Six Products Not to Buy Generic

When I’m at the grocery store, “buy generic” is my typical mantra. Nearly everything at Trader Joe’s is store-labeled anyway. At Ralph’s, I see no reason to send an extra $2 for name-brand sugar. But there are other items I will never buy generic. Maybe these are just my prejudices, but in my experience some things are better with the brand name.

Canned Tomatoes

I tried using generic canned tomatoes a few times, but I found there was a lot more water in the can than in name-brand tomatoes. More water means thinner sauce. Rather than buy another can to thicken up the sauce, I spend a few cents more for the name brand product and produce a thick, hearty sauce I can truly enjoy.

Vitamins and Medications (If You Have Food Intolerances or Religious Restrictions)

Although generic vitamins and medications are safe and effective for most people, those of us with food intolerances have to be careful. Often the fillers in generic version contain allergens. Gluten fillers are especially popular, but dairy or gelatin-based filler are also common. You can still buy some generics, but check with the manufacturer first.

Coffee (If You’re a Coffee Lover)

I don’t drink coffee, but people at work tell me that generic coffee is subpar if you truly love the stuff. I would imagine this is because the coffee companies reserve the best beans for their higher-cost brands and use lower quality beans in cheap coffee, but I can’t say for sure.


If you’re painting your home, spring for brand name paint. Generic paint is often thinner and won’t coat as evenly. You may have to apply additional coats, or the paint may chip and fade more quickly. You don’t paint your walls or the exterior of your house often, so spend the few extra bucks on good quality paint.

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract lasts a long time, so spend a little more on a high quality pure extract, rather than a generic version. Generics often contain more alcohol and less vanilla, which will alter the taste.

Anti-Aging Beauty Products

You’ll often see generic versions of popular anti-aging creams in the drugstore, but you should stick with the name brand. Generics often contain less of the active ingredient, so you either won’t see the same effect, or will have to use more to get the same effect as the name brand version. Again, spend a few dollars more to get the better quality version.

One Item I’m Undecided About: Saline Solution

I’m very careful with my eyes and only buy Renu saline solution. Bausch & Lomb clearly states on the bottle that it is not sold under any other name. I feel that name brand contact solutions are safer, but Renu has been the subject of one recall and Complete is the subject of another recall. So are name brands safer in this case? I don’t know, but I’d rather stick with the brand I’ve used and trust than take the risk on a generic.

Most of the time, generics are just as good, but sometimes you have to spend a little extra to get the best quality. Are there products you refuse to buy generic? Tell me in the comments.

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