Worth the Extra Pennies

Last week, when I was flying through the aisles of Target trying to grab everything for these chocolate chip s’mores bars while Bart waited in the car with the girls who were on the verge of meltdown, I hesitated in front of the graham crackers.

I remembered how my friend Becca had mentioned to me one time that the difference between generic graham and the Honey Maid ones was basically night and day.

The Honey Maid ones were on sale, so they were only about twenty cents more expensive than the Target version and so, after some internal debate, I decided to buy them.

Ella is currently in absolute love with graham crackers (one of her friends at preschool told her about dipping them in milk, and this is what she wants for snack every day). Now I’ve spent the last five days trying to decide if I think the name-brand ones are really that much better.

I might not be a great test subject because, frankly, graham crackers are not really a food I’m seeking out often, unless it’s to smother them in marshmallows and chocolate (which. . I will definitely be doing today, thank you very much).

But it did make me think about which things I think are worth the extra money for a specific brand.

A brief list:

  • Cream Cheese. I have bought the off-brand since I started shopping for myself some ten years ago and then a few months ago, Philadelphia was on sale for less than the store-brand and . . . you guys. It’s actually way way better than the generic. I had no idea. 
  • Baby Wipes. After cycling through basically every generic brand on the market, Bart and I both said, “ENOUGH” and now we only buy Pampers and everyone is happy. I mean, as happy as you can get when you’re changing a diaper. 
  • String Cheese. Sometimes the difference between a generic brand and a name brand is slight and sometimes it’s the difference between eating a stick of rubber and eating an actual delicious string cheese. Everything but Cheese Heads tastes like a stick of rubber to me. 
  • Pringles. (I couldn’t actually bring myself to write “canned chips”). Look, I’ll eat pretty much any chip because it’s one of my all-time favorite food items, but . . . there is nothing like a Pringle. (Although, can we talk about why Pringles makes so many weird flavors? Like. .. cinnamon and sugar chips? No thank you (I never actually tried them)). 
  • Gillette Mach 3 Razors. There’s a time to be cheap and when you are using sharp blades to cut hair off your body is not one of them. I try not to look at the price tag when I buy replacement cartridges. 
  • Sour Cream. It’s all about Daisy for me. I like it because it’s not all thickened with pretend ingredients (right after I said how much I love Pringles . . . ). Also it tastes ridiculously good. 
  • Deodorant. I actually don’t find that I care that much, but Bart is an Old Spice man through and through. In fact, when I’ve gotten free deodorant of other brands because of coupons and whatnot, I end up using them because he will not. 
  • Mayonnaise. Look, I know everyone hates mayonnaise and it’s totally repulsive, etc, but I actually LOVE mayo. And I only buy Hellmann’s (isn’t it called something else in other regions? I’m too lazy to look it up). 
And . . .did I just write a little love letter to condiments and deodorant on Valentine’s Day? I suppose I did. 
(Followed by a gratuitous shot of one of my real little Valentines. I couldn’t love this baby more). 
(P.S. I did a little tutorial for this headband on Disney Baby). 

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  • Reply Seรฑora H-B February 14, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    100 million percent agree with you on Hellmann's (Best Foods). All other mayonnaise is an abomination. Well, homemade is alright, but nothing else.

    I won't buy store brand gallon size Ziplocs. The sandwich and snack bags are fine and I've been okay with the freezer quart size bags, but I have had to throw away too many cheap zip top gallon bags because the zipper ripped right off of them. Ridiculous.

    Trash bags. I only buy the Force Flex ones in a giant box at Sam's Club. I'm hooked.

    I'm sure there are others, but those are off the top of my head. I'm pretty fine with most generics, but there are a few brand names that are well worth the price.

  • Reply wtiger9 February 14, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    I can eat most things generic, but yogurt and pop tarts have to be the "real" thing. Also, lunch meat because it seems like the store brand goes bad so much quicker.
    For non edibles, trash bags and toilet paper. I used to be picky about paper towels, but we rarely even use them any more. I try to use washable rags for most things rather than something that will head straight to a landfill, but I will buy a cheap pack of paper towels to have on hand for occasional use.

    • Reply april February 14, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      Oh, I actually prefer generic pop tarts! They are less cookie and more cakey to me.

  • Reply Kristin @ Going Country February 14, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Totally with you on the Daisy sour cream and Hellman's mayonnaise. Our store brand cream cheese is actually really good, but we live in dairy country, so that might be why.

    Happy Valentine's Day!

  • Reply missris February 14, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Canned vegetables, especially Bush's beans and Muir Glen organic diced or whole tomatoes. They just taste so much better. The Target brand of beans always taste hard and underdone. This is about the only thing I'm really particular about though so we manage not to break the bank ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply april February 14, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      I just bought a can of the Muir Glen fire roasted diced tomatoes to put in chili this weekend – it just looked so good on the label! Ha!

  • Reply april February 14, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    I always hear this about Philadelphia cream cheese, and I feel like since I'm used to the generic and like it, maybe I should just never ever get the real stuff. I usually use it as a filler and not by itself anyhow.

    We swear by Polly-O twisted string cheese.

    Brand name elbow noodles. It sounds wierd, but the grooves in the name brand ones just have so much more texture and don't fall apart. Generic are grooveless. Otherwise I can think of anything I'm married to that's name brand, although I buy whatever's on sale so I have a mix of things in my pantry.

  • Reply Ash February 14, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    My mom never bought store-brand cheese… the difference is huge to me (even if it's only in my head.) And after years of buying cheap razors (and my legs left looking like a human sacrifice) I finally splurged on the good ones a couple years ago and never looked back.

