The 15 items you should always buy generic

Your loyalty to big brands may be costing you big money.

While many of you may have favourite brands, your loyalty may be costing you money unnecessarily, especially when you consider that the following 15 items are almost as good – often the same – quality as branded versions.

So why be loyal to a brand when you can save big bucks by buying these generic options?

1. Water
While Australia’s tap water is some of the best (if not the best) in the world, some people insist on buying bottled water. If you’re not prepared to save the planet from plastic, you may as well save money on your purchase – and generic bottled water is often as good as any of the big brands.

2. Medicine
Of course, some medicines are only available in branded form, but for common medications, such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin, and even many prescription drugs, you can save big bucks by choosing generic.

3. Milk
Apart from the supermarket brands that fleece our farmers, generic milk comes from the same source as branded milk, so …

4. Sunscreen
If sunscreen has a rating from the Therapeutic Goods Administration, then it’s safe to use. Generic sunscreens are often as good as more expensive brands and have the same ratings.

5. Spices and seasonings
Dried spices and seasonings are pretty much the same, no matter the branding on the packaging. You can either buy generic branded spices, or head to a whole foods retailer or wholesaler to buy unbranded herbs, spices and seasonings. That’s where the chefs get them!

6. Frozen fruits and vegetables
If you’re using frozen veggies as a filler, for baking or for stews and pies, go generic. Same goes for frozen fruit – often they’re snap frozen in a fresher state than items you’ll buy in the fresh produce aisle.

7. Canned veggies and beans
Some canned baked beans will taste a bit bland, as can generic tinned tomatoes. But, by and large, generic canned goods are every bit as good as branded tins.

8. Plastic wrap and aluminium foil
Now, this one I don’t completely agree with. Generic plastic wrap can often be thin and not too ‘sticky’. Some generic tin foil is also very flimsy and buying the better version can be more cost effective. But if you rarely use it, generic versions will suffice and will save you money in the long run.

9. Baking and cooking supplies
Many chefs will settle for cheaper generic cooking supplies, such as baking mixes, baking soda, powdered sugar, brown sugar and baking paper. If it’s good enough for them, chances are, it’s good enough for you, too.

10. Snack foods
Many generic snack foods aren’t far removed in flavour and quality from their branded counterparts. Spreads and dips, dried fruit, pickles, olives, nuts and some sweet and dried biscuits are way cheaper in store-branded form, so do yourself a favour and save.

11. Cleaning products
While you may have a favourite brand of cleaner, many generic versions will do the job just as well.

12. Personal-care products
Talcum powder, hair products, cleansers and moisturisers can cost a fortune, but there are good quality generic versions out there at a fraction of the cost.

13. Petrol
A US study revealed that there is very little difference n fuel quality from ‘cheap’ petrol stations compared to branded outlets. Just make sure you get the right octane level for your vehicle.

“Buy the cheapest [fuel] you can get that’s convenient and close,” said Steve Mazor, chief automotive engineer with the Automobile Club of Southern California Automotive Research Center.

14. Cereal
It’s worth trying out generic versions of your favourite cereals. Chances are, you’ll find one you like for much less than you’ll pay for your branded box.

15. Soft drinks and mixers
While recipes for branded soft drinks vary (see Coke versus Pepsi), other soft drinks and mixers such as mineral water, soda water, flavoured mineral water and other flavoured drinks can taste just as good as big brands, only the generic ones are much cheaper.

Do you know of any high-quality generic products that are equal to or better than branded versions? Why not share your tips with our members?

