Which is Better: Store Brand or National Brand

Which is better store brand or National brand

I often get the question which is better: store brand or national brand.  While I can’t speak for every product, I would say that most of the time store products can be just as good as the name brand products.  So I decided to put it to the test by doing a comparison challenge with some products from Smart and Final.

Store Brand Vs National Brand

I was able to get a store brand and a national brand of bratwurst, hot dog buns, mustard and steak fries. They were all pretty close together and easy to find.

Each of them were cooked and prepared the same way so they could be compared to each other in the most fair way possible.  We wanted to try to keep it simple too so through the whole comparison everything that is the store brand is kept on the left while the national brand is on the right.

Store Brand vs. National Brand

As far as looks are concerned, the looks of the 2 brands of sausage were quite different.  The First Street brand was thinner and longer and looked slightly lighter then the national brand.  I wasn’t sure they would cook up the same as they looked different  but decided to try them on the grill together and see how they compared.

potato ingredients

While they were cooking, I got the potatoes on 2 small cookie sheets to be put in the oven.  As you can see, they look exactly the same!  There are very few differences in ingredients with them as well.

steak fries cooked

They cooked up exactly the same as well.  If I didn’t have them separated you would have never known they were 2 different brands.

cooked sausage

They both cooked up evenly which was great to see.  They seemed to cook at the same rate despite the size difference too.  They both were juicy and soft as they cooked.

buns ready

We then put our buns together, one First street brand and the Ball Park Brand, and added the items we wanted as toppings and sat down for the taste test.  The kids LOVED this part of the meal and they were willing to taste EVERYTHING!  That has never happend at our house before.

tasting fries

We first tasted the fries.  First Street Brand first, then the Ore-Ida Brand.
Everyone said they tasted exactly the same and they couldn’t tell the difference.

bratwurst taste test

Then we tasted the Bratwurst and the buns and the mustard.  The First Street Brand first then the Johnsonville.

They said that they tasted different, but both were really good.  The Ball Park buns were a little softer then the first street brand, but that is kind of a matter of taste and what you personally like.  The mustard was exactly the same tasting.

We then had a vote of which do you like better, #1 the national brand, or #2 the First street brand and this was the result:

First Street Brand Wins!

It was a really fun night of comparison and I learned a few things about my food and preferences.  For one I learned that you need to look at labels when comparison shopping.  None of these items were much different when it came to ingredients, but as I was at the store I noticed a few differences in other products ingredients.  The second thing I noticed was to look for price difference and just how much the difference is.  The whole First Street purchase was $9.32 for the meal for our whole family.  The National Brand cost us $12.76.  That is a difference of over $3!  That really ads up if you were to buy everything national brand!

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Have you done any comparison challenges?  What was your result?

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  1. I haven’t done true comparison, but if you look closely, often you can tell that a store brand was made by the national brand. This becomes more evident when say the national brand switched from a regular can to the pull tab lid and the then store brand did as well. Also several years ago when Banquet had the issue with their pot pies, you found out that Kroger, Meijer, Aldi, etc., were also affected.

    1. That is a great point and tip Lisa!

  2. Sara Pirate (@CleverPirate) says:

    I love that the First Street brand is cheaper, that is a great price for a full meal! I’m glad it stacked up with flavor too! Thanks for sharing 🙂