Is It Ever Okay To Pull Off A Store-Bought Dish As Your Own?

“Don’t be a poser.”

Southern Living Southern Style Potato Salad in a bowl to serve with two glasses of sweet tea behind

Dotdash Meredith

“Store-bought is fine!” rolls off a Southern host’s tongue as easily as “just bring yourself!” But is store-bought actually fine? It’s not always so clear-cut. According to our readers, store-bought is more than acceptable in the case of Publix potato salad. Among the Southern Living editors, our discussions over showing up to the potluck with something you didn’t make yourself led us down one dicey road that caused plenty of eyebrows to raise: Is it ever okay to pull off a store-bought dish as your own?

Though many matters of etiquette are murky, the unanimous answer in this case was a resounding “no.” Running by The Pig for some grab-and-go fried chicken is fine by us, but fibbing about where it came from is never acceptable. 

“Don't lie. If you're going store bought, just own it,” says Senior Digital News Editor Rebecca Baer. “It's perfectly okay to go store-bought, but lying is a no-no.” 

Business Manager Nellah McGough agreed: “Lies always catch up to you sometime or another!” 

And in some cases, that little white lie could be extremely harmful. We heard one anecdote of a guest having an allergic reaction to a dish at a gathering. When they tried to locate the source of the allergen, another party goer had to fess up that their dish was not homemade, and they didn’t read the ingredient list before throwing the package away. Yikes! 

What our editors also unanimously agreed upon is that store-bought really is fine—if you’re honest about it. It’s perfectly acceptable to swap a plastic container for your favorite serving bowl (as long as you know what’s in it, per the cautionary tale above). 

“Everyone gets busy, so I think they will understand if you own up to it!” says Senior Social Media Editor Brennan Long. “The presentation and personality that you bring with it can make all the difference.” 

Whether that’s rehoming your favorite Publix bakery item to a glass cake stand, garnishing some Piggly Wiggly mac and cheese with fresh chives, or putting those prized Chick-fil-A nuggets on your own melamine tray, there are plenty of ways to make store-bought items feel celebration-worthy.  

“I 100 percent agree on owning up to your store-bought contribution, but I also think it's nice to re-plate said item in a fun casserole or serving dish,” says Senior Homes and Features Editor Betsy Cribb. “Just because it isn't homemade doesn't mean it can't be served with a thoughtful presentation!” 

Senior Food Editor Josh Miller echoed the same advice: “Dress it up in your best dish, arrange it artfully, garnish it with something fresh—but don't be a poser. We will yank your Southern card in a heartbeat. Your heart will not be blessed.” 

Consider your heart warned. 

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