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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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  • [January 15, 2016] - It's National Soup Month so this month's posts will focus on soups. Yum!
  • [February 1, 2016] - An interesting report on why you should always choose organic tea verses non-organic: Toxic Tea (pdf format)
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Monday, February 09, 2009

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Brand Loyalty

Frugal Kitchens 101
Last week's poll asked the question "In terms of your food and household sundries (eg. laundry soap, toothpaste, etc) purchases, how brand loyal are you?" Seventy-three people voted in the poll. The results were:

1% I'm very brand loyal and refuse to try any other brand even if it is cheaper.
19% I'm brand loyal for the most part but will occasionally try another brand if it is cheaper.
56% I'm brand loyal but only for certain products.
23% I am not brand loyal and will buy whatever brand is cheapest.
I am essentially in the 56% category and because I do so much as far as home preserving, staying brand loyal does not have that great of an effect on us. At the same time I am flexible because you never know when you might find a cheaper but just as good alternative. I am not surprised at the results but I do think the last category will increase with the ongoing recession. Buying the cheapest brand is to be expected when money is tight. Quite often one of the first pieces of advice given to anyone trying to cut back their food costs is to not be brand loyal. However, I feel this is bad advice. Being brand loyal can actually save you money if you use brand loyalty properly!

When Not to Be Brand Loyal
Certain foods have to meet specific standards. For example 2% milk has to contain 2% milk fat (M.F.) regardless of the brand. In this case buy the cheapest brand based on unit pricing instead of being brand loyal. The same holds true for most dried pastas, cream cheese, eggs, butter, dried beans, popcorn, white sugar, most flours although some brands differ in gluten content, some herb or spice blends, white 5% acetic acid vinegar, corn starch, iodized regular salt, baking soda, yellow prepared mustard and the list could go on. Most canned fruits and vegetables are canned in the same factories with no difference other than the label. So if you buy whole tomatoes for example, buy the cheapest brand available. Most fresh fruits and vegetables are the same regardless of the brand. If you notice many of these foods are basic ingredients and these are the things that should be bought in bulk if possible for the cheapest unit price.

When Being Brand Loyal Is Frustrating
Every family has their favourite brands. These tend to be propriety type products such as Campbell's chicken noodle soup where a particular recipe is used and other brands have not duplicated the taste or texture. The problem is trying to substitute a cheaper brand that does not taste the same. You might get lucky on your first try but quite often that is not the case. In the long run it will be cheaper and less frustrating for you to use the desired brand name and cut back elsewhere. Remember that a bargain priced food is not a bargain if your family won't eat it!

Being brand loyal can also be frustrating when that brand produces a food no other brand does. These are very specific food products and may even be available only in certain countries or regions of the country. A good example of this is the Diana sauce I often mention on this blog. It is only distributed in Canada and I have not found a close substitute for it in the USA. Another example is the specialty barbeque sauces we buy at ribfests. These are not widely distributed and some of them are only available in certain regions. The only way you are going to get the exact taste of these types of foods is to buy that particular brand name.

How Brand Loyalty Can Save You Money
First and foremost if this is your family's favourite brand then that food will not go to waste. Remember that food wastage costs you money. Second, there always more coupons available for brand name products and in some areas those coupon values are doubled or tripled depending on the store. Where we live coupons are not doubled or tripled and they aren't all that popular but if you can do take advantage of coupons keeping in mind to only buy what your family will use in the first place. Coupons are a good way to try another brand as well. A third way brand loyalty can save you money is buying the store brand. Each larger grocery store has their own brand. For example, here No Frills™ brand is No Name®; Price Chopper, Foodland® and Sobeys brand is Compliments; Food Basics is Selection; and Loblaws, RCSS, Independent, Fortinos, Zehrs, Valu-mart, No Frills™ and Freshmart is President's Choice®. Note that those stores using the same store brand are actually owned by the same company and the stores range from higher end to low end as far as price goes. That means you can buy the store brand at say No Frills™ than you can at Zehrs because Zehrs is the higher end store in the Loblaws chain. Many of these store brands are of equal or better quality than national brand name foods as well. However, some are not as good and might not meet your family's standards so when trying a store brand for the first time buy only enough for one meal. If the store brand is well received then stock up.

The Final Line
Shop smart when being brand loyal. Always, always, always buy on sale! Sales are cyclic so learn the sales cycle for your area. For example pasta always goes on sale here near the time the heating season starts. It also goes on sale again right around March break. Always buy enough to get you though to the next sale on that product. Use coupons if at all possible but only for those foods your family will eat. Don't be so inflexible when it comes to brand loyalty as to not try another brand. At some point your favourite brand may no longer be available which will force you to find a substitute. Trying other brands may give you a pleasant surprise in a product you like better as well.

1 food lovers commented:

Anonymous said...

One thing about which I am entirely (and I mean ENTIRELY) uneducated is sales cycles. I just try to buy a lot when there's a good sale, but I have no idea when it might come around again. I appreciate the info on pasta.

-Katherine (katheroni in the Yahoo Group)