T O P

What are some ingredients that are acceptable to go cheap on (I.e. great value brand) and ones where I should spend the extra money?

What are some ingredients that are acceptable to go cheap on (I.e. great value brand) and ones where I should spend the extra money?

riverrocks452

White or cider vinegar, as long as you're not looking for live cultures or probiotic whatever. White vinegar is just a solution of acetic acid- brand absolutely doesn't matter. I have not found a significant difference between name brand and generic dried beans. Cheap rice tends to have more hulls and broken grains- I pay up a bit and the quality is SO much better. Same for rolled oats, but I usually can't be bothered. My dad swears by King Arthur flour, and while it's better, it's only truly noticeable for me in long rise breads.


throwdemawaaay

For rice definitely go to an asian market. I prefer Thai jasmine rice as my all purpose rice. Brands that are good in my experience are the one with three ladies, the one with a jumping deer, and the one with an elephant. Sorry I don't know the actual names :P These are usually only slightly more expensive than the cheap supermarket rice and the difference in quality is dramatic.


cleoterra

My dad also fucking loves King Arthur 😂


YukiHase

I refuse to use any other brand!


riverrocks452

Don't get me wrong- it's great stuff! But for cookies and biscuits and other quick breads, it's a waste.


cleoterra

Oh, totally agreed lol


Feisty-Juan

I have 9 different kinds of vinegar and the best one is dirt cheap but hard to find. Palm vinegar is my favorite and much like white. Love the different types but best hands down is palm vinegar


riverrocks452

I keep looking for palm vinegar! I've heard it's super strong and I LOVE the flavor of vinegar in general, so I think I'd really like it.


Feisty-Juan

I have 3 kinds of it on hand. One is gross looking with pepper and spices all on the bottom until you shake it. Then it’s gross but delicious


Feisty-Juan

It’s a staple of Asian cuisine. Find the biggest Asian market near you and they have it. Grab some plam sugar if you make Asian food. Use it anytime recipes call for sugar.


mafulazula

Depends on what you mean by white vinegar and what you’re using it for. Like many recipes that call for white vinegar are better with champagne vinegar imho.


riverrocks452

Sure, but Heinz or whatever is gonna be absolutely the same stuff as Great Value (given that they're labeled the same acidity/concentration). My point is that for that specific product (white vinegar), there's no difference. I would not say that this is generalizable to all vinegars- definitely not balsamic, and not rice or any of the wine vinegars either.


friendsofafiend

I’ve maintained a habit of good butter and good coffee through fits and spills of poverty and comfort without regret.


ukfi

And if you really want good coffee and don't want to spend that extra bucks, get coffee bean and a cheap spice grinder. Freshly ground coffee make it at least 5 times better than expensive pre ground.


DreamFun7303

I think a burr grinder is something that’s worth the extra money. I make my coffee in a French press though, so the grind is pretty important.


ukfi

I would say freshly ground is more important than the type of grinder. For those in the coffee sub, they will go nuts whenever I say this. But they are singing in the choir. For new comers, it is much easier to just get fresh beans and a cheap spice grinder first and progress from there.


marcusethepaladin

It really depends on the type of Coffee you are making. If youre using a Spice grinder to make french press Coffee you will not have a great time. That being said, you can get a hand grinder for as cheap as 30 bucks which will do an outstanding job for anything but espresso.


flareblitz91

I was a barista for a couple years in college and i make french press coffee every single day of my life. It’s not THAT important. Like you’re going to still enjoy your cup of coffee.


DreamFun7303

Burr grinder lets me enjoy the entire cup of coffee. The last bit is undrinkable with a spice grinder.


DreamFun7303

Bodum has an electric one for $50 that I’m very happy with.


Blazerboy65

French press has been my preferred method for years and the mud from your typical getting has been tolerable but I think I'm ready to graduate to something that can grind coarse enough. It gets to you eventually.


DreamFun7303

I say go for it. I just looked and the one I paid $50 for not too long ago is on sale for $40. https://www.bodum.com/us/en/11750-01us-bistro There’s a noticeable difference with the French press, which is the only way I’ve made coffee at my house for the last five years.


