When it comes to getting the job done, it's not always necessary to shell out top-dollar for the best. And you don't even have to wait for a sale. ShopSmart, the shopping magazine from the publisher of Consumer Reports, recently compiled a list of more than 30 great bargains in food, housewares and more.
Some of them are pretty basic, but if you're not looking for lots of frills like fancy packaging and extra features, they're a great value.
"Sometimes people worry that buying a cheap product means compromising on quality, but in these cases, it's just not so," said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart.
Here's a sampling of amazing, cheap products.
• Suave Advanced Therapy Body Lotion, $3.25. Why it's a bargain: Cetaphil, which costs $10.50, topped ShopSmart's moisturizer tests, but Suave did almost as well for less than half the price. What you give up: Not much. It took a little longer to rub in.
• Kirkland Signature Alkaline AA Batteries (Costco), $10 per 48-pack. Why it's a bargain: They lasted as long as some pricey big brands in tests. What you give up: the extra juice needed for gadgets like cameras and video-game controllers.
• Resolve Laundry Stain Remover, $3 per bottle; 10 cents per ounce. Why it's a bargain: The cheapest pre-wash treatment ShopSmart tested is also the best. It got out more blood, grass, wine and motor oil. What you give up: nothing!
• Uniden D1660 Cordless Phone, $25. Why it's a bargain: It has excellent range and voice quality. It also has a handy lighted keypad and gives you 11 hours of talk time on a charge. What you give up: The phone lacks a headset jack.
• Zyliss Smart Guard Slicer Mandoline, $20. Why it's a bargain: You can spend hundreds of dollars on a mandoline, but this cheap model turned out uniform, thinly sliced veggie rounds every time. What you give up: a julienne blade for making veggie sticks.
• Glidden Premium Flat Paint, $19 per gallon. Why it's a bargain: This low-VOC pick is great for low-traffic areas. It's very good at covering up old paint jobs, and it resists mildew. What you give up: Fade resistance; pick another brand for vivid colors in sunny rooms.
• Ginsu Chikara Knife Set, $75. Why it's a bargain: You get an eight-piece forged set that's great at slicing for the same price as a single knife from other brands. What you give up: a fancy name brand.
• Royal CX88 Paper Shredder, $50. Why it's a bargain: It's almost as fast and easy to use as models that cost twice as much. What you give up: capacity. If you have a big job, don't plan on doing it all at once.
• Roku LT Video Player, $50. Why it's a bargain: ShopSmart found that the cheapest streaming video player to date is great for movie and TV watching and can help you cut the cable bill. What you give up: full high-definition and access to Roku's games.