Taste test: Generic vs. name brand

Posted at 11:25 PM, Feb 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-01 08:11:51-05

You can get lost in aisles and aisles of choices at the grocery store. Before you know it, your cart is full and the price hurts your wallet.

Some people stick to a budget. Others simply buy what they need, when the need it.

But there are ways to save when you're at the grocery store no matter what. Particularly, when it comes to name brand and store brand products.

NewsChannel 5 asked local lifestyle and food bloggers for a list of what their families consistently buy. They came up with things nearly everyone buys like cheese, cereal, water, paper towels and fruit.

But do you sacrifice taste and nutrition when you go for the cheaper option? We asked those same bloggers to help us find out in a taste test.

Early on, the items tasted a lot alike.

When it came to canned fruit, we put Dole pineapples up against Publix.

"For a canned pineapple, it tastes pretty fresh. So I'm impressed," said MIchelle Olson-Rogers, of, after blindly tasting the Publix brand.

"There wasn't that much of a difference honestly, I feel like they're very similar," said April Erhard, of

Most of the judges agreed with Erhard saying both options tasted about the same.

The Publix brand is $0.30 cheaper, and contains less sugar.

When it came to sharp cheddar cheese, the judges again struggled to tell the difference between Kraft and Publix.

"It's really good whichever it is because you can't tell," said Keri Cohen, the Baking Babe.

The Publix brand is $1.50 cheaper than Kraft.

"Wow, really? That adds up," said Erika Villalobos, of

Bottled water was another item where it was hard to pick a clear winner. Only Erhard correctly guessed which sample was Fiji and which was Publix brand.

"My world has been shaken," Villalobos admitted after the reveal.

One liter of Fiji water is $2.19, compared to $0.89 for 1.5 liters of Publix water.

Most judges said they'd give Publix a shot, but Erhard says she's sticking with Fiji for one another reason: "Fiji, for me, is more fun to buy because I appreciate the bottle. It's aesthetically more fun for me," she said holding up the rectangular bottle.

Olson-Rogers admitted to buying generic cereal.

So we compared Post Raisin Bran with Publix Raisin Bran.

All the judges had a hard time telling the two apart. In the end, the Publix brand was the favorite.

Villalobos left the tasting with the rest of the box, so impressed by its taste. Plus Publix has less sugar and sodium.

Publix Raisin Bran is $1 cheaper than Post, and $1.50 cheaper than Kellogg's.

Nearly all the bloggers said they splurge for brand-name baking supplies including sugar, flour, eggs and butter  

We took those ingredients to Cohen, the Baking Babe, and had her make two versions of one of her specialties. One with name brand ingredients, the other with generic.

"This is a dark chocolate, sea salt, banana bread with salted caramel," Cohen explained holding the two finished products.

After tasting each sample, the judges could notice a difference.

"I feel like the other one was a little bit fluffier, bigger," Erhard says.

"This one is a little drier," Olson-Rogers added. 

Everyone agreed the plumper, moist bread was made with name-brand products; and they were right.

Splurging for the name brand versions of eggs, butter, flour and sugar costs you $3.64 more.

With another kitchen must-have, the brand name dominated. Bounty brand paper towels cleaned up water on the table at Grandview Preparatory School in Boca Raton a lot easier than Publix Brand.

It's $0.89 more expensive. Something these women, who are all moms, are willing to spend.

"For a college kid who is looking to save money and doesn't have to deal with toddler spills [the generic option may be better]," Villalobos pointed out.

The United States Department of Agriculture says on average, a family of four spends just under $900 per month on groceries.

Overall, on the nine products we compared, you could save $8.63 by buying only the generic versions.

It may not seem like much, but our judges say it adds up with multiple trips to the grocery store every month.

While these women will still splurge on baking supplies, they're rethinking other purchases.

"As parents, we have a lot of things to pay for over the course of our children's lives and saving a little money here and there really helps," Olson-Rogers said.