How much does brands change outcomes?
Do you hounds find it better to search out specific Brands for ingrediants. My grandmother is a HUGE brand buyer, if its not brand X than I will not even make the certain dish. I agree each product has a unique taste associated with thier brand, but what about if its just a rice or grain?
My grandmaw needs RIVER rice (hard to find ) Contientian Oil (soo many better options) and the list can go on..
How much does Brands weight in with what you cook?
Generally speaking, we're more price conscious than brand conscious but there are a few exceptions. For Mayonnaise, for example, we wouldn't buy anything other than Best Foods (Hellmann's in other parts of the country). We've tried them all; IMO, nothing else compares.
Canned chili = Dennison's but those are about the only two that come to mind. We save a lot of money buying store brands and, except for the occasional disappointment, it's worth the adventure. My fugal shopper wife keeps our food bill at $50 per week and we eat very well.
We purchase different varieties of rice and pasta but the brand isn't important for our cooking needs.
Some brands make a distinct product with a readily identifiable, often times superior, flavor. I'm thinking Miracle Whip, Huy Fong Sriracha, Lee Kum Kee oyster sauce, Coca-Cola. In these cases I will shop the brand with the expectation that I am getting a reliably known quantity. For most other fungible items, I will shop based on price.
The day my mother first used 3 crabs fish sauce, was the day her kimchi-making skills took a turn for the much better. Not sure if she had just finally gotten the hang of it at that point, but she's never bought another type of fish sauce and her kimchi has never tasted better...
I think you have to even be careful with pantry staples, like rice and pasta. If I'm making mac & cheese I might buy Kroger brand pasta because I can't really taste the pasta underneath the sauce. However, if I'm doing a very delicate pasta & sauce combination, then the pasta brand is much more important to success of the dish so I'll either use a local option made fresh that day or if dried, I use Barilla (because that's what my Italian friends use). And on rice I once bought Kroger brand jasmine rice and it was a sticky, tasteless mess. I stick with branded rice now!
I think of chocolate and that can be very different depending on the brand. I only use Penzey's cocoa because it makes such a huge taste flavor wise compared to others. I would say it depends on what it is and how you are using it. Somethings you can cut corners on. Wegmans' has a salad dressing that is very similar to Miracle Whip and cheaper, so why not (not a big fan of either but my hubby is and he thinks it tastes the same)
I won't mess with store brand cereal. That's something that they just can't get right. Sugar? I'm not fussy.
I do have preferences, but it's more for the quality of the item than a familiar brand. I will read labels for ingredients lists, country or region of origin, processing used, nutritional data, etc. Brand names can be a cue for those details, but companies change their sourcing, formulas, and even recipe on items. Reading labels is more reliable than just assuming the brand means its the same product.
There are a few threads about which products people refuse to buy the store-brand of.
I remember being told that dairies often make both the "name brand" and the "store brand" of milk, cottage cheese, sour cream, etc., and so it's always best to buy the store brand -- that and frozen vegetables. Higher turnover means a fresher product too.
I don't much care about pantry staples like rice, oil, flour, etc., or basic canned goods like tomatoes and beans. I cannot bring myself to spend twice as much just for the privilege of having a fancy label when the end result might be 5% better, if the difference is even detectable. I would venture to guess that, without a side-by-side comparison, most people wouldn't be able to identify a difference with ingredients like that.
Mayonnaise is one people fight over, though -- I'm a Duke's gal, but you'll find people who won't buy anything but Hellman's. Other condiments, too -- ketchup, hot sauce, soy sauce, and the like, seem to vary MUCH more both among brands and between brand-name and generic.