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Banned Pantry Items

There are several products that I will not allow in the house. My mother probably still buys Gravy Master, which is old fashioned gravy base that we had with roast beef on Sundays. My grandmother always had Real Lemon in the big green glass bottle or the little yellow plastic bottle. Liquid Smoke is another thing I gaze at in the supermarket aisle. How can smoke be harvested? I also think cooking spray a weird thing. Pam is very popular. I don't care how easy it makes clean up! I'm sure that other things will pop into my head.

Warning : This post is for the slightly snobby Chowhouders. This disclaimer belongs up top.

Are there products that appall you that everyone else thinks is normal?

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  1. Instant cocoa. Cocoa, sugar, salt, and milk is just fine.
    Canned broth. That's what carcasses are for. Box broth is ok when I run out of home made.
    Bottled wine vinegar. I like my own, one crock for red and one for white. Store bought doesn't appall me. I just like mine better.
    Store bought chili sauce or apricot preserves.
    I have store bought curry powder, but it is for curry brats, not curries. Home made Garam masala for curries.

    2 Replies
    1. re: tim irvine

      Canned both is something my parents still use along with canned mushrooms. Stems and pieces.

      1. re: CCSPRINGS

        canned mushrooms, asparagus, green beans, beets, beans, artichokes, potatoes and most def. canned spinach.

    2. Liquid smoke is actually a relatively old-fashioned product. You should read up on how the flavor of smoke is harvested.

      14 Replies
      1. re: Karl S

        I do know its been around a while. I remember Homer Simpson put some on his famous waffles.

        1. re: CCSPRINGS

          It's been around since 1895. Well before Homer Simpson.

          Also, it's a pretty simple process...basically gathering the condensate from a damp sooty chimney.

          1. re: jmcarthur8

            Alton Brown made some in the beef jerky episode. It looked really simple, but not really worth the hassle.

            edit; which was mentioned downstream...

            1. re: 2roadsdiverge

              So? I mean, beef jerky is better either smoked properly or just dried without smoke flavor. Choose your preference or make each the best way.

              1. re: MGZ

                What do you mean "So?"? I was agreeing with above posters that it is a simple process. I didn't say that it was better than natural smoking, or preferable to unflavored jerky. Just that the idea that liquid smoke is some weird chemical concoction is not correct.

                1. re: 2roadsdiverge

                  I prefer real smoked meat, fish, etc. but there is an argument for saying that liquid smoke is better. Harold McGee ("On Food and Cooking", 2nd ed., pp 449-450) notes that the prominent carcinogens in smoke are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). He says that most of the flavor compounds in smoke are water soluble but PAHs are largely water insoluble. So the flavor-to-carcinogen ratio in liquid smoke is better than in the smoke itself. Incidentally, McGee says that those PAHs that do make it into liquid smoke tend to aggregate and sink, so he suggests not shaking bottles of liquid smoke before using.

              2. re: 2roadsdiverge

                Only Alton Brown can make boiling water into an operation that requires a Ph.D. in non-linear physics from MIT, and takes a fortnight to accomplish. But I still love the guy.

                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                  No, Cooks Illustrated could do it, too.

                    1. re: splatgirl

                      LOL also- even more so than Alton Brown.

              3. re: Karl S

                Liquid Smoke has a place of honor in my kitchen. That and Worcestershire are my secret ingredients in more than one dark, savory recipe. And I'm quite comfortable with its provenance and manufacturing process.

                1. re: rohirette

                  +1. Just be sure you never let it dive out of the cabinet and break on your apartment floor- the place smelled like a house fire for nearly a year.

                  1. re: rohirette

                    +2. Alan Wong has a great Kailua pork recipe with 2 ingredients...liquid smoke and aluminum foil (and lots of time).

                2. Ready made sauces in jars bought from the supermarket. They're not so much banned as I just prefer not to have them in the cupboard. I know I can make better quite easily from scratch.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Musie

                    Agree on the ready made sauces, particularly spaghetti sauce. I make and freeze an easy, gorgeous one that is so much tastier than any of the jarred versions I've tried. I do shudder a bit to think what would happen if we had a lengthy power outage, with all the soups, pastas and sauces I have in there. I'm still reeling from when I lost a whole freezer full of goodies when it was inadvertently left unplugged during our first bout of house renos 8 years ago.

                    1. re: grayelf

                      Love a good homemade sauce. I have frozen sauces & soups & stews & stuff in my freezer that have been in there WAY too long. I need a better labelling system or something obviously. Hate most of the jarred sauces... Gosh maybe I buggered up big time... amd I even allowed to mention brand names... ? Oops... There are 2 I think deserve honourable mention/

                      One year we had an excellent crop of fresh tomatoes in the backyard... they came up at the same times as the zucchinis/... I'm an only child. My Grandfather had passed away & we all went to Calgary to be with Grandma & my Uncle Pat, I had to go back to work though, so I flew back home to Vancouver & these plants just kept producing... plus Dad had bought a really large box of BC russet potatoes, which also had to be eaten... I liked to cook... I had to get creative! The Zucchini went into the pasta sauce before I even knew other people did this... I'd made pasta sauce with Zucchini... Zucchini Chocolate cake, potato tomato casserole for dinner... I was SO glad when my parents came home, because I was getting SO Tired of zucchinis, tomatoes & POtatoes... Still LOVE them all! :-) They tasted my wares though & were impressed.

                      THEN there's my Aunty Kathy's sauce from Montreal... with shortribs served on Penne... from scratch with homegrown tomatoes & basil. Nothing like it. Once she even added chicken wngs... Or her homemade meatballs. Yum!

                      You're right better than a jar :-)

                  2. Stovetop Stuffing. My mom used to make this stuff, and I've always despised it.

                    I'm sure I'll think of others.

                    1. Gravy Master ingredients:
                      Ingredients: caramelized sugar, caramel color, water, hydrolyzed soy and corn protein, apple cider vinegar, salt and spices (onion, celery, parsley and garlic). CONTAINS NO MEAT.

                      Kitchen Bourquet
                      Caramel, Vegetable Base Water, Carrots, Onions, Celery, Parsnips, Turnips, Salt, Parsley, Spices, Sodium Benzoate (Less Than 0.1 Of 1 Percent To Preserve Freshness)

                      compare that with Maggi seasoning, which has recently gotten a lot of press for its world wide use:
                      Water, salt, wheat gluten, wheat, and less than 2% of wheat bran, sugar, acetic acid, artificial flavor, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, dextrose, caramel color.

                      I haven't used Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet. I have used some Maggi, though I'm out now.

                      Liquid smoke - not something that I grew up with, but I did buy a few bottles after hearing about the 'Cheaters BBQ' book on The Splendid Table.

                      I've used baking Pam when making muffins and quick bread. ATK found that it was one of the better release tools for baking. Much easier to apply, for example, to the curves of bunt pans. For regular cooking I use olive oil, not a spray oil.

                      Real Lemon - I used to get annoyed when Frugal Gourmet repeatedly knocked that in favor of fresh lemons. Fresh is nice when I have it in stock, but often I end up tossing moldy limes and lemons. Often I use vinegar in salads just because because I don't have the citrus equivalent.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: paulj

                        I love the baking pam too, it's great to have the grease and flour steps all in one. It's the only time I ever use pam.

                        1. re: paulj

                          I just squeeze the lemon/lime into a ziplock and lay it flat in the freezer. Then I just chip pieces off as needed.

                          1. re: paulj

                            I grew up with an aversion to gravy and didn't realize why until I cooked myself. My mother's gravy is 1/2 flour and 1/2 Kitchen Bouquet. Ok, I exaggerate, but it's close. That is my big ban in my pantry.

                            1. re: paulj

                              When I was a kid, I would sneak spoonfuls of Gravy Master~

                              I still use it, and still sneak spoons of it...I actually love the taste of it~

                                1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                  How different is it from spreading Marmite or Vegimite on your toast? It's something that is heavy on the salt and umami.

                                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                      Haven't had Marmite, but Vegmite is awesome. I like eating sandwiches with Vegemite, butter, and tomatoes. Vegemite is also a nice addition to gravy.

                                    2. re: paulj

                                      "How different is it from spreading Marmite or Vegimite on your toast?"

                                      What it's made from, perhaps?

                                    3. re: CCSPRINGS

                                      I like it well enough in enhancing a gravy...it's actually quite good for that.
                                      But straight?

                                2. cream of mushroom soup in a can. disgusting
                                  canned yams/sweet potatoes
                                  boxed "stuffing/dressing" mix, my mom still uses Mrs Cubbison's
                                  canned cranberry sauce, sorry but my homemade is much better

                                  hmm I see a theme here, I have been looking forward to fall LOL

                                  commercially canned or boxed broth, this is something I'd only use if I ran out of my homemade. Which I do can myself.

                                  instant hot chocolate/cocoa mixes

                                  gravy mixes in those little packets

                                  almost all canned vegetables, except tomatoes

                                  All of the fake color or super sweet cereals. No frosted flakes, fruity pebbles ect.

                                  commercially ground meat, we grind our own.

                                  farmed salmon and shrimp, any shrimp that is not wild caught in America. We tend to buy gulf coast shrimp since it local for us.

                                  All I can think of at the moment.

                                  oh wait, margarine of any kind.

                                  Pancake mix ( although my husband bought some when he was caring for me and I was unable to cook )

                                  "pancake syrup", it better be real maple syrup or a fruit based syrup or I'm not buying it.