MohaloUdork

Lebanese, Turkish and Jordanian coffee.


Zoethor2

Mmmm good butter. I started buying expensive butter when butter was scarce during the pandemic and I'm never going back.


Ok_Move1838

What brand is the expensive butter?


Freddielexus85

Kerry Gold. It's silly how good it is.


DietCokeYummie

Do you find you can tell the difference in all applications? Or only in some? I ask because I don't bake (not a dessert person, I know... weird) and I don't really do butter on toast/bread for any reason. But I do use butter a lot in cooking (mostly gravies, sauces, etc.). I buy real unsalted butter but it is either the store brand or Land O Lakes. I'd totally bump up to something nicer if it can be tasted in cooked dishes.


Freddielexus85

I use it in sauces for pasta and for butter on toast and such. But it also is clearly a better quality than say the Costco pack. It's creamier, for sure.


Zoethor2

I definitely notice a difference in those applications, which is most of where I use butter too. I also mount butter to finish sauces a lot more now because it really brings a lot to the sauce with high quality butter.


DietCokeYummie

> I also mount butter to finish sauces Same, Same. My #1 use of butter, TBH. Good to know it makes such a difference in this way.


Zoethor2

I like Kerrygold and Plugra for commonly available. I also got Lewis Road Creamery once and that was amazing.


FinalBlackberry

Same here. And decent bread.


ttrockwood

I buy from bulk bins any grains, oats, nuts, dried fruits, flours and dried beans. Worth it: - kosher salt - black pepper grinder - balsamic vinegar - extra virgin olive oil (for garnish and salad dressing) - organic canned tomatoes are cheaper than a jar of pasta sauce and significantly better tasting than generic, blend with garlic and sautéed onions for pasta sauce - good all natural peanut butter


shyjenny

I would do this too for savings except that sometimes stores/people are not too concerned about cross contamination. If you have allergies, it's often safer to avoid them


j75515050

You’re my kind of shopper. My thoughts exactly!


femsci-nerd

For spices, just go to an Asian or Indian market. The spices usually are of very high quality and much cheaper than in the supermarket.


blissfully_chilling

100% spend the extra money on good pasta. There is a *massive* difference between the cheapest store brands and something like De Cecco or similar.


throwdemawaaay

Just to elaborate on this, there's basically two kinds of dried pasta on the market: stuff extruded through teflon, and stuff extruded through brass. The teflon stuff is cheaper because they can run the machines a lot faster. The problem is the teflon doesn't produce much surface texture. This actually matters for how much the sauce adheres to the pasta, which is something you can taste. Stuff extruded through brass has a visually rough texture. This also makes it easy to spot which is which in the super market. Just look at the pasta through the bag or clear window on the box if there is one, and the visual difference should be clear. This is what the difference looks like: [https://cdn.substack.com/image/fetch/f\_auto,q\_auto:good,fl\_progressive:steep/https%3A%2F%2Fbucketeer-e05bbc84-baa3-437e-9518-adb32be77984.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fpublic%2Fimages%2F8287bb6d-1654-4395-8289-01c94cc3be09\_695x503.jpeg](https://cdn.substack.com/image/fetch/f_auto,q_auto:good,fl_progressive:steep/https%3A%2F%2Fbucketeer-e05bbc84-baa3-437e-9518-adb32be77984.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fpublic%2Fimages%2F8287bb6d-1654-4395-8289-01c94cc3be09_695x503.jpeg) Always toss the pasta together with the sauce, so that it adheres to the noodles. The big mistake so many people make with pasta is not doing this, and you end up with the chunky part of the sauce sitting on top of the noodles and a sauce colored water puddle underneath. Some people like the look of a heap of sauce on top, so for those people I save half the sauce to heap on top after I've tossed the rest together with the pasta.


