Quality ingredients

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How many times has this happened to you? You go to a restaurant for a nice meal out with your family and you notice an insert in the menu touting their deal of the month. Let’s just say it is a steak dinner. The picture on the insert looks amazing. The steak looks thick and juicy with perfectly seared grill marks forming beautiful, black diamonds. The accompanying baked potato and vegetable medley looks like they have been expertly prepared with just the right amount of butter and seasoning. Then you see the price . . . no, that can’t be right. $8.99 for a 14 ounce sirloin? Surely that’s a misprint and it is really $18.99. So you ask your server about it and sure enough the price for all that food is only $8.99, plus it comes with a salad. Well, isn’t it your lucky day, you think to yourself. You decide that this is just a deal that can’t be passed up, so you order it. Immediately upon ordering it, you feel the slight twinge of buyer’s remorse, but chalk it up to the fact that you forgo your favorite entrée. The salad arrives and it is an okay salad. There are a couple of brown pieces of lettuce, but nothing that can’t be picked around. You finish the salad and then your main course arrives. You look at the plate that is placed in front of you and immediately begin to wonder if this is what you ordered. The sorry piece of meat that is on your plate looks nothing like that thick, juicy steak that was pictured on the menu. The veggies aren’t bright and vibrant like they were in the picture either, they’re drab and limp and look like they’ve been sitting under a heat lamp for about twenty minutes. You decide to just dig in and hope for the best, but as soon you do you realize that there is no saving this meal. The steak is chewy and doesn’t have the rich, meaty flavor that you’d expect from a sirloin. But you’re in a hurry so you suck it up like a trooper and eat what you can. Then you pay your bill and leave unsatisfied.

I think that’s probably happened to you, if you’re anything like me. I’m a sucker for a deal. But let’s think about this for a sec. How in the world can a restaurant offer full steak dinner for $8.99? That’s right, they don’t use quality ingredients. I’ve worked in the food service industry and you’d be surprised how cheaply you can get things if you look hard enough and aren’t concerned about how they taste.

So what am I getting at here you ask? Well basically I’m extolling the virtues of using quality ingredients in your kitchen at home. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should buy all your groceries at some high end grocer. However, in order to have a finished product that is as tasty and healthy as you had planned, it is very important that the ingredients that you use are high quality. This is especially true when it comes to your meats, produce, and spices. I don’t know if you have ever taken the time to compare the quality of meat that you can get at a discount grocer with that you can get a local butcher shop, but take my word for it, there is a huge difference between the two. Sure the big, discount store’s meat may be cheaper, but you’re going to be giving up a ton of flavor and quality. The same goes for produce. I would much rather buy locally grown produce from a produce stand than go to a big, discount store because the quality difference is huge. This difference in quality will significantly affect the quality of your finished product.

Finally, make sure you’re using spices that haven’t been sitting in the cabinet for a couple years. I know that sometimes I struggle with that because I hate to throw anything away, but the longer your spices have been sitting in your spice cabinet, the less flavor they will actually deliver. So in order to get the truest flavor from your spices it is important to buy quality products and to use them in a timely manner.

I’d love to hear from you about what products that you absolutely will not sacrifice quality on. Do you have a story about a time when the quality of a food product surprised you? Feel free to comment and let us know!





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