But what about non-snacks and ingredients you’re not as familiar with? That can be more of a challenge. It really comes down to experimenting and figuring out what you like best. In my time in the kitchen, I’ve made enough dishes to have quite a few favorite brands when it comes to individual ingredients. Here are a few of them.
Pizza sauce: Pastorelli. I don’t know what it is about this sauce, but it will make for a delicious pizza every time. It’s thick, has spice and adds a layer of complexity to any homemade pizza. I’ve even used it in other things in place of marinara sauce.
Canned tomatoes: Hunt’s. Generic brands are OK for canned tomatoes, but Hunt’s always seems to have the most fresh, least preserved flavor. It’s even better with spices or chiles in it.
Tomato paste: Amore. If you’ve ever bought a can of tomato paste, used a tablespoon of it and wondered why you bothered, look no more. Look for a tube of paste, such as the Amore brand, and you can save it in the fridge and use it on several occasions.
Are we noticing a theme? I guess I like tomatoes. But there’s also…
Rice noodles: Thai Kitchen. Rice noodles work as a great substitute for regular pasta, particularly when you want to make something gluten-free. I personally find that rice noodles that have about the same thickness as fettuccine work best, and Thai Kitchen is the best brand fit for that.
Goat cheese: La Bonne Vie. Goat cheese can be an acquired taste, but if you acquire it, you won’t be sorry! It’s good on pizza, on salad, on a cracker and as a stuffing for just about anything. La Bonne Vie has both crumbled goat cheese and small 4-oz rolls of it. The taste and texture are just about perfect.
Sandwich cheese: Sargento, Ultra Thin. If you’re looking to add some flavor to a sandwich without a lot of calories, try this brand: each slice is about 40 calories. You can definitely taste the cheese without adding much to the calorie count.
Rice: Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice. If you’re not a rice snob, you can buy rice in pouches that cook in 90 seconds, and they taste pretty good, particularly if you’re making something where the rice is topped with a flavorful meat dish, or the rice is an ingredient in a soup. It’s super fast and easy.
Greet yogurt: Fage. We use this 2% yogurt frequently, particularly as a topping or as an ingredient in mayonnaise-based sauces. It’s tasty and easy to refrigerate for multiple uses.
Those are just a few my favorite brands. What are yours?