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    COMMENTS

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    invisible sock
    12th Feb 2019
    11:20am
    There is a marked difference between the taste of tap water and bottled water where I live.
    Generic milk does not last as long a real milk - water?
    Frozen fruit - hepatitis?
    Greg
    12th Feb 2019
    1:50pm
    hahaha....generic milk is THE SAME, maybe you've bought older stock, do you check use by dates. Are you suggesting water is used which dilutes the milk, wow, craziness on here sometimes is amazing.
    invisible sock
    12th Feb 2019
    2:42pm
    Sorry, I didn't realize you had such an intimate knowledge of such matters.
    But, I guess if you're a stooge of one of the major supermarkets, you should know what you are talking about.
    bigpella
    12th Feb 2019
    5:14pm
    I am not a stooge. I am the son of a ex-dairy farmer. Generic milk to my understanding is concentrated "milk" sent up from Victoria in semi-trailer tankers and when it gets here it is reconstituted by adding water until it meets the required standard. I don't know what the percentage of water added is but I wouldn't be surprised if it's at least three times that of the "milk".
    How do I know? I know a tanker driver that brings the "milk" up from Melbourne.
    I buy my milk from Malaney Dairies or 4Real. It might be more expensive but at least I know the money is going to the farmer, the milk tastes better and the milk will last to the use by date.
    I believe that the retailers want to get rid of fresh milk to cut the cost of refrigeration and packaging etc. My son lives in Germany and he finds it very difficult to find fresh milk. At least 95% of milk on the shelves is UHT milk.
    invisible sock
    12th Feb 2019
    5:27pm
    BP
    That's why I had to give up buying cheap 3L milk, because it would go off before you could use it all.
    Sundays
    12th Feb 2019
    7:25pm
    Love Maleny milk and Norco also good. Our grandchildren got us onto them. There is a difference in taste from the cheaper stuff.
    Karl Marx
    12th Feb 2019
    11:21am
    as far as diesel I wouldn't touch the independants, have had to many issues in the past with engine lights & limp home mode engaging from what I determine substandard fuel. The only fix was to keep driving until about half a tank left then refill with BP or Caltex diesel, no issues.
    Greg
    12th Feb 2019
    1:46pm
    Wouldn't be the fuel it would be the tanks it's kept in. The fuel all comes from the same few refinery's.
    52-KID
    12th Feb 2019
    1:52pm
    Maybe that depends on where you are. Our two local service stations are independents and I've never had any problem with my diesel - and for some reason what makes me happy, they are cheaper than in Newcastle. On a recent road trip I found the cheapest diesel to be from the Puma stations, and also had no problem with it - they weren't a bad place to stop either.
    tango18
    12th Feb 2019
    12:26pm
    I like raw sugar and store brand is almost half the price; toilet paper does the same job for a lot less; butter tastes the same; small tins of tuna - Coles has many flavours (I really like the sweet chilli) and there is plenty in can for 2 large sandwiches at 80 cents a tin; lollies much less per bag. Could go on but these are just a few that immediately spring to mind.
    Blossom
    12th Feb 2019
    9:31pm
    What most people don't realise is that the products you have listed above are all made by major manufacturers and pit in generic branded packaging. I worked for a distributor for 40 years and used to see the invoices come in.
    Blossom
    12th Feb 2019
    9:31pm
    What most people don't realise is that the products you have listed above are all made by major manufacturers and pit in generic branded packaging. I worked for a distributor for 40 years and used to see the invoices come in.
    mike
    12th Feb 2019
    12:59pm
    Yes, apart from the supermarket brands that fleece our farmers, REALLY do you people actually know what you are talking about or just make it up as you go along. The majority of our dairy processing plants a re foreign owned, eg Fonterra New Zealand. Lyons Dairy and brewery Japan, Parmalat France, so whether you buy supermarket milk or branded milk, the profits ALL go overseas, not into farmers pockets. Get your information right and stop misleading people. The $2 milk at coles and woolies is the same milk that is in the branded milk and the farmers get paid the same irrespective of which milk you buy. The myth that dearer milk helps the farmers is a spin to make more profit for the foreign owned companies.
