By Bon Appétit
We promise: spend a little extra on these items and it will make a world of difference to your cooking--and your happiness. No joke.
When picking up chicken, buying organic makes a difference. Not only are you avoiding consuming antibiotics (gross), but the flavor is far superior. "That old saying 'it tastes like chicken' means is tastes like nothing," says Bon Appetit Deputy Food Editor Janet McCracken. "This tastes like chicken should taste."
From Whole Foods: About $5.00, whole chicken, uncooked
From Food Emporium (non-organic): Chicken: $3-5, about .88 per pound
Read More: 28 Delicious Thanksgiving Side Dishes
2. Olive oil
Put some money towards the primo stuff for finishing dishes--not for cooking them. There are so many good ones on the market, but one national brand that McCracken likes that's not even that expensive is Columela. It's important to keep in mind that olive oils can range from tasting buttery and mild to being pungent and peppery, and the only way to know what you prefer is to taste them. So, cook with a cheaper oil that's mild and finish--meaning drizzle it on meat or pasta once they're plated, or on a salad--with the more expensive oil. Whether it's buttery or peppery is up to you.
From Whole Foods: Columela 17 0z: $18.85, 365 Organic Olive Oil 33.8 oz-$12.99, Lucianna Olive Oil 17 oz: $17.99
From Food Emporium: Colavita 25.5 oz-$20.99, Bertoli 25.5 oz- $18.49
We're getting into heavy baking season, and you want to really taste the butter in those cookies. If you fork over some extra dough for the good stuff--Kerrygold and Plugra are two European brands that are fairly ubiquitous in the States now--you'll be sure to taste butter "instead of just 'some fat' in the background," says McCracken.
From Whole Foods: Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter, 8 0z, unsalted-$.599, Plugra-$5.94
From Food Emporium: 16oz-$4.99
Read More: 25 Ways to Use Sriracha
Buy organic, and you'll see that vibrant gold yolk instead of a pale yellow. You'll also taste the richness of it. You'll taste the difference between the yolk and the white, too, instead of just eating "egg" flavor. Seriously, the difference is huge. Cook an organic (preferably farm fresh) egg next to a non-organic one and prepare to have your mind blown.
From Whole Foods: dozen-$5.19
From Food Emporium: Puglsis brand-$2.79
5. Olives If your market has an olive bar, check it out. If not, look for oil-cured olives or olives in brine, not the canned stuff packed in water.
From Whole Foods: $9.99 per pound
From Food Emporium: Jar of Kalamata Olives-$5.99
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By Bon Appétit