I admit I used to be a food snob. I always looked for big-name brands, or products that I recognized from commercials. Whenever I saw “no-name” brands, I rushed past them in the aisle no matter how good the deal was. But over time, I’ve been more conscious about spending money in the grocery store wisely. It makes me feel good to know I got a good deal, especially when everything is so expensive these days. I soon discovered that sometimes, there’s not a big difference between products that come in a yellow box and those in fancy packaging. I’ve got a pretty good pallet, but no matter how hard I try, there are some no-name brands that I can’t differentiate from the real thing. Here are some of the ones I love the most.
Tomato Soup – I used to be a Campbell Soup kind of guy, but I recently changed my tune. Keep in mind, I rarely eat tomato soup as is. I usually use it as a sauce when I’m cooking stew. And when I use it for this purpose, there’s really no difference with the no name brand. In fact, I found a cheaper version that comes with more chunks of tomatoes that adds even more zest to my sauce.
Frozen Vegetables – you’d be hard-pressed to convince me there’s a difference between no-name vegetables and more expensive brands. I’m constantly buying big bags of frozen corn, peas, and carrots, and it works just fine. There’s no way I’m going to spend an extra few dollars just because the package has a picture of a green giant on it.
Pasta – there’s no way I’m going to argue that anything is better than homemade pasta. I’ve also got my favorite brand of spaghetti that I usually buy when I’m cooking a special meal. But I’ve also tried no-name past and in most cases, it does the job just fine. If you’ve got a great sauce, it will make up for the fact you’re using no-name pasta.
Ketchup – obviously if I had my choice, I would go with Heinz ketchup. But if I was in a bind, I have no problem buying the cheaper stuff at a better price.
Crackers – I rarely eat crackers by themselves since I prefer to have them with soup or cheese. And in those instances, no name brand crackers do the job perfectly. They’re crunchy and not too salty, and that’s the perfect mix when I crumble them into my favorite soup.
Chocolate Chip Cookies – I find that no-name brand chocolate chip cookies are actually tastier than diet varieties. They’re full of flavor and often contain enough chocolate to satisfy my sweet tooth.
Teriyaki Sauce – I’ve tried the expensive stuff, and I’ve tried the cheap stuff, and I’ve come to the conclusion that teriyaki doesn’t require anything fancy. The key to getting good teriyaki chicken or steak is in how you cook the meat anyways. As long as it’s perfectly seared on the outside and juicy on the inside, a no-name brand teriyaki sauce will bring it to perfection with no problems.
Honey – in my house, honey is considered a luxury item. I don’t really use it all that much except for with tea or when I’m cooking a roast. For example, I like to drizzle a bit of honey on top of a roast chicken a half hour before it’s done. And when I’m using it for this purpose, I find that no-name honey works great.
Tuna – one of my favorite lunch items is tunafish sandwiches, and I love to add all kinds of goodies into the mix. I chop up onions, celery, and grind in some fresh pepper. A lot of these fresh elements boost the taste of tuna, and I find I don’t need to spend extra money on a fancy kind.
Potato Chips – this one took a bit of convincing, but now I’m able to find generic potato chips without having to pay more. Keep in mind, I still don’t trust no-name brand potato chips with more elaborate flavors. If I’m going with salt and vinegar or barbecue, I’m still going to buy Old Dutch. But if it’s just regular potato chips as a quick snack, I have no problem with the ones in the yellow bag.