    Rod63
    12th Feb 2019
    1:12pm
    Please only post your comment once, mike.
    Rod63
    12th Feb 2019
    1:12pm
    Please only post your comment once, mike.
    Greg
    12th Feb 2019
    1:47pm
    says Rod63 who posts twice....hahaha
    invisible sock
    12th Feb 2019
    2:48pm
    You have to refresh the page after you hit "post".
    invisible sock
    12th Feb 2019
    2:58pm
    Buy both types of milk and let them run past their "use by" date.
    I think you may change your opinion.
    mike
    12th Feb 2019
    1:00pm
    Yes, apart from the supermarket brands that fleece our farmers, REALLY do you people actually know what you are talking about or just make it up as you go along. The majority of our dairy processing plants a re foreign owned, eg Fonterra New Zealand. Lyons Dairy and brewery Japan, Parmalat France, so whether you buy supermarket milk or branded milk, the profits ALL go overseas, not into farmers pockets. Get your information right and stop misleading people. The $2 milk at coles and woolies is the same milk that is in the branded milk and the farmers get paid the same irrespective of which milk you buy. The myth that dearer milk helps the farmers is a spin to make more profit for the foreign owned companies.
    bigpella
    12th Feb 2019
    5:30pm
    I don't agree with you totally Mike. The $2 "milk" is not the same as branded milk, branded milk is usually raw milk collected from local farmers, not imported from interstate.
    See my comments above under 'invisible sock''.
    mike
    12th Feb 2019
    1:00pm
    Yes, apart from the supermarket brands that fleece our farmers, REALLY do you people actually know what you are talking about or just make it up as you go along. The majority of our dairy processing plants a re foreign owned, eg Fonterra New Zealand. Lyons Dairy and brewery Japan, Parmalat France, so whether you buy supermarket milk or branded milk, the profits ALL go overseas, not into farmers pockets. Get your information right and stop misleading people. The $2 milk at coles and woolies is the same milk that is in the branded milk and the farmers get paid the same irrespective of which milk you buy. The myth that dearer milk helps the farmers is a spin to make more profit for the foreign owned companies.
    mike
    12th Feb 2019
    1:00pm
    Yes, apart from the supermarket brands that fleece our farmers, REALLY do you people actually know what you are talking about or just make it up as you go along. The majority of our dairy processing plants a re foreign owned, eg Fonterra New Zealand. Lyons Dairy and brewery Japan, Parmalat France, so whether you buy supermarket milk or branded milk, the profits ALL go overseas, not into farmers pockets. Get your information right and stop misleading people. The $2 milk at coles and woolies is the same milk that is in the branded milk and the farmers get paid the same irrespective of which milk you buy. The myth that dearer milk helps the farmers is a spin to make more profit for the foreign owned companies.
    mike
    12th Feb 2019
    1:00pm
    Yes, apart from the supermarket brands that fleece our farmers, REALLY do you people actually know what you are talking about or just make it up as you go along. The majority of our dairy processing plants a re foreign owned, eg Fonterra New Zealand. Lyons Dairy and brewery Japan, Parmalat France, so whether you buy supermarket milk or branded milk, the profits ALL go overseas, not into farmers pockets. Get your information right and stop misleading people. The $2 milk at coles and woolies is the same milk that is in the branded milk and the farmers get paid the same irrespective of which milk you buy. The myth that dearer milk helps the farmers is a spin to make more profit for the foreign owned companies.
    mike
    12th Feb 2019
    1:00pm
    Yes, apart from the supermarket brands that fleece our farmers, REALLY do you people actually know what you are talking about or just make it up as you go along. The majority of our dairy processing plants a re foreign owned, eg Fonterra New Zealand. Lyons Dairy and brewery Japan, Parmalat France, so whether you buy supermarket milk or branded milk, the profits ALL go overseas, not into farmers pockets. Get your information right and stop misleading people. The $2 milk at coles and woolies is the same milk that is in the branded milk and the farmers get paid the same irrespective of which milk you buy. The myth that dearer milk helps the farmers is a spin to make more profit for the foreign owned companies.
    mike
    12th Feb 2019
    1:00pm
