4 “Secret” Ingredients for More Delicious Dishes
Stocking a pantry can involve using a template list for keeping what you need on hand. Flour, sugar, and butter — we’re all aware of their purpose. It's possible that you may want to deviate from your standard checklist of shopping items, however. Check out these four uniquely affordable ingredients that can covertly jazz up your dishes for mere pennies!
We don’t drink soda at our house, and when I do indulge, I prefer the diet variety. I can’t deny, however, that my favorite childhood food memory involves my mom slow-cooking a pork roast in a pot of cola for hours. (There’s no way to describe how delicious the flavor is.) To get a handful of practical recipes for using this recession-proof product, visit All You Magazine’s collection of dishes. (It includes Cola Cake, Cola Baked Beans, and a Cola-Glazed Ham!)
It’s yummy as an afterschool snack, but how many adults actually incorporate it into their diet? With a simple switch-out of all the oil in a cake recipe with applesauce, you can add flavor and moisture, while cutting some of the fat. (This wonderful tutorial from The Nest tells you exactly how to do it — and when it’s best to leave the recipe as is.)
If you happen to hit a big applesauce sale (or have access to bulk cans designed for institutional purposes), you can also use applesauce in pancakes, muffins, and sauces. If you plan on using the applesauce for eating alone, you can also try your hand at DIY applesauce with this super-easy crock pot method.
Dried Potato Flakes
I’ve already listed several ways to use this very affordable ingredient. If you have access to the large bulk-bags offered by warehouse stores and co-ops, you can use them in several dishes a week! Common uses include:
- give cream soups their “creamy” characteristics (without all the fat of real cream)
- thickener for gravies
- added to crumbs for frying and making meatballs and meatloaves
- in potato breads (the bread machine loaves these!)
Even if you don’t like the taste of beer for drinking, there is an entire world of cooking and baking that includes the ingredient (and it is pretty fabulous!). In addition to soups, batters, and marinades, even the cheapest version can give a unique flavor to breads and appetizers. (I’m going to try out this Stuffed Squash Blossom recipe as soon as summer hits — I’m a huge fan of cooking blossoms.) For many high-quality dishes for beer, I recommend Beer100.com’s recipe page.
There are many more amazing substitutions and creative additions that can be made to your everyday cooking (and they don’t have to be cost a lot). For additional reading, I suggest:
- 12 Affordable Ingredients that Add Gourmet Flair to any Meal
- Making the Most of Imitation Crab Meat
- Cooking with Canned Pumpkin
- 8 Spectacular Uses for that Lone Can of Fruit
- 10 Things to do with Leftover Halloween Candy (These ideas work great for all that Valentine loot, too!)