How to shop smart on a pension: The 15 items you should always buy generic

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

How to shop smart on a pension: The 15 items you should always buy generic

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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    tisme
    10th Nov 2019
    10:07am
    there was a store years ago like what i beleive costco is now , they sold a dish washing liquid in a plain bottle that was the same colour /texture /aroma as a name brand and did the same job so i wonder about generics ????????????
    Dickb
    10th Nov 2019
    10:26am
    I usually shop at Aldi (very cheap and good products usually) and only go to Woolworths and Coles (which are nearby anyhow) when something is on special or its something Aldi do not stock. Many major producers of brand name goods make the generic product to the specification in the same production plant but label it with the homebrand name and it looks like it is specifically produced in a different plant. Production plants are expensive to build and equip with production equipment and associated supply and distribution so its logical that generic items be made by brand name production plants but labelled with the generic name and contents.
    TREBOR
    10th Nov 2019
    1:38pm
    Some ALDI stuff is good.. tastes the same to me...
    AutumnOz
    10th Nov 2019
    2:06pm
    ALDI's chocolate is much better than that found at Woolworths or coles supermarkets. They have some very good biscuits as well.
    tango18
    10th Nov 2019
    10:59am
    Butter, flour, pasta, bread, sugar, straight off the top of my head, the Supermarket brand is just as good. With most of the generic products, it's a matter of trial and error to see which suit, e.g. Some generic biscuits are lovely and others just don't taste anywhere near as good. In the "frothy" coffee sachets, I have found Coles Mocha to be every bit as good as Nescafe, Moccona etc. and only half the price. Just see what works for you.
    Rosret
    11th Nov 2019
    7:15am
    Butter and Cheese I buy from IGA as they stock Mainland NZ product. The taste is so much better.
    Bread - no supermarket line makes descent bread anymore. Probably Bakers Delight is the best but that tastes so good I eat too much of it ...therefore I tend not to buy much bread at all.
    Sugar and Pasta - I read the label and buy Australian.

    Quality is so important. We oldies don't eat that much so why not make sure everything thing we do eat tastes really nice.

    When it comes to generics I know we are destroying an entire workforce and guaranteed quality produce with under payment to manufacturer and it just breaks my heart to see the shelves stocked from the slave labour of others.
    rtrish
    10th Nov 2019
    11:08am
    I like Aldi but our particular one has queues, then suddenly closes them. You have to rush to a different one. All the time I’m thinking, “I have to catch a bus!” So I rarely go there. I mentioned it on Aldi Facebook page and they asked me to try again. But nope; no better. So it’s Coles for me.
    Paddington
    10th Nov 2019
    11:12am
    Buy Australian for a start. Shop half price as much as possible. Generic medicines are not the same as I have proven. Some are okay but not all. Don’t wait until you run out of something because you will be forced to pay full price. Toilet paper, toothpaste, washing powder, etc all come round half price regularly. Shop early for Xmas. It is not hard to save money but you must be organised.
    TREBOR
    10th Nov 2019
    1:39pm
    Yup - the ex's eyebrows were raised when I bought a pack of 48 toilet rolls -$18 - far less than the average 50c a roll... she got the idea when I explained it to her... buy now, avoid spending later...
    Jenny
    10th Nov 2019
    11:14am
    The other thing that matters more than price for me is whether the product is made in Australia from Australian ingredients.
    Mariner
    10th Nov 2019
    11:44am
    Not many of those are available any more. Frozen vegetables I always buy from Australian sources. Coles has a fantastic selection. Medicines I stick to brand names, my brand is made in Germany, substitute is from India so I pay $3 extra a month. The rest of the list is just common sense.
    Taragosun
    10th Nov 2019
    2:11pm
    Agree Jenny. That is my first priority, then as much as possible, whether the company is an Australian company. I now shop weekly so it makes it easy to pick up items that are on special.
    SuziJ
    10th Nov 2019
    11:20am
    Most generic branded food comes from overseas. I'd rather pay a little bit more and purchase Australian-grown and made food & goods - both tinned & frozen.

    As for generic toiletries, most of them I'm allergic to. My skin is so sensitive that I have to use certain hype-allergenic brands.