FlandreHon

I don't know what to look for in your picture. The one on the left seems a made from different darker grains. But the one on the right does seem to have more texture but it could also be flour coating.


miri_leila

So the „flour-coating“ is exactly what you‘re looking for :)


throwdemawaaay

It's not a flour coating, though I agree it does look like that. If you could touch them you'll find one feels smooth and the other has a more sandpaper texture.


hwc000000

Given that several of us thought the brass extruded pasta had a flour coating, is it possible for a shady producer to imitate the look of brass extrusion by using a cheap flour coating?


throwdemawaaay

I don't think so. It doesn't really look the same if you see it in person, and honestly most consumers aren't aware of any of this anyhow.


mafulazula

There’s also dried pasta that’s more like fresh pasta (eg. Cipriani).


jazzfmfanx

Agreed - De Cecco pasta is much better quality than other store-bought brands.


guitar1257

De Cecco is the bomb.


StephG23

It depends on the recipe. If you are making a stew, you can cheap out on meat. But if meat is the star of the dish, you'll want to spend on it


[deleted]

Meat is definitely worth spending extra for good quality imo. I think it all depends on what the focus of your meal is. As long as you have access to fresh staples: vegetables and meat, a lot of the other things may not matter as much. But depends on what you're making I guess. I try to take note of the better cheap stuff


CowboyBoats

Give me the farmer's market meat


spimothyleary

Its always frozen at the farmers market. I probably need to get over that


flareblitz91

I’d wager 99% if not more of the meat you’ve ever eaten in your entire life has been frozen. You do need to get over it. You expect the farmer to not freeze their butchered animals and let it spoil?


spimothyleary

I kind of meant to hassle of defrosting and such. Im very spoiled with a grocery within walking distance and two markets with full butcher shops inside just 5 minutes away. So 99% of my beef is wrapped in brown or white paper and eaten day of purchase. It may have been frozen before but I dont have to deal with it.


[deleted]

Yessir, that's the shit right there.


millertyme007

Two things i never cheap out on. Spices and garlic. Always fresh garlic and find a good spice merchant near you to start out testing their mixes and rubs. Penzeys Spices has brick and mortar stores, as far as online ordering i use The Spice House, they have excellent spices.


DreamFun7303

I buy everything from Penzey’s. It’s so worth it. And for the stuff you use a lot, you can buy in bigger packages, so by weight it will be the same price, or in some cases cheaper, than the store brand. Quality is on a different level though.


MohaloUdork

I personally like Savory Spice the best next to Asian and Arab markets.


DreamFun7303

I’ll give them a try next time I need something.


MohaloUdork

They also have a decent rewards program


butterbutts317

If your really into spices, check out Smith and truslow.


milee30

It might help if you'd list the types of things you buy. There are so many, what one of us buys isn't what you might be looking at.


[deleted]

[удалено]


shyjenny

Also store brand / cheaper canned staples I can tell the difference between $1 can of tuna and the $6 lemon caper tonno - but the dollar can will make a decent tuna melt sandwich, casserole, add to pasta salad So for some applications I'll buy the more expensive richer sour cream or butter, etc - even if the basic brand will do in others


MrCarnality

Cheeses are worth the money, especially for Regiano parmigiano where you NEED the original. Padano is not an acceptable substitute for Regiano. Green can parm is not under consideration in any way at all. Buy a small brick for what you need and grate or shave it fresh. Nothing else compares.


SpaghettiMapleSyrup

Yes on that, but there are nuances IMHO. Preshredded of all kinds and fake Parmesan are trash, should never buy it. If I am doing a nice mushroom risotto I will use Parmigiano Reggiano. If I am doing a quick spaghetti, Grana Padano or Pecorino Romano are a perfectly acceptable substitute.


MrCarnality

Pecorino is delicious and certainly has its uses. I love it on red spaghetti, whereas I must have parm for pesto which is my fav. Thank you for letting me know your thoughts abut Padano. I decline all/any future dinner invitations.. :)


SpaghettiMapleSyrup

You should decline all invitations from all Northern Italians, then. Grana Padano is used A LOT in these parts.


MrCarnality

It’s used a lot in the south too where my family comes from.


spitedrvn

Do a cost comparison on canned goods. Same size can, drain and weigh. In my experience you pay way more for garbage with Great value brand. It's almost ridiculous, there can are filled with way more liquid. Usually when something screams value, it's a scam and yup Great value products are really a great scam


Crazy_Direction_1084

In the EU it’s mandatory for companies to put the drained weight on the back


inbaltics

I live in a third world country and even here it's mandatory.


ijjgiafjidfai

Butter if you're going to cook with it.


