Monday, January 18, 2016

Five Foods You Should Never Buy

I'm all for convenience food. We all lead busy lives, and we don't always have time to cook. That being said, there are some packaged foods I don't get. Even in a time crunch, these things can easily be made at home and are so much better than store bought equivalents.

Simple Syrup: The people who managed to bottle and sell simple syrup are operating on a PT Barnum level.  It's sugar water for God's sake.  Sugar + water + 3 minutes in the microwave. Oh, you want some fancy, mint infused simple syrup. Take it out of the microwave and immediately throw in a bunch of mint leaves. Done.

Croutons: Slice bread, coat with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, add some crushed garlic if you want, in the oven for five minutes. Boom. Better than any of those salted pebbles they sell at the store.

Salad Dressing: I really dislike most bottled salad dressing. Making a simple vinaigrette takes all of five minutes, and you can vary it by just throwing in whatever's in your cupboard: Tabasco? Sure. Worcestershire? Why not. Dijon Mustard? Definitely. Angostura bitters? Might as well. A simple blue cheese dressing doesn't take much longer.

Tortilla Chips: You don't need a deep fat frier, just a frying pan. Slice corn tortillas, fry in oil, flip and salt. You will never buy a bag of chips again. The only challenge is not eating all of them as they come out of the pan.

Prosciutto. Don't tell me you're still buying prosciutto. Give me a break! All you need to do is get a leg from a six month old Duroc hog, cure it and hang it in your meat cellar for 12 to 18 months. Well, okay, maybe some things should be left to the professionals (or Oliver Klimek).

What would you add to the list?


Carter R said...

Premixed spices. Like chili powder. They take up alot of space and with a quick google search you can make most any blend with Paprika, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Cumin, Coriander, Oregano, and Salt & Pepper. They also taste better.

Anonymous said...

I would like to say spaghetti sauce. I have a great recipe and make it all the time but it takes four hours. So, I buy a bottled sauce here and there in case I get lazy. But making that purchase is incredibly painful.

Curt said...

1. soup in a can
2. fruit in a can
3. veggies in a can
4. candy at the checkout counter
5. fruitcake in a can

Anonymous said...

6. whole chicken in a can

Rohan said...

I don't buy vodka, but I work at a liquor store, so odd requests for flavored vodkas are numerous. More than one of my co-workers and I have simply told customers that they could infuse it themselves in a few days (meaning they have to plan ahead), and it would probably taste better than whatever Skyy or Grey Goose uses to make their products. Usually, there's some vague hint of a realization that "_______ infused vodka" means "vodka infused with _______", and then they buy it anyways.

The requests for simple syrup drive me crazy. I think it's a ridiculous product, and I tell most people to just make it at home.

Sku-- I used to be a garde manger at a restaurant that does family (staff) meal at the end of every service, meaning I was responsible for making salads that the staff wouldn't get bored of, so bottled vinaigrettes make no sense to me either. (Especially when you have 15-20 types of vinegar, 8-10 types of oil, and 5 types of mustard at your disposal.)

Also, honey mustard (vinaigrette or not)--it's in the name: honey + mustard....

sku said...

All good suggestions. Keep 'em coming.

Whole chicken in a can? Is that a thing?

I should have added guacamole, at least for folks who live where they can get good fresh avocados. It takes about 5 minutes to make.

Anonymous said...

>Whole Canned Chicken - No Giblets

you can get 'em on amazon!
wooo hoooo

Florin said...


Unknown said...


Funky Tape said...

Any sparkling water or fancy ass flavored soda. A Sodastream is $40 and the C02 is cheap and widely available. Add some of Steve's simple syrup and some rum and get down to business!

Bags of prewashed lettuce and spinach. What, you didn't pay the water bill again and have to wash a bunch of greens in the toilet? Ok, you're off the hook.

Any form of stock sold in a can or a tetrapack. It's gross and a waste of money. Soup bones are cheap and if you don't buy them, you'll end up buying them for Fido at the pet store for 5x the price anyway.

Anonymous said...

well, there is one thing you're leaving out of this equation: steaks.
if folks aren't slaughtering their own cattle, then they're just lazy. supermarket steak! hah! i can do better in my own backyard!

Anonymous said...

Any of the current fads
- gluten free
- organic
- free range
- GMO free
- etc, etc

Unless you don't mind spending crazy money for no benefit.

two-bit cowboy said...


It's meant to enhance whatever you put it on, not cover it up. Make your own using Alton Brown's version or one of a hundred others readily available at the tip of your fingers.

two-bit cowboy said...

Let me add...

rubs, marinades, and sauces

Unknown said...

Ricotta cheese. Whole milk, heavy cream, a little vinegar, salt. Blows the packaged stuff away.

billyhacker said...

1) It takes me about six minutes of attention to make 10 days worth of yoghurt, and it doesn't have all the crap the store-bought has in it and costs just what milk costs.

2) macaroni & cheese: five ingredients in a pot

3) sour mix

4) tea bags - 500% more expensive than loose tea and typically ten times worse in quality. They sell empty tea bags separately if you really enjoy the taste of paper.

Joshua said...

Guacamole. Not just pre-washed lettuce but pre-packaged salads. Chicken breasts (boring, dry, no flavor), go with thighs all-day (plus there about $2-3 cheaper per pound). Tortillas (so easy to make at home and taste much better). Bread (make it yourself). Salsa. Frozen fish (gross - eat it fresh). Canned anything. Naked juices (by a damn blender and fresh fruit already). I think thats all for now.

Anonymous said...

rather than leave comments here, anyone worth their salt who reads this blog should instead run around and visit each individual reader and give their opinion.

myself included, of course.

Keith said...

Made the tortilla chips tonight. Delicious. And you are right--the hardest part was not eating them out of the pan.