A little sauce can make all the difference

Inexpensive Sauces Perk Up Frugal Recipes

by Veronica Bowman


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A tight grocery budget does not have to result in boring meals. In your attempt to stick with a basic, minimalist grocery list, you may have overlooked a source of excitement for many of your inexpensive menus and recipes. One stroll down the condiment aisle can bring new life to your mundane meals.

To stay within the budget, you can purchase barbecue sauces, marinades, and other condiments when they are on sale. Generally it's easy to find BOGO deals on barbecue sauces. You can also use coupons to make your purchase more budget-friendly. As a general rule, most condiments are quite affordable. They can be used in a variety of recipes over an extended period of time. Therefore, you'll actually get a lot of bang for your buck with condiments and sauces.

Living frugal often requires creativity, and experimenting with new recipes is a great way to get creative and adventurous. Dry beans are one of the items that appear frequently on a frugal grocery shopping list. The addition of various inexpensive sauces can enliven those potentially boring beans. Just for starters, you might want to try some of the following ideas:

  • Add hot and spicy barbecue sauce or flavored hot sauce to pinto beans or Anasazi beans.

  • Sweet onion sauce and most other flavors of barbecue sauce combine deliciously with pinto beans, navy beans and most other varieties of beans.

  • Hickory flavored sauces and sauces with a prominent flavor of garlic combine well with lentils.

Potatoes are another item that frugal cooks rely on for budget-friendly side dishes. There's an almost limitless number of ways to use sauces to perk up potato dishes. Dipping sauces are great alternative to ordinary ketchup for fried or baked potato wedges. Hot sauces, especially those with garlic or onion and garlic, pair well with potatoes. Just be sure the amount of heat is compatible with those you are preparing food for.

When you're out shopping, explore some of the sauces available in the Asian food aisle or in one of the specialty food sections that you seldom venture into. Remember that a bottle of sauce can go a long way, so what seems to be a small splurge may actually be a frugal buy. Vegetables that your family may not be especially fond of can be made much more palatable with the addition of a flavorful sauce, such as a sweet and sour sauce or an Asian chili sauce. The following recipe is a wonderfully surprising way to make Brussels sprouts amazingly tasty.

Cut approximately one pound of Brussels sprouts in half. Drizzle with two tablespoons of olive oil. Toss to coat sprouts. Place sprouts on baking sheet in 400 degree oven for approximately 25 to 30 minutes, turning after the first 15 minutes.

While sprouts are baking, mix together one teaspoon of soy sauce, three to four tablespoons of Asian chili sauce, and two minced garlic cloves. Pour this over sprouts when you remove them from the oven. Stir gently to coat. Sprinkle with parmesan or shredded mozzarella cheese and serve hot. This same mixture can be poured over steamed broccoli or cabbage.

You can inexpensively make flavorful mayonnaise to add to ordinary vegetable dishes and salads. Seasoned mayonnaise can be made by adding basil, chive, cayenne pepper or any seasoning you choose from your spice rack to whatever brand of mayonnaise you buy. Flavored mayonnaise is also a good way to perk up an ordinary sandwich. For example, a cheese sandwich can be elevated to a new level when you spread basil flavored mayonnaise on the bread and add a slice of tomato on top of the cheese before you grill it.

Among the frugal living suggestions you read, you will find the suggestion that you pre-plan your shopping route through the store, stick to a list, and don't explore other areas of the store. That might be an effective method of budget-conscious shopping, but it can result in your missing out on some frugal, flavorful ways to enliven a meal. Go ahead and detour down the condiment aisle and inexpensively perk up your meals.

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