As we tighten our belts once again, one place we can always try and save money is at the grocery store, so I wondered; are generics just as good as the national brand? The answer may surprise you.

Dry Goods

Salt, baking powder, flour and sugar are all staples many of us have in our kitchens, but did you know that a comparison done by the Chicago Booth Newspaper showed that chefs elected to use generic ingredients as opposed to the national brands in their dishes? The fact that even a discerning palate like that of a chef can't tell the difference should be a stamp of approval for the rest of us.

Packaged Foods

In a report done by the Associated Press, store brand orange juice, hot dogs and soups as well as peanut butter, ketchup and potato chips tasted the same but cost less than the national brands. The reason being is that many generic store brands are made by the national brands. There may be subtle differences in the ingredients or amount of seasonings and the reason we can't tell the difference is because they keep it that way.

Pain Relievers

Pain relievers such as Tylenol can cost as much as $9 for a bottle of 100 caplets. Advil can set you back $14 for 150 tablets and Bayer Aspirin costs around $7 for 100 tablets, whereas store brand generics can cost less than half of that. It's the same active ingredients, same dose amount and same dosing schedule.

Cleaning Products

When I'm shopping for cleaning products, I usually just reach for whatever we used when I was growing up: Pledge, Clorox, etc. but, there are generic products that do the job just as well that don't cost as much. Dollar store furniture polish can cost as little as 18 cents per ounce versus 59 cents per ounce for Pledge. You may need to use a little more, but when you're saving 41 cents per ounce, who cares? Also, never underestimate the power of rubbing alcohol or vinegar.

Baby Formula

Generic baby formula may sound a bit sketchy, but infant formula is very tightly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and that all infant formulas have to meet certain nutritional guidelines before they hit the shelves. The only real difference between store brands or generics and the national brands is price.