Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Perfect Un-Foodie Schwag

I love the goodies the postman brings me! Most recently, I had New Media Relations representative Charlie Kondek ship me a whole slew of stuff from the Loblaw sub-brand label No Name. If you live in Canada, you'll know the brand by the vibrant yellow labels and low price. No Name products are available at all the Loblaw-owned outlets: Atlantic Superstore, Dominion (Newfoundland & Labrador), Extra Foods, Fortinos, Loblaws Ontario, Loblaws Quebec, Maxi, No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, Your Independent Grocer and Zehrs.

Funnily enough, in this time of "organic" this and "locavore" that, and amidst the "anti-packaging" tirades, I find myself becoming less and less of a "brand" foodie. When it comes to most items in my daily regime, in fact, you are more likely to find items in my pantry that are either purchased en masse from Bulk Barn or encased in the bright yellow packaging of the No Name label. Now I can see all you organics fans out there rolling your eyes and/or cringing at the thought of store label ingredients in the cupboard, but I have to say that more often than not these days the cheap brand on the shelf is exactly the same (and in some cases, better) than the elitist labels.

A case in point is a major element in my diet since becoming vegetarian - canned beans. In all honesty, at first I did shell out (and made Andrew pay half at the time we were living together... sorry hon!) for Unico and Primo, as well as the occasional Eden indulgence. I know that $1.30 may not seem like a lot of cash (and really, compared to meat it isn't) but when it's every day x 7 days a week, and you have no income (more like all outcome... being a university student and all), the 99¢, same sized can is a lot more appealing to the wallet. A couple cans in the cart later I was sold - not only were the No Name beans a better texture, there was more of them (i.e. less "filler" liquid) and less salt. There is now (no word of a lie) a whole shelf in our pantry lined with assorted cans of beans. *Note: I know it's cheaper to cook your own, but really - I am much too lazy for that. I barely make my own soup anymore*. Almost all my "pre-bagged" (i.e. not Bulk Barn) herbs and spices are No Name label too - why not, for the same product, and cheaper? Until I started using so much of it that it was more economical (and convenient) to buy 20kg bags of it from Costco, I also used their brand of flour, and I still prefer their cocoa powder to Hershey's.

So, what was in that package sent to me, you may wonder... well, in one of those handy foil "keep cool" baggies (stuck inside a handy re-useable shopping tote!) was a brilliant assortment:
  • Ground coffee
  • Meat lasagna
  • Frozen blueberry waffles
  • Unsweetened applesauce
  • Frozen honey-garlic chicken wings
If you know what my diet's like these days, you're probably wondering what I would do with most of this stuff... everything but the applesauce is a no-no to this ol' body of mine! Well, I did what any good person with excess food would - I gave it away! Mind you, I did ask for opinions in exchange, but I'm still waiting on everything but the waffles. The verdict on those, by the way, is that "[t]hey're like Eggos, so good, for frozen waffles. Good with maple syrup". The applesauce is the kind I always buy - and I'm glad they sent me the unsweetened kind too since I find any sweetened applesauce TOO sweet (not to mention leftovers are great in baking!). If you want to jazz up the applesauce - any applesauce - stir in a couple spoonfuls of raspberry jam. Heaven!

Of course, there are a few things that I don't buy "store brands" of, even when I have the option. All the canned tomatoes I buy are brand name - not top of the line brands, but the No Name tomatoes are a wee bit water-logged and metallic tasting for my preference. No Name dry pasta also bites the proverbial dust with us since it goes too mushy too fast, and the low-fat yogurt is too soupy and "sweetened" tasting. Pretty much everything else of theirs is A-OK with us, though. The label actually stopped producing lemon juice (and I go through a litre a week in my tea alone!) a few months back - can you believe it? Now I'm stuck shelling out $2.50 for the ReaLemon stuff (or more for the actual fruit - and there's only so much lemon zest I can use/freeze!). Boo!

Anyways, mucho thanks to Loblaw and Mr. Kondek for the goodies... I for one am enjoying the applesauce with breakfast and everyone else is loving the rest of the schwag!

P.S. This just in! Febreze has partnered with Canadian House & Home to produce a set of tips for freshening the home. You can see those tips here and enter a contest to win a trip to Toronto and a home decor shopping spree:http://www.houseandhome.com/febreze/


  1. Haha, at least half the stuff in my pantry is no name/store name or practically no name brands too. Except for a few things I can't get in no name (like fire roasted tomatoes and black turtle beans) we don't have much of a problem with it. Except cereal. I can't speak for the US but Aussie homebrand cereal is usually akin to chewy cardboard.

    Glad you enjoyed your applesauce!

  2. You mean they just called you out of the blue and offered to send you stuff? WOW. How does one get so lucky?! I love PC products, no name or not and use them a lot. It's amazing how many DO meet my dietary restrictions (though only the applesauce out of these for me, too).


Thanks for the feedback!