It’s Only Garlic, Not the End of the World

I love making food completely from scratch. 100% homemade cuisine makes me smile. Nothing tastes or smells better than homemade bread fresh from the oven. However, I don’t always have time to whip something up from basic raw ingredients. Other times, it’s just more economical to use a mix or something prepackaged.

I forgot onions and garlic when I was grocery shopping a few days ago. I plan to make more salsa this weekend, and they are key ingredients in my favorite recipe. So, I stopped at the store to grab them on my way home from an appointment. I only purchased a handful of items including two jars of minced garlic.

I took my small purchase up to the cashier who I think of as “Talkie” because she’s always talking. She took one look at my minced garlic and said, “Oh, garlic for those who are too lazy to mince it themselves.”

I was completely taken aback and more than a little insulted. I tend to be a bit assertive at times, and I informed her that I’m not too lazy to mince the garlic. I actually enjoy doing that. I find satisfaction in squeezing the cloves through my garlic press. However, the minced garlic in the jar is cheaper than the bulbs available in the store. The jars also stay good much longer. I don’t waste any of it, and there is no discernible taste difference in the food. It’s a complete non-issue. Now, if I was roasting garlic for something special, that would be a different matter entirely.

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She wasn’t finished though. She informed me that she’s old fashioned and likes to do things the right way. She’s made snide little comments to me before. She recently sneered at some protein packs containing cubed chicken and cheese that I bought. She told me that I could make those myself much cheaper. I’m well aware of that fact. In that case, I bought those packs because they are handy and easily eaten in the car while driving to work.

Talkie is a prime example of the judgmental people who believe there is only one right way to do things. There seems to be stigma attached to using canned, jarred, dried, prepackaged or boxed ingredients. Fresh ingredients are always best if they are available, in season, and reasonably priced. However, it’s often more economical to use cake mixes, processed jars of herbs and spices, jars of spaghetti sauce, cans of vegetables, store bought loaves of bread, cans of biscuits, and boxes of macaroni and cheese.

Case in point, I make birthday cake for everyone in my building on their birthday. One of my coworkers requested red velvet cake. I had all of the ingredients required except red food coloring. I went to the grocery store, and was appalled when I realized it would cost $6.00 to purchase the food coloring. I’m nobody’s fool. I bought a red velvet cake mix for $1.44, and saved my ingredients for something else. The cake was completely consumed by quitting time. My coworker was happy. Not one person said to me, “Gosh, this isn’t very good. You must have used a mix.”

Don’t ever be ashamed of using a mix, can, jar, or box. There are many reasons for using such things. You can even buy salsa mix that isn’t too bad. I’ve used it in a pinch when I had an overabundance of tomatoes, but nothing else required for salsa. It was much cheaper to buy the package of mix than all of the veggies I needed. If you are cooking with love, then you are doing it right.

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