Q. What pantry items are worth spending a little more on than others? Which staples can you get by using generic versions? — Sherry, Greenville
A. There may be some readers who will not agree with my opinion when answering this question. I hope we can still be friends! There are very few consumers that can always buy the best of everything – it just isn’t fiscally reasonable for most of us. So when should you spend and when should you save? I feel you should spend when buying spices. Spices impact almost every dish you make, and there is a big difference. Some commodity spices like sugar and salt don’t significantly impact the finished product (salt is salt), but with dried herbs and spices, buy up. Another area is meat, poultry and seafood. Buy the best meat you can afford, keeping in mind what you are making with it. Tough cuts of meat like pork hocks and beef shanks can be turned into fabulous finished products, but the meat department is probably not the first place to save money. So where can you save? Almost anything dried or canned. Although I am brand loyal to products like Bush’s Baked Beans, items like pasta, rice, chili sauce, dried peas, diced tomatoes, frozen vegetables, etc. probably don’t make all that much difference. Of course, I still hear about the generic toilet paper I bought 12 years ago!