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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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  • [January 15, 2016] - It's National Soup Month so this month's posts will focus on soups. Yum!
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Frugal Kitchens 101 - The Brand Name Fallacy

Frugal Kitchens 101

Years ago when the commercial canning industry was born there were only a couple of brands.  Over the years grocery stores introduced their own brands.  The brand name fallacy has been perpetuated by the big brands.  They have convinced shoppers that the brand name is somehow better than store brands.  Well, in some cases it may be better but the reality is for most commercially prepared foods the store brand comes from the exact same processing plant as the brand name.  For example, when a wagon of tomatoes arrives at the processing plant it is washed then peeled and transferred to large vats.  The tomatoes move down a conveyor belt where they will be packed into tin cans, sealed, processed and on to labeling.  Half of that wagon load may be labeled as a brand name while the other half will be labeled as a store brand.  They are the exact same tomatoes just with different labels!  This week's Frugal Kitchens 101 discusses brand names, when to use them and when it really doesn't matter.  In general, propriety foods (eg. Kraft Dinner, Alpha-ghetti, Campbell's condensed soups) will differ from store brands simply because the recipe used will differ.  In some cases, you may find a store brand superior to brand name.  Here are a few food items where brand really doesn't matter:

  • canned fruits or vegetables - In most cases plain canned fruits or vegetables are the same whether they are brand name or store brand.  They have all come from the same food processing plants using the same fruit or vegetable and the same processing methods.  The only thing that differs is the label.  Save money by buying the store brand.
  • fresh fruits or vegetables - Many grocery stores are getting away from branding their fresh fruits and vegetables but some branding does still exist.  Aside of ethical and environmental practices, an Ontario potato is an Ontario potato regardless of the 'brand'.  The only difference is one may be organically grown and the other not but essentially they are the same potato.  Save money by buying according to cheapest per unit pricing.
  • dairy - Did you know that dairy products must meet a certain criteria to be labeled as such.  That means the store brand eggs are the same as brand name eggs, store brand cream cheese is the same as brand name and store brand butter is the same as brand name. Again, processed dairy such as butter and cream cheese often come from the same processing plant simply switching labels as needed.
  • frozen fruits or vegetables - There is no difference other than store brand being less expensive.  Read the label to be sure no additives have been used then go with the least expensive per unit price.
  • frozen meats/poultry/fish - Some brand names actually add water, brine, colourants or flavourings to their products.  Use whatever brand is the purest with the least amount of or no additives.  Do not buy farm raised salmon as it often contains colourants other than that brand name really doesn't matter.  Do check for any additives though and choose the brand with no additives.  Buy hormone free, locally raised meats and poultry through local butcher shops.


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