No matter how hard I try to convince him of the value and quality of house name brands, Nate always goes for brand name items. “Brand name is just better,” he contests. “They've proven themselves over time.” I'm on a constant mission to show him otherwise (some of his old favorite standbys have already been replaced with less expensive house brands), so I decided to do a little experiment and have a blind taste test with chicken and rice casseroles: one composed of brand name items, and one made with house brand goods.
I headed to Smart & Final with the little guy, since Smart & Final makes my favorite house brand items of any grocery store. I actually got Nate to agree to replace his favorite Tillamook with Smart & Final cheese years ago! If I can get him to conceded to that, I know he'll eventually open his mind to all the other great house brand options out there. In the meantime, I'll just keep sneakily swapping out groceries when he's not looking.
For my chicken and rice casserole, I pitted Smart & Final boneless skinless chicken breasts and long grain rice against Tyson chicken breasts and our household standby, C&F rice. I used the same cream of broccoli soup and spices throughout the whole casserole. The ingredients for the brand name dinner were about $2.50 cheaper than the brand name overall, and I think the Smart & Final packaging even looks better. Look at that tasty chicken!
- 1 cup uncooked white rice
- 1 can condensed cream of broccoli soup 10.75 ounce
- 1 7/8 cups water
- 4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1/2 Tbsp thyme
- 1/2 Tbsp rosemary
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
Cut uncooked chicken into bite-sized pieces.
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and spoon into a greased casserole dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1-1.5 hours or until browned.
This chicken and rice casserole recipe is ridiculously easy. You just chop the chicken into small pieces and combine everything in a bowl before cooking. That's it.
I cooked both batches of chicken and rice casserole ingredients – the brand name ingredients and the First Street ingredients – in one dish. That's the brand name stuff closest to us (which oddly seemed to brown more) and the Smart & Final First Street brand over on the right-hand side.
Declaring a chicken and rice casserole brand name winner
I left this as a truly blind taste test, giving Nate a serving from each half of the casserole without explaining what I was doing. He didn't even bother asking why he had two distinct helpings of dinner…not that I often hear complaints about serving too much food. When I casually asked which half of his plate was better, he looked a little baffled. “Huh? Is this some blogging thing again?” I asked him to humor me, please. “The left seems more flavorful…did you put more rosemary or something in it?”
Can you guess which one he ate? Yep, that's the Smart & Final First Street brand that he devoured on the left, and hardly touched the right side. Ignore the excessive Tabasco sauce – Nate claims that my food isn't spicy enough lately as I've been suffering massive pregnancy heartburn and toning things down a bit. But this recipe even wasn't meant to be spicy! Next time, I would consider adding a little cheese and onions, and maybe topping it with some bread crumbs. Either way, I'll definitely be serving this chicken and rice dish with my house brand winner (and saving some cash while I'm at it).
Check out the #SFTasteTest party! If you're over on Pinterest, A Little Bite of Life is hosting a fun party through September 19th. Share recipe ideas and learn about awesome First Street products…and, get the chance to win a $500 SmartCash card. You could host your very own chicken and rice casserole teast test for the entire neighborhood! While you're at it, check out more recipe ideas over at community.smartandfinal.com.
I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Smart and Final #CBias #SocialFabric #SFTasteTest. All opinions are my own.