  • Reply Amy February 14, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    It's paper towels for me . . . I will only ever buy Bounty.

    And I totally agree with your friend about graham crackers. We are a graham-cracker-eating family (my four-year-old eats graham crackers and milk almost every day for breakfast), and we never ever ever buy the store brand. Yuck!

  • Reply Kimberly February 14, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Heinz ketchup and Jiff peanut butter are my biggest ones.

  • Reply Taylor Norton February 14, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Haha! I love this post!! It's Sour Patch Kids for me! Especially the sour watermelon flavor… Generic brand just doesn't cut it!

  • Reply Paige Flamm February 14, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    I could not agree more about the Pampers wipes! I got a bunch for free, or 50 cents when I was super into couponing and now we love them so much that I just can't bring myself to purchase other ones! Some things I find much better on the generic end, like for whatever reason, Western Family brand cinnamon life will always and forever be my favorite cereal! I'm so sad we don't get Western Family stuff out here!

  • Reply becomingbrown February 14, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    Toilet paper! I agree on that one. I have a kidney disease and therefore I use the bathroom a LOT — and quality TP makes a big difference there. We only get name brands (usually Charmin).

    I second you on the mayo. I even only use Hellmann's for making egg salad but I can taste the difference there and it is HUGE.

  • Reply Melanie February 14, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    I do agree that HoneyMaid are better than generic graham crackers, and although I do like eating them, I hardly ever buy them unless I'm making a recipe that calls for them. I really need to just splurge on quality razors instead of the cheapest disposables.

  • Reply Meridith February 14, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Right on the money with all of these. And, gosh, she's adorable. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply JoLee February 14, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Oh yeah. The generic graham crackers aren't good at all.

  • Reply Savanna February 14, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    I will not buy generic graham crackers they are a totally different texture. I will only buy blue dawn dish soap. So weird about that. I have never noticed a difference between cream cheeses but I think I will pay atte then next time I buy some.

  • Reply emandtrev February 14, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    I feel this way about Tide detergent. I've switched a time or two, but always come crawling back. I hear you about cream cheese as well. Generics are just not the same. I have been absolutely ca-raving those s'mores since you posted the recipe. I'm going to make them soon–party at my house and you're invited! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Jessica February 14, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    I'm surprised so many people don't like generic graham crackers! We vastly prefer the generic. The Honey Maid ones are ridiculously sweet – too much so for me.

    We're dedicated to name-brand wipes, too, but Huggies only. I find them to be sturdier than Pampers and the unscented are actually unscented.

    I couldn't really think of any of my own, but I agree with whomever said Heinz ketchup. Generic ketchup is flavorless!

  • Reply Jodi February 14, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    First, she is so so adorable. Second, I really like the target wipes! I must be missing something…and lastly, I love mayo! (but I admit to buying store brand)

  • Reply Jeanelle February 14, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    My own list! 1st, I totally agree about Daisy. 2nd, I actually prefer Kraft Mayo Light to the Best Foods/Hellman's light. Tastes exactly like the real thing – and I'm SUPER picky. 3rd. I just bought Target brand peanut butter to use for baking and it was fine, but I must have Jif for my toast or celery. 4th I don't think you can skimp on toilet paper. 5th. whenever I struggle with whether to buy generic vs name brand, I have a friend who will say to me "do you really think they have two instant pudding factories?" or whatever the item is…and that always makes me stop and think…and laugh. Oh and 6th I have a fabulous s'mores bars recipe…want me to send?

  • Reply Carrie Jo February 14, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    I really like the Erewhon graham crackers. Particularly bc I'm a food Nazi and they don't have high fructose corn syrup.

  • Reply kimmie February 15, 2014 at 12:18 am

    Does the Costco brand count as "generic"? because I prefer the Costco wipes over Pampers/Huggies, though I'm currently using the Huggies ones and they're fine I guess, but I just prefer the Costco ones.

    Are there more than 2 kinds of "canned chips"? I only know of Pringles and the Lays Stax or whatever they're called- which are way too hard (I like how pringles are more soft/crumbly, if that's a good way to describe chips…)

  • Reply Lisa February 15, 2014 at 1:59 am

    Cheerios. I will eat generics but they are not the same type of cereal. Garbage bags.

  • Reply Holly Hoffman Spears February 15, 2014 at 6:13 am

    I am SO with you on the Pampers. When new moms ask me for advice I always say two things: "don't feel bad about holding your baby while your house falls down around you, the house will always be there, but the baby will only be a baby for a tiny bit. AND never buy generic wipes." ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Christine Chioma February 15, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    Oh her hair is getting so long! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply abby February 16, 2014 at 3:54 am

    You might want to give Duke's Mayonnaise a try now that you are in NC. I think it's better than Hellman's

  • Reply SomeJuan February 16, 2014 at 6:11 am

    I've just been converted to HoneyMaid myself- mainly because of the absence of High fructose corn syrup and trans fat. Have you tried them with Adam's Peanut butter? ๐Ÿ˜€ delicious snack!

  • Reply snappy February 17, 2014 at 3:32 am

    It's "Best Foods" west of the Rockies, nothing to do with religion that I know about.

  • Reply Feisty Harriet February 18, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    1. Toilet paper
    2. Bath soap (I only buy Dove)
    3. Plastic wrap (I have recently been converted to the MIRACLE that is Syran wrap)
    4. Spices, the generic ones are not nearly as potent.


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