When it’s better to buy homebrand
I understand that we’ve got a bit of a duopoly system happening in our supermarkets and that their in house brands are taking over the consumer market, making it harder for smaller businesses to get their foot in the door, but you know what? Sometimes, especially when you’re a povo student/low-income earner, you gotta just throw your hands in the air and say “WHATEVER! I JUST WANT TO FEED MYSELF!” and remind yourself it’s ok to buy home brand, it really is.
But home brand isn’t as good quality, you cry! Yes, that can be true. You’ll never catch me buying home brand chocolate and there’s no way I’m eating home brand cheese, but some products are just as good, regardless of branding, because those products are called essentials and have to meet certain standards in order to be on our shelves in the first place.
So here is my list of things that you should be buying home brand:
There are very minor differences between home brand flour and brand names like White Wings. As in, only the most discerning, well developed palates in the world would be able to (maybe) tell the difference and you’re unlikely to cross paths with them any time soon. So why spend $3-4 on a kilo of flour when you can get it for 99cents? They have to meet certain food standards to even make it to the shelves, so they’re FINE! The only time you might need to buy a brand name is if you need bread or pasta flours, which are milled differently. But for everyday cake and pasty baking, your bog standard home brand is totally fine!
I use home brand caster sugar for baking. It’s sometimes a little lumpier, but the back of a wooden spoon gets those out easily and hey, a little extra work never hurt anyone, especially as we almost all use electric whisks/mixers now days! As long as it’s caster, it’s fine enough for baking. Don’t bake with standard table sugar, it just won’t work!
Matt Preston once said that sea salt should be saved for final seasoning and garnishing after cooking and I agree… although I can no longer afford sea salt, thanks budget! During the actual cooking process, while you’re just seasoning in layers, use table salt and use home brand if it exists. I personally try to avoid salt with added iodine, but that’s cos I reckon it tastes a bit odd, but it’s possible to get standard table salt without it. Keep your sea salt for the last minute seasoning, that’s what it’s for.
Those super cheap, fine bread crumbs that you can buy for like a dollar? Buy them. They are excellent to have in the freezer to use in hamburgers, as a crust on mac and cheese (when you bake it at the end) and for when you’ve run out of your good, home made bread crumbs and need a schnitty right now! Plus, once they’re in the freezer, they keep for what feels like an eternity.
Did anyone else watch ‘The Checkout’ on ABC earlier this year? I feel like I was the only one who did, but god they had some neat consumer stuff in it and the Chaser can make even the most boring consumer laws fun, so I tried to keep up with it. Anyways, turns out that almost all of the time, your branded milk comes from the same dairy farms and factories as your home brand milk. As in, it’s the same cows and same processing plant so stop being such a snob!
There is NO difference between the cheap spices and the brand spices, except for in regards to actual spice mixes. But why are you buying spice mixes when you can make your own with the spices on your own rack at home?
7. Cleaning products
Check the back of the bottle, the ingredients are probably basically the same, so why pay more for something you probably don’t even really want to buy in the first place? But here’s an even better idea: baking soda and vinegar. Yup, make your own. SOOOOOOOOOOO much cheaper!
8. Toilet paper
Toilet paper is totally hit and miss, but I’ve found a winner in Woolie’s 3-ply 24 pack of toilet rolls, it’s about $10 a pack and lasts at least a month and I reckon it’s just as soft as the brand stuff – and yes, I am fussy about my toilet paper, so you can trust me.
I used to work in a pharmacy and while there I learned one golden rule: always buy generic. Patents run out on medications and so other companies can make their own version and market it. In order to be on the shelves, they have to have the exact same active ingredient, which means they are biochemically equivalent and will do the exact same job on your body as the brand name. Usually, the generic is cheaper too. The only exception to the rule? The active ingredient in a medication isn’t always the only ingredient and other things are used to make up the rest of the tablet – these vary from brand to brand. If you’re allergic to anything, you need to let your pharmacist know because they’ll ensure you get the brand or generic that doesn’t have that ingredient in it. But this is pretty rare and most of us don’t need to worry about it.
10. Fresh Produce
Yes, fresh produce is sometimes branded. Here I say go with your eyes, nose and sense of touch. You just want the best looking, best smelling and best feeling fruit and veg, and aim to buy locally if you can – but don’t worry about brands, because a brand here doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be the best or freshest.
So that’s my list. I think it’s a pretty good basics list to start with and trust me, you don’t need to be embarrassed that you’re being thrifty!
What products do you buy home brand? Is it because they’re equally good to the brand names or are some because you just like the taste better?