TommySalami13

What's the difference between cheap and expensive butter?


devilbunny

Higher fat content, possibly you're getting cultured instead of uncultured (sweet) butter so you get better flavor. Just taste them and you'll quickly recognize the difference. If you're in the US, Kerrygold or Plugra are the cheapest "good" butters. There are better ones, but those are the minimum to clear the bar.


TommySalami13

Thanks!


ijjgiafjidfai

Fresh cream from special population of cows based on location, forage, time of year etc., fermentation by buttermilk or yogurt or keffir, sea salt, method of churning, handmade, freshness date, lot size. These usually affect price.


malevolent-magician

Most cereal, pasta, dried fruit, do the great value. Spend the extra money on flour(if you like making bread or other stuff) We use King Arthur. We tried going great value but it Really fucked with how all our baked goods came out. And Cream Cheese. Dont do great value cream cheese. Trust me.


Hopeloma

What's wrong with Great Value cream cheese?


malevolent-magician

Whatever Philidelphia adds to their cream cheese mix really just makes a better cheesecake/cheese danish. Some sort of stabilizer maybe? Whenever I use the great value in baking it never turns out quite as well as when I use Philadelphia branded. I use great value flavored cream cheeses to slap on a bagel though.


TheHumanRavioli

Don’t buy cheap *fresh* vegetables, those have been shipped across the world and even though they taste good they’ve lost a large portion of their nutrients during shipping. Splurge on locally grown produce when you want it fresh. When you want it frozen, that varies in quality. I buy Birdseye or Great Value peas, cauliflower, carrots, or green beans sometimes. But I don’t buy frozen broccoli or corn from cheap brands because I’m pickier about those.


throwdemawaaay

Neutral flavored refined oils. White vinegar. Table salt. Sugar.


sgarner0407

Spend on cheese, meats, butter, diamond crystal kosher salt Cheap out on: white sugar, white vinegar, frozen veggies, dried fruit, PB


lawncarechick

Condiments. Buy the good ones. Anything frozen. Get the good stuff.


TP_Crisis_2020

I always cheap out on stuff, but have had a revelation on a few things. I never cheap out on bologna lunch meat anymore. I bought a pack of the Bar-S stuff one time and the bologna was filled with tiny crunchy stuff like bone fragments or something. Made me barf, and now I only get name brand bologna. Had the same thing happen with hotdogs, and now I only buy Nathan's brand hotdogs. Haven't had gross mayonnaise, but I will only buy Duke's brand mayo now.


Jynxbunni

Consider making your own Mayo. Takes <2 min


TP_Crisis_2020

I've heard people say this. Do you know of a good recipe for this that will beat Duke's?


Jynxbunni

1 cup canola oil 1 egg Mustard of choice to taste 1/2-1tsp Pinch of salt I like to pour it all into a wide mouth mason jar, and then put my stick blender right into it. Pulse in bottom until it begins to emulsify, and then slowly pull it up to finish the rest


Tibor66

Try this: [https://lifehacker.com/how-to-make-your-own-dukes-style-mayonnaise-1833804415](https://lifehacker.com/how-to-make-your-own-dukes-style-mayonnaise-1833804415)


TP_Crisis_2020

Thanks!


No1ofIntrst

I would, but I'm terrified of raw eggs lol.


Jynxbunni

I’d suggest you look into the science and statistics of it. Both Alton and Kenji have great info on it.


RalphDiBlasio

Spend on eggs, cheese, olive oil, vinegars (aged bal especially), olives and black pepper. Go cheap on salt, dried spices, and salt


Ninotchk

Taste it and see.


Cheekers1989

The bags of frozen strawberries and blueberries from the dollar tree. Especially during the off season when both are super expensive fresh. I really only use frozen fruit for two things but they are things I eat every day. Oatmill and yogurt. A bag of Stevia. They are usually super expensive for like a 10 oz bag but it could last you the year because it tends to be much sweeter than sugar so you only use a 1/8th of a portion of a sugar serving.


