Yesterday I confessed to using a popular cooking shortcut, the no-cook lasagne noodle, and the fact that though it always fails to delight my tastebuds I keep going back to it. I think this happens to a lot of people, with a variety of products designed to make life in the kitchen easier. Lots of them do work, of course, but some of them don't - or at least not to the extent that the time saved is worth the inferior result.
I can't think of any more time-savers offhand, but I do know that I am almost always disappointed with substitute products for authentic exotic ingredients. If you don't live in a huge, cosmopolitan city like I do, you probably don't have a choice but to buy Mr Woo's Generic Stirfry Sauce (or some other subsitute product from the tiny 'foreign foods' section). That's unfortunate for you, but so long as you've never tasted the real thing I suppose you don't notice the difference.
When I first moved from my the city where I grew up to a small town in the Maritimes, I was shocked at how little choice there was at the supermarket. No bok choy in the produce, no fresh jalapenos, no spices more exotic than dried basil. I suppose there was an Oriental section - if Mr Noodle pots count as Oriental. Other than that, it was a pretty meat 'n' potatoes kind of place. Which is great if you like meat and potatoes. Every day. But I don't and I don't think it's too dramatic to say I nearly died from lack of variety. Yes, I'm sure that was the cause of my walking pneumonia, and not, you know, life at university.
Any products you love that save you time? Any decent substitutes? Any products the rest of us should avoid? Comment please. Especially you people from Russia who are on this site 10 times a day (who are you?) - though with my moniker you probably think I'm some sort of 'special bride service'. I'm not.