    Why pay for the privilege of having sparkling (carbonated) sugared water when you can have ordinary tap water? I filter mine, as I don't like the taste of the local tap water. We don't 'need' the extra sugar that's in the store-bought soda drinks.
    jackie
    10th Nov 2019
    11:21am
    I always buy organic high fat milk. I know it has not been adulterated and it doesn't affect my gut as the others have. Rolled oats are the best breakfast cereal, the rest are cardboard. I keep away from plastic wrap and aluminum foil which has been linked to Alzheimer's. I make my own lemonaide which is better than any store bought one. I look for organic for all food and ALDI has some great products.
    McDaddy
    13th Nov 2019
    2:42pm
    The aluminium/alfoil link to Alzheimers disease has been debunked, all good.
    sunnyOz
    10th Nov 2019
    11:29am
    It often boils down to shopping more smart. I am not going to drive 38 kms each way to a Costco store for a $3 saving on a product. Within 10kms of where I live, I have a weekly farmers market with great produce: there are 3 Aldi stores, and a sensational Golden Circle Discount outlet offering HUGE discounted products and a special pensioner discount day once a month. It also helps being a diligent bargain hunter, for everything.
    Ozgirl
    10th Nov 2019
    12:32pm
    I agree that you need to be a diligent bargain hunter! I have my favorites brands and buy up when they go on special so I am paying around half price for the brands I love which ends up cheaper than going generic. Most items cycle around the 6 week mark and take turns in the different supermarkets. So I stock up for about 2 months at a time. I use raw sugar and have found the generic one in my local foodworks to be of excellent quality and cheap and packed it a paper bag. I looked at the plain wrap one at coles and it looked very refined and just coloured brown. It was packed in a plastic bag also which I am trying to stay away from. I try to buy local for fresh food and go to farmers markets etc. It is great when you can save heaps on your basics without sacrificing the brands you love and then treating yourself at the market, and for those of us who have arthritis the local farmers markets or green grocers will cut that pumpkin up for you!. When you live on your own you don't want to buy kilos of fresh produce so I go to the markets with my basket and only buy what I am going to eat, one of this, three of that etc. Get peanut butter freshly ground into a small container that I take with me. I use online shopping to purchase the bulk items on special if the delivery charge is cheap and still gives me a huge savings so I don't have to carry them all home as I don't drive and am getting a bit old now lol.
    Ozgirl
    10th Nov 2019
    12:38pm
    I have my favorites brands and buy up when they go on special so I am paying around half price for the brands I love which ends up cheaper than going generic. Most items cycle around the 6 week mark and take turns in the different supermarkets. So I stock up for about 2 months at a time. I use raw sugar and have found the generic one in my local foodworks to be of excellent quality and cheap and packed it a paper bag. I looked at the plain wrap one at coles and it looked very refined and just coloured brown. It was packed in a plastic bag also which I am trying to stay away from. I try to buy local for fresh food and go to farmers markets etc. It is great when you can save heaps on your basics without sacrificing the brands you love and then treating yourself at the market, and for those of us who have arthritis the local farmers markets or green grocers will cut that pumpkin up for you!. When you live on your own you don't want to buy kilos of fresh produce so I go to the markets with my basket and only buy what I am going to eat, one of this, three of that etc. Get peanut butter freshly ground into a small container that I take with me. I use online shopping to purchase the bulk items on special if the delivery charge is cheap and still gives me a huge savings so I don't have to carry them all home as I don't drive and am getting a bit old now lol.
    Aussie
    10th Nov 2019
    1:11pm
    There is another way .... but most of you will never agree .... move overseas for at least no more than 1o or 11 months a year spend 1/3 of what you spend in AU live very well maybe with water views and on the beach or maybe inside the land on small farm and enjoy your own veggies if you get sick then fly back .... just save about 600/700 a year for traveling back and I guarantee you live very well relax no worries about electricity/Water payments because O/S you will pay maybe about 10/20 dollars x month or less ..... eat fresh food fresh eggs supermarkets full of everything you are use to have at 1/2 price (Exept some imported stuff) ..... but I know some of you do not agree with this and they say you should live in AU if you get the pension well well as I say many many times please demonstrate to me that is possible with only a reduce pension every forthnight because UR overseas ........ Bye Bye going to thr beach across my place he he he he

    Places to look ... Vetnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Bali and more and more or just hope and hope withing countries like I do .....
    Rosret
    11th Nov 2019
    7:20am
    They take your pension away if you leave Australia for a certain amount of time.
    Yes, it is cheaper however the pension should really be high enough to live in our own country one would think.
    Farside
    11th Nov 2019
    1:00pm
    You can still receive your age pension provided your eligibility does not change. Only the pension and energy supplements stop after six weeks overseas.
    ChristineS
    10th Nov 2019
    1:15pm
    I usually go for generic brands, and have done so for many years. Especially for things like flour, sugars, butter. One item I would recommend is Woolworths Home brand powdered cocoa powder. Sometimes it is hard to come by, so when I see it I buy several boxes. It is the best, made in Germany (I know not Australian, but it is SO good), and really chocolatey. I use it in cooking, but I imagine it would be good for drinking too. I also aim for less plastic (have my own produce bags I made); Australian grown; Australian made; recyclable packaging; it's exhausting shopping trying to find items that fit ALL the criteria, but I try. We are lucky in that we have (within 12 min drive or less) Aldi x 3; Coles x 3; Woolies x 3 (altho I tend not to shop there much (apart from cocoa :-D ), and two wonderful Farmer Jacks; plus Spud Shed and growers markets so we are spoilt for choice.
    Ozgirl
    10th Nov 2019
    2:05pm
    I have added the cocoa powder to my woolies list. Thanks
    Triss
    10th Nov 2019
    5:26pm
    I agree with you, Ozgirl, I buy Woolworth’s cocoa powder.
    TREBOR
    10th Nov 2019
    1:37pm
    Always shop for specials and stuff - often buy more than needed when price is low..

