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Pre measured seasoning packets (McCormick)

i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 10:57 PM

Are these spice packets (designed for one meal) with recipe on back of package, as good as web reviews I've read say? I have a large collection of herbs & spices, & have always enjoyed being creative with my cooking. But if I'm missing out on something here, I'll give it a whirl. If these are out there for inexperienced cooks or people who have busy lives they wouldn't be for me. I'm not a newbie in the kitchen and I have all the time in the world to prepare meals. I was wondering if the pre-measured spice combinations & recipes are outstanding.

  1. t
    tardigrade Dec 6, 2013 11:25 PM

    Are these the ones in blister packs, with a recipe using those particular spices on the back? Overpackaged and overpriced, IMHO. Maybe if you were in a strange kitchen and planned to only cook one meal - but if you have a collection of herbs and spices already those are a lot more cost effective. With these packets, you're paying for the packaging and the so-called convenience of having someone open the jars and spoon out the spices.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tardigrade
      westsidegal Dec 7, 2013 11:52 AM

      you are also paying for the benefit of having NO waste (therefore although the unit cost may be higher, the actual cost of making the recipe may be lower)

      also, most of the spices that we all have hanging around in our pantries get old and are degraded by the time we use them. presumably, if distributed correctly, these spice packets would allow you to used much fresher spices.

      (i once did a side by side taste test of fresh spices (turmeric, cayenne, red pepper flakes, cumin) with the same brand that had been sitting in my pantry for a year.
      the difference in the intensity and quality of flavor was tremendous.
      that said, i didn't try the spice packs so i really can't recommend them or disparage them. i would imagine the rate of turnover in the store from which you purchase them would be a deciding factor.
      after all, you can get old spices from your own pantry)

    2. n
      nothingswrong Dec 6, 2013 11:26 PM

      I've never tried them, but I've seen them. I assumed they were for people who aren't very handy in the kitchen, and possibly don't season their food at all, let alone season it well.

      Perhaps these packets have such rave reviews because the people who use them are those who wouldn't otherwise think to use combinations of spices and herbs in their cooking.

      I don't know, I just can't imagine you wouldn't be able to replicate exactly what's in the package with your own collection, unless they also contain MSG or other flavor enhancers.

      1. i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 11:58 PM

        Thanks, Everything you said is what I had running through my head. You've reassured me, so I will continue walking past these packages when I'm grocery shopping.

        1 Reply
        1. re: i_am_Lois
          mamachef Dec 7, 2013 05:54 AM

          Excellent decision, Lois. Those blister packs are convenient for all the reasons listed above, but you'd actually just be doubling up and paying a whole lot to do that. It's a marketing ploy, but it's an interesting twist. Usually, "they" put out a product-driven item (consider the Green Bean casserole), but now "they've" come up with a twist: not just product, but, but a product ENHANCER.
          Oy Vay. Last thing in the world spend my own cash on!! But oh so clever on their behalf, and if it makes someone experiment more than they ordinarily do, which is nothing but a Good Thing, :)

        2. sunshine842 Dec 7, 2013 06:08 AM

          I have one sitting in my pantry to try -- I think it's a pretty brilliant way or someone to try a dish they wouldn't ordinarily try -- buying an entire jar of a spice to use 1/4 teaspoon gets expensive, especially if you find you don't like the dish!

          For camping or a vacation home, they're spectacular -- buy or pack that, instead of a dozen individual jars.

          I'd forgotten I had it...I'll have to get it out and try it.

          1. h
            Hobbert Dec 7, 2013 11:41 AM

            I got a variety when they were on sale. I've taken them to cook dinner at an unfamiliar kitchen and they're quite tasty. The reaction here seems to be to turn up one's nose at them but I'm not sure why. There's a recipe. The spices are included. You buy the rest of the protein/veggies/whatever and have at it. I keep a list of the spices I have in my cabinet (cuz I'm cool like that) on my phone but I still gave them a shot. Them make a perfectly good meal.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Hobbert
              foodieX2 Dec 7, 2013 11:47 AM

              I did the same last summer-they were more than half price. I brought them to our summer rental and it's was great. I usef the rosemary chicken one, and some kind of chicken paprika one as well as one for fish.

