Food I'm a Professional Chef. Here's When It's Smart to Buy Generic Foods

19:05  13 april  2018
19:05  13 april  2018 Source:   time.com

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Chef Craig Koketsu of the acclaimed New York City restaurant Quality Eats delivers refined, steakhouse-quality food with surprisingly affordable We talked to Koketsu about what home cooks should splurge on, and when to grab the generic product. Skip the convenient pre-packaged groceries.

Is it always cheaper to buy generic ? As much as you might think this is an easy yes, the simple answer here is actually no. Even professional chefs have caught the generic -brand bug. According to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, when buying staples like salt, sugar and

a man sitting at a table in a restaurant© (NoMad) Liz Clayman; (Chef) Nicole Franzen

Perhaps the biggest secret of fine dining is that not everything in a meal needs to be fancy.

While the best ingredients handled properly make for the best dishes, and chefs often meticulously source meat and produce, other items can be had without the upcharge found in high-end markets.

Chef Craig Koketsu of the acclaimed New York City restaurant Quality Eats delivers refined, steakhouse-quality food with surprisingly affordable options on the menu. We talked to Koketsu about what home cooks should splurge on, and when to grab the generic product.

Skip the convenient pre-packaged groceries

Most home cooks are short on time, which makes the ready-to-go offerings of many supermarkets tempting, including things like peeled garlic cloves and already washed baby arugula in a plastic box. They simplify matters, to be sure, but “every ingredient, the more it’s processed, the more you’re going to pay for it,” Koketsu says. “If you can do it at home yourself, you can save money.” That means buying whole vegetables and big cuts of meat and breaking them down in the kitchen.

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Bottom line: if anyone knows food , it ' s a professional chef . So take a tip from them and go generic to save yourself some cash when you're grocery You've probably long been told to buy generics, but now you know all the cool kids are doing it. Just a few trips avoiding the brand names and you'll likely

When it comes to any one ingredients products, like sugar, salt, flour, baking soda, it ’ s safe to say When shopping for food , do name brands taste better than generic brands? I think this completely I ’ m also really picky about store bought salad dressings and have never felt like the generic brands

Read the ingredients carefully

Branding is king even in the grocery store. But when walking down an aisle, keep in mind what food you actually want. “When I’m not familiar with the product, I’ll look at the ingredients on cans,” Koketsu says. For example, if he doesn’t feel up to making his own chicken stock (like most people), he’ll look for a store-bought variety with the purest ingredients: water, chicken, carrots, and other essentials, without unnecessary add-ons like turmeric for yellow color. Koketsu has also found that canned tomatoes vary quite a bit in price, yet often use the same or similar tomatoes. Once you figure out what it is you’re actually looking for, you can look past the logo and go with the smartest option at the cheapest price.

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The generic baking supplies are a significant savings

Is all flour equal? Not entirely, according to Koketsu, but close. “I can nitpick and say it depends on the application, but if you’re making cookies or something like that, most all-purpose flour is going to be pretty much the same.,” he says. Unless you’re going for something higher-level, like baking your own bread, scour for bargains in this aisle. Sugar also tends to be standard.

Don’t buy bulk items at an upscale store

Different stores specialize in different things. Become familiar with markets for what matters most to you—meat or veggies or bread, say—and visit a budget-oriented supermarket for the pantry staples, which are often sold for a gratuitous surcharge at the fancier establishments. Koketsu regularly shops at Whole Foods, but he says, “if you’re trying to save money, maybe don’t go to Whole Foods.”

Do spend more on your produce and meats. They matter the most.

When cooking a meal, you’re almost always showcasing the vegetables, fruits, and meats on the plate. As such, those are also the items it make sense to pay up for. “I shop mostly at the greenmarket for produce,” Koketsu says. He also generally opts for organic in that department because he believes the quality comes through. “If you go to a regular grocery store and get a head of lettuce, then if you go to greenmarket and get a head of lettuce, it’s so much fresher” at the latter. He also likes to develop relationships with butchers to make sure he’s getting premium meats at fair prices. It may not be as cheap as what’s at the big-box store, but that’s okay. “The extra money you spent on quality ends up being worth it.”

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Likewise, professional chefs prefer store-brand sugar, salt and baking powder instead of brand name ingredients. In short, the most informed consumers usually buy generic products, claims a new paper by economists The CVS version? Just .27 when it ' s regularly priced, and .14 when it ' s on sale.

It also keeps the food warm until you’re ready to serve. The time it takes to assemble these items will dramatically increase your prep time. A few trays of mac ‘n cheese, or two slow cookers of pulled I ’ m not a professional chef either, but I grew up cooking for a family of 10 and large groups in between.

Get to know your palate and what’s on your plate

If you’re paying more for a certain food than you would buying from a competitor, it helps to know why you value the pricier option. Sometimes people actually prefer the lower-cost version. “A lot of people think higher-grade maple syrup is better,” Koketsu says. “I find the opposite to be true. I like lower-grade syrups,” whose impurities impart more flavor. That grading system has changed, but the logic still applies: Find what makes you happy, and you may discover it’s actually less expensive. “The big savings,” accordingly to Koketsu, “is really in your general knowledge about food.”

Related video: Mistakes to Avoid When Grilling Steak, According to Chefs (provided by Food & Wine)

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