CLEVELAND — We’re feeling inflation pains everywhere these days, especially at the grocery store. One way to save money is to buy store brands. But that can be disappointing if the ones you choose don’t taste great. Consumer Reports’ expert taste testers went to work to find the store brands that you’ll actually enjoy eating while saving money, too.
Consumer Reports says that leaving store brands on the shelf is a big mistake. Store brands are almost always cheaper—sometimes as much as 70 percent less than name-brand products.
But saving money might not be worth it if the food doesn’t taste good. Consumer Reports experts sampled several pantry staples in blind taste tests, comparing name brands with popular store brands.
So can you fill your morning cereal bowl with a Honey Nut Cheerios knockoff that tastes close enough to the real thing but costs a lot less? Yes, if you reach for a box of Honey Nut Os from Walmart’s Great Value brand. You’ll save 67 percent per serving.
What about the maple syrup on your pancakes? CR found that all of the syrups tested were delicious, but some of the store brands were actually more expensive than a name-brand syrup, one by Butternut Mountain Farm. The store-brand organic maple syrup at Costco won’t disappoint your tastebuds or your wallet, with a savings of 25 percent.
For peanut butter lovers, brands from Aldi or Walmart taste like sweet, sweet savings—for about 50 percent less than Skippy. But CR’s tasters said that if you’re a Skippy fan, skip the store-brand peanut butter from Target and Dollar General because both have a less roasted peanut flavor.
And speaking of nuts, testers said the Costco Extra Fancy Salted Mixed Nuts were fresh-tasting and had a good variety. They’ll save you a lot of money over Planters, a name brand.
And while Heinz Tomato Ketchup is beloved by kids and kids at heart everywhere, the tasters found that ketchup by Aldi and Target was very good, and you’ll save about 70 percent per serving. And both had 20 mg less sodium per serving than Heinz.
Based on prices paid, Consumer Reports says you can save the most by shopping for store brands at Costco, Aldi, Walmart, and Target, and the least at Whole Foods.