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Things lots of people buy and I don't understand


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#1 Fat Guy

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 08:33 AM

I'll start:

Those little plastic packets you put in the dishwasher instead of liquid or powder detergent.

Self-rising flour.

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#2 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 08:44 AM

I'm with you on self-rising flour. Also, cake mixes, premade empanadas, and watermelon-flavoured aguardiente.
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#3 cdh

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 08:47 AM

Dishwashing packets? Not on my radar, but if they work, who cares. Powder, goo or elsewise, whatever gets the dishes clean and doesn't etch the hell out of the glassware is fine.

Self rising flour? There are recipes that call for it... so people buy it. Flour + baking powder + sufficiently accurate scale + sifter is more work than picking up a box of Bisquick.
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#4 adey73

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 09:03 AM

Self raising flour is a prerequisite for Sticky Toffee Pudding.

When outside Blighty it's difficult to find and a faff to reproduce.
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#5 Jon Savage

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 09:09 AM

Ready prepped Mirepoix @$4 /lb. That is just silly.

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#6 Darienne

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 09:13 AM

Canned gravy
Bisquick
Bottled salad dressings. Mostly they taste horrible and it's a breeze to make.

These pop into my mind.
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#7 Fat Guy

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 09:41 AM

I guess, looking at these first few comments, there are a lot of consumer products that are combinations of other products and the selling proposition is that if you buy this thing at more than the cost of the components you don't have to mix the two other things. I suppose in some cases, where the mixing is time-consuming or requires a lot of components, that can make sense. I wonder what percentage of people using, for example, self-rising flour realize that it's flour + baking powder + salt and are making an informed choice about saving the time and inconvenience of mixing and what percentage just use (and pay) for it without knowing.

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#8 Shel_B

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 10:17 AM

Ready prepped Mirepoix @$4 /lb. That is just silly.


Not if you're in a hurry, or if you just want to make something easily. Sometimes I'm just not in the mood to chop onions, carrots, celery, etc. What's wrong with making life a little easier sometimes?

That said, I've never purchased or used a ready prepped mirepoix, but I have used other prepped ingredients.

.... Shel


#9 mkayahara

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 10:17 AM

Those little plastic packets you put in the dishwasher instead of liquid or powder detergent.

I buy these! I find them more convenient than measuring out the powder, and I don't have to worry about accidentally overpouring. They're probably more expensive, but I figure they don't go bad, so I tend to stock up when they're on sale.
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#10 andiesenji

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 10:26 AM


Those little plastic packets you put in the dishwasher instead of liquid or powder detergent.

I buy these! I find them more convenient than measuring out the powder, and I don't have to worry about accidentally overpouring. They're probably more expensive, but I figure they don't go bad, so I tend to stock up when they're on sale.



I buy them because I don't have to have two bottles of liquid - the regular one and the "no streak" or whatever that one is.

My dishwasher came with a generous sample pack of the combination ones and there are always coupons available that make them cheaper than even the generic dishwasher liquids when you add in the cost of the second liquid that has to be added every 6 washes in my machine.
"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett
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#11 SylviaLovegren

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 10:27 AM

Self-rising flour.


Lots of southern recipes call for self-rising flour. It's just one of those things people got used to using and the recipe doesn't come out quite the same if you substitute the separate ingredients. So why not?

Frozen green beans, limp and leathery and tasteless. And canned boiled potatoes (I was served these at a relative's house, along with homemade sausage, fresh off the vine tomatoes, and minute fresh corn on the cob. All this beautiful fresh delicious food with canned potatoes. No.)

Also, scented "air fresheners" which smell horrible and induce an instant allergic headache.

#12 Fat Guy

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 10:31 AM

Just looking at some prices online.

Self-rising flour does not appear to cost appreciably more than regular. On Meijer's website it's US$2.99 for a 5-pound bag of Gold Medal all-purpose and $3.29 for Gold Medal self-rising. A 30-cent difference is not a big deal, though you can get flour much cheaper if you buy 50 pounds at a time.

The price of those plastic packets seems radically higher per ounce than equivalent dish liquid, though if Andie says there's savings to be had on the rinse agent or whatever else comes in the packet then maybe there's something to look at there.

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#13 gfweb

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 10:47 AM

Looking at it from a different angle...

PopTarts, SlimJims

#14 Fat Guy

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 10:52 AM

I recently tried a SlimJim for the first time in forever and couldn't believe how bad it was.

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#15 annabelle

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 12:22 PM

Were you sober? SlimJim's = Drunk food.

#16 Fat Guy

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 12:26 PM

I would need quite a few in me to find one edible. Maybe not even then.

So, I think we have so far two categories of things that get mixed reactions: 1) items where the selling proposition is convenience, and 2) items that a lot of people think just taste bad.

