My Favorite Brands

Butter (Salted)

Kerrygold or Amish Butter in log form

Cheese and Lunch Meats

Buy good quality, Boar’s Head I believe is all GlutenFree. If you can buy imported, go for it.

Cream

Horizon Organic (the red carton with the very happy cow)

Flour

King Arthur

Pasta

DeCecco or Handmade (actually the basic brand they carry at Target is pretty good too)

Vanilla

Nielsen Massey or Homemade

Butter (Unsalted)

Land o’ Lakes

Chocolate

Regular day to day I use Ghiradelli, but the options for this category are endless and delicious.  I tend to like darker Chocolate but of course it depends on the recipe.

Eggs

Farm fresh or organic or we tend to use Egglands Best just because the quality is always good.

Grains

Bob’s Red Mill or bulk grains

Sugar

C & H, not so picky on this one but I find it isn’t lumpy, it isn’t organic but things like local honey or agave can often be used as a sweetener in place of sugar.  I really just never use fake sweeteners.

Other Extracts

Nielsen Massey make other flavors but if you can’t find what you need from them, at least be sure the label says “pure” not “imitation”.

Misc Notes

Homegoods carries lots of pastas imported from Italy so lots of fun things to try, as well as sprinkles, grains, spices and lots of other yummies!

Less processed food is almost always better.

I do have to say, I don’t always buy organic fruit and veggies because sometimes the quality isn’t as good and the go bad so quickly.  But if the quality is good and the price is reasonable I will try to go organic.

Meats – I often get organic beef and chicken but not always.  None of us have an unlimited food budget, but I have a big freezer and will try to stock up on good quality meats when they go on sale.

Fish/Seafood – Here is what I have been told about fish, I can’t promise it’s true but it makes good sense.  If you are purchasing from a grocery or other big store, not a fish market, often frozen is a better choice, unless it is a fish the store sells a lot.  Salmon is often fresh because it sells quickly. 

Ask if the fish is fresh, if it has been frozen and thawed and sitting in the case it is better to get frozen.  The person telling me about this said much of the time fish is now handled and even frozen on the boats to preserve freshness.  Take that for what it’s worth but ask questions about fish for the best quality.

Assumptions generally made in recipes unless otherwise specified:

  • Eggs are large and butter is unsalted.

Final Comments

My kiddos and their friends have some allergies and dietary restrictions which is part of why I choose the ingredient I do but I also find they offer good quality and good flavor.  You will need to find the products that work for your family.  We tend to use more high-end products but you can certainly find sales, coupons and mid-range brands that allow you to cook great food just as well.  Also, look for seasonal items and stock up when things are on sale or when you make the big trip to the warehouse.  I think freezers are a great asset but you need to care for the food properly, before and after freezing.