    Yes, apart from the supermarket brands that fleece our farmers, REALLY do you people actually know what you are talking about or just make it up as you go along. The majority of our dairy processing plants a re foreign owned, eg Fonterra New Zealand. Lyons Dairy and brewery Japan, Parmalat France, so whether you buy supermarket milk or branded milk, the profits ALL go overseas, not into farmers pockets. Get your information right and stop misleading people. The $2 milk at coles and woolies is the same milk that is in the branded milk and the farmers get paid the same irrespective of which milk you buy. The myth that dearer milk helps the farmers is a spin to make more profit for the foreign owned companies.
    mike
    12th Feb 2019
    1:00pm
    Yes, apart from the supermarket brands that fleece our farmers, REALLY do you people actually know what you are talking about or just make it up as you go along. The majority of our dairy processing plants a re foreign owned, eg Fonterra New Zealand. Lyons Dairy and brewery Japan, Parmalat France, so whether you buy supermarket milk or branded milk, the profits ALL go overseas, not into farmers pockets. Get your information right and stop misleading people. The $2 milk at coles and woolies is the same milk that is in the branded milk and the farmers get paid the same irrespective of which milk you buy. The myth that dearer milk helps the farmers is a spin to make more profit for the foreign owned companies.
    mike
    12th Feb 2019
    1:00pm
    Yes, apart from the supermarket brands that fleece our farmers, REALLY do you people actually know what you are talking about or just make it up as you go along. The majority of our dairy processing plants a re foreign owned, eg Fonterra New Zealand. Lyons Dairy and brewery Japan, Parmalat France, so whether you buy supermarket milk or branded milk, the profits ALL go overseas, not into farmers pockets. Get your information right and stop misleading people. The $2 milk at coles and woolies is the same milk that is in the branded milk and the farmers get paid the same irrespective of which milk you buy. The myth that dearer milk helps the farmers is a spin to make more profit for the foreign owned companies.
    mike
    12th Feb 2019
    1:00pm
    Yes, apart from the supermarket brands that fleece our farmers, REALLY do you people actually know what you are talking about or just make it up as you go along. The majority of our dairy processing plants a re foreign owned, eg Fonterra New Zealand. Lyons Dairy and brewery Japan, Parmalat France, so whether you buy supermarket milk or branded milk, the profits ALL go overseas, not into farmers pockets. Get your information right and stop misleading people. The $2 milk at coles and woolies is the same milk that is in the branded milk and the farmers get paid the same irrespective of which milk you buy. The myth that dearer milk helps the farmers is a spin to make more profit for the foreign owned companies.
    mike
    12th Feb 2019
    1:00pm
    Yes, apart from the supermarket brands that fleece our farmers, REALLY do you people actually know what you are talking about or just make it up as you go along. The majority of our dairy processing plants a re foreign owned, eg Fonterra New Zealand. Lyons Dairy and brewery Japan, Parmalat France, so whether you buy supermarket milk or branded milk, the profits ALL go overseas, not into farmers pockets. Get your information right and stop misleading people. The $2 milk at coles and woolies is the same milk that is in the branded milk and the farmers get paid the same irrespective of which milk you buy. The myth that dearer milk helps the farmers is a spin to make more profit for the foreign owned companies.
    mike
    12th Feb 2019
    1:00pm
    Yes, apart from the supermarket brands that fleece our farmers, REALLY do you people actually know what you are talking about or just make it up as you go along. The majority of our dairy processing plants a re foreign owned, eg Fonterra New Zealand. Lyons Dairy and brewery Japan, Parmalat France, so whether you buy supermarket milk or branded milk, the profits ALL go overseas, not into farmers pockets. Get your information right and stop misleading people. The $2 milk at coles and woolies is the same milk that is in the branded milk and the farmers get paid the same irrespective of which milk you buy. The myth that dearer milk helps the farmers is a spin to make more profit for the foreign owned companies.
    mike
    12th Feb 2019
    1:00pm
