How to Shop Like a Chef (Hint: Buy Generic)

How to Shop Like a Chef

Photo by: Thinkstock ©Thinkstock

Thinkstock, Thinkstock

It's not always clear, as you're standing in the supermarket aisle and feeling overwhelmed by a shelf crowded with different versions of the same product, when it's worth reaching for a recognizable name brand and when you can save yourself a few hard-earned bucks and buy generic without sacrificing quality. Next time you're in that situation, you may want to ask yourself, "What would a chef do?"

In a follow-up to a recent study on the over-the-counter-medicine-buying habits of doctors and pharmacists, a group of researchers at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business and at Tilburg University in the Netherlands has revealed which foods chefs and other food-prep pros buy generic more frequently than the general consumer, and for which food products they tend to shell out for a name brand.

Turns out that chefs are considerably more likely than the average Joe to go store brand when it comes to pantry staples like table salt, baking powder and sugar (powdered, brown and granulated). On these items, the authors note, "we find that chefs devote nearly 80 percent of their purchases to store brands, as compared to 60 percent for the average consumer." They'll also reach for generic on a host of other items, including tea, soup, spreads and dips, dried fruit and, perhaps curiously, canned seafood.

But there are a handful of items chefs and other food professionals will not stint on, shopping for them with more brand loyalty than the rest of us do. These include carbonated beverages, frozen baked goods, juice drinks, yogurt, cereal, dried veggies and grains, and ice cream.

Oh, and chefs are also "a statistically significant 11 percentage points more likely to buy store-brand headache remedies than other consumers," the authors report. No word on whether the chefs' supermarket confidence makes them less likely to need those remedies in the first place.

Next Up

How to Buy the Best Chocolate, According to Professional Chefs and Chocolatiers

Here’s everything you need to know before buying your next bar or box.

11 Seaweed Snacks You Can Buy Online

Go beyond nori sheets with these unique snacks from the sea.

Halwa Tastes Like Sweet Nostalgia

As a child, I used to bite my grandmother’s shoulder until I got a fresh batch of halwa. Now, I prepare it every Diwali.

12 Best Powdered Drinks to Buy on Amazon

Your favorite refreshments made easy!

11 Chic Candlestick Holders You Can Buy Online

An easy way to snag the perfect accessory to make your dinner table pop!

15 Easter Baskets You Can Buy Online

Make Easter morning a breeze with pre-filled baskets for your kiddos.

All the Thanksgiving Groceries You Should Buy at Costco

Buying in bulk is our secret Thanksgiving hack!

Everything You Need to Know About Carrie’s Michelin Chef Dinner in “And Just Like That”

A recap of the delicious — and bittersweet — season two finale.

Shop Amazon's New Year Sale Right Now

Find savings on small appliances, kitchen storage solutions and so much more.

Celebrate Rosh Hashanah Like Molly Yeh

We're not saying there's anything wrong with grandma's brisket, but Molly Yeh sure knows how to spice up holiday favorites.

What's New