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Fine, we are snobs. We don’t condone cheating. Cheating is basically cooking like Sandra Lee, using mostly store bought ingredients, like seasoning packets, bottled marinades and chemical “lime juice.” Not that we preach organics (although local is key) nor do we expect that the mayo in your dip is made from scratch. We do appreciate, if not demand, however, an attempt to create as much as possible in a dish.

Feel free to share your readymade hatreds or embarrasing short-cuts

Major Offenders:
Instant Rice
French Onion Dip Mix
Can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
Pre-made Marinades
Spice blend packets
Sandra Lee
Pie Crust, but only if you boast – this pie is homemade
Kraft Singles

You won’t be kicked off the Blog:
Marinara Sauce
Chicken Stock/Broth

28 Responses leave one →
  1. mariah permalink
    June 28, 2007

    Wait. I love Sandra Lee. She makes me feel like I can actually cook without getting overwhelmed. That, and I’m obsessed with how skinny she is and yet has enormous breasts.

    Rachael rae sucks.

  2. VA Hostage permalink
    December 19, 2007

    ok, obviously you all don’t have kids. Sandra Lee is a recent discovery of mine and I love her show! Working full time and then coming home to have to fix dinner for 2 kids and spouse means taking short cuts. Period. Otherwise it would be take out everynight. And by take out, I mean Taco Bell, McDonalds or KFC. Choose your poison and your battles wisely!

  3. January 23, 2008

    Every casserole my mother has ever made has started with a can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup. That isn’t the sort of ish you can just whip up. If cream of mushroom is cheating, then why is chicken broth – which is much easier to make – excused?

  4. January 25, 2008

    The world works in mysterious ways young Timothy. Perhaps you are looking too hard at what is cheating and too little at what is not.

  5. January 25, 2008

    Yeah, whatever Mr. Miyagi.

  6. January 25, 2008

    Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup is basically a bunch of chemicals thrown together. Why can’t the cook just chop up mushrooms, fry up an onion with spices, throw in heavy cream and broth and call it a day. Total cooking time – under 45 minutes.

    Stock on the other hand takes hours.

  7. January 25, 2008

    I think my answer provided more insight.

  8. March 7, 2008

    Hmm… stock doesn’t have to take hours! I’m not a fan of Sandra Lee, but I think shortcuts- not quite like hers- are okay every once in a while..
    Also, to the VA hostage (?) – you’ve got to be kidding me. Half of her shortcuts actually take longer than doing the damn thing from scratch, and most of them contain excessive sodium or fat or hydrogenated badness and all that other bad crap. You’d almost be better off eating KFC since they don’t use trans-fats anymore. Hah. Rachael Ray may be annoying to listen to, but at least her 30 minute meals are actually quick and don’t force you to use all this pre-made crap (most of the time).

  9. Coonass foodie permalink
    July 8, 2008

    Both Rachel Ray and Sandra Lee are terrible although I look at Ray as the lesser of two evils like said before at least Ray uses decent ingredients its always amused me that she whips up decent meals faster than Lee without commiting nearly as many culinary sins……that said they both still suck.

    As far as I go Id have to say premade cake mix you can talk to me until your blue in the face about the chemicals in it and the quality of scratch cake but I will still say cake mixes make decent cake however store bought icings are still evil.

  10. Sean permalink
    July 16, 2008

    You’re all nuts. Store bought mayonnaise is as disgusting as homemade is good, while Mahatma and Vigo instant rice packets are tasty.

  11. JOKAH permalink
    January 10, 2009


  12. MaddBobbs permalink
    January 16, 2009

    Hold on, I am supposed to be making cream of mushroom soup from scratch? How do you cream a mushroom?

  13. January 24, 2009

    Jokah…are you in the DC area? Do you (or anyone else) know of any decent cooking classes where whole families can learn together? And by that I mean ones that are not at 9 am on a Tuesday so that whole working families can participate.

  14. westcoast permalink
    March 2, 2009

    There is no excuse for using a store bought pie crust. Especially the frozen sort…gross.

  15. March 17, 2009

    Instant pudding. Homemade takes the same amount of time. There is no excuse.

    I will confess that I never make brownies from scratch, because I can never get that perfect shiny crust on them. I spent a month and a large portion of my sanity trying to perfect a recipe, to no avail.

