Outstanding Store Brands

Since the recession hit, about 40% of grocery shoppers say they've switched over to store brands. How much can you really save?

And how do these foods taste anyway?

Consumer Reports has got the goods on store brands, and which will satisfy your taste buds.

It used to be when you walked down a store aisle, this is what you might see: boring black and white packages containing generic brands that looked and usually tasted pretty bland.

But in recent years, Consumer Reports' Tod Marks says, all that's changed.

"They're a lot better in terms of the quality and in terms of the packaging," said Marks. "Consumer Reports has long surveyed our subscribers about their preferences when it comes to food. Seventy percent of those we surveyed said the quality of store brands is really quite high."

Consumer Reports' trained tasters compared leading brand names to store brands, trying 29 different foods.

They did blind taste tests on everything from salsa to frozen strawberries.

Betty Crocker's au grating potatoes went head to head with Great Value by Walmart.

And the winner? Great Value, at half the price.

Old El Paso Thick 'n' Chunky Salsa battled it out with Costco's Kirkland Signature Organic. Kirkland's medium salsa is just plain tastier and is almost half the prices.

And DiGiorno's frozen pepperoni pizza was pitted against the Archer Farms pie from Target. The winner?

"It was a tie. But the Archer Farms was about a dollar cheaper," said marks.

Overall, tasters found the store brands as good as or better than big-name brands 23 out of 29 times.

While store-brand foods have improved significantly, no doubt some you buy may not be to your liking.

But many grocery stores a making a tryout worth your while by offering a money-back guarantee on their brands.

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