Food Network's Sandra Lee: 'No way' smart shoppers should buy generic

This Sunday evening, Food Network star Sandra Lee appears as a volunteer on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and she'll be pitching in to collect something she knows a lot about: canned foods.

Lee has crafted a mini-empire out of her DIY advice that teaches people to take economical shortcuts with pre-packaged foods. Her expertise runs from gardens to drapes -- she helms two Food Network shows, Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee and Sandra's Money Saving Meals, a magazine (Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade), and three recently released books, Weeknight Wonders, Money Saving Slow Cooking, and Cocktail Time. And, of course, on ABC this Sunday, when she helps re-make the lives of some dedicated community volunteers.

In a video chat with WalletPop's Jason Cochran, Lee talks candidly about her youth spent on food stamps and working in food banks with her grandmother.




She also comes out against the purchase of many generic branded products, claiming that if consumers took the time to compare the labels side-by-side with more expensive brand-name goods, often "there's no way" they would hesitate to spend more on the fancier label.

She also dispenses some of her unlikely cooking tips. For example, when should you use jarred minced garlic, and when would it behoove you to make your own straight from the bulb? Also, with the holidays approaching, which cocktail is she recommending people use for their family toasts (here's a hint: Carrie and Samantha would drink up).

Lee's clever cooking shortcuts have raised the scorn of fresh-food proponents such as Anthony Bourdain, who has attacked her as "Hell Spawn of Kathie Lee" with "death-dealing, can-opening ways."

Don't miss the end of the chat, when Lee asks Jason to extend the interview for a minute so she can go out of her way to deal a blow against the so-called "foodies" who look down their noses at her.

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