                                  Artificial sweeteners or anything with them as an ingredient. I only buy these for my mom when she visits and she is the only one that consumes them.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: rasputina

                                    +1 on the ground beef. I always grind my own. It's probably been at least 25 years since I bought store-ground beef

                                  2. Dare I add commercial vanilla to this list? Yes, I confess to slight CH food snobbery.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: chefathome

                                      Snobs unite! We made a half gallon of home made vanilla after a trip to Tonga in which we bought a kilo of vanilla.

                                      1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                        Good for you! Those vanilla beans must have been amazing.

                                    2. There is nothing artificial about Liquid Smoke.

                                      16 Replies
                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                        I smoke turkeys, fish, ribs, chicken, bacon, brisket and a whole bunch of other goodies.
                                        You will NEVER see a bottle of liquid smoke in my pantry!!!
                                        Nowhere near the real thing

                                        1. re: evansp60

                                          Don't be too quick to judge this stuff....Why, I know a big farm near me that brings in 500 gallons in the early spring...They use it for cattle/hog spray (flies, mosquitoes, gnats, ticks etc) Also they use it for a sheep dip. ~ I used to take my dogs up there and dip them when they were dipping sheep....Not a tick nor flea for a whole year!!! ~ Spray it around the foundation of your house and you want see a roach/ants for a year or more. So don't be to fast to discredit the stuff....It has it's uses. :)

                                          1. re: Uncle Bob

                                            Mmmm smoky dog. That might improve the way my pooch smells right now.

                                            That is real interesting, may try that trick if the wife lets me.

                                            1. re: Uncle Bob

                                              Many years ago I acquired the habit of saying "sheep dip" instead of blurting out a profanity. It seems that most people have no idea what 'sheep dip' is and think I'm making some sort of reference to sheep manure. I have been told on more than one occasion that I am the only person that uses this term in such a manner. I do not know if that is the case or not. By the way, although I grew up in farm country and did a lot of farm work I have never dipped a sheep in my life (no dogs either).

                                          2. re: pikawicca

                                            Its the act of pouring something out of a bottle that is labeled Liquid Smoke that make me think, 'What is this crap?'

                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                              When I hold a bottle my guardian angel screams 'What is that? Put it down!'

                                              1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                Liquid Smoke is a key ingredient in making fake Kalua Pig. A million or so Hawaiian islanders could not get their favorite pork fix without it, since nobody wants to dig a damn pit every day, OR build a fire, gather rocks, buy a pig …

                                                The only thing I will not allow in the house is sugar-riddled cereals and Miracle Whip. We even have a bottle of Mogen David Concord wine someone brought to a party, though we keep that out just to scare people.

                                                1. re: Will Owen

                                                  Yep....Miracle Whip is on this list....Told the little brown-eyed girl right after we married,,, if she ever brought that stuff in the house... I would file papers on her.....

                                                    1. re: The Professor

                                                      Hey, don't give evil a bad name by association.

                                                      1. re: Karl S


                                                        MW combines mayo and boiled dressing ingredients


                                                        "The Southern states had essentially no vegetable oils until the late nineteenth century, which meant that vinaigrettes and mayonnaise were confined to the tables of the wealthy who could afford imported olive oil. Boiled salad dressings were the solution for the rest of the people, using cream or a combination of butter and milk for the fat. Similar to hollandaise sauce, it is not actually boiled, but gently cooked in the top of a double boiler."

                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                          Still worse than evil. I detest boiled dressing (the presence of sugar in dressing is awful). I don't use ketchup in dressing or as a condiment generally for the same matter: I don't see the culinary need for the sugar.

                                                          1. re: Karl S

                                                            Are there any sweet-sour dressing or condiments that you like?

                                                            Whether you like it or not, many of the most popular condiments stimulate all of the taste buds - salty, sweet, sour, and umami (and bitter to less of a degree).

                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                              I understand that. Miracle Whip, as a substitute for mayonnaise, is still beyond vile to encounter. I am far from alone in that assessment. There should be a requirement that it be tinted - say, chartreuse - so that it's never visually confused with mayonnaise... (Background: I love eggs. I love real mayonnaise where the taste of egg is still detectable. MW obliterates beyond recognition any hint of egg, between its sugar and seasonings.)

                                                              1. re: Karl S

                                                                I SO agree about Miracle Whip. There are few culinary things worse than being served a (fill in the blank) sandwich made with MW instead of mayonnaise.

                                                                I recently forgot my brown bag lunch at home, and a co-worker offered to share 1/2 of her sandwich. Took one bite and almost spewed. Lunch meat, lettuce, tomato on whole wheat spread with MW. ewwwwwwww.

                                                                gives me skeevies. Sweet should not be in potato, macaroni, tuna, egg salads etc. etc. etc. especially for the unforewarned and unsuspecting.


                                            2. Alton Brown once showed how to make your own liquid smoke, in his program about beef jerky. It's on YouTube somewhere. I bought a little bottle of it years ago but haven't had any use for it yet. It'll probably keep. :-)

                                              I keep bottles of ReaLemon and ReaLime in the cupboard just in case; don't use those fruits often enough to keep them around all the time, in case I want to make something on impulse.

                                              The problem with commercial oil sprays isn't with the oil, or with the spray concept (often the best way to apply oil), but with the additives that make it sprayable in aerosol form - isobutane and propane, believe it or not. They don't make you sick but they can gum up your cookware. When I find a mister I can fill with my own oil and that works the way I want it to, I'll be using that instead. No luck so far.

                                              What I don't keep around is bouillon cubes. Not that I make beef or chicken broth myself - not practical in my apartment kitchen - but I buy low-sodium broths in a box (preferably) or can (if necessary).

                                              My father always used to use canned mushrooms in his spaghetti sauce. Never touch the stuff - the canned mushrooms, that is, not the sauce!

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: John Francis

                                                According to a recent article in the NY Times, the “propellant” in Pam "included petroleum gas, propane and butane."


                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                  Since those substances (butane and propane, at least) boil at lower than room temperature, wouldn't they just evaporate away? For butane and propane to be liquid, it needs to be kept under pressure or very, very cold... Butane isn't solid until it's NEGATIVE 135 degrees celcius, a temperature none of us can acheive in our homes.

                                                  I know some cigar smokers who refuse to use a butane lighter to light their cigars... I think it's cigar snobbery, since the burning of the butane releases carbon dioxide and water vapor which will in no way affect the taste of a cigar... the butane can't "sneak" around the flame and into your cigar, just as the propellents in aerosol sprays evaporate into the air leaving behind the actual product.

                                                  1. re: ZBeebs

                                                    Don't really know much about the subject. I don't use spray on lipids, so I suppose I don't care that much about it. The one thing I was most troubled by is that the products do not disclose the nature of the "propellant" on the label.

                                                    1. re: ZBeebs

                                                      As far as the cigar issue, most zippo or bic type lighters aren't very efficient. Because you hold a lighter to a cigar much longer than other smokables, you really can taste the lighter fluid as you're lighting the cigar.

                                                      Torch-style lighters that burn a lot more efficiently are perfectly fine, but wooden matches just have a nostalgia that appeals to people that smoke cigars...

                                                    2. re: MGZ

                                                      OT, but insane that the referenced plaintiff in the Pam lawsuit is a hairdresser. Because there's no scary propellants in hairspray, right? Or any other toxic chemicals in a salon?

                                                      My definitely banned list is insane and includes 99.9% of corporate food. I despise it. I make it a point to buy the little guy, non-corporate brand always, and other than that I grow or get from CSA, can, freeze and make from scratch. The only packaged food I can think of that I buy on a regular basis is Dr. Kracker crackers, organic corn chips made locally, salsa, Bob's Red Mill flours, organic tea in bags for iced tea and the occasional (BPA free lining) can of beans for when I am short on time. I can list the conventional groceries I still buy on one hand--Hellmans mayo, Chipotle Tabasco and a few Costco crutches that cause me guilt like organic olive oil and butter and Irish cheddar.

                                                      OTOH, I grew up eating canned chow mein, box mac and cheese and the previously mentioned canned mushrooms, and I BEGGED for Aunt Jemima syrup and box cereals. Back then it wasn't such inedible garbage though.

                                                      1. re: splatgirl

                                                        Splatgirl, just curious - why do organic olive oil, butter and Irish Cheddar cause guilt?

                                                        1. re: gingershelley

                                                          Bad things happen when the machine is so big, particularly with food.

                                                    3. re: John Francis

                                                      isobutane and propane are the propellant. It's the emulsifiers, which keep the oil in droplets, that can gum up the cookware (mainly in the over spray areas).

                                                      We have access to fresh mushrooms year around, far more so than 30 years ago.

                                                    4. There are some things I don't buy because I don't see any point, because making it myself as easy or nearly as easy as the mix - cream and tomato based pasta sauces, stuffing, gravy, most baking mixes, pudding mix, powdered gravy or sauce mixes. The exception for gravy is if I can get hold of Swiss Chalet dipping sauce mix. I rarely buy pre-made dips (hummus, yoghurt or sour cream based, guacamole, salsa) unless I'm really pressed for time.

                                                      Hot chocolate is better from scratch, but cocoa powder keeps going moldy on me before I use it up.

                                                      There's other stuff I don't buy simply because I don't like it - margarine, pre-grated parmesan (taste and price reasons), canned cranberry sauce, canned mushrooms, cheese slices.

