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Jun 14, 2006 05:38 PM

What brand foods can you not live without?

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I love trying new things at the grocery store, but I tend to stick to what is on sale. Someone recently reccommended Krusteez brand for lemon bars and I tried them and really enjoyed them. I see all the fancy $6 pasta sauce jars but I wouldn't want to splurge on a dud. What brands of products do you just love and think are totally worth the $$ they cost? Thanks for any suggestions!

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  1. Unfortunately, even favorite brands have lemons in their product in point. I always highly recommend Amy's Kitchen brand pasta sauce, organic , expensive but I think worth it to have on hand those times you can't make your own. This is based on having tried the "family marinara", and the "tomato basil", both excellent. BUT, last week I bought the "low sodium marinara", that's all that was left on the shelf. This is awful, is full of sugar, the 4th ingredient on the list!, the regular marinara has NO sugar added.
    So I can't recommend the whole Amy's brand of sauces, just the 2 flavors I have tried...

    25 Replies
    1. re: ciaolette

      the two almost unanimous have to be hellman's (best foods) mayo and heinz ketchup, and throw in lea & perrin's and jif creamy pb.
      this should be a good topic.

      1. re: byrd

        Wholeheartedly agree on the Hellman's mayo and the Heinz ketchup. Also Land o'Lakes butter and Ritz crackers.

        1. re: Deenso

          Duke's Mayo
          Heinz Catsup
          Bluebell ice cream
          Glory canned veggies
          Vlasic pickles
          Hebrew National weiners

          1. re: DumpCake

            +1 on Heinz. Fiance won't even touch anything else. (He gets so mad when restaurants use a Heinz bottle and refill it with Hunts.)

            He did recently try Annie's Naturals, and didn't mind it. But that's because it tasted more like barbecue sauce than anything.

            1. re: Kontxesi

              I've found that "simply heinz" is also very good.

          2. re: Deenso

            Plugra is so much better than Land O' Lakes.


            1. re: Deenso

              ditto on the heinz ketchup, hellman's mayo, land o lakes butter and the ritz, plus philadelphia cream cheese, skippy extra crunchy peanut butter, triscuits and gulden's spicy brown mustard

              1. re: Deenso

                For me it's Cain's mayo. Most every other brand have boiler chemicals in them.

                Tho I don't do ketchup often, when I do, it has to be Heinz.

              2. re: byrd

                Agree with you on all counts.

                1. re: byrd

                  Jiff peanut butter? Have you tried natural peanut butter, ie, the brands that are just peanuts and a bit of salt? So much better taste! My favorite is, I think, called "Real" peanut butter, in a squat jar, refrigerated, not available at every store. Excellent! When I can't get that, I buy Smuckers natural. To mix in the oil (which rises to the top in unhomogenated PB) put one beater on your hand mixer, and insert it into the jar (or use one of the stick mixers). Then refrigerate, and the oil does not separate again. No sugar, no hydrogenated fat. Just peanut flavor. You can also buy the fresh ground stuff at Whole Foods, although I've never done this. (Of course, if you are used to the added sugar in commercial peanut butter, and the smoother texture, I'm sure the natural stuff takes some getting used to.)

                  1. re: Anne H

                    your missing the point of the topic.

                    1. re: byrd

                      Actually, I think she is one of the few people who got the topic.

                      IMO, I thought the OP was asking which of all those brands you pass in the market and cost $$ are worth it.

                      While I agree that I wouldn't buy anything but Heinz catsup, Best Foods (aka Hellman's) mayo or French's yellow mustard, that's hardly a revelation and more in the nickel and dime range of extra price rather than $$.

                      The list could go on about familiar brand names rather than generics ... Haagen Dazs or Bryer instead of supermarket ice cream, Quaker oatmeal instead of supermarket brands (how DO they make oatmeal taste that bad?), brand whole bean coffee rather than ... definately those generic brands ... or the pre-ground stuff in cans like Yuban ..., Peppridge Farm cookies instead of generic, etc.

                      So pointing out that a pricier naturual peanut butter is better than Jiff, seems to me, exactly getting the point of the OP.

                      I agree with another poster that Nueske's Bacon is worth the splurge both in price and calories. In the category of meat, Diestel turkey is really worth the price. If you go back to the supermarket sale turkeys after a Diestel, they taste like cardboard.

                      I don't see this often, but Narsai David's mustard is really worth the $$$ ... $$$.

                      LU Petit Ecolier cookies.

                      Kind of an interesting flip side of this is what isn't worth either a few pennies or dollars more.

                      There's a new tomato coming on the market, Rosso Bruno, that quite frankly, if you must buy a supermarket tomato doesn't taste that much better than the regular supermarket brand.

                      When I finally ripened the second tomato to the perfect condition mentioned on the package, yes it was tastier, but still not up to farmers market standards. However, they don't use pesticides. Still, supermarket organic tomato or rosso bruno ... whichever was less expensive.