Bluemonogi

This kind of depends on your taste preferences and budget. You'll have to try things out to see if you are okay with them. I buy a lot of generic or store brand stuff and most of it is fine. I prefer some name brand sauces. Apple cider vinegar- check the label because some cheap stuff is "apple cider flavored" vinegar with color added.


R_Charles_Gallagher

thats really a trial and error thing but you should be investigating the stores you have access to and making note of what they have and what it costs. You can almost always use the cheapest ingredient, especially because with some things there is no cheap version. The only things that are available cheap are largely equal. just don't buy super cheap chocolate chips and remember to follow recipes if they supply that distinction and you'll be fine


midkni

People swear by DOP san marzano tomatos. But they're around $6 for a tin. There's a brand called Red Gold that goes for $1.50 a tin, and there's an article on SeriousEats that did a taste test and it passed as the #2 best canned tomato. I've purchased the DOP tomatoes a handful of times, mostly for your standard tomato sauce, and honestly, I don't get the hype. To each their own I suppose. I go store brand on spices. I've lived a handful of states, and prices vary. Back home, the difference between store brand and name brand was 10-20%. Where I live now it's 300%. One costs $2, the other costs $6. So dumb. I'm more of a simple S&P with olive oil cook, so I don't use spices as much, so I may be biased. I go store brand butter. Mostly because I don't bake very much. I do get Kerrygold if I'm doing a charcuterie spread and have fresh bread though. I go store brand eggs. Farm fresh eggs from a local farmer at farmer's market is a different story, but I'm not paying extra at the store. Dried pasta has to be de cecco brand. No exceptions unless I want to hate myself. I used to alway buy store brand dried pasta, tried de cecco, and will never go back. If you make your own pasta, 00 flour is night and day difference than any flour out there, store brand, King Arthur, or anything else. Fuck pre-ground black pepper. It may as well be dust. Whole peppercorns ground are so much better. Storebrand is fine for this one though.


DietCokeYummie

> I've purchased the DOP tomatoes a handful of times, mostly for your standard tomato sauce, and honestly, I don't get the hype. I think it depends on what you're used to. I've never purchased the Red Gold (but now that you post this, I will try it out), but grew up with my mom buying Hunts so that's what I bought until I learned about San Marzano tomatoes. The difference between Hunts and Cento San Marzano is MASSIVE. Hunts tomatoes are just sitting in water, and they are tough and hard to squish. Cento ones are incredibly bright red and easy to squeeze, and they're packed in a thick tomato sauce with herbs, which can be used in your recipe along with the tomatoes. I've read on here that Cento's other whole tomatoes that aren't labeled San Marzano are just as good and in a similar sauce, so I need to try that as well. Those are about half the price of the San Marzano.


Remote-Canary-2676

Spend the extra money on cream cheese


Hopeloma

Why?


Remote-Canary-2676

Try Philadelphia cream cheese versus store brand.


Feisty-Juan

Paprika is one to spend good money on. Cheap paprika is bland but you can come across really good spices in bulk, recommend sneaking a taste at anyplace that sells bulk and know what exactly you’re tasting by trying spices unaccompanied at your place. If you know what a good spice flavor tastes like you can know if you are buying an old spice that’s lost it’s flavor. Fresh spices are not always expensive but are more valuable than almost anything you cook with


Snoo-9966

spend on good quality fat: olive oils, sesame oil, perilla oil, Irish grass fed butter, grass fed dairy spend on good quality organic eggs, and veggies (aside from potato's, onions, carrots) Good rice, good tea/coffee/wine, is a worthy splurge. Whole spices are worth it. Cheap out on dried pasta, dried beans, preground spice powders.


Captainhyena

Absolutely do not buy cheap mushrooms. I found some that weren't properly trimmed after having used them for years. I thought it was a fluke so I kept buying them. After the third of fourth tainted can I stopped buying them altogether.


Ezdagor

I spend my money on spices first. But with food you get what you pay for.