                                                      There are some things that I make when I can, but buy otherwise - chicken stock is one thing. We go through a lot, and don't have much freezer space, so we buy it. If I had a big kitchen and a big freezer, I'd make more of my own. Mayonaise is another - I sometimes make it from scratch, but if I don't have fresh enough eggs handy, or am in a hurry, I've got the jarred stuff. Hot sauce I usually make myself, but I have tabasco on hand.

                                                      Other stuff depends on economy. I vastly prefer fresh lemon juice to the bottled stuff. But if lemons are $1 each and cash is tight, it's going to be the bottled stuff.

                                                      For canned vegetables, I buy tomatoes and corn, but not much else.

                                                      There are some things that I buy just because I like it once in a while. Campbell's canned cream of mushroom soup, Kraft Dinner, that dried chicken soup in a pouch we'd have as kids when we were sick.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                        I'm curious about how you're storing your cocoa powder. It shouldn't get moldy if it is in a sealed, airtight jar. I keep mine in a quart canning jar.

                                                      2. Dreamwhip and any pressurized cream in a can.

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: Ruthie789

                                                          Do they still make Dreamwhip? I remember my mother used to make a dessert with angel food cake slathered with canned fruit cocktail mixed into Dreamwhip. The 60s were not kind to food....

                                                          1. re: Ruthie789

                                                            Redi-Whip in the can is actual sweetened whipped cream and is certainly a handy thing to have as a time saver when serving pie. We use it but I would rather go without than to eat Cool Whip which is closer to margarine than it is to whipped cream.

                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                              Cool Whip which is closer to margarine than it is to whipped cream.
                                                              I always thought cool whip was closer to plastic than whipped cream
                                                              you say to-may-toe, I say to-mah-toe

                                                              1. re: cgarner

                                                                It's a floor wax AND a dessert topping!

                                                                1. re: cgarner

                                                                  The reason I compared Cool Whip to margarine is because both are made with hydrogenated soybean oil.

                                                            2. 'Fluff', that marshmallow goo in a jar. I can't believe my mother thought that was an acceptable food source for her children regardless of our pleas.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                                Just don't ever set foot in New England, where Fluff is a cherished regional delicacy. (I can't stand it, but I know to keep my nose level, rather than up or down, about it.)

                                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                                  This is mostly unrelated, but many years ago (nevermind how many) I worked in a grocery store stocking shelves. Because you are paid poorly, things tend to fall on the floor. Beets were the absolute worst. Why were they in glass jars and why were those jars kept on the top shelf?

                                                                  The best thing was a jar of Fluff. The stuff is so sticky and thick that all the broken glass holds to the Fluff. You just pick up the jar in one piece and throw it out. The actual contents of the jar doesn't even get out, the jar doesn't even change shape. It is astounding, on par with the northern lights and other natural phenomena.

                                                                  1. re: Karl S

                                                                    I think my mother still regrets the day I was introduced to the fluffernutter by her New England friend. She was very anti-sugar, and it was probably only the second sugary food thing I ever ate.

                                                                    1. re: splatgirl

                                                                      you should go to the annual Fluff Festival in Union Square in Somerville (why Somerville? Because while Fluff is still made in Lynn MA (Lynn, Lynn, City of Sin, You Never Go Out The Way You Came In...), a Somerville man invented it:


                                                                2. Okay, I smoke (but I don't inhale); meats, that is. I'm pretty serious about it, too. Had a smoker shipped from Texas to the east coast so I could really get into it. That said, I proudly confess to using liquid smoke in my baked beans. It adds a nuance of flavor that is really, really good. Ahh, confessing feels so good.

                                                                  As for other pantry items, how can something produced in mass quantities ever be better than what is made at home, from scratch, from good quality ingredients?

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Jessiet

                                                                    The trendy way of adding smoke flavor is smoked peppers (Spanish or Mexican)

                                                                    I bet your pantry has many mass produced ingredient, things that are just one step further down the 'from scratch' ladder.

                                                                    I just made cornbread for breakfast. It wasn't from a Jiffy mix, but the cornmeal was mass produced. So was the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, egg, and coconut milk. And the items that I ate with it were also mass produced - butter, coconut jam, ginger jam.

                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                      Hold on a sec… how in the world did you manage to get the cornbread to set up with just coconut milk in the batter?!?!???

                                                                      1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                        One can make cornbread using just water..... Check out Hot Water Bread.


                                                                        1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                          While there is a case for using milk in a custard (see the alternate clafouti thread), milk is not necessary for quick breads (muffins, pancakes, cakes, etc).

                                                                      2. re: Jessiet

                                                                        @jessiet: Cheez Whiz is just as good/better than home-made cheese spread. Found this out to my bitter disappointment after investing much time grating, $$ on sharp cheddar and other ingredients, cooking and cleaning. Could not tell the difference between mine and the corporate stuff in a blind taste test. Only advantage was I knew exactly what went into mine but really not worth it IMO.

                                                                      3. A1 or any other steak sauce. A good steak doesn't need a sauce from a bottle (a homemade sauce made from pan drippings can be great, but I almost always grill steak.)

                                                                        Ditto on the liquid smoke. I have a Big Green Egg. Don't need any smoke flavoring that I can't get from wood and lump charcoal.

                                                                        Mayonaise. I hate the stuff so much I won't even keep a jar in my fridge!

                                                                        Microwave popcorn. Ever since I learned the Alton Brown stovetop method, that's how I always pop it.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: 4X4

                                                                          Good steak should be eaten with salted butter in my opinion. A1 tastes strange.

                                                                          1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                                            But A1 has its place in my kitchen for dipping fries into. Onion rings, too.

                                                                            1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                                              Are you sure this A1 choice is a matter of personal opinion? I thought this thread was about food choices that have moral overtones, rejecting bad food memories from your childhood, and the evil influence of 'big foods'. :)

                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                Snobbery rarely follows a logical path.

                                                                          2. Hamburger Helper
                                                                            Chef-Boy-Ardee products
                                                                            Salad dressing
                                                                            Knorr products

                                                                            probably more, but I think I've completely blocked them from memory.

                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Novelli

                                                                              How do you make Rice Crispy Treats without Marshmallows?

                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                I don't like marshmallows either.

                                                                                My personal solution to the Rice Krispie Treats dilemma is to avoid them.

                                                                                1. re: laliz

                                                                                  I'm not a fan of Rice Krispies. Just give me a handful of marshmallows instead.

                                                                                  1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                    There's a variation using puffed wheat and cocoa that is particularly popular in the Canadian prairie provinces, puffed wheat squares.

                                                                                    Typical ingredients are:
                                                                                    1/3 cup butter
                                                                                    1/2 cup corn syrup
                                                                                    1 cup brown sugar
                                                                                    2 tbsp cocoa
                                                                                    1 tsp vanilla
                                                                                    8 cups of puffed wheat

                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                      well, looky there, no marshmallows! THX

                                                                              2. re: Novelli

                                                                                Hamburger Helper. I don't have it in my own kitchen, but my mom banned it when I was a kid. I remeber being quite envious of my friends who were "privileged" to have Hamburger Helper at least twice a week whereas I was stuck with my mother's delicious gourmet home-cooked meals. My dad snuck a box into the house once and she gave in an let us make it for dinner. Well, as is often true, mother was right! It was horrendous and she graciously saved the day with a delicious pan of leftover homemade lasagna. I haven't taken my mom's insistence on a home-cooked meal every night for granted since then.

                                                                              3. Pretty much any type of frozen/TV dinner.
                                                                                Pancake syrup.
                                                                                Sauce mixes.

                                                                                There are lots of other pantry items that I never have around because I don't like them or just don't use them, but the above are things I would never, ever use or buy. And I'm sure there are more that I can't think of right now!!!!

                                                                                1. Okay, I realize it’s not competition worthy BBQ, but I make a mean pulled pork in the crock pot and I add a few drops of liquid smoke to the surface before I rub it down with my “secret blend of spices”

                                                                                  It’s damn good pulled pork, and I learned that with liquid smoke a little goes a long way…

                                                                                  I refuse to buy bottled lime or lemon juice… it’s nasty and I don’t know how they can manage to make it taste any less like “real lemon” they shouldn’t be allowed to call it that, there outta be a law!

                                                                                  Any kind of a flavor or sauce mix that comes in an envelope… no that is not hollandaise! I get that it’s more stable than an actual hollandaise, but it tastes LIKE the envelope that it came in, so it does not belong on the table

                                                                                  Box cake mix – why? Most people can throw together a snack cake in nearly the same amount of time it takes to ‘prepare’ a box cake mix and it’ll taste 100% better

                                                                                  Canned frosting – sickeningly sweet and artificial tasting

                                                                                  The only canned veggies I buy are tomatoes, except occasionally I get nostalgic for canned potatoes browned in a pan with butter and then sprinkled with parsley… my mom used to make that as a side when we were kids

                                                                                  Dried parsley has never crossed the threshold of my home (This kind of crosses over to the things my mom always has on hand that I never do thread) I can still taste that stale tea flavor that dried parsley seems to infuse into anything that my mother added it to

                                                                                  Any type of “pasta” in a can or a jar… no Chef boy r dee in my home

                                                                                  I have in the past bought jarred tomato sauces and they all have disappointed me, even the “best” ones that I paid entirely too much for, don’t taste much different to me than Prego or whatever else is on sale, so it’s not so much as verboten, just no interest
                                                                                  (a quick marinara isn’t hard to make and tastes better anyway)

                                                                                  For those that want to spray oil and not have butane in their foods (I realize it cooks off, but if it’s cooking off into your food, then doesn’t’ the vapor just get trapped IN the batter?) buy an oil atomizer “Misto gourmet stainless steel oil sprayer) or any other brand name. you pump it up and spray… no aerosols, no butane, or any other petroleum products

                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: cgarner

                                                                                    Oh yes, boxed cake mix and frosting. Add those.

