14 January, 2011

McCormick's Recipe Inspirations

Here's an interesting item I found at one of the local supermarkets not too long ago:  McCormick Recipe Inspirations.  Aimed at novice cooks, each Recipe Inspiration blisterpack has six small portions of McCormick herbs or spices and a recipe card.  Buy the spice pack, buy the other ingredients listed on the recipe card, and you're on your way to a meal.

This seems like such a great idea, and such an obvious way to market to beginners, that I'm surprised that no one has ever thought of this before.  After all, spices and seasonings are kind of expensive, and they can be pretty daunting to someone who hasn't learned how to cook by apprenticing in the kitchen at mom's elbow.  At about $1.99 per package, Recipe Inspirations seems like it could be an ideal introduction to exciting flavors.

Yet still I wonder.  

Reviews around the web don't seem to be all that favorable - many of them note that the McCormick recipe cards call for using all the herbs and spices provided in the kit, but that the flavors are unbalanced or even too strong for the number of servings noted on the card.  There is an enormous amount of packaging involved with the seemingly-simple blisterpacks and none of it is reusable.  And then there is the seemingly paltry price of $1.99.  That two bucks only buys you 8g of spices, and they're all gone in one use - hardly as economical as it appears at first glance.  It seems to me that a beginner would be better off making a careful selection of bottled herbs and spices, spending some time smelling and tasting them, and then trying them out in a few unfamiliar recipes from a trusted favorite cookbook.  As the novice gains experience, they also gain a decent stock of herbs and spices instead of just a wastebasket full of empty plastic-and-cardboard bubbles.

That's a more costly approach, but herbs and spices don't need to be expensive (some will always be more pricey than others due to climatic conditions, the political situation in the countries of origin, difficulty of harvest, and so on.)  Many herbs and more common spices are available at dollar stores and job lots, and I can tellyou from personal experience that the quality is pretty good.  In addition, good-quality herbs and spices are often available inexpensively at ethnic markets.  And then, of course, there are money-saving online stores where you can order what you need if you don't mind waiting a short time for delivery.


Unknown said...

Dave- I've looked at these and wondered why?? I agree with your assessment but the only place where this could be useful is if you are renting a condo or a cabin and do not want to take a full jar along. Now, I will dispense what I need for my recipes in plastic reusable vials but I could see that this would be handy.

Anonymous said...

Nope, walk right past them. I use way too much to be messing around with these!

dale said...

I've seen these for a long time. I put them into the same category as pre-sliced onions, potato wrapped ready to back, etc.

Anonymous said...

Not sure where you are at but I found a product called Culinary Tonight at my grocery store in Texas. Great spices and they have wine reductions in them. I used the pork with balsamic and tuscan chicken with marsala. Love that all I had to buy was the meat and veggie. I added a salad and done!