              Yes expensive on per piece/weight basis but as some else noted a lot less expensive that buying multiple jars.

            2. juliejulez Dec 7, 2013 12:37 PM

              I think they'd be helpful for camping. I might pick up a few in the spring when we start taking our camper out. I only have 2 cabinets in the camper so there isn't room for tons of spice bottles, and I won't have to buy tons of tic tacs to use the containers for spices :)

              2 Replies
              1. re: juliejulez
                sunshine842 Dec 7, 2013 12:56 PM

                get yourself a pill minder with the biggest compartments you can find -- no tictacs.

                I even use a pill minder when we're renting a vacation house abroad -- weighs next to nothing, and if I chuck it for space issues, I'm out less than $5.

                1. re: sunshine842
                  juliejulez Dec 7, 2013 04:40 PM

                  That's a great idea, I'll have to do that.

              2. t
                Tara57 Dec 7, 2013 12:43 PM

                The recipe / spice packets would be a good way to try out a new recipe for which you don't have the herbs and spices. If you like it, you save the recipe card and buy the full sized seasonings.

                1. greygarious Dec 7, 2013 02:12 PM

                  A previous thread on this product: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6660...

                  1. sunshine842 Dec 7, 2013 02:36 PM

                    Mostly I'm not sure why all the hate for these...it's not like it's goofy chemicals and artificial flavorings -- you still have to buy protein and vegetables and process them according to the recipe, which makes it not really all that much different than what most of us do every single day.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sunshine842
                      Hobbert Dec 7, 2013 04:24 PM

                      Yep. Cooking is a whole lot more than measuring spices and that's all these packets really eliminate. I think they're a bit pricey but I grab a few when they're on sale.

                    2. b
                      blackpointyboots Dec 7, 2013 04:04 PM

                      I always assumed these were for people who didn't know how to cook. Maybe these are a gateway drug to get people to cook. I could see the convenience of taking them camping etc. to save space.

                      I usually either grow & dry my own herbs, buy the giant containers at Costco or it is something obscure I had to go store hunting to find. I do really like the pill sorter idea. I may have to add that to my camping gear. That may eliminate finding ten year old spices stuffed in a camping box that was in the attic.....

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: blackpointyboots
                        westsidegal Dec 9, 2013 12:35 AM

                        <<the giant containers at Costco>> almost invariably ends up with the bulk of the spice actually getting used well after degradation.

                      2. pamf Dec 8, 2013 06:14 PM

                        From what I have seen of these, the spices are pretty basic, garlic powder, dried parsley, paprika and the like, so there is nothing exotic that you are going to learn from using these.

                        I believe they are about $2 each (when not on sale), so that's quite a lot of money for a single use.

                        The convenience factor is there, but if you already have spices, you could easily portion out baggies or make a spice blend for camping and trips before you leave home.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: pamf
                          sunshine842 Dec 8, 2013 06:38 PM

                          the one in my pantry at the moment is Chicken Tikka Masala. Plenty of non-basic spices there.

                          1. re: sunshine842
                            westsidegal Dec 9, 2013 12:37 AM

                            AND the spices used in Chicken Tikka Masala taste so much better when they're fresh.

                            1. re: westsidegal
                              juliejulez Dec 9, 2013 01:04 PM

                              You're assuming one can get fresh spices. Many people live in places where getting fresh spices is pretty much impossible unless you mail order. I know if I was trying out something for the first time, I wouldn't want to mail order in a spice that wasn't something I'd use at least somewhat often.

