Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sometimes the brand does matter...

Yeah, the title of this post almost makes me want to say, "Shallow. That is so shallow...", but in terms of canned food, sometimes the brand does matter. I was reminded of this last night, when I went about trying to add a "food storage meal" to my meal rotation. I have done ok adding in the rice and beans, but sometime last week, I thought about the fact that I am adding food slowly but surely to my food storage, but if I had only food storage to rely on, how would I really use it? So I made out a week's worth of meals that would use only food storage items, and some of the meals we have never tried before. They won't be eaten every day, but they will be eaten before we go long-term shopping again.


I have stored lots of soup--what I term "meal soups," that would stand on their own, or which could be easily supplemented with my one successful roll recipe (yeah, I have to work on the variety in that area) and many cans of the "cream of" soups, that in a rough spot could be eaten on their own, but ideally would be mixed in with rice or pasta at least. Tuesday was the last day of a sale that had Hormel items on sale for a good price, at least around here, so I picked up some Dinty Moore Stew. I had picked up some Dinty Moore Stew at a previous sale at the same store months ago, but we hadn't eaten any of it--it's a "meal" type that is easy to heat up, and I tend to guard those jealously--but they were on the menu plan for this rotation.

I had planned to use the stew in a little concoction that I labeled on the menu as "stew on potatoes." We have quite a bit of mashed potatoes in storage, so add water, stew, and heat, and everything should be wonderful. I was a little worried about this particular meal when it came to my husband, because I had tried "stew over potatoes" when we were first married, and it wasn't a big hit. In fact, my husband hated it. When he reads this he will say that he didn't hate it, but I knew enough to not make it more than once or twice. Thing is, we shopped at a grocery outlet type store at the time, which has since gone out of business, and we got our stew there. It was not Dinty Moore--it was another brand, and the "stew over potatoes" did not go over well.

When I got the recently acquired Dinty Moore Beef Stew home from the store, I saw that it had a recipe for shepherd's pie similar to this one. I decided to make it with a few alterations, and left off the cheese, which I found to be an unlikely addition in times of emergency. I also threw in a couple of baked potatoes that would be ready at the same time, a) because my husband likes baked potatoes b)I didn't know how filling the shepherd's pie would be, and wanted extra food if needed and c) I didn't know if my kids would like the shepherd's pie, and this would be something else to offer in the case things didn't go well.

Well, the food wasn't exactly pretty when it emerged from the oven, and my children weren't wild about that. I told them to just try it, and only one only "kind of" liked it. The others really liked it. My husband--drum roll please--said it was a "keeper" and gave it an 8 or 9 on a 1-10 scale. The baked potatoes weren't really needed, but they tasted good. So...sweet success.

My husband would have eaten it anyway, but the brand did make a difference in this case. Hence, my poll this time. I hope no one thinks that I'm terribly shallow, but little things in an emergency can mean a lot, and if you can get something that suits everyone tastes, why not? I only got the original cans of Dinty Moore because they were on sale. I only got the larger cans with the shepherd's pie recipe on them because they were on sale. (Now I wish that I had bought more...) Soups don't seem to make that big of a difference at my house, but with items like canned ravioli and spaghetti I will only buy one brand--the others seem too sweet to me. So I wait for a sale, and then I stock up. Canned items are handy in an emergency (remember to store a manual can opener with them) and can be used more easily if there is a loss of power, or as a comfort food. So my answer to my own poll question would be "sometimes." Well the cat's out of the bag for me--for the rest of you it's still anonymous... :)

If it came to the point where there were no sales, I would stock up on what I could afford, because we still have to eat. But knowing what tastes suit you and your family could make for less of a struggle when you need to use your food storage. No one here, and actually no one that I know of, works for Hormel or Dinty Moore. We sure do like their recipe for shepherd's pie, though... :)

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree with you--brands are important. But what's important is what your family likes, not which brand is made by the biggest company (which spends the most on advertising, passing that on to you, making it more expensive, etc.). We're not so picky about beef stew, but Nalley's chili is our favorite. As in, the other name brands just plain taste bad. After making the mistake of buying a few more well-known brands when they were on sale, I've stuck with Nalley's. (Strangely enough, generic store brands come in a close second with us!)

Marie said...

Anonymous--You make an excellent point--I don't think it matters which brand it is, as long as it suits your needs. I probably wouldn't have mentioned which brand I used, except that I did like the recipe, and I linked to their site anyway--although not exactly the same recipe as the one on the beef stew, it is pretty similar, and the beef one is really, really easy to prepare, with few ingredients.
We love Nalley's too! We have some stored down in the store room, and we actually like to mix the flavors sometimes. Might seem weird to some, but like you said, what's important is what your family likes... :) Thanks for your comment!