    Tap water sucks so I got a filter and keep 30l in plastic containers with taps... got one in the car in case we need to get out due to fires... water, full tank of gas, little gas stove, and eating/drinking gear... now .... where can I put the beer?

    Wind just got up, sirens are screaming again...
    TREBOR
    10th Nov 2019
    1:40pm
    Oh - and I've always got my own vegetable gardens... why not?
    Aussie
    10th Nov 2019
    1:51pm
    Mate ... you need small trailer with small 12volts fridge for the steaks and beer and all BBQ stuff and go down the beach with a tent and Yes stay safe ..... great idea ..... what do you think ??? get ready to hook up wnn is necessry or any natural emergencies.

    A 12V solar battery will probably lat you 2 or 3 days for the small fridge and small light and you can plug a charger anywhere .........
    Bob G.
    10th Nov 2019
    2:39pm
    I think this might vary in different countries, In Australia I always by generic butter, butter is so heavily regulated and is only allowed to contain cream, water and salt so I find the generic is as good as the name brand, but much cheaper.

    However with baked beans there is only one that is Australian owned and made, that is SPC so I buy that.
    Rosret
    11th Nov 2019
    7:23am
    SPC has gone into liquidation. I am not sure if its been bought by another company. I hope they keep going - I like their canned fruit.
    Farside
    11th Nov 2019
    1:04pm
    SPC has been purchased by a Melbourne-based company, Shepparton Partners Collective, which is a joint venture between Perma Funds Management and The Eights. All permanent staff were offered continued employment with the new owners.
    Rosret
    11th Nov 2019
    2:46pm
    Good news Farside!
    Rosret
    11th Nov 2019
    7:05am
    This article is wrong on so many levels.
    The one thing about age is we have enough experience to value quality over price.
    1. Buy Australian and support your own country before all you ever get is expensive junk.
    2. Milk is not the same. Pay for quality and you will notice the difference and your grandchildren will be healthier for it. Besides if you want an Australian milk industry pay the farmer!
    3. Buy organic and you know you aren't feeding the family with pesticides.
    4. Petrol - really. The fuel economy and performance isn't worth the cheaper ethanol prices.
    5. Unless you live in outback Australia the water in the tap is fine. As for soft drinks - there is a huge difference in the taste but bubbles are usually for the the young anyway.
    6. I am surprised the article didn't add who we should fly with as well. Would you like to arrive on time, a day late or maybe not at all. mmm
    I have bought generics on a few occasions and most times I have found the contents were very poor quality or the container was half empty. Apart from that every time you purchase one of those products some quality brand industry is going down the gurgler.
    Karl Marx
    11th Nov 2019
    7:34am
    All imported goods should have an import duty so they are at least the same price os dearer than locally produced or manufactured. We need to start looking at protecting our industries to create more jobs & job secutity.
    And before anyone starts on about trade agreements they don't benefit the majority of Australians at all. The collapse of most of our manufacturing industries prove that especially the car industry which is now non existant
    jaycee1
    11th Nov 2019
    8:24am
    I agree Karl Marx, we should have an import tax on items that are already made in Australia so that it is a level playing field. More people would then buy Australian made.
    Most people on Newstart, pensions etc will 99% of the time buy the cheaper priced item, even though they would prefer to support Australian farmers but on limited budgets can not always afford to do so.
    I do not have a green thumb but try to grow most of my veg - bit of hit and miss most of the time, except for tomatoes, which helps my budget. Also have hens so don't need to buy eggs - in fact give a lot away.
    Am a member of the Cheapskate club which has many fantastic tips, recipes etc so save a bundle there. Plus I have a budget book where I have my shopping list [on front inside cover] and mark down when each item comes on special, how much it is and which shop. We have Aldi, Coles and Woolies all within walking distance - great as don't have a car. I have a set amount each fortnight for shopping, what is not spent goes into a special purse and when something comes up at it's lowest price I buy a minimum of 6. Thus over the Christmas /New Year period no shopping is needed at all.
    Works for me!