In the Pantry: What Not to Buy at the Grocery Store

You may have purchased shredded cheese, dried herbs, or instant rice because it was convenient, but did it really taste that great? Do you have any of these flavorless and costly items on your shopping list? Here are four types of groceries you shouldn't be buying and bringing home.

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Convenience foods - Chopped vegetables cost more than buying the whole onion or head of lettuce. Pre-diced onions can cost three times more than whole onions. Pre-grated cheese can become flavorless, since it's unknown when it was actually grated. Minced garlic loses its authentic flavor and becomes slimy. It's just as easy to mince, chop, or grate these items yourself.

Suspicious seasonings - Good salt has a clean flavor, but classic iodized salt does not. Pre-ground black pepper does not have the same flavor as fresh ground peppercorns from a mill. "In the Pantry" host Aida Mollenkamp says, "These are black pieces of food confetti." Likewise, dried herbs don't have the same flavor as fresh herbs, and if you don't use dried herbs often, the herbs will become stale. Tip: Store fresh herbs in water (like flowers) to make them last longer.

Great pretenders - The biggest offender is imitation syrup. It just doesn't come from trees like authentic, pure syrup. Using margarine instead of butter when cooking is another mistake, since it does not act or taste like butter. Some margarines may even have unhealthy trans-fats. Because it's unknown when it was made and seems to last forever, canned parmesan is another food item that remains a mystery.

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Instant foods - It's OK to graduate from instant foods, like noodle mixes, potato flakes, and instant rice. Boil potatoes and then mash them later when it's convenient, or spend the extra time to make your own noodles, so you don't sacrifice nutrition, texture, or flavor.

For more cooking tips and tricks, check out host Aida Mollenkamp's book, "Keys to the Kitchen."

More on Shine:

When to splurge on pantry staples
Must-haves for a well-stocked pantry
Pare down your pantry in 30 minutes or less