  16. anonymous permalink
    May 5, 2009

    I think that “cheating” depends on the actual ingredients being used yes? So stuffing the snobbery aside, if you do not have time to make cream of mushroom soup then an organic version already made would be acceptable yes? So rather than hate what Sandra Lee does (you know her /cheating/), why not hate the ingredients she uses since ultimately there should be more griping on that rather than “short cuts” But I suppose I can be seen as looking “too hard” on what is cheating and what is not. XP

  17. June 20, 2009

    I feel lucky I don’t share the angst since I don’t make anything that requires cr/mushroom fresh or canned … and you will find no cake mixes, cornbread mixes, brownie mixes in my pantry … I think my wife hides the bananas so they will over ripen and I will make a banana nut bread … but I cheat on two items … taco spice packets and chili spice packets for a winter meal in 15 minutes, yes it’s makes me feel cheap … so is the kitchen pantry the new medicine cabinet for secret peeks.

  18. Erin permalink
    June 22, 2009

    I must admit that I make most things from scratch (yes, even creamy mushroom soup), but I LOVE the onion soup dip made with the packet.
    And the Pillsbury pie dough that you unroll into a pan isn’t bad at all when you put jam on it, fill it w/fresh stuff, etc.

  19. June 23, 2009

    I think those people who say “but..but…I have kids!!” miss the point. Smokers know that smoking is bad for them, and choose to accept that. We too, as cooks, should know the difference between good foods and bad ones. And if there comes a time when we get home at half past six and the little ones need to be in bed shortly after seven, we can toss together some tater tots, green beans, cheese, and cream of mushroom soup, and nobody from ES is going to show up at our house and beat us. But when all is said and done, we should be aware that we cheated and know that Sandra Lee’s show might have a purpose, but it’s hardly worthy of the Food Network. (Though I’d rather watch her than another d@mn episode of “Unwrapped”)

  20. Deb Tostado permalink
    August 17, 2009

    Does using bottled chopped garlic get you kicked off the site? I use packaged pie crust also, but only because the last time I tried to roll out a double pie crust I had a total emotional melt down and we’re still cleaning dough off the ceiling in the kitchen.

  21. Maids permalink*
    August 18, 2009

    @DebT – bottled chopped garlic will most certainly get an “ew” from me, but you might have a good defense as one of ES’s founders has a powdered garlic problem.

  22. Deb Tostado permalink
    August 21, 2009

    Thanks for the link, Maids. It sounds like jarred is more of a cheat than the powder, which really surprises me. I’m new here, so I’m going to keep looking through postings to learn even more.

  23. Lincoln permalink
    August 25, 2009

    So, I’m pretty new to this site and my friends give me a hard time because I rarely cheat in the kitchen, however there are definitely some guilty pleasures that I’m willing to address here and perhaps even plead a case for. Here goes one…

    Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Mix (ready to fire). The instant can is phenom, I could eat it by the spoonful, followed by some Tums perhaps, but it’s delicious.

    The Libby’s Canned Pumpkin (unspiced) by itself isn’t so bad either. My point is, most people aren’t about to sit down and peel pumpkin, stew it down, put it through a Chinois and then start with the pie or cheesecake or whatever the recipe. The fast version, rocking the pressure cooker, which most of my friends don’t even know how to operate is similarly slow.

    In this instance, I believe that it may be cheating, but in terms of pound for pound results, I dare you to compete.

    I hope this doesn’t get me banned from the site out of the gates, but I think Libby’s should be added to the list

  24. Matt permalink
    October 12, 2009

    Although I left the profession, I am still a trained Chef. I make my stocks and soups and can them. So, while they may not be store bought, I am still using prepared stock. I use spice rubs made from powdered seasonings. I never make my own ketchup, and I usually use Heinze 57 for a base to my weekend barbeque. A chef learns very early to use the right ingredients for the situation.

    That said, smoke flavoring…every time I see it I want to burn the display.

  25. Phil permalink
    October 21, 2009

    ketchup, mustard, mayo. thats it. and even then if you want a flavored mayo (aioli) then you gotta get your food processor, blender, or whatever out of the cupboard. cheater cheater canned pumpkin eater! lol. read all the posts..favorite was…”how do i cream a mushroom?” funny.

  26. kathrynwitte permalink
    October 27, 2009

    Where have you people been all my life?
    I propose a few “lifelines” as it were. Everyone could choose their own 3 cheats, be it jarred garlic, purchased canned broth, or jarred marinara (ew?), mayo, etc. We could still razz about our choices… Hello? Taco/ Chili seasoning packets? Puhleeze– super quick and easy to make yourself!
    I assert that Libby’s canned pumpkin is NOT a cheat, but their pumpkin pie filling is! Anyone with me, or do I stand alone on this?
    P.S. I’ll never say I don’t like to EAT cheats, just that I’m not proud of it!

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