Thursday, June 23, 2011

An Ode to Store Brands

I'm sure that by the title of this post, you probably thing I am going to launch into a jaunty tune about store brand items.  And I might, at another time.  But first, I want to tell ya'll a story.

Once upon a time, after years of thinking my dad was crazy for buying "generic" potato chips and macaroni and kleenex, I ventured out into a world in which I was responsible for buying my own groceries.  At first, I tried to cling to name brands despite the fact they were rapidly draining my rather meager bank account.  Also, I was shopping at Wal-Mart, where I assumed that I was getting items for the best price possible.  Then I got tired of going to Wal-Mart.  I mean, who wants to constantly park 12 miles away from the door, only to battle a kajillion people once you get inside?  I missed my neighborhood grocery store back home, so I decided to start trying to shop at my local supermarket instead of Wal-Mart.  Plus, I really like sticking it to "the man" when I can.

I was a little concerned about the toll this would take on my wallet, but I was more concerned with the toll that continuing to shop at Wal-Mart would take on my sanity.  I was walking up and down the aisles, amazed at the fact that I was not completely frazzled and that I was actually enjoying myself.  I picked up a box of Nutri-Grain bars...but alas!  They were not Nutri-Grain bars!  They were STORE BRAND granola bars.  They had truly tricked me with the packaging (a far cry from the somewhat embarrassingly blatant black and white generic packaging from my childhood).  I decided to try them...and I've been hooked ever since.  I'm sure that the Barefoot Contessa would frown upon this, as she is constantly encouraging people to buy the best products possible...but clearly I don't live in the Hamptons.  And with the economy the way it is, isn't it nice to save a few bucks when you can?


Here are a few of some of my favorite store brand items (I shop at Harris Teeter):

- fruit and grain bars (apple cinnamon)

- frozen whole wheat waffles (I can't tell the difference between them and Eggos)

- Thin Wheats (you guessed it - Wheat Thins!  and I think they actually taste better)

- cinnamon toast crunch (why is cereal so expensive?)

- shells and cheese (call me crazy, but they are better than Velveeta)

- peanut butter

- shredded cheese (the italian six cheese blend is delicious - think Chicken Parm)

- pre-sliced/pre-packaged deli cheese

- breadcrumbs

- spices (italian seasoning,cinnamon, oregano, basil, etc.  I am still a sucker for Montreal Steak seasoning though)

- toilet paper


Put your big girl (or boy) pants on and try some store brand items.  You might really be surprised at what you find!  I haven't found any good store brand soap products (laundry or dishwashing detergent), so if you have something to share, let me know!  I actually save more money this way than I ever did at Wal-Mart, which feels great.  It's the little things in life.

And they all lived happily ever after!

Baked Chicken Nuggets

I heart chicken, in case you hadn't noticed.  I've always been a bit of a picky eater, and now I live with another picky eater.  Sometimes it's hard to make things that won't weird her out.  I'm always happy with what I perceive to be "kid food" - pizza, macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, etc.  So last night I decided that I was in the mood for some "real" chicken nuggets.  I thought briefly about going to Chick Fil A, but I decided that I was too broke (sad but true) to do that.  So I busted out some chicken I had in my freezer, and the rest was delicious history.


3 whole boneless chicken breasts

1 cup plain breadcrumbs

1 to 2 tablespoons garlic salt (to taste)

2 teaspoons dried oregano



Cut the chicken breasts up into 1 inch cubes.  Put the cut up chicken into a bowl and cover with milk (I used 2%, but I'm not sure it matters).  Mix together breadcrumbs, garlic salt, and oregano.  Take a few pieces of the chicken at a time and toss in the breadcrumbs.  Place breaded chicken pieces in a glass baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Don't worry if the pieces touch each other in the dish.  Once all the chicken is in the baking dish, spray the top of the chicken lightly with cooking spray and cover with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 35-40 minutes.

**I dipped my nuggets in honey mustard, but they are delicious plain, too!