                            2. re: sunshine842
                              tardigrade Dec 9, 2013 11:00 AM

                              One person's basic is another's exotic. The main influences in my kitchen are Mexican, Italian, and Indian, so my spice collection leans towards ones used heavily in those cuisines. Spices used in other cuisines - dill seed or star anise, for example - I tend not to have on hand.

                              One store I frequent carries bulk spices, so I can buy as much or as little as I'm likely to used while they're still fresh.

                              1. re: tardigrade
                                westsidegal Dec 9, 2013 11:10 AM

                                i. too, will favor stores that carry bulk spices so that i can buy just the amount that i can use up in a short period of time.
                                also, for those spices that i do keep in my pantry, i label them with the date of purchase before putting them away.

                                (cayenne pepper that is two years old doesn't look very different from two month old stuff, but it TASTES very different.)

                                1. re: tardigrade
                                  sunshine842 Dec 9, 2013 04:52 PM

                                  I live in a metro area of well over 2 million people -- there's not a store that sells *fresh* bulk herbs and spices to be found.

                                  (there's a few that sell stale straw-like substances, though)

                                  They're sealed in a blister pack and sealed with foil -- the chances of them degrading is considerably lower than the chances of stuff out of a bulk bin heading over the hill.

                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                    westsidegal Dec 9, 2013 05:28 PM

                                    in your situation ( which sounds like what i experienced when i was living in sacramento) i'd probably expand what i currently do with my Penzey's spices:

                                    i have a sharing arrangement with my next door neighbor and with my roommate.

                                    the minute the spice comes in the door it is divided into portions for each of us.
                                    with three people/families using it, we actually can consume it fast enough.

                                    1. re: westsidegal
                                      sunshine842 Dec 9, 2013 05:35 PM

                                      there's not really any way to say this other than to just say it -- my neighbors and family are good cooks, and they would be the first to agree with me that they wouldn't have the first idea of what to do with most of the contents of my spice cabinet.

                                      That's not arrogance -- they're food-is-fuel folks; I'm not.

                                      1. re: sunshine842
                                        westsidegal Dec 9, 2013 05:43 PM

                                        most folks in the world seem to be like this.
                                        for me, the worst heartbreak is that it looks like my 23 year old daughter, after growing up on a wide array of really good food, may end up like the rest of them. . . . .

                                        1. re: westsidegal
                                          sunshine842 Dec 9, 2013 05:46 PM

                                          they do really well with parsley, basil, thyme, and cinnamon -- there's no shame in a well-roasted chicken or roast.

                                          but fennel seeds? Curry? No idea.

                                          No worries...we are what we are, and if your daughter has learned to feed herself and her loved ones from her kitchen, you've won, regardless of what she chooses to make.

                            3. Kajikit Dec 8, 2013 07:55 PM

                              They're very basic spices... I think they'd be useful for travel or camping so you didn't have to cart a spice cabinet with you, but you really don't need them if you have any kind of 'real' kitchen at your disposal.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Kajikit
                                westsidegal Dec 9, 2013 12:38 AM

                                guess you don't cook ethnic foods very often. . . .

                                <<They're very basic spices>>

                              2. h
                                HillJ Dec 9, 2013 05:28 AM

                                There was another thread about this product when it first came out. At the time, I hadn't actually used them. But I've since found these pre measured seasoning packets to be an excellent add in to a gift basket.

                                1. a
                                  autumm Dec 9, 2013 10:11 PM

                                  I personally feel they aren't a bad concept, especially from the marketing stand point. I have most of the herbage/spices in my cabinet where for home use I'm not interested, but for traveling they could really spice up /enhance a meal. We tend to travel with couples who want to cook in the rented accommodations but don't want to pre-plan foods, so these would be perfect for those situations. For camping, we tend to go with a small bottle of Montreal Steak seasoning for almost everything savory.

                                  Or do the best of both worlds, read and take notes on the recipe and use your own flavor augmentation at home.

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