – but are you sacrificing taste?

And does it mean sacrificing on taste? Watch as we compare.
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You're in the grocery store and you have a choice: The more expensive famous brand name your family has bought for decades, or the possibly-inferior (but definitely cheaper) store brand.

It's a dilemma for many when out shopping. I love a bargain, but at the same time I don't always like sacrificing quality in favor of price.

There are some brands I'll never, ever deviate from, particularly when it comes to condiments. If you want to stop me buying Heinz Ketchup or Hellmann's Mayonnaise you'll have to pry them from my cold, dead hands.

But there are so many other occasions where the difference in quality between a brand name and a store's own/private label brand – like Cub's Essential Everyday or Target's Market Pantry – is so minimal that taking the cheaper option is the obvious move.

I've managed to prove this in the above video, where our team of taste-testers compared a brand name and a store brand, without knowing which product was which. On several occasions they preferred the store brand. (My cat, Hermes, also picked store brand cat food).

Forbes notes this has been an area where grocery retailers have improved greatly in recent years, offering decent quality store brand products to "take the decision making out of the purchase equation," with shoppers flocking to private label and generic options.

To take a closer look at how much sticking with store brands can save on a regular shop, I went to do a price comparison with 30 items at Cub Foods in Edina.

How much can you save?

Brand names: $106.02
Store brand: $92.00

The brands names I picked out will be familiar to most of you, ranging from Pillsbury dough to Jennie-O turkey, Bush's beans and Skippy peanut butter.

These 30 brand items I compared with Cub's private label equivalent, Essential Everyday. (You can see a full breakdown of all the items and their prices in this spreadsheet.)

It's worth noting first that not every item in a grocery store has a store brand equivalent, something I found was the case in Cub particularly with frozen meats, prepared meals and fish.

But for 30 items that did have store brand equivalents, you'd save $15.98 by buying the Essential Everyday version over the name brand.

Surprisingly, there were a couple of occasions where brand names were cheaper, though this was mainly because they were on sale.

Items including Tyson Chicken Nuggets, Hunts Diced Tomatoes, and Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry juice was less expensive than Cub's own alternatives. Other than these, store brands were far cheaper.

Like I said earlier, you won't find me picking knock-off options of ketchup or mayo, and I've had enough experience with Cheerios and Mac & Cheese to know I prefer General Mills' and Kraft's respective versions to the generic offerings.

But for at least two of the foods in the comparison – sugar and milk – I would argue there is no difference in the composition, taste or quality, and I'll always buy store brands for these products.

For others, like cheddar cheese, spaghetti, cream of chicken soup and even ice cream, the difference in price is more noticeable than the difference in taste. (Note: ice cream always tastes good though.)

As for kitty litter, I really don't think paying an extra $1.10 for Purina makes much of a difference – my cat's crap still stinks.

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