Changing to Store-Brands

Shoppers looking to save have been filling their supermarket carts with more store-brand items. Prices can be half as much as national brands, but experts say some aren't deals. Kelli Grant, Senior Consumer Reporter for SmartMoney.com tells which products make the grade and which ones to skip.

There's still a premium for buying organic, but buying store-brand organic milk or peanut butter is usually cheaper. Products are still USDA certified organic, which is the important part. We saw 45% savings on tomato sauce, 15% on eggs.

Skip paper products. Experts say store-brand tissues, paper towels, toilet paper, and paper plates tend to be flimsier and less absorbent than brand names. You'll go through them faster, and waste more. To experiment, try buying one roll, not a 12-pack.

Do buy store-brand over-the-counter medicine. Compare the labels: store-label cold medicines and pain relievers typically have the same active ingredients in the same quantity as brand names. The only difference is price, which can be half as much.

Diapers proved to be controversial. Experts told us some parents complain store-brand diapers don't fit well and are leaky. Big brands also court parents with coupons. But other parents love store-brand diapers. Stores often have good guarantees on their in-house brands; try them, and ask for a refund if you're unhappy.

Yes, store brands are cheaper, but couponing experts tell us that they can do better on national brands by pairing store sales and manufacturers coupons. There are coupons and sales on store brands, too, though. If price is the key, make sure you're always comparing to see which is the better deal.

For more information on store-brands vs national-brands and other consumer tips click here.