The generic or store brand foods on your local grocery store shelves are often just as delicious and nutritious as the brand name products. In fact, they are sometimes even manufactured by the same companies. When you are shopping for milk, flour, or sugar, the store brands are usually identical to the more expensive name brands. However, there are some products where the taste, texture, or ingredients of the generic foods really don’t measure up to their brand name counterparts. The following are 14 foods where the brand name product may be the best choice.
You may think that butter is butter. After all, butter is made from only two ingredients: cream and salt. However, the creamy texture, salt, and fat content can vary from one brand to another. Generic brands may be just fine for stirring up a batch of cookies, but when taste and texture matter, go for the brand names. When choosing a pat of butter to spread on a crusty slice of French bread or warm blueberry muffin, look for a high-quality butter. Wisconsin, “America’s Dairyland” state, grades butter as AA, A, B, or Undergrade according to flavor, body, color, and saltiness.
13. Canned Beans
When it comes to canned beans, a brand name may beat out the generic competition. First of all, when purchasing products like baked beans, be sure to compare the labels. Generic baked beans may include extra sugar, salt, and additives that brand name beans don’t have. For plain beans, if you have been happily purchasing generic products, there is no need to switch to the brand name. Just be sure to keep an eye on the salt content. However, some generic canned beans tend to be mushier and of a less pleasing texture than the brand name choices.
It seems like breakfast cereals should be simple things to manufacture. However, when browsing the cereal aisle, compare the ingredients before choosing a generic cereal over the brand name product. Some generic brands include a lengthy list of chemical additives that do nothing to improve the flavor of the product. Furthermore, generic brands of old standbys like Cheerios or Shredded Wheat don’t have the same well-loved flavor and texture of the brand name items. Avoid ending up with what tastes like a box of cardboard flakes and stick to the brand names for these products.
When choosing cheese, don’t skimp on flavor by selecting cheaper versions. According to the Food Network, cheese is a product in which a higher price generally reflects higher quality and taste. What’s more, generic brands may include unnecessary fillers. Whether you prefer the mild flavor of mozzarella or enjoy the bolder flavors of aged cheddar, treat yourself to the brand name varieties. Furthermore, when you need shredded cheese, purchase a block of cheese to shred yourself. Pre-shredded versions of cheese contain ingredients to prevent the shreds from sticking to each other. This results in a cheese that is less smooth and melty.
As a kid, did anyone ever slip “chocolate-flavored” candy into your trick-or-treat bag? This waxy imposter bears little resemblance to the goodness of real chocolate. As an adult, you know to avoid imitation chocolates. However, there are also definite flavor and texture differences in genuine chocolate products. You may prefer dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao and the health benefits of this antioxidant. Or, you may enjoy the sweet, creamy, smoothness of a square of milk chocolate. With variants in fat, sugar, and cocoa content, check the labels and choose high-quality chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth.
You may consider your morning cup of joe critical for waking up your brain and jump-starting your day. Therefore, your morning cuppa should be rich, flavorful, and devoid of additives or fillers that cheapen it or detract from the flavor. Some studies have found that unscrupulous manufacturers dilute roasted coffee with other ingredients in order to cut costs. On the other hand, a study in the journal Circulation suggests that drinking coffee may help lengthen your life. This study involved both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. Why not treat yourself to the very best flavor profile and purchase brand name products. You may even live longer!
8. Macaroni and Cheese
When choosing the cooking ease of boxed macaroni and cheese, don’t let just any old blue and yellow box fool you. No boxed mac and cheese can hold a candle to a homemade batch of this cheesy pasta. However, if you’ve just gotta have a quick fix of this family favorite, reach for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Other brands just can’t replicate the taste and texture of this old standby.
7. Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is a heart-healthy oil useful for frying, drizzling on roasted vegetables, or using in salad dressings. The California Olive Oil Council (COOC) points out that olive oil is at its best within 18 months of the harvest date. Therefore, it is critical to purchase olive oil that contains not only an expiration date but also a harvest date. Look for products that bear the COOC certification seal, which indicates that the oil is extra virgin grade and meets strict laboratory and sensory standards. The North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) quality seal is another sign that an olive oil product has met rigorous standards.
6. Orange Juice
When shopping for orange juice, search out brands that deliver that fresh-squeezed taste without extra processing. Florida’s Natural orange juice is made “not-from-concentrate.” According to the company, this means that their orange juice is squeezed, flash-pasteurized, and poured into cartons. Meanwhile, orange juice that is made from concentrate endures heat and pressure to extract the water. Then, the concentrate is frozen before water is added back in, and the liquid is pasteurized and bottled. Of course, for truly amazing, fresh-squeezed orange juice, try squeezing your own at home.
5. Oreo Sandwich Cookies
When it comes to sandwich cookies, nobody beats the Oreo. Whether you prefer Oreo original, Double Stuf, or Oreo Thins, Nabisco has you covered. The generic versions just don’t stack up. Some generic cookies lack the cookie crispness, and others miss the boat on the filling consistency. So, whether you nibble your cookies like a sandwich, peel them apart to consume in layers, or dunk them in milk, the name you want on your cookie is Oreo.
4. Pancake Syrup
A stack of hotcakes may be the perfect way to start a weekend morning. When you reach for the golden syrup to drizzle on top, brand name products may deliver more of the syrupy flavor you came to love in childhood. Unfortunately, even brand name breakfast syrups usually contain mainly caramel-colored high fructose corn syrup along with additives and preservatives. For a genuinely delightful pancake topping without added chemicals, stick to 100% real maple syrup.
3. Peanut Butter
In moderation, peanut butter can be a tasty way to introduce plant-based protein into your diet. In many cases, brand name peanut butter wins taste tests for creaminess and flavor. When choosing peanut butter, be sure to check the labels. Avoid products that are high in added salt or sugar, and stay away from items with a long list of added ingredients.
2. Soda Crackers
It seems like saltine crackers would be difficult to mess up. With simple ingredients like flour, oil, salt, and baking powder, you would expect most saltines to taste about the same. However, while some store brands make the mark, others pass off dry squares of cardboard as crackers. Stick to brand names like Nabisco’s Premium or Keebler’s Zesta Original crackers for maximum crunchiness and salty flavor.
1. Canned Soup
In general, canned soups bear little resemblance to the homemade versions that carry the same name. Yet, sometimes you just want a comforting bowl of hot soup without the hassle of chopping, boiling, and simmering. At these times, you may want to avoid the generic cans lingering on your grocery store shelves. Instead, reach for the name brand products. When choosing a canned soup, check the label and avoid products with a long list of unpronounceable ingredients.