The quality of your ingredients will definitely affect the quality of your meals. And while you may be able to get away with certain common ingredients for every day cooking, if you want to step it up for certain meals, you’ll have to find fresh, high quality ingredients for your recipes. You’ll definitely be able to tell the difference in your cooking.
Fresh, high quality ingredients don’t necessarily have to be expensive, although you may pay a bit more than the normal processed supermarket fare. Of course, if your sources include local farmer’s markets, co-ops and the like, you should be able to negotiate prices, especially if you are a regular customer.
One of our favorite places to shop on a Friday evening is a local indoor market called Booth’s Corner that is a combination of farmer’s market, thrift market and regular retail space. The shopkeepers include both traditional organic farmers and Amish farmers who select items direct from their farms. Gourmet chefs and health food distributors also sell their wares. At this market, one can buy everything from Limburger cheese and quail eggs to dried apples and fresh broccoli.
We have made weekly shopping trips there a ritual, where we purchase everything from meat to snacks for the week.
Farmers markets and gourmet markets are popping up everywhere, including in large cities. They are usually a good source of fresh high quality food. Cities also usually have ethnic markets, where you can not only find exotic ingredients, but you can find them for good prices.
If your area doesn’t have the benefit of farmers markets or ethnic shops, it might be worth your while to travel a little bit out of your community to stock up on the ingredients that you need. Usually, word of mouth will tell you where the best locations happen to be. Ask friends who live regionally or go online into forums where you may discover a few favorites direct from the locals.