                                                                                    1. re: rasputina

                                                                                      I occasionally use boxed cake mix but NEVER EVER EVER canned frosting. There is nothing more disgusting on earth.

                                                                                      1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                        Except for Miracle Whip. You expect a mayonnaise and get some freakish quasi-dessert shit

                                                                                        1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                          Oh yes, I agree about Miracle Whip. When I was a teenager I fell in love with an easy chicken/pasta salad recipe that was dressed with mayonnaise and copious amounts of crushed garlic. One day my mother served it up and I nearly barfed - she had subbed Miracle Whip. She staunchly maintained that I couldn't tell the difference and was just being difficult. Some weeks later, she made it again and used just a little MW, mostly mayo - I noticed it immediately and called her out. She never tried that little swap again, LOL!

                                                                                  2. Canned soup of any sort--I love soup, and have never had a canned soup that I like. Bottled lemon or lime juice (frozen is ok). Anything with artificial butter flavoring--no microwave popcorn or butterflavored anything. Canned broth--I can make salty water myself. That horrible tuna that looks and smells like catfood.

                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: sparrowgrass

                                                                                      Canned soup is my emergency backup staple: in a pinch it can be eaten straight out of the can if the power's off. I've never had a really great one, but for the times one comes home after a two-week trip to find the fridge has died and by the time one is finished cleaning up the mess that leaked out and is too tired to do anything else about dinner, it kinda hits the spot.

                                                                                      Things I don't even think about buying: packaged cake mixes, including cornbread mix. Seasoning packets. Canned mushrooms - they have a slimy texture to me. Most canned vegetables - the canning process overcooks them. Spam or canned ham. Anything containing aspartame. Hamburger Helper and similar products.

                                                                                      1. re: tardigrade

                                                                                        Some Campbell soups are lifelong favorites: tomato bisque, green pea, black bean, oxtail, consommé, maybe a few others. I've done without them for some years now, ever since Trader Joe's became my go-to food store and I hardly ever set foot in a conventional supermarket. But if I did, no question, I'd head home with a half dozen cans of assorted Campbell soups in the bag.

                                                                                        1. re: tardigrade

                                                                                          I used to love Campbell's Cream o' Chicken and Cream o' Shroom until they yielded to the sodium stormtroopers and made these products tasteless.

                                                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                            is ordinary salt banned in your household?

                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                              Salt added at the table or even during cooking does not assimilate as well as salt incorporated into processing the soup itself. I've tried it. So now I don't buy Campbell's.

                                                                                      2. Cake mix is one...........

                                                                                        1. Parmesan in a green can has never entered my home. Reason it tastes like wood: The second ingredient is cellulose.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: Seeker19104

                                                                                            aka fiber. Not saying you should let it into your house, just saying, if it's shelf stable it's gonna need a "spacer".

                                                                                          2. Adolf's Meat Tenderizer. I guess it had its place in the 1950s.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                                                              I'm SHOCKED nobody chimed in on the Adolf's.

                                                                                              My mother calls my father Adolf when she is annoyed.

                                                                                              1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                                                                Never tried it. Doesn't mean I never will

                                                                                              2. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                                                                ADOLPH's still has its place. It's a totally natural product that does exactly what it is meant to do...it tenderizes tough cuts of meat.
                                                                                                Steak on a budget is sometimes rescued by Adolph's!

                                                                                                1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                                                                  It's excellent for bee or wasp stings if you mix it with a bit of water to make a paste. Makes the pain stop almost immediately.

                                                                                                2. Crap cereals...but that's for health reasons and not for snobbery. No more of my once beloved Lucky Charms.

                                                                                                  1. I love it...a little harmless snobbery! We all need to let it out sometime.

                                                                                                    Now, I have a pantry with a pretty open border policy. I love various flirtations with this or that dubious pantry item. It's fun, and sometimes hits pay dirt. I also stock various standard suspect items semi-regularly, like cream of mushroom soup (as a Scandinavian Minnesotan, I think it's likely written into my contract somewhere). But I have a few lines I choose not to cross.

                                                                                                    - No Lawry's Seasoned Salt, lemon pepper (Pledge-flavored pepper? No can do.), or pre-ground black pepper.
                                                                                                    - No flavored coffee. Ever.
                                                                                                    - No maple-flavored pancake syrup. Real only.
                                                                                                    - No margarine.
                                                                                                    - No bottled salad dressing, with the exception of the occasional purchase of a decent jarred blue cheese dressing for chicken wings.
                                                                                                    - Never, ever jarred gravy or gravy mix in a packet. This last is about ridiculously overweening pride far more than petty snobbery; I for some reason got the Gravy Gene from a long line of forebears that were gravy geniuses. I exploit it and enjoy it. Along with savant-like parallel parking skills, gravy-making is one of my very few innate talents. I'm not about to capitulate to pre-made gravy. <grin>

                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                      oh, oh... lemon pepper, what is that stuff? *spit, gag, choke! I bought it once for a shrimp recipe... ( should have known better I bleieve it was a Rachel Ray recipe) we couldn't even eat it... that was one of those "what was I thinking" moments when you could kick yourself because you wind up tossing REALLY Good ingredients because you threw some artificial CRAP on them!
                                                                                                      (I formally apologize to anyone who enjoys lemon pepper, as you can tell, I had a traumatic experience with it, and my view of the stuff is tainted by this experience)

                                                                                                      1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                        Argh to preground pepper, cayjohan! The only thing it will do is get stuck in your front teeth. Might as well put sand on your food.

                                                                                                        1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                          The student who was housesitting for us 3 months in the summer put *ground* pepper in my PEPPERMILL! I wanted to smack her over the head with it. WTF.

                                                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                            The mind boggles -- best laugh of my day!

                                                                                                      2. I agree with so many of the responses to this thread that I struggled to decide to which post I should reply... so I'm replying to the OP.

                                                                                                        Things I don't ever have in my pantry (or fridge, etc) include:
                                                                                                        Cream of X soup... or any premade soup (e.g. in a can or packet)
                                                                                                        Gravy in cans, packets, etc.
                                                                                                        Canned vegetables
                                                                                                        Canned fruit
                                                                                                        Actually canned anything other than tomatoes (whole, diced, crushed, puree, paste) and some beans for emergencies :)
                                                                                                        Processed cheese
                                                                                                        Pre-grated Parmesan
                                                                                                        Cake, brownie (etc) mixes
                                                                                                        Soda (Coke, etc)

                                                                                                        On the other hand (relative to previous posters) I'm OK with:
                                                                                                        Liquid Smoke

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: drongo

                                                                                                          I have no option but canned (jarred) for sour cherries. Most of the crop is canned, and they are a baking staple in this house.

                                                                                                          1. re: rohirette

                                                                                                            In fact, I have used Oregon brand canned cherries - so my post above is not quite right. I've probably forgottien a few other canned or frozen items that I have used occasionally.

                                                                                                        2. I didn't realize they still made margarine.

                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                            Margarine is good for baking cookies and making pie dough, as its melting point is higher than butter and it's a lot cheaper if you're making a lot of it.

                                                                                                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                              Margarine is essential to kosher baking or food prep when you have a meal with meat or chicken. You cannot serve meat/poultry and dairy at the same meal.

                                                                                                              1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                Ah. A built-in market.

                                                                                                                But presumably one can use other butter substitutes such as Smart Balance and still keep kosher? I really like Smart Balance, BTW.

                                                                                                                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                  What's the difference between Smart Balance and margarine? Both are basically oil based spreads. By the way, SB includes whey, a milk derivative.

                                                                                                                  SB kosher question:
                                                                                                                  "All Smart Balance® products are Orthodox Union Kosher-certified, and several of our products, including our Light spreads and peanut butters are Parve. Please review individual product labels for specifics."

                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                    "...What's the difference between Smart Balance and margarine?.."

                                                                                                                    The way I see it, "margarine" has always been made with hydrogenated oils. Smart Balance (and some other 'spreads') don't use artificially harened oils...they use palm oil as a substitute with liquid oils blended in to keep them spreadable at fridge temps.

                                                                                                                  2. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                    My now-86 year old mother (who is now actually in a nursing home and can't cook any more) used the tub margarine for toast etc but always the stick margarine for baking, as needed. I think stick margarine was a staple in many Jewish homes for decades. She kept both margarine and butter, sometimes out of the box, side by side in the fridge. She knew which was which, easily, without opening the paper wrapper.

                                                                                                              2. Boil in the bag rice and 'quick cook' pasta - really? You can't wait 11 minutes for pasta to cook? Canned pasta and those foil pouch, shelf stable risotto and pasta things - they taste like the packet. Hot dogs in a jar. No. Just no. Canned vegetables beyond tomaotes and sweetcorn, however I'm sure I'd buy others if I lived in an area where I needed to keep a stock of true emergency supplies. Jarred/tinned pasta sauce. Jarred curry sauces. Tinned fruit cocktail (I'm no snob about that, I'd just eat way too much of it). Instant hollandaise/bernaise/parsley sauce/bread sauce. Nutella is not allowed in my flat.