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#17 Carlovski

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 12:32 PM

I started a rant about pre-chopped veg once, until somebody mentioned that a relative, who had arthritis found them a godsend as she could still cook despite not being able to chop comfortably (A butcher will cut meat to order for you - a greengrocer doesn't!). Made me feel quite bad!
I'm sure 90% of sales aren't for these reasons, but I'm glad they are available for those who need them.
Jarred tomato sauce I don't understand, pre-made pasta sauces aren't things I buy in general, but I can sort of understand you might not have all the ingredients in for a puttanesca for example, or wouldn't use anchovies or capers for anything else, but a plain tomato sauce?
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#18 annabelle

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 12:36 PM

Do you mean pasta sauce or plain tomato sauce such as would be used in a pasta sauce? I don't have a problem with people who like jarred pasta sauces; you can dress them up, toss in some meat and veg. My son uses them a lot since he works crazy hours. As for pre-chopped veg and fruit, I think that's okay too if you live alone or are arthritic or just have crappy knife skills or knives.
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#19 andiesenji

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 12:36 PM

I buy self rising (or raising) flour because I have a few old family recipes that don't seem to work as well if I use the alternative. I do NOT ever use self-rising cornmeal...

Self-raising flour was actually invented in England in the middle of the 19th century and became a staple on board ships where the chemical ingredients in the flour were more stable than separately because of the high humidity.

In the U.S. it first became popular in the southeastern and seaboard states and in Appalachia because here too it was more stable than the separate ingredients and the flour itself, usually made from soft wheat, was sifted more times during the manufacturing process, so was "lighter" and finer.

This became a staple in southern kitchens and until recent years, the favorites (White Lily, Martha Washington, Red Band) were always found in those regional kitchens.

The current crop of big brand self-rising flours made in the U.S. are not made from soft wheat, have more gluten than those that are no longer available and don't produce the same results.

Hudson Cream self-rising flour is available at Walmart. It is quite good.
I order Odlums self-raising flour, a product from Ireland. It is exceptional.

Edited by andiesenji, 14 April 2012 - 12:42 PM.

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#20 annabelle

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 12:38 PM

Self-rising flour is stocked right next to the all-purpose flour here. I don't buy it often since I don't make a lot of hot breads.

#21 Carlovski

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 12:45 PM

Tomato pasta sauce - my issue is apart from the fact that it's no more effort really to cook down some tinned tomatoes is that they tend to be over sweet, too homogenised and gummy in texture. Unfortunately the economic argument doesn't stack up though - you can buy jars of sauce cheaper than a decent tin of tomatoes.
I used to use them a lot when I was a student living in college - can keep them in a drawer and cook with a single pan on an electric ring!
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#22 Shalmanese

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 01:10 PM

Purely decorative items placed on countertops. To me, countertop real estate is precious and hard fought and you can never have enough. It kills me to see people cooking in the area the size of a paperback book because the rest of the counter is stuffed with trinkets they got on vacation.
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#23 andiesenji

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 01:42 PM

Purely decorative items placed on countertops. To me, countertop real estate is precious and hard fought and you can never have enough. It kills me to see people cooking in the area the size of a paperback book because the rest of the counter is stuffed with trinkets they got on vacation.



I do so agree with you. I happen to have yards of counters but there is nothing purely decorative on any of the. Everything is there so it is handy for use. It may look like a bunch of junk but to me it is necessary for the way I cook.
"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett
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#24 ElsieD

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 02:02 PM

Canned mushrooms.

#25 Raoul Duke

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 02:04 PM

Tomato plants in March? Them suckers are just gonna croak. You southern locale folks are exempt.
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#26 Snadra

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 02:28 PM

I love those dishwasher tablets - especially the ones that come in dissolvable wrappings. No mess or stickiness or measuring needed. We tend to stock up when they are on sale because they are more expensive than powder or liquid, but they really do give a nice clean.

I don't understand cheap supermarket sausages that come in two flavours: thick or thin (although they can be acceptable eaten outdoors and served nearly burnt with lots of onions in a bit of folded white bread). Actually, a lot of my things are meat-related: premade rissoles and burgers, pork 'spareribs, that are sliced like thick rashers (how do you cook them?), gravy beef (ditto), and marinated meats. The last always tastes so chemical to me.

As for cake mixes, I understand them, I just don't bother with them as they seem to be nearly as much work as a quick cake from scratch, and more expensive.

Also, we don't have it here, but Cool Whip. Never understood that stuff.

#27 Raoul Duke

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 02:51 PM

Snadra - the cool whip is used for holiday desserts when all the ammo is hidden and the in-laws won't leave.
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#28 annabelle

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 03:36 PM

I thought Cool Whip was kosher?

#29 GlorifiedRice

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 04:57 PM

If something is available to me in powder form Ill buy that when given a choice.

People complain about the lack of clean fresh water on this planet and water shortages, but did you know that in areas
where bottling plants are, the levels of the lakes and streams drop?

Next time you go to the Costco and the 7-11 take note of the sheer amount of liquids that are on the shelves.
In each Costco the amount of liquids that are in containers on shelves alone could fill 5-6 swimming pools.
That is water removed from our lakes, streams and ecosystems...

so Id say

Unnecessary Liquid Detergents
Smart Waters et al
Spray Candy and its ilk marketed to kids
Wawa Sizzli FTW!

#30 annabelle

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 05:16 PM

I like liquid detergents and bottled water. Our well is really mineral heavy and it doesn't taste good to me, so I buy distilled for me. Everyone else and the dogs get tap water since they don't mind it.