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Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten often recommends using store-bought ingredients when you’re short on time or when a prepared food is just as good as the homemade version. Jennifer Garner once shared a recipe hack to save time but noted, “Don’t tell Ina Garten.”

Jennifer Garner at the HBO series premiere of Camping on October 10, 2018
Jennifer Garner | CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images

Jennifer Garner is a huge Ina Garten fan

Garner has adored Garten for a long time and the two became fast friends when Garten was filming her Barefoot Contessa cooking show in California.

“Somewhere along the line I found out that she liked my cookbooks and my TV show, so I asked if we could cook together,” Garten shared with People in 2018. “She was very sweet, she invited me to her birthday party. It was all girls in swimsuits — it was so Jennifer! It was so fun and not fancy, which is what she’s like.”

Garner originally hoped to get on Garten’s cooking show but was denied the opportunity.

“I know somebody who is a friend of hers, and she says she’s going to get us together,” Garner told W magazine in 2010. “I tried to get on Ina’s show. I tried to use my, well, you know … I say, use what you have to make the world better or for yourself!”

She continued, “But eventually she just said, ‘I’m sorry, I only use my real friends on the show.’ I felt like, What are you saying? That we’re not friends? I know everything about you!”

Jennifer Garner recommended a cooking hack she didn’t think Ina Garten would approve of

In a 2018 Facebook post, Garner shared a go-to Martha Stewart recipe for soup and she shared a time-saving cooking hack that she wanted to keep a secret from Garten.

“I’ve been making this Martha Stewart recipe for years — the roast lemon chicken alone is enough to make you sing!,” she explained at the time. “You can dress it up (homemade stock) or make it in a hurry (broth from a box — don’t tell Ina Garten!), whatever you do, this recipe is a sure thing.”

She shared the recipe for the roast lemon chicken soup as well as photos of her preparing it through the different stages. It was unclear if Garner had used homemade stock or took the shortcut with a boxed broth.


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Ina Garten prefers homemade chicken stock

In a 2019 segment for the Today show, Garten weighed in with her recommendations for store-bought or homemade foods. In some cases, she shared, store-bought does the trick just fine. For instance, she prefers her own homemade vanilla extract but said you can get a good quality pure vanilla extract.

She also offered up her thoughts on chicken stock and Garner was right, the Barefoot Contessa has a preference for homemade. “I actually really prefer homemade chicken stock but if you absolutely have to, just make sure it doesn’t have a lot of salt in it.”

Garten gave her thoughts on other homemade vs. store-bought items and said that things like pasta sauce, mayonnaise, peanut butter, and ketchup can be bought. She always buys puff pastry because of how difficult it is to make it. “Don’t even bother making it yourself — it takes forever and store-bought is just great,” she noted.

One food that’s non-negotiable for her is grated parmesan, as she always gets a chunk of it and grates it herself. “I actually always grate parmesan myself because when you buy it grated you have no idea what you’re getting — it could be something like parmesan and you want the real thing.”