                                                                                                                However, there are a couple of things I do have in my pantry that other people would not permit - I have a packet of instant 'cheese' sauce, which I use when I make a super trashy enchilada bake for girls night in, I have a box of sage and onion stuffing mix, because I'm single. I don't have loaves of bread waiting to be made into crumbs for the very occassional roast chicken for one that I make.

                                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: ultimatepotato

                                                                                                                  The only canned vegetables I like are French cut green beans, corn, and hominy. Oh, and Ranch Style Beans.

                                                                                                                  1. re: ultimatepotato

                                                                                                                    Pre-cooked rice in those plastic bags. Ever see the sodium content of one serving?

                                                                                                                    1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                      What's the sodium content of your home cooked rice?

                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                        For me, whatever sodium happens to be in the rice itself. We never add it to the cooking process.

                                                                                                                        1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                                                          Same here, I don't add salt to my rice. FYI - the Uncle Ben's Brown and Wild sodium content, per single serving, is 730mg or 30% of the daily recommended allowance. ETA - homemade rice can't have much more than a scant trace of sodium.

                                                                                                                          1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                            The amount of salt people are accustomed to varies by culture. I've head rice at Asian restaurants that tasted flat to me due to a lack of salt. I tend to use 1/2 - 3/4 tsp of table salt per cup of uncooked rice.

                                                                                                                            A tsp of table salt is 2300 mg of sodium. So I put about 1800 mg in my rice; if that makes 4 good servings, that's about 450 mg per serving. Not as much as the 730mg, but still not 'scant'.

                                                                                                                            I wonder what the sodium level is in cooked rice from Taiwan or other Asian countries. I've seen these usually in plastic trays, but haven't tried any.

                                                                                                                            I have a box of frozen 'rice medley' from Trader Joes, that lists 0 mg of sodium.

                                                                                                                        2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                          My home cooked rice = 0 sodium content except for what happens naturally in the rice. I have a rice cooker that takes a long time, but I make more than is needed so we have rice for days.
                                                                                                                          I have a soft spot in my heart of hearts for minute rice, because of a friend's mom that used it in her Beef and Rice, itwas rotgut but still wonderful-tasting, plus at that time in my life nobody else was cooking for me. :-)

                                                                                                                      2. re: ultimatepotato

                                                                                                                        Tried the packet Risotto... nothing like the real thing.What was I thinking? Oh...must have been the 2 minute cook time... I've been working a lot of overtime lately don't get in 'til alfter 7:00pm. Hubby also works and doesn't really know how to cook...but he's getting better. WE can't afford a maid and have no child slave labour to employ... I've asked the cat-she won't help.

                                                                                                                        That said-next time I want risotto and don't have the time or energy to prepare it, we'll go out for dinner!

                                                                                                                        I personally don't to the boxed stuffing. You can buy cubed bread crumbs, or even use rice or cornbread or couscous as a stuffing. Never tried the boxed stuff, though some of the girls at work use it religiuosly. I always have dried sage, fresh is better. Stuffing is sort of a special dinner ingredient for use so it's never a midweek thing, it's usually Thanksgiving or Xmas. I get the fresh herbs for my stuffing.

                                                                                                                        The plain rice packs really aren't TOO bad... Cooking real rice in a pot is so easy though & only takes about 20 minutes...basically cooks itself. Probably cheaper too...

                                                                                                                        while I was typing this post the paragraphs moved out of sequence. Think it all still makes sense! LOL

                                                                                                                      3. Am I the only one reading some of this with serious eye-rolling?

                                                                                                                        I understand some of it, but doesn't some of it seem like a pissing contest to out-alice-waters each other? Canned gravy and mushrooms are repulsive, but really why would you pat yourself on the back for not buying A1 or tabasco?

                                                                                                                        I'm a proud owner of a bottle of gravy master.

                                                                                                                        21 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: j8715

                                                                                                                          No eye-rolling from me. The OP pointed out this was open to us snobs. Frankly, there is almost nothing mentioned that I buy and keep in my pantry. I shop for fresh food daily. I have two cans of beans, a case of San Marzanos, some dried pasta, dried beans, oatmeal, two kinds of flour, and very little else in my pantry. I do have five bottles of hat sauce in the fridge - only one that I made.

                                                                                                                          Oh, and, I threw out my mother's Gravy Master when she recently offered it to me to use.

                                                                                                                          1. re: j8715

                                                                                                                            Gravy Master is always in my house. A small "blup" goes into homemade gravy (pan drippings, additional chicken/beef stock, and a flour/herb/seasoning/water slurry). It gives it color, and a slightly deeper flavor. That's all. But I won't buy canned/jarred/packet gravy mixes.

                                                                                                                            I'll have a can or two of cream of mushroom soup for the few times a year I make hamburger stroganoff.

                                                                                                                            I won't buy blue box mac & cheese, as I find the taste absolutely vile. It's gotta be homemade only with a good cheddar. And no green can Parmesan. But I do have PAM cooking spray and probably other things in this thread that others find distasteful. Oh well.

                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                              I'd never heard of Gravy Master before this thread. I am now moved to find out if it is available where I am :-).

                                                                                                                              1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                                                If you don't see Gravy Master (usually next to the jars of spices and herbs in the stupidmarket), Kitchen Bouquet is a similar seasoning blend.

                                                                                                                                1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                                                  Yeah that is pretty fair description of gravy master. If you are making gravy for beef and it isn't dark enough you add the smallest drop possible. Curiously, they also claim you can use it as a kind of meat varnish. I don't like Bloody Mary Cocktails, but I would support Gravy Master as an ingredient. I also have an idea for a homemade cold medicine made from bourbon, hot water and gravy master (patent pending).

                                                                                                                                  Gravy Master is the next bacon. It should be placed everywhere, especially places it doesn't belong.

                                                                                                                                2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                  PAM is one thing I couldn't do without. I threw out all of my non-stick cookware several years ago and replaced it with clad stainless. The PAM makes cleanup easier than it was with the Teflon-coated pans. BTW, I've tried other brands and have yet to find one that is as effective as original PAM.

                                                                                                                                3. re: j8715

                                                                                                                                  It seems like there are two types of posters in this thread:

                                                                                                                                  1) I won't keep anything in my pantry that I can make (or get) from scratch. No canned spaghetti sauce or bottled vanilla extract for me!

                                                                                                                                  2) I don't keep this in my pantry because I don't like it. Yuk, mayonnaise! Boo, marshmallow fluff!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                      I'm actually both (though not as hard core a #1 as some people), along with a third type - there are some things that I like but don't keep in my pantry because they are incredibly tempting and also incredibly bad for me. Most carby junk food falls into this category.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                                        I am with Biondanonima, mostly a #1, with the exception of a few things (I have a soft spot for TJ's bolognese; it tastes like my mom's homemade sauce.... I confess!).
                                                                                                                                        #2 for lot's of things; I just don't like most chips, soda, commercial snack products, etc. as they all taste too salty, too sweet, too fake.

                                                                                                                                        And #3 is true for lot's of things I love, but can't keep around, like good commercial ice cream, mint milano cookies, Partner's crackers.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                        I'm neither, except for miracle whip

                                                                                                                                      3. re: 2roadsdiverge

                                                                                                                                        #3 don't keep in in the pantry because it's bad for ya'

                                                                                                                                        1. re: cgarner

                                                                                                                                          #4 - don't keep some of them because they're either bad for you or I don't care to make them myself, but am OK with others of them. = Me.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: 2roadsdiverge

                                                                                                                                          I'm #2. I do have stuff I don't like in the cupboard, but it is usually something that the other half likes, such as corn.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: 2roadsdiverge

                                                                                                                                            I'm both 1 and 2.

                                                                                                                                            1 mostly because once I learn to make it from scratch the store bought version just doesn't cut it anymore. Which is why the only store bought salad dressing in my fridge is the stuff my mom bought when I was hurt and unable to cook. Speaking of that, I probably should check and make sure it's thrown out now.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                                                              I went to visit a friend a few years ago- there was nothing in her fridge except for some Gatorade, lots of half-cans of cat food, and several bottles of wine. This was a woman in her 60s, with a grown son and a husband. I bought some greens and salad dressing when we went to the grocery store (Publix, I wish we had them here in AZ). Two years later I called her and asked if she remembered what the salad dressing I bought was, she went to the fridge and read it to me. Within a year and a half she was dead from pancreatic cancer. I blame not only her drinking but her chronic malnutrition. She didn't eat so she wouldn't gain weight from drinking, I feel sure.
                                                                                                                                              Eat your salad and take your vitamins, people. When she was going through chemotherapy, she found someting she could eat- brie. She ate it by the wheel. Perfect for somebody with a bad liver and pancreatic cancer. Jeez.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: j8715

                                                                                                                                            I confess to eye-rolling until I thought about the beating I'd give my husband if he brought home Miracle Whip, margarine, or pre-shredded parmesan. I guess we all have a little snob in us. Also honey mustard. This isn't snobbery - I just can't stand the vile stuff. And anything with cloves. Wow - I have quite a few!

                                                                                                                                            Edit: Gah! Forgot to mention Pepsi. Long live Coke products!

                                                                                                                                              1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                                                ": Gah! Forgot to mention Pepsi. Long live Coke products!"