    Yes, apart from the supermarket brands that fleece our farmers, REALLY do you people actually know what you are talking about or just make it up as you go along. The majority of our dairy processing plants a re foreign owned, eg Fonterra New Zealand. Lyons Dairy and brewery Japan, Parmalat France, so whether you buy supermarket milk or branded milk, the profits ALL go overseas, not into farmers pockets. Get your information right and stop misleading people. The $2 milk at coles and woolies is the same milk that is in the branded milk and the farmers get paid the same irrespective of which milk you buy. The myth that dearer milk helps the farmers is a spin to make more profit for the foreign owned companies.
    mike
    12th Feb 2019
    1:00pm
    Yes, apart from the supermarket brands that fleece our farmers, REALLY do you people actually know what you are talking about or just make it up as you go along. The majority of our dairy processing plants a re foreign owned, eg Fonterra New Zealand. Lyons Dairy and brewery Japan, Parmalat France, so whether you buy supermarket milk or branded milk, the profits ALL go overseas, not into farmers pockets. Get your information right and stop misleading people. The $2 milk at coles and woolies is the same milk that is in the branded milk and the farmers get paid the same irrespective of which milk you buy. The myth that dearer milk helps the farmers is a spin to make more profit for the foreign owned companies.
    mike
    12th Feb 2019
    1:00pm
    Yes, apart from the supermarket brands that fleece our farmers, REALLY do you people actually know what you are talking about or just make it up as you go along. The majority of our dairy processing plants a re foreign owned, eg Fonterra New Zealand. Lyons Dairy and brewery Japan, Parmalat France, so whether you buy supermarket milk or branded milk, the profits ALL go overseas, not into farmers pockets. Get your information right and stop misleading people. The $2 milk at coles and woolies is the same milk that is in the branded milk and the farmers get paid the same irrespective of which milk you buy. The myth that dearer milk helps the farmers is a spin to make more profit for the foreign owned companies.
    mike
    12th Feb 2019
    1:00pm
    Yes, apart from the supermarket brands that fleece our farmers, REALLY do you people actually know what you are talking about or just make it up as you go along. The majority of our dairy processing plants a re foreign owned, eg Fonterra New Zealand. Lyons Dairy and brewery Japan, Parmalat France, so whether you buy supermarket milk or branded milk, the profits ALL go overseas, not into farmers pockets. Get your information right and stop misleading people. The $2 milk at coles and woolies is the same milk that is in the branded milk and the farmers get paid the same irrespective of which milk you buy. The myth that dearer milk helps the farmers is a spin to make more profit for the foreign owned companies.
    mike
    12th Feb 2019
    1:00pm
    Yes, apart from the supermarket brands that fleece our farmers, REALLY do you people actually know what you are talking about or just make it up as you go along. The majority of our dairy processing plants a re foreign owned, eg Fonterra New Zealand. Lyons Dairy and brewery Japan, Parmalat France, so whether you buy supermarket milk or branded milk, the profits ALL go overseas, not into farmers pockets. Get your information right and stop misleading people. The $2 milk at coles and woolies is the same milk that is in the branded milk and the farmers get paid the same irrespective of which milk you buy. The myth that dearer milk helps the farmers is a spin to make more profit for the foreign owned companies.
    mike
    12th Feb 2019
    1:00pm
    Yes, apart from the supermarket brands that fleece our farmers, REALLY do you people actually know what you are talking about or just make it up as you go along. The majority of our dairy processing plants a re foreign owned, eg Fonterra New Zealand. Lyons Dairy and brewery Japan, Parmalat France, so whether you buy supermarket milk or branded milk, the profits ALL go overseas, not into farmers pockets. Get your information right and stop misleading people. The $2 milk at coles and woolies is the same milk that is in the branded milk and the farmers get paid the same irrespective of which milk you buy. The myth that dearer milk helps the farmers is a spin to make more profit for the foreign owned companies.
    shirboy
    12th Feb 2019
    1:07pm
    As long as the product doesn't come from China most generics are pretty good. Italian canned tomatoes from Aldi are great. Lately been buying sardines & smoked oysters from Aldi which are very nice.
    shirboy
    12th Feb 2019
    1:10pm
