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We try to eat a varied and nutritious diet, we really do. But we don’t always have time to head to the farmer’s market or to prep and chop a million vegetables before a busy week. That’s why we’ve started to really appreciate products that make eating healthy food easier, from containers of diced mirepoix at Trader Joe’s that make building a flavorful base for dinner a cinch to those little packages of pre-sliced apples that our kids love so much. But not all of these convenient produce products are actually as high-quality as their whole counterparts, and it can actually make a difference in the the recipes you’re cooking.

Erica explains why you should forgo that bagged kale and opt for bunches instead! #TikTokTaughtMe #TikTokPartner #kale #howto #foodscience #kitchenhacks

♬ Aesthetic – Tollan Kim

According to the experts at America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated on TikTok, one common prepared ingredient that you’re better off skipping is pre-chopped bagged kale.

Courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen.

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There are a couple of reasons why they recommend buying bunches of kale instead of bags of pre-chopped kale, and they make a lot of sense. For one, the pieces of chopped kale in the bag are usually fairly uneven in size, which means that they won’t cook evenly. For two, the leaves are cut crosswise, so if you want to remove the stem, you have to do a lot of tearing. It’s much easier to just remove the stem from a full leaf of kale before chopping it into even pieces. There are even handy tools that strip the kale from the stem for you.

Courtesy of OXO.

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Last but not least, you’re paying for convenience, but not quality — up to 50% of a bag of pre-chopped kale is stem instead of leaf.

What are some exceptions to this rule? We think if you’re making something that will be simmered for a long time, like Portuguese kale soup, a stew, or a braised kale dish, then bagged works just fine. The kale needs to be cooked enough for the stem to be tender, which means the green part might get extra-soft, but in many traditional recipes that texture is desired.

The other exception is dishes where kale will be blended, like in a green smoothie, blended soup, or pesto.

Otherwise, save yourself the money and buy bunches of kale instead of the bagged stuff. You might even save time, once you realize how much easier it is to get rid of the stem in a whole leaf of kale versus cutting it out of many small pieces.

In search of more summer recipes? Giada De Laurentiis has plenty:

Watch: How to Make Watermelon Mango Salsa

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