Approved and Unapproved Generics – Which are on your list?

I committed a cardinal sin.  I bought a generic razor.  The funny thing is, I know better. I was just sick of spending so much money on razors that I just figured I’d buy a bunch of cheap disposable razors instead of three name brand blades.  The numerous cuts on my legs will tell you that was a big mistake.

photo from


Most of us savvy shoppers have rules on which products are acceptable as generics and which aren’t.  We all learn from our generic mistakes!

So, I’ve compiled a list of items from friends and the internet that people agree are approved generics and unapproved generics.


photo from santabarbara.comOK to buy as generic:

  • sugar
  • salt
  • spices/seasonings
  • baking powder and soda
  • mustard
  • oatmeal
  • hand soap
  • sunscreen
  • shampoo
  • cleaning supplies
  • medications (as long as the ingredients are the same)
  • vitamins


NOT OK to buy as generic (Popular name brand is listed):

  • ketchup (Heinz)
  • pickles
  • cheese
  • canned soup
  • french-fried onions (French’s)
  • cheese crackers (Cheez-Its)
  • crackers (Ritz)
  • chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreos)
  • macaroni and cheese (Kraft)
  • toaster pastries (Pop Tarts)
  • chocolate syrup (Hershey’s)
  • flavored gelatin (Jello)
  • soda/pop (Coke, Pepsi, etc)
  • hot dogs
  • conditioner
  • razors
  • face wash/acne medication
  • contact lens solution
  • toilet paper
  • cotton swab (Q-tips)
  • plastic wrap (Saran)
  • condoms (don’t risk this one!)
  • tampons and maxi pads
  • tissues
  • motor oil or anything else that goes into or on your car
  • batteries
  • tools
  • all outerwear – coats, boots, shoes
  • umbrellas
  • bandages (Band-aids)
  • trash bags
  • mattresses
  • camping gear
  • house paint
  • any electronics
generics vs name brands
photo from

People should spend the money on the items that are important to them.  If you can’t live without your morning coffee and Starbucks home brew is your favorite, by all means, splurge on the name brand coffee.  But if you have no preference in cereals or breads, for example, buy the generic. It may take some time and experimentation to find what is acceptable to you as a generic and what isn’t.  However, there are just some times you won’t want to risk using the generic (like with condoms, diapers, or feminine hygiene products), which is completely okay! The main idea is that you just want to avoid buying something generic that will cause problems later on (motor oil, shoes, or especially condoms).

Let me know in the comments if there are any items that I may have missed, or you think are in the wrong lists. I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Shopping!


Cover photo from


  1. Wally Nedman | 8th Oct 16

    The words in your article seem to be running off the screen in Opera. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know. The layout look great though! Hope you get the problem solved soon. Cheers

    • Julie | 9th Oct 16

      My site is optimized for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari, but thanks for letting me know. I’ll take a look. 🙂

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