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How to Get Your Family to Eat Store Brands

by April Serock

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Who Makes Store Brands

According to a report by Johns Hopkins University, in 1999 food manufacturers spent an estimated $33 billion on advertising. That's a lot of money to convince consumers that their brand of food is the best. Sometimes, though, it can seem that buying these name-brand foods costs your family about $33 billion a year in grocery bills.

The good news is that food advertisements only make you think that brand-name food products are better. Often, they are exactly the same products as store-brand products. Only the packaging (and the cost) may be different.

Sometimes, there is a slight difference in quality between name-brands and store-brands, but often a person's preference for one over the other may simply be a matter of what he or she is used to eating. If a person's taste buds can become accustomed to a name-brand product, they can become accustomed to a store-brand product, too.

Even the United States Department of Agriculture recommends trying store-brand foods to eat healthfully on a budget. Research by the Private Label Manufacturers Association indicates that consumers can save about a third of their bill each shopping trip by purchasing store-brand products. For a family that spends $100 a week on groceries, that can be savings of over $1,700 a year. If you have a family of picky eaters, though, getting them to give up their name-brand products may seem like an impossible task. Take heart! With a gradual approach and lots of patience, even the most finicky of families can be swayed.

When trying to change any habit, the best thing to do is to start slowly. Don't replace every brand-name item on your shopping list with a store brand or spend your entire grocery budget at a chain that sells only its own brands (like Aldi) until you're sure your family will eat the cheaper food you've bought. Instead, try a few items at a time.

First swap things that no one is likely to notice like flour, rice, cooking oil, or dried pasta. Only a serious foodie could tell the difference between brand-name and store-brand macaroni noodles once they're cooked and covered in cheese.

Then slowly try other store-brand foods. Begin with the foods that your family is less likely to be fussy about like canned vegetables and beans. If your child's favorite breakfast cereal or your spouse's normal brand of coffee is among the first things you change, you may encounter push back that could derail your entire endeavor.

If your family is very choosy or complains about the quality of store-brands, opt for the "better" store-brand. Some stores make "premium" or "gold" lines of their own brands that are comparable to brand-name products. These may be more expensive than the stores "everyday" lines, but you'll likely still save money over national brands.

There are several ways you can increase your family members' cooperation with switching from name-brand products if they are less than enthusiastic about the idea. One way to do this is to allow each family member to pick one or two "special" brand-name items he or she simply cannot live without. Then clip coupons for that item, watch for it to go on sale, and stock up. Even if you have to pay full-price for a "special" item once in a while, you're still saving money in your grocery budget overall by giving up most national brands.

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Another idea to increase your family's support is to keep track of how much money your family saves each time you buy a store-brand. This is a great exercise for school-aged kids and teenagers. (Plus, it sharpens their math skills!) Putting the savings toward a family goal, such as paying down debt or taking a vacation, may help get everyone on board. Once your kids and spouse see how much money you're saving, they may even be willing to give up their "special" items to save even more.

With patience and persistence, even the most persnickety of eaters can be persuaded to make small changes that benefit the family finances in a big way!

Take the Next Step:

  • Get more smart grocery shopping tips and tricks that will save you money by visiting the Dollar Stretcher Library.
  • Take the TDS Pantry Challenge. Clean out that pantry, fridge and freezer and see how much extra cash you can free up this month!
  • Continue to trim food costs by visiting our food & groceries section to get tips and tools for keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.
  • It's tough raising kids today! You need every time and money saving idea you can find. That's why you'll want to get our free weekly Dollar Stretcher for Parents newsletter. You'll find great ideas designed just for parents that will help your family 'live better...for less'! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.

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