                                                                                                                                                +1 +1 +1

                                                                                                                                              2. re: j8715

                                                                                                                                                Atta boy or gal, j8, this subject would obviously bring out the dilettante precious few, but most people are willing to also share their guilty pleasures which is a great fun counterpoint.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: j8715

                                                                                                                                                  Did someone diss tobasco? I LOVE tabasco! I prefer HP to A1 or Heinz 57 (I like the extra tamarind it has)....but got no problem with steak sauce in general. Absolutely LOVE my Worchestershire sauce... these are condiments like mustard & soy sauce & sesame oil & olive oil... people hate MIracle Whip ( I prefer Hellman's real mayonnaise- but they do have the mayo) . How about horseradish & wasabi? (I actually bought fresh horseradish root on last night, but most people just have the jar in the fridge right?

                                                                                                                                                2. Pancake syrups
                                                                                                                                                  pasteurized honey
                                                                                                                                                  ground pepper
                                                                                                                                                  grated cheese in those green or clear cans
                                                                                                                                                  white bread
                                                                                                                                                  tastes like but not fruit beverages (hi-c, tang, cool aid, etc.)
                                                                                                                                                  imitation vanilla
                                                                                                                                                  anything with hfcs
                                                                                                                                                  commercial luncheon meats

                                                                                                                                                  16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                                    what's wrong with Wondra? For a long time I thought it 'below me', since I first heard about it when a non-cook roommate used it for a shake-n-bake chicken.

                                                                                                                                                    I just 'discovered' it recently. It's just a low gluten wheat flour that can be used as a thickener just like cornstarch and arrowroot. Plus some people (including some big name chefs) claim it is great for 'breading' some foods.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                      Wondra tastes weird to me, it has a weird chemically taste. None of the products I dislike are a result of "snobbery" or thinking I'm a more enlightened person for disliking them, certain things just taste bad/weird/ to me. I pick up weird/off-flavors in food products all the time, like those canisters of bread crumbs that are sold in supermarkets or grated cheese that gets a plasticky smell.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                        Wondra indeed is a wonderful thing for dredging things that you are going to make a pan sauce out of the fond for later. AP flour does *not* work as well for that purpose.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                          No shake n Bake or hamburger helper. Never heard of wondra... doesn't sound so odious- just another thickener?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: SusieQ222

                                                                                                                                                            Wondra is just flour that has been pre-cooked so it dissolves more easily.
                                                                                                                                                            It's a handy item to have around for some things.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                                            I realized one of my biggest pet peeves is that so many food items are unnecessarily sweet and mostly sweetened with hfcs. Why is everything from ketchup to bread to meat so sweet? Why does canned soup need hfcs?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                                              It wouldn't be ketchup if it didn't have the right balance of sweet and sour. The total sugar levels in non-HFCS ketchups are just as high as in the HFCS ones.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                Different sweeteners taste different. Some taste sweeter than others. HFCS tastes really really sweet. Also, ketchup isn't always sweet. People may be used to having things taste a certain way but others aren't if that makes any sense. Like if you look at all the variations for barbecue sauce, everybody thinks theirs is the authentic one. Some people add sugar to theirs, others would never dream of it.

                                                                                                                                                                I've had homemade ketchups that have no added sugar just ripe tomatoes and that really is sweet enough for me. I think the proliferation of sugar in a lot of things is overkill and probably not that good for people. Even "healthy" protein bars have tons of sugar in them that make them taste like candy.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                                                  Can you name a commercial ketchup that is not sweet (e.g. lower than 3g of sugars per tbs)?

                                                                                                                                                                  The total sugar level in the nutrition label likely includes the sugar found in the tomatoes. I suspect the manufacturers test their tomatoes (or sauce/paste) and adjust the added sugar to fit the desired taste profile.

                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, different sugars have different sweetness intensities. Fructose is sweeter than glucose. The fructose/glucose ratio in HFCS can be adjusted to suit the manufacturers purpose. The most common HFCS 55 roughly matches the sweetness of sucrose.

                                                                                                                                                                  tomatoes have roughly the same fructose/glucose ratio, with enough fructose to be of concern to people with a fructose intolerance.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                                                    It is not a food company's job to sell healthy products, their job is to sell products.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                                                  Heinz has started making ketchup the way they used to - sans HFCS. I only buy that or Muir Glen Organic now. It tastes the way ketchup is supposed to.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                    Muir Glen has 3g sugar, 230 mg sodium per tbs serving. Regular Heinz 4g and 160, Heinz organic 4g and 190. Hunts no HFCS is similar to the Heinz organic.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                      Natural sugars I'm fine with. HFCS, I'm not.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                        For the amount of ketchup or catsup I eat, it doesn't matter. I had a bottle in my fridge for over a year. Don't see the need for it on eggs. I like mayo & HP on my burgers, it should NEVER touch a hot dog, & I prefer mayonnaise or Aioli on my fries. Just salt & pepper on hashbrowns.. . it's not a banned pantry item for me, but it's one that gets forgotten & tossed,

                                                                                                                                                                  2. Smoke, for liquid smoke, is harvested in the same manner as moon shine, through the steam process. It's legit.

                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: treb

                                                                                                                                                                      Moonshine tastes and works better.

                                                                                                                                                                      And, to be fair, burning logs are legit.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                        Moonshine tastes and works better.
                                                                                                                                                                        X-D I am shaking my head and laughing so hard at this...
                                                                                                                                                                        (who drinks liquid smoke??)

                                                                                                                                                                    2. I am fairly flezible with what is permitted in my pantry, however there are a few things banned:

                                                                                                                                                                      Miracle whip
                                                                                                                                                                      Canned potatoes
                                                                                                                                                                      Instant potatoes
                                                                                                                                                                      Minute rice

                                                                                                                                                                      12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ChrisOC

                                                                                                                                                                        Instant pertatas are a guilty pleasure of mine. Sometimes I prefer 'em to fresh.

                                                                                                                                                                        Just shoot me.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                                                                          Instant potato flakes make a nice coating for pan-fried fish.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sharuf

                                                                                                                                                                            They can also be used to make a quick and easy fish cake.

                                                                                                                                                                            I used to only ever eat instant mash and didn't like real mash, but nowadays I realise it was how my dad made mash that I didn't like.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Sharuf

                                                                                                                                                                              I've never tried the Instant potato flakes, but Jacques Pepin used them to make a leek and potato soup and to thicken something else that I can't reacall in his series. Surprised the heck out of me. Has anyone tried his methods?

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Terrie H.

                                                                                                                                                                                I haven't specifically used his instant potato methods, but he has been doing the 'quick and easy' stuff for a couple of decades. He is, for example, quite happy with frozen petite peas (and has told Julia so on one of their shows together).

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Terrie H.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I use instant potato flakes and instant rice to thicken all kinds of soups and sauces.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Terrie H.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Instant potatoes are a timesaver when making casseroles and seem to be lower in potassium for those watching that content.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                                                                                  I buy them too, for those lazy times. Hey they are also called for in some potato bread recipes, does that get me off the hook? lol

                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: ChrisOC

                                                                                                                                                                                  I have potato flakes (instant potatoes) in my pantry because they make my sandwich bread moister and more flavorful. Unless I have leftover mashed potatoes...but that never happens, because we eat them all every time. So flakes it is.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: rohirette

                                                                                                                                                                                    Unless I have leftover mashed potatoes
                                                                                                                                                                                    leftover mashed potatoes... doesn't happen in my house either, it's funny that there's recipes that call for leftover mashed potatoes... I actually have to make mashed potatoes and then use that to make potato cakes and such
                                                                                                                                                                                    (kinda like leftover wine... I wonder if it ever really exists or is just a myth)

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cgarner

                                                                                                                                                                                      +1- except if I've planned it right, I sometimes have leftovre mashed potatoes

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: ChrisOC

                                                                                                                                                                                    1) Like mayo better-either shouldn't be in the pantry... they go in the fridge
                                                                                                                                                                                    2) What? They can potatoes?
                                                                                                                                                                                    3) Instant potatoes- I agree- but I have some ...Oooh their a bit old who picked those up? LOL
                                                                                                                                                                                    4.) Minute rice...real rice doesn't take THAT long. Why not go for the real thing?

                                                                                                                                                                                  3. Pre-ground pepper
                                                                                                                                                                                    any salt but coarse Kosher
                                                                                                                                                                                    Miracle Whip
                                                                                                                                                                                    cheese "slices" or cheese "singles" or cheese "product"
                                                                                                                                                                                    flavored coffees or creamers
                                                                                                                                                                                    vienna sausages (canned0
                                                                                                                                                                                    any pre-made dip ooops, excluding hummus
                                                                                                                                                                                    any kind of crackers or chips or ice cream or commercially baked goods (because I will eat them and I live alone, so none in my house, please)

                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: laliz

                                                                                                                                                                                      +1 on the crackers and chips. i also live alone a nd will eat them -- all. of course, when i visit friends, i've been know to embarass myself:)

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Packaged marshmallows--always make my own. Canned tomato soup-so easy to make some in the slow cooker and it tastes far better. Cooking wine, Miracle Whip, Margarine, bottled ranch dressing, canned veggies except tomatoes and the occasional can of beans, canned soup, grated parmesan, white bread.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                                                                                                                                                        I learned the hard way that homemade marshmallows don't work for roasting in the fire. Is there a trick to keeping them from just melting into a pile of goo vs. toasting in this circumstance?