Anonymous said...

My wife is on a salt free diet( Our misspent youth has caught up with us) So We have to very careful what we buy in cans because most are loaded with salt, HOWEVER we have found that the "better" brands do have less because they use "better" ingrediants and don't need to cover up bad tasting food with salt...


Carl In wisconsin

The Scavenger said...

Funny you should post this today. I went to town today to pick up a few things that we were short on and I am famous for buying the cheapest brand they carry. Well I brought home store brand crackers and the war was on so to speak. They taste the same to me but others don't seem to think so. Thanks ok for now I guess. For long term storage in an emergency situation I think buy the brand that we know everyone likes is probably the best. When TSHTF it will be nice to have food that all enjoy, maybe more comforting. Great post.

Chris

Stephanie in AR said...

I extrememly rarely buy canned meals so the kids are so glad to have one it is slurped down. The picky ones seem to be the dh & me. I have resorted to telling them that I don't care for that entire item (O's for instance) than influence them. We did find out that one son does not care for any canned ravioli. I debate with myself - Canned meals are good for emergencies but hard on the budget so should we get them knowing that rotation will cause the kids to acquire a taste for the item OR just pack up plenty of good snacks instead (granola or whatever). Example O's: Kids don't ask for because they are not in the family radar, buy some & eat once in awhile for rotation, now they are part of the possible menu so let the nagging begin. Does that make sense? I could explain that they are for emergencies but am afraid of a child innocently saying "oh we don't eat that, it's only for our emergency bag/storage". I don't really want that publicity. It is nice to read what others like so if/when we buy we can avoid the awful ones.

Marie said...

Carl--That is an issue I hadn't thought of--thanks for bringing it up. I hope that everyone takes dietary needs into account, and gets the best possible items into their food storage--too much salt isn't good for anyone.

Chris--You're right--it's not just canned foods that people could get particular about, so I guess I should have been more inclusive in my poll question--guess I had stew on my mind. :)
Couldn't have said it better myself about familiar items in a crisis situation-- I would imagine that every little bit of comfort would help--down to familiar brands that you like to eat.

Thank you both for your comments--I appreciate your input.

Marie

Marie said...

Stephanie--I just caught your comment right after I finished replying to the others. You raise interesting issues, especially about the rotation, because you don't want to waste the food if you are fortunate enough not to have to use it. I understand your concerns, but personally, I would still have some on hand. Then, when it's about to expire, I might just take it out and "celebrate" some kind of accomplishment, and not make it about food storage. That way you could still use it without it being associated as a storage item--it would be more of a "celebration" item, so your children could then say that it's just for special occasions if they talk about it. Just an idea--thanks for your comment, and for making me think!

Marie

Jodi said...

Most of the time the store brand is cheaper and they taste the same to me. We will always go store brand unless it is one of a few particular items. I actually like great values (walmart) chili better than the expensive varieties. But Kraft mac and cheese HAS to be brand name. And I hate any other canned corn besides green giant. But all other veggies are fine with store brand. Also, if you use a strategic couponing strategy sometimes the brand names become cheaper than store brand, in which case I stock up on the brand name. Fun discussion!

Marie said...

Jodi--I don't recall ever having an issue with the canned vegetables--we just go with the least expensive brand, so we've been lucky that way. It is interesting that sometimes the national brand of a product will go on sale for a lot less, and sometimes even, you can get larger boxes (like cereal) for less if you are paying attention. Recently, I bought a huge box of a certain kind of cereal for $3.00 for my storage. The smaller box of the exact same kind of cereal was something like $4.50. So you make a good point--with coupons, and, I would add, if you make sure to check unadvertised specials, sometimes you can get a better buy than even on store brands. Of course, the point is to find what you like--more expensive is not always better.
It is fun to read everyone's thoughts on the subject--thanks for your comment!

Marie

hsjacobus said...

Great discussion on this! I'm with Carl on the salt part, but the occasional meal from a can is okay. Glad your storage efforts are moving right along and that your family is being supportive. Thanks as always for your kinds comments on my blog.

Marie said...

HSJacobus-- I am working on increasing my skills to use food storage like you do with your recipes from scratch, but cans help out until I'm more proficient at it. :) I'll be very happy when I'm more comfortable with just using the food storage as an everyday thing. You do make it look easier, so thank you, and thanks for your comment!