I’ve been compiling a list of items to aid me in when to buy the cheap brand and when to spend a little extra. Sometimes (especially right now, when it seems as if I have the memory of a goldfish) I forget if the cheap brand was really that bad or just a bit of a pain. This little list helps me out on the everyday things and hopefully it can help you out too. If you have anything to add, please do.
I’ve learned to go cheap on toothbrushes. If you want to spend more on fluoride free toothpaste, that will help. (Or you could just use baking soda, like we do. Very economical and I feel fresher.)
Go cheap on coffee makers, especially if you do not drink coffee every day. A normal drip coffee maker will make a good cup of coffee for the whole family. If you want an auto-start that will cost more, but just remember that all drip coffee makers are about the same. Where you want to spend your money (if you are a coffee lover) is in the beans. Get a good burr grinder, buy your beans whole (local roasters if possible) and you will have an awesome cup of coffee from a $10 drip machine. (If you already have a tea kettle and only enjoy a bit of coffee, maybe a french press would be the most economical. I’ve seen large 10 cup ones before, but they do not hold the amount of coffee a normal drop pot will.)
Go cheap on your dish sponges. Buy the $1/2 packs and use each one for a week (sanitizing with hot water when necessary) then throw away. There is no sanitary reason to keep a sponge around. Wash cloths work great for washing dishes. I use my sponges to do a “once over” before putting larger items in the dishwasher and to clean the sinks. Spend more on the dish soap. I have noticed that I go through more cheap brand soap to get the same effect as I would with a more concentrated brand. You will end up going through 2-3 bottles of the cheap soap while just 1 of the more concentrated, pricier brand. Bonus if the nicer brand is biodegradable. (We use Method Brand, and I have also noticed a difference in the smell residue on our plastic sippy cups. Plastic is porous so it will soak up that water/soap. With the cheaper brand I felt I needed to rinse 1000 times to get the smell to leave. I have noticed better (yet not perfect) results with this brand. Lets just say I really dislike plastic!)
Here are three things I have to remind myself when I go to the store. Buy the better brands of paper towels, toilet paper, and trash bags. I have the same issue with paper towels and toilet paper that I do with dish soap. We go through more toilet paper when it is cheaper because it is either rolled loosely (so really holds less sheets) or extremely poor in construction, requiring the use of more. I have noticed that the newer Kroger brand of toilet paper works well and is very economical, though. We usually only buy 1 roll of paper towels when we shop. They are mostly used as wipes for Little W. With that thought in mind, we want a thicker and stronger brand. It also helps to only need 1 for a spill instead of 2. With trash bags, I cringe paying the higher cost for something to hold our trash, but I also cringe when I put 4 holes in the bag trying to get it out of the can/tied up/out to the dumpster. I can fit more into one bag when it is stronger, as well. So I always have to tell myself to get the better brand!
Don’t worry about buying expensive everyday cleaners, either. I have been using a mixture of vinegar/water (1:1) for all purpose spray and window cleaner. I even use it on the entry way floor. It is extremely economical. I use mostly hydrogen peroxide to clean the bathrooms. It really keeps my cupboards clear of toxic chemicals and I only need 1 bottle under the sink.
I want to add to this as I go about my household shopping… but these are the things that really stand out to me right now when shopping for household items. If you have any other tips please share!