I used to think that being particular about certain brands of ingredients was a snobby thing. My family didn’t have much money when we came to America so the less expensive generic products of the 1970s and 1980s were fine by us. As the photo above (from Pleasantfamilyshopping.blogspot.com) suggests, many people looked down on the plain labeling of the generic foods, skeptically thinking that the contents matched the labels. No pizazz. But when you’re on a budget, you just want to feed your family.
Having written five cookbooks, I've had to make a lot of brand recommendations, and admittedly, certain brands of ingredients, like fish sauce and flour, matter. But over the years I've added more store brands to my list and they've been well received with no stigma attached.
The generic products sold at supermarkets nowadays sport spiffy labels and some of them are excellent, often times the same or better than the leading national brands. I chalk it up to savvy consumers and smart private labeling deals that allow stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and chain supermarkets partnering with leading manufacturers to offer value on quality products. Here are my favorite generic ingredients and why I like them. (I hope you'll share yours!)