Who hasn’t heard this before?? To me, it’s always been relative to larger purchases, such as cars, electronics, etc. So, where does food fall into this category? Is the vanilla sold at Williams-Sonoma for $12 better than the vanilla sold at Target for $4? So many brands and varieties of tomatoes when you’re at the grocery store! Really, how do you choose?
Honestly, in most cases (I have to leave that opportunity to correct myself later – ), price really has nothing to do with it. At least, flavor. Just because the vanilla costs more doesn’t mean it tastes better. It may mean it’s fresher, pays their employees more, etc, etc. All which can contribute to a great product! But, in the end, you’re buying food for flavor, so ignore the label vs. cost factor. For instance, when you’re purchasing vanilla, stick to the basics : REAL vanilla. Walk by the imitation junk and get the real stuff, regardless of the brand. That’s one thing we have the U.S. Government to thank, they do regulate the amount of of vanilla beans in real vanilla, so the brands won’t vary too much in flavor. In freshness, yes–so, do pay attention to expiration dates.
When thinking about tomatoes, I don’t worry about cost, either. I worry what they’re packaged in! I’d much prefer tomatoes to be packaged in ripe tomato juice, with no junkie spices added. To me, when their are spices spiced added, it usually means they were trying to get rid of some less-than-prime tomatoes. Don’t get the ones packed in puree, either. The puree will carry a metallic flavor and add a heaviness to the tomatoes that will contradict the dish.
Most importantly, and this is my own personal soap box, try your darndest to avoid anything with corn syrup, or at the very least, high fructose corn syrup. If you are an over-the-counter pasta sauce purchaser, keep a close eye on this. Many OTC purchases have corn syrup in them, which is a company’s cheap way of using sugar. Ironically, some of the more expensive brands may be using it. So, KitchenNut advice – read the label! :) If it sounds yummy, then your product has a higher chance of tasting good.