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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

UNL Extension in Lancaster County

Can You Guess It?? Feature

This page was updated on January 17, 2008

Helping Nebraskans enhance their lives through research-based education.


The Can You Guess It?? photo shown above is featured in the March 2008 Nebline Newsletter

ANSWER: Flaked Tuna fish in a Can


$tretch Your Food Dollar by Purchasing Store Brand Products

Karen Wobig, UNL Extension Educator

This articles appeared in the March 2008 NEBLINE Newsletter

Prices in grocery stores seem to be increasing daily. One way to possibly save money at the store would be to purchase store brands instead of national brands (or name brands). National brands, which are the names most commonly recognized with a product, usually sell for more money than the house or store brand, which have names not as well known and vary from store to store.

Tuna CasseroleConsumers presumably believe the national/name brands are of higher quality, but there usually is very little difference in quality. The difference lies in the price. According to a study conducted by the University of California, Davis, national brands are, on average, 30 to 50 percent higher in cost than store brands.

To test this ever-debatable theory, I purchased ingredients for two tuna skillet casseroles. All ingredients were identical except one casserole was made with store brand products and one with national brands. The casserole consisted of rotini noodles, tuna fish, cream of mushroom soup, milk and cheese. I enlisted help in taste-testing the two casseroles from the office staff. They were asked to taste each one, then choose their favorite (casserole A or B) or indicate if they tasted the same. Of the nine taste-testers, four voted the STORE brand their favorite, two voted the NATIONAL brand their favorite and three said they tasted the SAME.

In comparing the cost, ingredients for the store brand casserole cost $2.88, while the national brand cost $3.63, a difference of $.75. While this may not seem like a huge savings, if most meals prepared in the home would produce a savings of approximately $.75 per meal, and assuming the average family cooks meals five out of seven evenings, their savings on just using store brand products for these meals for one year would be approximately $200. It appears purchasing store brand products would be one way to make your food dollars stretch!

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