Buying Target’s store brand items can be a smart move. After all, the Target return policy allows you to return their store brand items — even groceries — up to a year later. And yes, even if you’ve already opened the item.
That said, there are some Target brand items you just shouldn’t buy — including a handful of Market Pantry foods and products. Why? Because some are not the most cost-effective, and many have horrible reviews. Even if you can get the items we list below for cheap, they simply aren’t worth adding to your cart.
You can scoop up plenty of name-brand products for less than you’ll pay for these Target store brand items, especially if you use coupons or rebate apps to bring your cost down. So ultimately, it doesn’t make sense to sacrifice quality when you can get a better item for the same, or less, money.
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5 Worst Market Pantry Foods at Target
There has been no shortage of complaints about Market Pantry items over the years. Their frozen items in particular tend to be yuck.
In fact, there have been multiple lawsuits filed over the years because the Market Pantry Parmesan cheese had a lot of fillers derived from wood pulp, even though it was advertised as being 100% Parmesan cheese. Turns out there was 0% Parmesan in the product, just other cheaper cheeses.
And in 2022 Target issued a recall on their frosted animal cookies because some cases had cookies embedded with wire.
So while it’s great that you can return these Market Pantry items up to a year later and get your money back, you’ll want to avoid these five items altogether to save you the hassle:
1. Never buy Market Pantry Target pizza — get the name brand instead.
Many Market Pantry frozen foods have poor reviews, but few are worse than their four-cheese pizza. Reviewers say that the crust has changed and the taste is bland.
Instead of buying Target pizza, just wait for a sale on name-brand frozen pizza at Target and use an Ibotta rebate. If you can’t find a sale or rebate, here’s what you’ll pay for a quality upgrade:
- Compare Market Pantry Frozen Pizza, $2.99 at Target
See all pizza coupons.
2. Market Pantry Uncrustables are gross — buy name brand in bulk.
There’s no getting around it. Market Pantry’s take on Uncrustables has an awful taste. In fact, their Crustless Sandwiches are one of the few items that get worse reviews than the pizza. The bread tastes weird, they’re stingy with the jelly, and the sandwiches themselves are hard to bite into.
While name-brand Uncrustables are more expensive if you just buy the 4-pack, the improved taste is worth the extra $0.06 per sandwich. But if you buy in bulk (15 at a time), they’re actually $0.06 less expensive than the nasty Market Pantry version.
- Compare Market Pantry Crustless Sandwiches, 4 ct, $3.99 at Target
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3. Avoid buying Market Pantry Target popcorn.
Pop Secret popcorn is $4.99 for 12 bags every day at Target, which comes out to about $0.42 a bag. That’s actually cheaper than Market Pantry’s cost per bag, which comes out to about $0.45. Plus with coupons, you can get a name-brand version even cheaper.
Just read the reviews claiming that Market Pantry Butter Popcorn and Market Pantry Extra Butter Popcorn both taste like chemicals. And that’s for the kernels that actually pop. There are many that don’t.
So skip the Target popcorn. I’m sticking with name-brand deals at Target like this one:
- Compare Market Pantry Popcorn, 6 count, $3.29 at Target
See all the latest popcorn coupons.
Related: Yes, You Can Reheat Popcorn. Here’s How.
4. Mission tortillas can be cheaper than the Market Pantry version.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with Market Pantry Flour Tortillas, except that they’re not the best deal in the store. You’ll pay about $0.22 per tortilla when you buy a 10-pack of 8-inch tortillas.
- Compare Market Pantry Flour Tortillas, 10 ct, $2.19 at Target
Check out the latest food coupons.
5. Get your ketchup at Sam’s Club — not Target.
I can’t lie to you. I’m a huge ketchup snob. It’s Heinz or bust. You would never catch me buying the Market Pantry brand, even though it’s only $0.06 per ounce. Because I want my condiments to actually taste good.
If I were to buy Heinz at Target, the same 20-ounce bottle would cost me about $0.18 per ounce, which is an unacceptable price difference (three times as much!).
I’m a smart shopper and know my ketchup deals, so I know that I can head to Sam’s Club and pay just $0.08 per ounce when there’s not a sale going on. The $0.02 per ounce price difference between Heinz at Sam’s Club and the Market Pantry version at Target is small enough that I’m going to continue to indulge in my snobbery.
- Compare Market Pantry Ketchup, 20 oz, $1.29 at Target
See the latest Heinz coupons.
Other Target brand items you should skip
It’s not just Market Pantry items you have a whole year to return — other Target store brands like Up & Up are covered by their generous return policy. But again, that doesn’t mean they’re high enough quality that you should buy them in the first place. Here are six other store-brand products to dodge at Target:
Never buy Target Up & Up permanent markers — wait for Sharpie sales.
The best time of year to buy permanent markers is during the back-to-school shopping season in July and August. That’s when we see sales and coupons. But if you need permanent markers now, don’t go generic to save money — at least not at Target.
These Target Up & Up permanent markers are described as “awful, dry, and leaky” in reviews. One review even flat out said to buy Sharpies instead.
- Compare Up & Up Permanent Markers 10 Pack, $7.99 at Target
See all Sharpie coupons.
Never buy Up & Up Target sunscreen — get name brands for less.
Consistent bad reviews for the last seven years leave me shocked this Target sunscreen is even still on shelves. Reviewers of the Up & Up Sport Sunscreen Lotion said they broke out in a rash while wearing it.
And while the Up & Up Sport Sunscreen Continuous Spray protects a little better (although some reviewers said not at all), it apparently stains or bleaches your clothes.
Look for name-brand sunscreen at Target with special offers instead:
- Compare Up & Up Continuous Sport Sunscreen Spray, 5.5 oz, $3.99 at Target
Check out all sunscreen coupons.
Don’t buy Target Good & Gather tortellini — use coupons on name brands.
With an average rating of 3.2 stars from over 90 reviewers, this Target Good & Gather Four Cheese Tortellini (formerly Archer Farms) is one item I simply won’t cook for my family.
Reviewers agree the cheese stays hard even after cooking. According to one reviewer, “I wish I could leave no stars. I took one bite and it tasted like a salt lick.” Our recommendation? Pick up Barilla at Walmart instead. With Ibotta rebates, it’ll actually cost you less:
- Compare Good & Gather Tortellini, 17.6 oz, $5.19 at Target
Check out our Barilla coupons and deals.
Don’t buy Up & Up Target tampons — stick with the name brands.
Up & Up Target tampons claim they’re similar to Tampax Pearl, but reviewers across all varieties strongly disagree. Quality, comfort, and effectiveness are all seriously called into question by dozens of reviewers.
Instead of buying the Up & Up brand, stack a coupon and rebate at Target on name-brand tampons:
- Compare Up & Up Tampons, $4.19 at Target
Check out current tampon coupons and deals.
Avoid buying Good & Gather Target coffee — sip on Starbucks.
We miss the Archer Farms brand, which has been replaced by Good & Gather. Good & Gather Target coffee reviews are fairly poor overall, but no flavor ranks worse than Cinnamon Vanilla.
You can find plenty of deals on other brands of coffee at Target, like Starbucks and Peet’s. It’s worth the few extra bucks. You can save even more if you wait for a Circle offer on Starbucks coffee, though there aren’t any running for the bagged stuff right now.
But you can score the same deal on Starbucks at this specific moment by buying your coffee at Publix instead.
- Compare Good & Gather Coffee, 12 oz, $6.99 at Target
See all coffee coupons.