When I was a smalltown kid just starting out in cooking I would often try to match the storebought packaged mixes!
I didn't know any better! There was a stroganoff mix I particularly liked, so I set out trying to recreate it. Each time I'd make it I got a bit closer. Of course, eventually I realized I was barking up the wrong tree- mine was far better than any mix.
Your non-foodie friends are probably coming from the same spot. They're probably so used to mixes and packaged food that they have no taste for anything else. I wouldn't be offended. They probably actually mean it as a compliment.
In their ignorant way!