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: splatgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                          oops, posted a link, link removed... Here's the full recipe:


                                                                                                                                                                                          Confectioner's sugar and cornstarch
                                                                                                                                                                                          2 cups sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                          2 tbsp. light corn syrup
                                                                                                                                                                                          1 cup cold water, divided
                                                                                                                                                                                          4 tbsp. (5 envelopes) unflavored gelatin
                                                                                                                                                                                          2 egg whites
                                                                                                                                                                                          Pinch of salt
                                                                                                                                                                                          1 tbsp. clear vanilla extract

                                                                                                                                                                                          (You should really make this with a stand mixer. You could try it with a hand mixer, but it will likely be more difficult. If you try it with a hand mixer, let me know if it works!)

                                                                                                                                                                                          Before you start: Butter an 8x8 square pan, then dust it generously with confectioner’s sugar. Tap the excess gently into the sink; set aside.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and ½ cup water in a medium-sized saucepan (larger than you think you’ll need). Bring to a boil and, using a candy thermometer, boil to approximately 260 degrees. I usually let it cook to about 256 degrees, then remove it from the heat; it’ll coast another 3-4 degrees, whether you want it to or not.

                                                                                                                                                                                          While sugar is boiling, combine gelatin and remaining ½ cup water in a separate small saucepan; let the gelatin blooom for about 2 minutes, then melt the gelatin over low heat. Pour gelatin into sugar syrup and stir briskly. It’ll bubble up. A lot. Stir it for a few seconds... it won't stop boiling, but it just needs to calm down a little.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Whip the egg whites and salt until egg whites stand up in soft peaks. While whipping on high, slowly pour the sugar/gelatin mixture into the egg whites.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Add the vanilla after a minute of whipping, then whip it good for 6-7 minutes. The mixture will nearly double in size. Eventually, the marshmallow will begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl in little strings. Look for that, then whip it another 1-2 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Pour the liquid marshmallow into the prepared pan. Work quickly and try to smooth out the surface as much as possible; I’ve never been able to get it completely smooth. I’ve read recommendations to smooth it out using a piece of buttered plastic wrap but I don't mind the textured surface too much.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Every single marshmallow recipe I’ve read recommends letting the marshmallows sit uncovered for at least eight hours before cutting. Every single batch of marshmallows I’ve ever made is mostly set in 30 minutes and I usually cut them within two hours. Choose your own adventure.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Cut them in squares and toss them in a half-and-half mixture of cornstarch and confectioner's sugar. Store in an airtight container.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I have no problems with any of the items you mentioned or any "processed" foods.
                                                                                                                                                                                        They all have a use.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't ban anything from my kitchen, except smoking.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                          +1 in general. What doesn't work for alot of people may have to work for me. It's nice that other people have the time and energy to shop and cook each day but I don't. There ARE a few things I wouldn't buy but I also wouldn't say "never."

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Space food sticks, Tang, Carnation Instant Breakfast and breakfast cereals in bright primary colors.

                                                                                                                                                                                          All totally banned.

                                                                                                                                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                                                                                                            Tang?! Man, I thought that stuff went on the rocks--so to speak--back about 1978.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                I have Strawberry Quik! It's in the back of the pantry, but now and then I get jonesin' for it. Thanks for reminding me!

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                                                                                                                  ROFL! My Mother LOVED that pink powder!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I had a Strawberry Quik t-shirt. I would pay double for a new one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I used to have Tang with my grandmother. John Glen, RIP, probably had Tang on the moon. How cool was he?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                                                                                                                                                                      RIP, Neil Armstrong too! My Mother loved to make Tang jello.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                                                                                                                                                                        With full kitchen, fridge, regular shopping, and plenty of time I can buy and use mostly fresh produce and meats. But when car camping I end up using a lot more of these prepared and convenience products. That includes canned soups, individual portion condiments and dressings, and powdered drinks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        In Canadian groceries I've seen mango flavored Tang (or something like that), though on line I only find a Mexican version.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        The guys who introduced me to backpacking were using Wylers drink packs with sugar, Poptarts, hot jello, instand oatmeal, peanut butter and jelly in squeeze tubes (the fill it yourself kind), pilot bread, and the expensive freeze dried meals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yeah. What IS pilot bread? This is terrible and I haven't had one for years, so maybe I woudn't like them now... but I kinda liked pop tarts 20 years ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I used to eat Tang powder with a spoon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I confused Mr. Glen and Mr. Armstrong. Oppps

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Dried pasta that I paid significantly more than $1/pound. Splenda or other artificial sweeteners. Overpriced yuppie food brands that appeal to the most Khmer Rouge-iest of Alice Waters disciples.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                                                      What is the point of hamburger helper (or any other boxed helper) ? You have to buy the beef. It contains dried pasta, which you can get anywhere... the rest is just a disgusting mix of MSG dried spices & cornstarch yech

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Just to make sure we all can understand your point. Are you saying that cheap food is inherently better or just that you can't taste the difference?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm saying that I am cheap and don't believe in buying the best ingredients no matter the cost. If I had more money, then maybe I would feel differently.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Knowing that I paid a lot of money for food takes away from the enjoyment. On the other hand, feeling that I received good value for my money enhances my enjoyment. I would rather pay $15 for a steak that is worth $25 than pay $50 for a steak that is worth every penny (exactly every penny).

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I kinda feel the same way. I love a good deal. I do get a kick out of buying a very valuable ingredient/tool every now and then, but part of the enjoyment, for me, is that it's an occasional treat. If I indulge often, it's not as much of a thrill.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                                                              FoodPopulist, that's funny because I just encountered nearly the exact opposite situation this weekend
                                                                                                                                                                                                              given the choice of buying inexpensive precut domestic prosciutto at Wegmans for something around $10/lb or buying imported prosciutto for $19+/lb, I don't pause to step up to the deli counter and order the imported prosciutto
                                                                                                                                                                                                              I didn't get any melons at the farmers market, so while in Wegmans, I picked up nearly every 'regular' cantaloupe I could find and none of them smelled ripe, I found a canary melon that was two dollars more
                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't think about the cost at the moment I'm enjoying the dish, I just think about how wonderful everything tastes... and as far as the food budget, I can find other ways and things to cut back on so that it all evens out
                                                                                                                                                                                                              I could have gotten the presliced domestic prosciutto and the unripe cantaloupe and spent way less money, but not nearly enjoyed the dish as much as we did with the perfectly ripe melon and really good imported prosciutto

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cgarner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I am reluctant to buy any meat that is more than $5/pound. That should give you an idea of what I am aiming for, in terms of frugality.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  With regards to prosciutto, you don't serve it in huge slabs. A slice goes a long way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sr44

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And prosciutto should always be sliced wafer thin (or thinner)...seems to taste better that way, but also, it's as tough as leather if sliced too thick.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But it sure is great as a flavoring in a wide variety of dishes!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Agreed. It's going into a dish of farfalle, walnuts and sage tonight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I realize that imported prosciutto isn't exactly "frugal" but when you're only buying a quarter pound for three people, it's not so bad to fork over the $5. or so for the package. (That rationing does not count the slice I steal for myself as I am preparing the antipasta tray... and when I say it's for three people, I mean that my husband and I will get a piece or two and my 13 year old daughter will scarf up the rest while we are enjoying whatever else is on the plate)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The law of diminishing returns certainly comes into play. Take wine, for instance. Typically, a 60-dollar bottle of wine will be much better than a six-dollar bottle, but a 600-dollar bottle may well be practically indistinguishable, quality-wise, from the 60-dollar bottle. And I think this rule applies for most food and drink products.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The same rule applies to time and labor as well. Is it really worth the time and effort to make your own pasta from scratch when you can simply boil high-quality storebought pasta? Perhaps as a lark, but I'm sure not going to do it on a regular basis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Is there such a thing as "high-quality storebought pasta" for a dollar a pound?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      No. But in this case I'll gladly trade the fiver for 90 minutes less prep time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Do you always have time to make pasta from scratch?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If this was directed at me, gosh no. I'd love to live downtown next to a farmer's market and have hours to cook a homemade meal every night. I usually Do go for the fresh & organic choices, even if I am at a "choke" supernarket (and they ARE getting better, even in the burbs) . I was replying to someone else who made the point that if there was a majot catastrophe we might be stuck with some of these less than delicious ingredients. Did it sound like I liked hamburger helper? I think Mum tried it once and we all said never again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sure I'll eat canned tuna once in a while in a sandwich, but it has to be white albacore. Sure I buy oeanut butter. I don't eat alot of it. It usually sits there & ends up in cookies. (I don't buy boughten cookies-don't really eat many cookies-oops maybe that jar of peanut butter is rancid & needs to be tossed!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Let's not go to war over food ok. I didn't intend for my post to sound confrontational. If it did I apologize.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: SusieQ222

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Actually, the post you're responding to was asking FoodPopulist a question. Frankly, I'm with you on the Hamburger Helper issue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. I have to wonder what some posters on this thread would do in the case of a serious breakdown of infrastructure. i.e. power and gas out for several days, or long term illness, or some other situation which makes the purchase of fresh food onerous. A few days' worth of tinned (or safely home canned) soups, broths and vegetables would be a life-safer in those situations. And if all your food storage inventory is tied up in the freezer, a two-day power outage would wipe out a lot of $$ pretty quickly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KarenDW

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hey...my comment was about Hamburger helper. There's no food in there... it's a box of starch & spices you already own. I agree.with you about a crisis.. I do use canned goods sometimes knowing they aren't the greatest quality. Can you sit down & eat a box of hamburger helper? You'd be better off with a cold can of beans or raw foraged vegetation. Sorry. I didn't mean to offend anyone. If I did I apologise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: KarenDW

