Over 50 Store-Brand Foods That Deliver Quality and Savings
It's common knowledge that buying store brands can add up to big savings at the grocery, but some customers resist -- after all, what if the taste just doesn't measure up? Fear not, because many store-brand foods have beaten their name-brand competitors in blind taste tests or amassed significant customer testimonials. Savvy shoppers will find tasty store-brand picks no matter where they shop, but this list of more than 50 store-brand products is especially full of items from Costco, Kroger, Target, Trader Joe's, Walmart, and Whole Foods.
Related: 20 Items That Are Cheaper at Whole Foods
Costco's Kirkland Signature brand beat Chobani and others for the title of best fat-free plain Greek yogurt in extensive taste testing by Rachael Ray Every Day. Judges said the Kirkland yogurt tasted impressively rich, especially for nonfat yogurt, with a mild taste that seemed smoothie-ready.
Testers at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute picked the mild cheddar from this Whole Foods store brand over nine name brands, including Kraft, Sargento, Crystal Farms, and Organic Valley. Judges praised the cheese for spot-on texture and flavor.
Shredded mozzarella cheeses from Walmart's Great Value and Sam's Club store brands are as fresh and tasty as Sargento, according to Consumer Reports taste testers. Judges said the main difference was texture: Sam's Club was firmer, while Great Value was a bit more crumbly.
Giant Eagle's chicken broth bests name-brand Swanson in both taste and price, according to Consumer Reports. The store brand was cheaper by 14 cents a serving at the time of testing and earned praise for a pleasant, mild taste that contrasted with the processed taste of Swanson.
This frozen-food entree from Eating Right, a Safeway store brand, surprised Cheapism testers with its creamy texture, light sauce, and pleasant flavor. It edged out a much pricier Kashi brand of frozen chicken enchiladas in a taste test.
Walmart's Great Value brand is the cheapest among a few store-brand vanilla ice creams that Cheapism testers considered nearly as good as Breyer's. Trader Joe's French Vanilla Ice Cream has been a standout in other blind taste tests, besting the likes of Ben & Jerry's and Häagen-Dazs.
If you want a cheap ice cream treat without compromising on taste, head to Kroger. Cheapism taste testers say the store-brand ice cream sandwiches have a pleasantly crunchy cookie shell and a creamy, sweet filling. Judges rated the Kroger brand over pricier ice cream sandwiches from Klondike and Nestlé.
With a sweet flavor and lots of veggies, store-brand Safeway Signature Select Chunky Salsa was the winner of Cheapism's salsa taste test. However, taste testers also liked Trader Joe's Chunky Salsa and Walmart's Great Value Restaurant-Style Salsa, both of which are cheaper store-brand options.
Target's Market Pantry Ketchup is "remarkably similar" to Heinz for about half the price, according to Consumer Reports. Testers also liked Sam's Club ketchup, which they note is a bit less spicy.
Ocean Spray is synonymous with cranberry juice, but Kmart's Smart Sense brand is just as crisp and less bitter, Consumer Reports testers say. They also liked less-pricey options from Walmart's Great Value label and Costco's Kirkland Signature brand.
The baking aisle is a great place to save with store brands, and chocolate chips are no exception. Testers with the Tampa Bay Times preferred Publix and Trader Joe's chocolate chips to much more expensive ones from Ghirardelli. The store brands were also judged far superior to Nestlé Toll House and Hershey's chocolate chips.
This Target brand maple syrup gets the nod from Consumer Reports testers, who say it's just as good as name-brand Maple Grove Farms. They praised its thickness and robust flavor but noted that Costco's Kirkland Signature brand maple syrup is a better value, though not quite as tasty.
Four store brands -- yep, four -- fared just as well as Hellmann's in a Consumer Reports taste test. Experts say the mayo from 365 Everyday Value (Whole Foods), Great Value (Walmart), Kirkland Signature (Costco), and Market Pantry (Target) would be hard to tell apart from Hellmann's on a sandwich.
Pining for a quick and easy dinner? This store-brand frozen pizza from Trader Joe's finished second to Freschetta but way ahead of Totino's in a Cheapism taste test. Testers liked the thin crust, mild taste, and savory sauce compared with other choices.
Trader Joe's Apple Cider was a runaway winner over Musselman's, Zeigler's, Murray's, and Martinelli's in a Tampa Bay Times taste test. Judges loved the extra spices and strong apple taste. However, it's worth noting that second-place Musselman's was just a dollar more for a bottle double the size of the Trader Joe's cider.
Consumer Reports testers say the frozen mixed veggies from Trader Joe's are crisper and fresher than their Birds Eye Steamfresh counterparts. Testers also recommended Target's Market Pantry brand as a cheap Birds Eye alternative.
