Skip to main content

Why you should never buy shredded cheese at the store

Grated cheese isn't that hard to make anyway

Shredded cheese
Zan Ready / Flickr

It’s one of those things that’s become so normalized that we don’t even consider it a convenience item anymore. Cheese comes grated. That’s how we often use it, so that’s how we buy it. End of story. But there was a time when cheese didn’t come in a convenient zip-top package. Until 1958, when Sargento first shredded some cheddar and put it in a bag, we had to do the hard work ourselves. Now, those convenient bags of shredded cheese come in every size, in countless cheesy varieties, making homemade enchiladas and casseroles easier than ever. Unfortunately, though, as with most things, that convenience comes at a cost — even grated cheese.

Cheese section at the grocery store
AlbanyColley / Pixabay

It’s expensive

The most obvious cost is literal — pre-shredded cheese is far more expensive than blocks of the good stuff — no matter if you’re talking about Kraft cheese, Sargento cheese, or any other brand. The more prep work the brand does for you, the higher your grocery bill. On average, pre-shredded cheese costs about $1.50 more per cup than block cheese. When you do the math, those savings are pretty significant.

Bag of shredded cheese

It contains chemicals

More important than dollars and cents, though, is the flavor factor. Have you ever noticed the slightly grainy, dusty residue pre-shredded cheese has? Those are additives like potato starch, natamycin, and powdered cellulose. These are generally harmless, working to keep the cheese from clumping together or molding, but they certainly aren’t what you signed up for when all you wanted was some mozzarella.

When you shred it yourself, you get to skip the side of chemicals. These additives not only affect the taste of the cheese, they also hinder a smooth cooking process, making it harder for the cheese to melt and adding that grainy texture to otherwise smooth, velvety sauces like mornay.

Shredded cheese in small cup
jencu / Flickr

It’s bad for the environment

It’s no secret that all of those extra plastic bags are terrible for the planet. By shredding your own cheese and keeping it in reusable containers, your conscience may be a little more at ease.

Shredded cheese in food processor
Joy / Flickr

How do you make your own shredded cheese?

Most people have a cheese grater, which is the obvious answer to this question. Something you may not have considered, though, is that your food processor can get the job done a whole lot faster. Simply attach the shredding disk to your processor and slowly add large pieces to shred. That’s all it takes. Depending on the cheese, you can even shred large batches at a time and freeze them, so buying cheese in bulk at stores like Costco will save you even more. This works especially well for harder cheeses like cheddar or jack.

If you only need a small portion, though, your box or rotary grader will work perfectly. For finishing cheeses like Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, your best bet is to use a microplane cheese grater.

Editors' Recommendations

Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
A chef gives us the secret key ingredient to make perfect fried chicken (and the one step most people get wrong!)
The secret to perfect fried chicken is simpler than you think
Fried chicken

Beautifully executed fried chicken is, perhaps, one of the few perfect things we get to have as human beings. Its warm, crispy, decadently crunchy crust with a hot and steamy, sinfully juicy, rich, and savory center is enough to make most grown men weep with pure joy. This classic dish is arguably one of the most important staples of American cuisine, and the pressure to get it right can be intense. The good news is, no one knows how to make fried chicken better than Chef Trevor Stockton, of The Restaurant at RT Lodge, and he graciously agreed to be our guide with a few of his best tips.

Chef Stockton shared with us the secret to perfect fried chicken, and the answer is a simple one. "The most important thing, other than using a quality chicken, is using quality buttermilk," he said, adding that he uses Cruze Farm Dairy buttermilk, which is churned and not homogenized. "If you can get your hands on real churned buttermilk, it will give you nice tender chicken because it still has all of its original qualities. We season our chicken very simply and then cover it with the Cruze Farm buttermilk for a minimum of 24 hours."

Read more
Bourbon fans: These 8 dark rums are great adds to your liquor cabinet (because they’re a lot like bourbon)
Bourbon enthusiasts may just switch allegiance
Dark Rum

Autumn chugging towards winter like a pumpkin-spiced latte-fueled train. It’s inevitable. The weather is growing colder, and the days are getting shorter, regardless of whether or not you live somewhere with seasons. Generally, this means we crack open bottles of our favorite bourbon, rye whiskey, Japanese whisky, or single malt Scotch whisky and sip it slowly as we watch the leaves fall gently from the trees. But if you’re limiting yourself to just whisk(e)y this time of year, you’re doing yourself a major disservice. It would behoove you to add dark rum to your sipping rotation.

Don’t believe us? There are numerous dark rums perfectly suited for your whiskey-centric palate. Sure, rum is a sugarcane juice or molasses-based spirit. But when it’s aged for months or years in charred oak, familiar whiskey flavors like caramel, vanilla, oak, dried fruits, and spices are added.

Read more
Is it cheaper to have a Keurig or a standard coffee maker?
Find out if a Keurig is cheaper in the long run
Italian coffee capsules.

Coffee is the lifeblood of millions, if not billions, of people globally. That's why the coffee industry, as a whole, is valued at over $100 billion worldwide. However, most of us who are contributing to those profits are not benefiting from them. So, we need to know the best ways to save money on our coffee habits.

So, today, we're asking the question: "Does Keurig coffee pods cost make owing a Keurig worth it?" -- because you might be wondering if it's cheaper to have a Keurig coffee maker or a standard drip coffee maker. The answer to that question is not a simple "yes" or "no" answer. There are dozens of different factors to consider regarding the overall cost of your daily cup of coffee.

Read more