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      KarenDW, I've proven more than once that I can live (happily) on peanut butter and canned tuna/chicken for long periods of time and survive just fine. But unless we're taking serious breakdown of infrastructure I'm going to avoid canned spinach!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        LOL...Never eaten canned spinach in my life. Love the fresh stuff. Raw in salads, cooked in soups pasta sauces. creamed. Spanikopita~!Yum...My favourite way is lightly kissed in a pan with heat in it's own washing water with just a touch of butter or olive oil & citrus..or maybe ginger or garlic.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I guess if there really is a serious catastrophe our preferences will go out the window one by one. I think my cat's food might look yummier then than a box of cornstarch or flour with MSG, herbs & spices added. (Helper ref) I use Lipton sidekicks sometimes but they come with the pasta rice or potato ? AAAnd I can cook all three really well from scratch...just a time management thing, you know? Uncle Ben's Bistro rice in 2 minutes in the microwave YAY!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Gotta say.. I love canned tuna (and salmon & crab & even sardines, smoked oysters, mussels & clams and peanut butter. Jam, marmelade... the canned chicken, my Nana used to buy something in Montreal called "Bonus boneless chicken" in a can. It was packed in Gelatin, but really nice large chunks. AM I redeemed?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Dried rice & pasta keeps well... we can always make a fire to keep the pots hot. It really depends on the catastrophe... can we fish from the ocean and garden? Or will everything be too polluted or toxic or radiation laden?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I recently went with a group of five work colleagues to serve dinner to the homeless at the Salvation army. No truffle oil or fois gras or morels here, but the food was good hot & honest. Roasted chicken breast each, roasted potatoes with rosemary olive oil & garlic (almost asked for the recipe, but I figured it was simple enough to replicate) Mixed frozen veg...hey, it was cheap & easy I guess, ..and gravy... cup of ice cream for dessert. They loved it. Made us feel good. Maybe I came off sounding like a food snob, but I'm really not. I like what tastes good to me & everyone is different.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I can make a wonderful pasta sauce from scratch... but I also like the jarred Classico sauces... If I didn't work all day (& hubby does too & we have no kids to help out.. (I've asked the cat-she's not into it! LOL ..Sometimes'we're both bagged at the end of the day the easy stuff is the only way out.! I do love to cook special things on weekends though & when we go in vacation we try the fancier (& sometimes celebrity chef) restaurants . Gotta admit none of the celebrities have let us down yet..except Wolfgang Puck... not his restaurant, but his coffee maker... on our 3rd one. Keep taking it back & getting a new one that shorts out,. I guess he's not personally aquainted with the makers in China. LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I think most chefs will agree some of this stuff is okay. Next time I go to Hawaii I'm going to try the Spam sushi!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        About the thread, In General .. ok... I guess I just picked the product I didn't like...AS Jacques Pepin says"Happy Cooking"! :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: SusieQ222

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Very cute. We'll share a can of tuna someday!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I only resort to canned spinach when my olive oil is in trouble.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You should see my forearms . . . .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Got any hamburgers? I will gladly pay you Tuesday....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I have banned condensed milk and chocolate chips.......cuz I'll melt them together and eat the fudgy result!! Creamy, yummy fudge like. No, No, No, you cannot come home with me, even if you jump into the cart all by yourself!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Canned frosting and any box baking mix.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Funny to see how many people detest canned frosting. It was good for late night munchies when there is no candy in my parents house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I love canned frosting. As kids, our favorite dessert treat was graham cracker and canned frosting sandwiches. I still think about them when i crave sweets, and there's no way i would keep them in my house because they'd be gone in minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: 2roadsdiverge

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I love graham cracker and frosting sandwiches (that was what my mother always made when she had leftover buttercream), but not with canned frosting. Ick ick ick!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: 2roadsdiverge

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Canned frosting or regular frosting.. nothing beats frosting sandwiches!!--as a kid. Clearly I wouldn't go there now. maybe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: GraceW

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Wow, I've never had a frosting sandwich but I think my mother would be first in line - she loves to tell stories of how as a kid she and her sister would walk to the corner store, buy a jar or chocolate frosting and vanilla frosting and each would enjoy their favorite flavor straight out of the can.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I wouldn't recommend it with the 'coconut-pecan?' flavor they sell now for German Chocolate cake. I tried it recently because I was always curious and the consistency is not good.. it is like greasy-jelly. (And usually I can stand the greasy-canned texture.)--You should definitely make her a frosting sandwich! Especially good with leftover frosting from a cake. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: GraceW

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Will do, can't be worse than the raw bacon mayo sandwiches they also used to eat :0

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I got a good one. Artificial bacon bits. What were they called? Bacos? The kind they always had at Sizzler's salad bar. I just felt an involuntary shiver.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              17 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                yea but I was just informed by a vegetarian that they are same. I think he felt cheated that he's been veg for years and just figured this out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Agreed. Besides the fact that I'm soy allergic, artificial bacon bits creep me out...they are like salty grape nuts dyed red...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  However, when I was a camp director, we had some Muslim kids that were really excited that they could eat our 'bacon' bits.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jw615

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ..they are like salty grape nuts dyed red... You can't describe them any better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I like the story that the Muslim kids were able to try 'bacon.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Another one my Mom would sneak on the sly was Strawberry Pop Tarts and the Fruit, Nut Chocolate bar called Chunky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      CHUNKY BARS!! I seriously just roared that in my head, that's how much I love those stupid things. Haven't had one in years... might be time to end the streak.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lagne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In the last months of my Mom's life she had her attendant sneaking in all sorts of goodies that she loved. I think their relationship was full of so many giggles that this sort of food love made her live longer. Every time I see a Chunky bar or Pop Tarts or Strawberry Quik I smile with fresh memory of the little things my Mom enjoyed til the end.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lagne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Chunky Bars looked like a lump o' anthracite and were twice as hard. They did taste better, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            LOL, PK. I've never actually thought of them that way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I loved CHUNKY bars back when they were still made with cashews and brazil nuts (not to mention more raisins).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Once Nestle bought the brand and 'cheapened' it, Chunky rapidly went downhill. Haven't bought them since.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                No kidding. Well, that is disappointing. I haven't had a Chunky since day camp.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I haven't had once since a lost a bicuspid back in '74.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: The Professor

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I had a Chunky bar a few months ago, and was disappointed that it wasn't the same as I remembered. Now my taste memory of it has been adulterated, and I wish I'd known that before I ate it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't think my childhood taste buds were what they are today but Chunky is hardly then or now high end chocolate. We would break the chunks off into 4 triangles and gnaw on them...kept us busy..it was the raisins that I loved most.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Chocolate covered raisins there's another pantry item that has changed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I would be willing to bet that the ingredients in circa 1970's-ish Chunky bars would be very high end by today's standards. The cheapification of food really has rendered everything less tasty, often beyond recognition--chocolate especially so. It's not your taste buds. My case study is Toll House morsels, which have gone from being decent to inedible in the last 10 years.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Mark those down as another banned pantry item for me. I switched to Callebaut which are everything I had forgotten chocolate chips used to be. It's been like rediscovering the chocolate chip cookies of my childhood (only better because my mother's were always flat and burned.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: splatgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        splatg, you're probably spot on about that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: lagne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I saw Chunky bars at the Dollar Tree a year or two ago, and I was so excited to have found them after about 40 years I bought 3. I ate one as soon as I got in my car...it just wasn't the same. Sigh...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Tuna Helper - Vile, utterly vile.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Miracle Whip - I'm a mayonnaise girl all the way, and ONLY Kraft or Hellman's/Best Foods
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Canned vegetables with the exception of tomatoes, of course.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Margarine, with the exception of holiday cookie baking.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Parmesan in the can
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              White bread
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Condensed Soup - I can't tell you how many recipes I've thought looked promising that made me lose all interest because of this ingredient.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              re pre-ground black pepper in the can - I find it useful when making a flour coating for chicken or fish (along with salt and... wait for it... garlic powder)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MysticYoYo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                What do you think of BF Dijonaise? Sometimes I use it as a mayonnaise substitute.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But I got to looking at the label. 5cal /tsp v. 90/ Tbls for their mayo. First ingredients look like dijon mustard, water, vinegar, mustard seeds. But the next ones look like Miracle Whip - oil, egg, starch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MysticYoYo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Condensed soup, good one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  How about Jell-o, haven't seen that one mentioned. Same for boxed pudding=yuck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. While there are a lot of food items mentioned on this thread that do not make it into our house, I am unaware of any items that have actually been banned. That takes too much effort for too little return. I would rather use the energy required to ban food products to actually cook some food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Today, my banned item is fruit flies. My cupboard that has my canned and dried items apparently hosted a fruit fly orgy in the 36 hours since I last opened it. A can of pineapple seesm to have exploded all over and there was actually a burst of bugs when I opened the cupboard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Fruit flies are banned. ugh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Terrie H.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      OMG I feel your pain. that is the stuff of nightmares.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: laliz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The bait of vinegar/beer/fruit in a jar method isn't working. Guessing I will be battling them for weeks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Terrie H.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          sprinkle some yeast into the liquid in the jar...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Terrie H.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Mum had a problem with those. I found some fruit fly traps. They actually seemed to work. If you can't find them & want an organic method I heard Balsamic vinegar mixed with Dawn liquid in a bowl.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Terrie H.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          They like vinegar be careful if you have any in your pantry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They also love apple cider vinegar which can also be used as a trap. Never worked for me, but I hear it does for some.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I've banned the Biscoff.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It's place has been taken by a jar of Gruenkohl.