Costco's Kirkland Signature Frozen Shrimp are firmer and less watery than Tastee Choice name-brand shrimp, Consumer Reports testers say. They also liked the Trader Joe's and Whole Foods versions but concluded that the Kirkland shrimp represent the best value among the store brands.
Consumer Reports testers say 365 Everyday Value Chocolate Cherry Carnival Trail Mix from Whole Foods is even better than Planters Nut & Chocolate trail mix, but it's still pricey. They also recommend Kirkland Signature trail mix from Costco, as well as the trail mix from Sam's Club for consumers seeking a better value.
The sky's the limit when it comes to the price of fancy balsamic vinegar. Target's store brand, Archer Farms, earned the praise of Good Housekeeping Research Institute testers for a well-balanced, robust flavor that works well with salads, marinades, or sweets.
The Krazy Coupon Lady recommends store-brand refrigerated beverages, because regional production means they are often fresher than name brands. Accordingly, testers gave a slight edge to Target's Market Pantry Orange Juice over name-brand Simply Orange.
Only the most discerning palates will be able to determine any difference among baking sodas. The Krazy Coupon Lady recommends Walmart's cheaper Great Value baking soda over Arm & Hammer, unless you just have to have that orange box.
Honey Maid is a staple in the cracker aisle, but it might not be worth the price premium. The Krazy Coupon Lady's testers picked Target's Market Pantry honey graham crackers over Honey Maid crackers by a wide margin.
Taste testers with Thrillist pitted six name-brand cereals against their Kroger store-brand counterparts. In two cases, the Kroger cereals come out on top: Kroger's Cocoa Puffed Cereal "tastes exactly the same" as General Mills' Cocoa Puffs, testers said, and the Crisp Berry Crunch was deemed a good alternative to Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries from Quaker Oats.
Kroger has another winning cereal in its Honey Nut Toasted Oats, according to taste testers for the Arizona Republic. Though testers still preferred General Mills Honey Nut Cheerios, the edge was so slight that many consumers might prefer to save some money by buying the Kroger brand.
While Hungry Jack prevailed in a Good Housekeeping pancake test, Target's Market Pantry brand was a well-reviewed, cheap alternative, because of its sponginess and flavor. Testers were divided on the mixture's slightly nutty aftertaste, however.
Which store brands are better for cashews? According to Consumer Reports, just about all of them -- Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Sam's Club, Walmart, Costco, Kmart, and Target -- are superior to Emerald Whole Cashews, which weren't as fresh in a taste test.
For Cheapism taste testers, Kroger's Heritage Farm Beef Hot Dogs were better than Ball Park and second only to the pricier Oscar Meyer Classic Beef Franks. Judges said the Kroger hot dogs were flavorful, with a good balance of smoke and salt, although some reported a grainy texture.
Nabisco's Wheat Thins might be slightly crispier than Kroger's Wheat Crisps, but that's the only advantage they have over the store brand, according to editors at AOL. A taste tester said the Kroger crackers are otherwise "virtually indistinguishable" from Wheat Thins, which also contain much more salt.
Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value Organic Fruit & Granola is actually tastier than Nature's Path Organic, AOL editors say. A tester praised the fruity, nutty taste, and dinged Nature's Path for a distinct lack of fruit.
If you're a fan of expensive weight-loss shakes, take note: Equate's Ultra French Vanilla is an admirable imitator of much-pricier Slim-Fast, AOL editors say. In a taste test, the Equate also lacked the grainy texture of Slim-Fast and kept the tester full for just as long.
Judges with the Tampa Bay Times call this store-brand soup "a good clam chowder for beginners," because it has a more subtle clam flavor than other choices. The soup, while on the thin side, beat out name-brand competitors including Progresso, Campbell's, and Wolfgang Puck in a blind taste test.
These inexpensive veggie burgers from Trader Joe's beat out name brands including Boca's Savory Mushroom Mozzarella Veggie Patties, Carla Lee's NutBurgers, and Morningstar Farms' Grillers Original in a Tampa Bay Times taste test. Judges enjoyed the mix of corn, beans, and spicy pepper pieces. They also praised the burgers' crunchy crust.
These Trader Joe's frozen pork dumplings stood out in a taste test conducted by Serious Eats, nabbing one of the top three spots out of nine brands tested. Judges liked the firm skin and well-balanced filling, although some cautioned that these are slightly sweet for pork dumplings.
Trader Joe's barbecue sauce tied Bull's Eye in a Serious Eats taste test of 16 widely available brands. Judges said the TJ's sauce was a "touch less sweet" than Bull's Eye, but well-balanced and smooth. They don't recommend Trader Joe's All-Natural Barbecue Sauce, however.
This Whole Foods yogurt emerged as the best low- or nonfat choice in a Serious Eats taste test of strawberry yogurt. It bested several name brands including Stonyfield, Dannon, and Yoplait. Testers liked the freshness, balance of tart and sweet, and pieces of real strawberries.