What Ina Garten Really Means When She Says ‘Store-Bought Is Fine’

Ina Garten is known for her Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and her popular Food Network show. The domestic goddess loves “good” ingredients, and often tells her fans that “from time to time, store-bought is fine.” What does Garten really mean when she says her signature line?

Ina Garten speaks onstage during a talk with Helen Rosner at the 2019 New Yorker Festival on October 12, 2019 in New York City
‘Barefoot Contessa’ star Ina Garten | Brad Barket/Getty Images for The New Yorker

Ina Garten has a few store-bought ingredients that she always keeps on-hand

Garten makes all of her dishes from scratch, relying on fresh ingredients from her incredible garden. But there are a few store-bought items that she always keeps on hand for when she needs to cut corners.

The Barefoot Contessa told The Food Network that it’s a waste of time to “make your own mayonnaise.” Instead, she says to “just buy good mayonnaise.” And her go-to brand is Hellman’s. When she’s making a dish like Eggplant Gratin and needs “good” marinara sauce, Garten turns to Rao’s.

“I mean, by the time you cooked the eggplant, sliced all the ingredients, and assembled it, who wants to start making marinara sauce?” Garten asks.

‘The Barefoot Contessa’ says store-bought pesto is a great shortcut

Another store-bought ingredient that Garten always keeps in her kitchen is pesto. The Food Network star says she uses it “in so many ways, like Winter Minestrone. She adds that “it’s fabulous on open-faced mozzarella-and-tomato sandwiches.”

One of Garten’s favorite store-bought items she keeps stocked in the kitchen is pound cake. She says you can make your own, but asks “why would you?” She advises to “get the good stuff,” and says that store-bought ice cream and sorbet make it easy to create her Raspberry Baked Alaskas.

What does Ina Garten really mean when she tells her fans that ‘store-bought is fine’?

When Garten tells her fans that from time to time, store-bought is fine, she doesn’t mean it’s okay to pass off an item you bought at the store as your own. Instead, she’s trying to save you time in the kitchen and making it clear that not everything has to be made from scratch.

“When I say ‘store-bought is just fine,’ I’m not talking about going to the grocery store, buying really bad birthday cake, and claiming that you made it yourself,” Garten explains. “What I am saying is you can use ingredients from the store, like a pound cake or vanilla ice cream, that are just as good as homemade.”

‘The Barefoot Contessa’ always has white truffle butter in her freezer

While talking with the Food Network about the store-bought ingredients she loves, Garten admitted that she’s obsessed with white truffle butter. Her favorite brands are D’Artagnan and Urbani Truffles.

“It really turns up the volume on everything from simple scrambled eggs to elegant fettuccine,” Garten explains. “I order like six of these and keep them in the freezer.”

Some of Garten’s recipes that feature white truffle butter are Truffled Scrambled Eggs, Fettuccine with White Truffle Butter and Mushrooms, Ina’s Truffle Butter Roast Turkey, and Truffled Mac and Cheese.

Ina Garten suggests making three specific ingredients at home

There are some exceptions to Garten’s “store-bought is fine” rule. The Barefoot Contessa suggests that three specific ingredients should always be made at home. Once she discovered how easy it was to make fresh ricotta cheese, store-bought was no longer fine.

Garten also recommends grating your own Parmesan because it’s fresher and has a better texture to it.

“I actually always grate Parmesan myself, because when you buy it grated, you have no idea what you’re getting,” she explained. “It could be something like Parmesan, and you want the real thing.”

The final ingredient she prefers making at home is breadcrumbs.

“This is one of those times when homemade is better than store-bought. Store-bought breadcrumbs are dry and (homemade) have much more flavor and much more crunch,” she says.

The Barefoot Contessa airs Saturdays on the Food Network.

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