While I like the idea of always buying a block of cheese and grating it at home for whatever I'm cooking, that is not my reality. Sure, there are a few exceptions, but here's the thing — more often than not, a bag of shredded cheese (and the convenience that comes with it!) is totally worth it.
The Difference Between Shredded and Block Cheese
Bags of shredded cheese contain additives that prevent the cheese from clumping or sticking together while in the package. These additives also have an effect on the way the cheese cooks. While the cheese will melt easily, it won't melt together quite as well as cheese you grate yourself. And since you won't have to go through the dreaded task of shredding it yourself, expect to pay a little bit more for a bag of shredded cheese than you would for a block. (The difference is around 20 to 50 cents per ounce, which can add up if you're buying a lot of cheese.)
4 Times It's Totally OK to Buy Shredded Cheese
1. When you're short on time or energy.
I am a firm believer in taking advantage of grocery store shortcuts when you're short on time and/or energy. Sometimes you just need a helping hand to get dinner on the table, and those are the times I say grab that bag of shredded cheese! It means there's one less thing to do when prepping dinner, and also at least one less thing to wash.
2. When you fear the box grater.
If your fingers have ever met the wrath of the box grater — or even if they haven't but it's a legit fear — you can take this shortcut instead of letting taco night stress you out. A bag of the shredded stuff will work just fine.
3. Anytime you're cooking something that requires a lot of work.
Like many things in life, I think cooking is about finding balance. So anytime I'm making a recipe that requires a fair amount of effort, say calzones with homemade dough or lasagna, I opt for the trade-off of shredded cheese instead of grating my own. You've gotta pick your battles!
4. Pizza Friday.
Most of my Fridays involve homemade pizza for dinner, and while the toppings change from week to week, I always use a bag of shredded cheese (either low-moisture mozzarella or my favorite four-cheese blend from Trader Joe's). Come the end of the week, pizza night should be as easy as possible.
When do you reach for a bag of shredded cheese instead of grating your own?