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Ina Garten reveals which store-bought foods are actually fine

Is it really OK if we're not making our own pasta sauce? Puff pastry? Butter infused with the tears of virgin Dutch milk maids?!
NBC, Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

We've always wondered if Ina Garten really means it when she assures us that "store-bought is fine." Would she herself actually ever make something from scratch?

Like, is it really OK if we're not making our own pasta sauce? What about puff pastry? Butter infused with the tears of virgin Dutch milk maids?!

As it turns out, she actually, really, truly means it. While promoting her most recent cookbook, she sat down with TODAY Food and confirmed that store-bought is, in fact, fine. Sometimes, it's even preferred! She even — dare we say it? — serves her dinner guests store-bought foods, like salted cashews and heirloom cherry tomatoes. But not every store-bought food is created equal. For example, commercial mayo is great, but chicken stock — not so much.

So, here's how the Barefoot Contessa really feels about the following foods:

Puff Pastry

Store-bought is more than fine. "Don't even bother making it yourself. It takes forever," she said.

Vanilla Extract

Store-bought is fine. "Okay, I make my own vanilla extract, but store-bought is really good, as long as it's pure vanilla extract."

Chicken Stock

Store-bought is meh. "I really prefer homemade chicken stock, but if you absolutely have to, just make sure it doesn't have a lot of salt in it."

Marinara Sauce

Store-bought is fine. "Of course it's always good to make it yourself, but I find Rao's is fantastic, so store-bought's good, too."

Rao's Meatballs with Marinara Sauce

Grated Parmesan

Store-bought isn't great. "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."


Store-bought is fine. "Actually, homemade jam is really good, and sometimes it's not hard to make, but store-bought is really good, too. So, whichever you like is fine."

Quick Blueberry Jam


Store-bought is meh. "You can buy frozen lemonade and make it yourself, or you can squeeze fresh lemons which is always better. And it's so easy to make."


Store-bought is arguably better. "It's very complicated to make yourself, and store-bought is just fine. I use Heinz."


Store-bought is definitely better. "It's not so hard to make yourself, but I don't know, I think Hellmann's in the east and Best in the west is fantastic."

Chocolate-Chip Cookies

Store-bought can be fine. "If you have a really good bakery nearby, you can buy them from a bakery, or you can make them yourself. There's nothing like hot cookies coming out of the oven. It makes the house smell great, and you have fabulous cookies."

Nut Milk

Store-bought. Period. "Because I wouldn't have a clue how to make it."

Peanut Butter

Store-bought is fine. "You can make it yourself, of course, but the stuff you buy from the store, or a health food store, it's so good — why bother?"


Store-bought can be fine. "It's one of my favorite foods. I love good soup. I always make it myself, but there are a few places you can buy really good homemade soup." She would never, however, buy canned soup.