July 15, 2013
I'm a cheapskate, but sometimes I will buy the name-brand. Bounty paper towels, for example. And Jimmy Dean Original Pork Sausage Links, mostly because they don't use soy fillers (I've got nothing against fillers, but they don't agree with me).
It doesn't hurt that they taste great. In taste tests, Cook's Country rated Jimmy Dean precooked sausage the best, even over homemade.
When it comes to rice, the store brand (Western Family) and Botan (a California brand from JFC) stay within a dime or two of each other. Nishiki is JFC's premium brand, premium enough to advertise heavily on TV Japan and charge twice as much as Botan.
The Botan is definitely better than the store brand. Out of curiosity, I sprang for a bag of Nishiki. It tasted the same as the Botan.
A rice connoisseur would blanch at the sight of my 30 year old National rice cooker. Maybe a modern model (with digitally-controlled induction heating coils) would make a difference. But I'm not upgrading anytime soon, so I'll stick with the Botan.
There are times when I prefer instant long-grain rice (laziness being one variable, "mouth-feel" another). Comparing the store brand and Minute Rice, the latter is slightly better and only slightly more expensive. And the Minute Rice box is less flimsy.
While it won't overcome pure price considerations, decent packaging can push a purchase over the top.