    As long as the product doesn't come from China most generics are pretty good. Italian canned tomatoes from Aldi are great. Lately been buying sardines & smoked oysters from Aldi which are very nice. Our water is excellent & I add home grown sliced lemon & store in a lidded jug in the 'frig as I drink a lot of water.
    shirboy
    12th Feb 2019
    1:13pm
    As long as the product doesn't come from China most generics are pretty good. Italian canned tomatoes from Aldi are great. Lately been buying sardines & smoked oysters from Aldi which are very nice. Our water is excellent & I add home grown sliced lemon & store in a lidded jug in the 'frig as I drink a lot of water.
    Greg
    12th Feb 2019
    1:57pm
    Water - ours is good, not the heavily chlorinated city stuff.
    Generic medicines - big tick from me.
    Cling Wrap - we find the Coles brand is actually better, has more "cling"
    Cleaning products - we buy very few, just use vinegar and bi-carb, pretty much all you need.
    Food stuffs - can be a vast array of flavours, some good, some not so good, just have to try and see.
    Petrol - definitely price driven for me. Driven over 3 million km around this country and just bought whatever fuel is the cheapest and have never had any issues with my cars and poor fuel.
    casey
    12th Feb 2019
    2:21pm
    I have a diesel and a petrol vehicle. Never had a problem with diesel.The only time in 53 years of driving I have had a problem was when I put petrol with ethanol additive in the car. Clogged up the fuel injectors. Never ever use fuel with ethanol.
    Charlie
    12th Feb 2019
    5:09pm
    Why is the comments button Jammed
    musicveg
    12th Feb 2019
    6:27pm
    I think you need to consider where the generic brands are made, I read labels carefully and support Australian producers as much as I can. Quality is hit and miss with a lot of generic brands and does depend on personal taste. I buy a lot of organics and recently discovered that Macro Organic frozen peas was not from any particular country, so sticking with frozen conventional Australian grown peas now.
    By the way cling wrap is not easily recycled and contributes enormously to land fill and ocean pollution. Just put your things in a glass container.
    Cheezil61
    12th Feb 2019
    6:34pm
    Australian made is what i always look for FIRST- feel the need to keep some jobs locally if it's not too late already!!
    Shame on you YLC for overlooking this! We all have kids & grandkids who may be unskilled & need work in the few factories & such that we might have remaining!
    musicveg
    12th Feb 2019
    6:40pm
    I agree, because people keep buying and demanding cheaper they are importing cheaper and cheaper, and cheaper quality too. Farmhousedirect.com.au has many Australian producers you can buy direct from or go to farmers markets.
    GeorgeM
    12th Feb 2019
    11:44pm
    I agree people who want to look after their health must look for Australian made labels first. Also, very, very important for jobs and our farmers. If it from anywhere else, it should be a conscious decision based on your knowledge of the country of origin. Unfortunately, the recent labelling changes are not very illuminating, as if a label says "At least 75% Australian" - where is the rest coming from? That's what we want to know!

    Especially, it is shocking the number of items people consume, even ice creams, coming from China, when people over there don't even trust their own Infant Milk and get it from Australia & NZ. Majority of people seem totally blind to what's happening, and just grab the cheapest stuff.
    Blossom
    12th Feb 2019
    9:28pm
    I know UHT Milk the generic brands are labelled to use in a shorter number of days once opened.
    johna53
    14th Feb 2019
    8:07am
    Crap. Whatever happened to buying Australian? Check the label! Some generic might be fine but most comes from overseas. You might trust their quality but I don’t. Milk from NZ? Frozen or canned food from SE Asia? I’d rather try to help our farmers if I can.
    BAT
    24th Feb 2019
    12:16pm
    Agree! I always check label for Australian Made(not owned)& percentage of Australian product.Was disappointed when purchasing Coles packaged bacon the pork was from Europe.Never again.I would rather pay extra for Australian quality!
    johna53
    14th Feb 2019
    8:08am
    Crap. Whatever happened to buying Australian? Check the label! Some generic might be fine but most comes from overseas. You might trust their quality but I don’t. Milk from NZ? Frozen or canned food from SE Asia? I’d rather try to help our farmers if I can.