                      1. re: rworange

                        its obvious that natural homemade pb or mayo or mustard etc. are better products than a jar or a can but what "brand" of natural pb are we talking about?

                        1. re: byrd

                          The brand I prefer is named "Real" peanut butter. That's the brand name. A little confusing, not just refering to "real peanut butter", I mean the brand. Smuckers is second best. I'd just as soon not eat peanut butter if I can't get one of those brands (or something comparable).

                          (Thanks, rw, glad you understood.)

                          1. re: Anne H

                            misunderstood you, reading up on "real" pb i think that they were bought out by hunt-wesson who is owned by conagra, popular brand in the minnesota and surrounding area.

                            1. re: byrd

                              I think it's unfortunate how many of these seemingly small brands are actually just another incarnation of huge multinational corporate conglomerations! Still, it's great peanut butter.

                              I'm also addicted to almond butter, the only brand I've ever bought is Whole Foods, can't say I know for sure it is the best, since I haven't tried any others. Just finished breakfast, two slices of whole wheat toast with almond butter, my favorite breakfast.

                              1. re: Anne H

                                next time try drizzling some Attiki brand honey (imported from Greece, readily available in all mediterranian and middle eastern stores) on top of the almond butter, Attiki is definetly the Hellman's of honey.

                                1. re: byrd

                                  OOOOh. Attiki is the greatest. . It's not just any wildflower honey. It is definitely unique and worth a try for honey lovers.

                                  1. re: byrd

                                    until you try i actually did a tour of the place and got to put on a beekeeper suit and look at the hives. richard is very nice and passionate.

                                    it's thick and pearlescent and tastes incredible. whole foods in hawaii stocks it, and it's available online. the standard kiawe white honey is my favorite. and it costs mega bucks. i hate eating standard, cooked honey now, but i can't always afford to buy the good stuff. even pure, raw honey from the farmers' markets or other honey companies i've tried do not come close to this brand.

                                  2. re: Anne H

                                    Maranatha is another good brand of almond butter, as like the Whole Foods 365 brand, it always tastes fresh out of the jar. Neither is quite as good as fresh ground, but considering that's more than twice the cost of the jarred, this is one I compromise on, since the jarred is really darned good.

                        2. re: Anne H

                          Ditto. I couldn't live without my jar of Real peanut butter in the fridge. It tastes so much like peanuts! I couldn't go back to those super-sugary brands.

                          The only other thing I could think of for this topic is green Tabasco sauce. I eat this stuff like soup.

                          And I would like to add Annie's Truffle and Black Olive salad dressing to the list, but they stopped making it, and I'm still alive. So I guess I can live without it.


                          1. re: AnneInMpls

                            My son cannot live without green tabasco.

                            1. re: Lewes17266

                              When it was first introduced, I think I was going through about a bottle a week of green Tobasco! All by myslef! It's wonderful on a cheese quesadilla. I'm glad to say I've slowed down to about a bottle every six weeks now. I didn't need all that cheese and tortillas in my diet!

                          2. re: Anne H

                            "simply Jif" is a low sugar version of Jif and is delicious. I sent my husband to buy it recently and he came home with regular. Felt like eating a mouthful of sugar. Simply Jif is delicious- very low in sugar.

                            1. re: Emilief

                              and very high in hydrogenated fats. probably you can live -longer- without it.

                      2. I love napa style products. They have great olive oil,preserves,lavander honey and much more. their lavender honey is more aromatic than the one I brought back from paris!
                        I also love mighty leaf tea, san marzano tomatoes to make pizza and pasta sauce. Niman ranch for natural pork products such as bacon. I love food and try to buy the best I possibly can.

                        1. Rao's Marinara sauce- made by Rao restaurant in NYC. I use it for everything- e.g. as a base for bolognese sauce. An excellent product, but expensive.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Emilief

                            I totally agree with this. I think Rao's jarred sauce is the most authentic one in the market and I also use it as a base for other sauces and on it's own. It is expensive for jarred sauce, but we're not a family with kids, so for us the cost isn't much of a factor.


                            1. re: sivyaleah

                              I totally agree with Rao' it, wish it wasn't so expensive. I am also loyal to:
                              Best Foods (Hellmans)mayo
                              Heinz ketchup
                              Grey Poupon dijon mustard
                              'O' vinegars
                              Niman Ranch hot dogs (no preservatives)
                              Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce
                              Colemans beef (all natural)
                              Plugra butter

                              1. re: Ericka

                                We are a Sweet Baby Rays house, too. (I use Bone Suckin' Sauce when I want to feel special, though.)

                            2. re: Emilief

                              Their vodka sauce is on sale in my local grocery store right now -- is it as good as the marinara?

                            3. I never thought that much about canned tomatoes until I tried Muir Glen. It makes it hard now to borrow a can of tomatoes, because I don't care much for those other brands. Muir Glen diced tomatoes, tomatoey and clean tasting.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Pat Hammond

                                I like their whole tomatoes. I think they taste better because they have ceramic lined tins

                              2. Heinz ketchup
                                Coca Cola