Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Nacho Showdown! #SFTasteTest + a Chance to Win!

My friends over at Smart & Final asked me to try out another one of their First Street products and do a comparison with the brand name version. I've always found first Street products to be of great quality - and they have a money back guarantee if you don't like them - so I was in. And when I found out I'd be trying out chili with beans - I got even more excited. Instantly, I decided we had to make nachos. I don't have nachos that often, but boy do I crave them like crazy sometimes.

To make this even more fun, my hubby and I decided that we'd each make a pan of nachos - one with First Street ingredients and one with brand name - and have our friends judge them in the now infamous Nacho Showdown of 2012.

First, we headed off to Smart & Final to do our shopping. They were all set up for Labor Day party shopping - which was exactly what we were doing.

I was in charge of First Street ingredients and he was in charge of brand name. So we went around gathering our ingredients:

First Street roundup - $5.27 for chili, sour cream & shredded cheese
Brand name equivalents - $6.27 (would've been $7.27 if the sour cream hadn't been on sale)

You can check out our full shopping trip - including a picture of hubby actually smiling while shopping (a rare sight!) - HERE.

Before we did the taste test & Nacho Showdown, I moved all of the branded ingredients to separate containers and labeled them with just numbers, so no one would know which was which:
(We both used the same chips & salsa, as we couldn't find First Street versions.)

Then hubby & I did a taste test comparison of just the chili itself so we would know what we were working with for ingredients. (Well, I didn't tell him which brand was which - hee hee). First, the First Street Version:
We agreed it was nice & meaty and the beans were firm, not mushy, which made it seem "fresh." It was pretty mild, though, in terms of spices. My only minor gripe is that I had to use a can opener to open it up, whereas the Hormel had a pop-top. Yup, sometimes I'm lazy ;-D

Next up the Hormel:
The sauce here was thicker and there was more kick to the flavor - but there wasn't as much meat and the beans were on the mushy side. Hubby was able to guess this was the brand name due to the spices.
However, we both agreed the First Street Version was a better base to start with because of the quality of beans and the "meatiness." Plus, when serving a crowd, it's sometimes better to go on the milder side. You can always add more spice (like yummy jalapenos) but you can't take it away!

So that was the chili all by itself. But how would they stack up in the nacho showdown? We packed up all the ingredients and headed over to the party at our friend's house. While a bunch of our friends gabbed & hung out on the patio, we took over the kitchen and set to creating our masterpieces.
 We layered chips, chili, salsa, cheese & jalapenos
First Street on the left, brand name on the right (I numbered the pans to keep track of them - otherwise it would've been a disaster!)

Into the oven for 10 minutes and voila! Nachos are served:
First Street still on the left, brand name on the right

The comments started rolling in... #1 had a little kick, #2 had a richer flavor, you could taste all the ingredients in #1, "they're both good" and so on... Finally, we called for the final vote to see whose nachos would reign supreme. And the winner is...

It's a TIE!
So there you have - the First Street chili easily held its own against the brand name - as did the other First Street ingredients. Yet more evidence that you don't have to compromise taste & quality when you save money with store brands.
But Smart & Final doesn't just want to save you money - they want to give you money! That's right, they've have a Pinterest Party going on right now where you could win a $100, $300 or even $500 Smart & Final SmartCash gift card!
Check out all the details at

Find out more about Smart & Final and all of their great deals by following them on Twitter and Facebook.

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias All opinions expressed are my own.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

Looks great! Store brands are a great way to save money on the family food budget!