10 Prepared Foods Southerners Would Never Buy At The Grocery Store

You won't catch these items in our carts.

No one is above a shortcut. We recommend using store-bought piecrusts, chicken stock, and barbecue sauce in our recipes all the time. We do draw a line, however. There are just some things that are better homemade, or even semi-homemade, rather than purchased prepared at the grocery store. Now, if you have a great local deli or market, they might be making excellent versions of prepared foods. In larger grocery store chains that’s just not always the case. We’ve asked our editors, based across the South, to weigh in. These are the foods they would never (unless absolutely desperate) buy prepared at the grocery store

Prepared Foods at the Grocery Store

Getty Images/ Julien McRoberts

Sweet Tea

Store-bought sweet tea is not on our grocery lists. “It’s basically simple syrup with brown food coloring,” says Kimberly Holland, Senior Food Editor. Although sweet tea can be found in just about every grocery store across the South, nothing tastes as good as the fresh brewed stuff


Whether potato, pasta, tuna, or chicken, prepared salads are all off the table. Often gloppy, overwhelmed with mayo, and lacking flavor, it’s best to go with homemade. Coleslaw also suffers from the same pitfalls when purchased premade from the store. A coleslaw kit is a better way to save time without sacrificing flavor. The one exception to this rule? According to Assistant Homes Editor Cameron Beall, it’s Ingles chicken salad. Even as someone who is against most prepared foods, she stands by the product.  

Deviled Eggs 

This was a unanimous no. Several editors were appalled by the idea alone. It’s homemade or nothing when it comes to deviled eggs, but if we're talking just hard boiled eggs, the team was split. Some liked to have them on hand, and others couldn’t fathom not boiling eggs themselves. 

Pimento Cheese Spread

Now, we’re not above buying pimento cheese at the grocery store. We even did the hard work of sampling popular store brands to find our favorite, but pimento cheese and pimento cheese spread are not the same thing. Beware of the word ‘spread’ slapped across anything passing itself off as pimento cheese. Products labeled ‘spread’ are often fluffy, overly sweet, and some are even slightly pink. They also don't tend to contain real cheese. That’s a hard pass. 

Red Velvet Cake

We love a good Publix cake with cream cheese frosting, but some cake flavors are best homemade and red velvet is one of them. This cake requires a fine balance of enough food dye for a vibrant interior without making the cake taste artificial. 


While cornbread mix is an acceptable time-saving choice, buying the pre-baked stuff from the bakery section is another story. The ready made cornbreads are often dry as a brick. Plus, you miss the best part of enjoying cornbread: Eating it warm straight out of the oven. 

Mashed Potatoes

With a grainy, almost sandy texture, these potatoes just can’t stand up to homemade. It takes a lot of additional cream and butter to make these spuds palatable. If you’re already adding all sorts of things to make them delicious, you might as well put on a pot of water and make them from scratch. 

Mac & Cheese 

Hot bar macaroni and cheese is just plain unacceptable. Dry, congealed, and with soggy noodles, it fails on all fronts. If you're tight on time or oven space, turn to our Classic Make-Ahead Macaroni And Cheese instead. 


Don’t be tempted by the deli sandwiches sold in plastic clam shells, the cold bread and sad cold cuts are not worth it. Sandwiches are best made fresh. “With the exception of Publix subs (because they're made FRESH right in front of you), I don't believe in buying premade sandwiches,” says Betsy Cribb, Home and Features Editor. 


It’s tempting to grab this dip for a snack spread, especially as it doesn’t go brown as quickly as fresh, but it also tastes like the preservatives needed to ensure it stays green. “Wake me up when they've discovered a way to hide the taste of all the preservatives,” says Meghan Overdeep, Senior News Writer.

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