Easy Flavor Boosters for Frugal Meals

by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Easy Flavor Boosters for Frugal Meals photo

Frugal meals typically require few ingredients and might not leave much room for flavor. But you can easily transform frugal meals from bland to grand with these simple flavor boosters.

It’s hard for home cooks to achieve the triumvirate qualities of fast, inexpensive and tasty.

Mixes and canned goods are fast and often cheap but can get boring and predictable. Adding just a little bit of a leftover or a common staple dresses up an ordinary dish for mere pennies, plus you don’t have to go out and buy anything special.

Here are a few flavor boosters to help your go-to convenience foods go glam.

Got Milk?

Make any canned, condensed soup a cream soup by using milk in place of water.

Replace the water in a boxed or envelope mix with milk for a creamier side dish.

Milk can also make cocoa mix creamier than when using water.

Save the Water

Reserve the water in which you cook vegetables.

Allow it to cool and freeze it in ice cube trays. It adds nutrients and flavor to reconstituted canned soup.

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Dress It Up

Mushrooms, diced onion, sliced almonds and/or celery are delicious sautéed and added to rice pilaf, instant stuffing, or canned soup or stew.

Also, try a strip of crumbled bacon or cooked sausage to any of the above.

Crush It

Crush leftover croutons, flavored pretzels or seasoned potato chips to crumbs to top boxed au gratin potatoes or noodle side dishes.

Use It Up

Save leftover cooked veggies to add to soup or envelopes of rice or noodle side dishes.

If you add a little leftover meat, you’ll have an easy and tasty casserole right from your stovetop.

Extra Cream Cheese?

Try it instead of butter in boxed mashed potatoes for a decadent flavor and creamy texture.

Or soften it and blend it into store-bought frosting.

Kick It Up

Kick up the flavor of canned baked beans by draining off some of the liquid and adding a shot of barbecue sauce.

Add a Dollop

Blend a dollop of peanut butter into store-bought chocolate or vanilla frosting. It’s delicious on a chocolate cake.

Stirred into canned chili, peanut butter adds an unexpected flavor that will keep them guessing.

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Try a Squirt

A squirt of mustard makes boxed mac & cheese so much more interesting.

It also makes the deli’s potato salad edgier.

Sprinkle a Bit

A sprinkle of oregano jazzes up frozen pizza.

Don’t Let It Spoil

Don’t let that last banana spoil. If it’s a bit soft, beat it into a cake mix, pancake mix or cookie mix (reducing the other added liquid by 1/2 a cup).

Skip the Frosting

Press sprinkles into refrigerated sugar cookie dough slices before you bake them. You’ll also save time because you won’t have to frost them.

Brighten It

Impart a bright flavor to your store-bought sugar cookie mix by working in a teaspoon of lemon juice.

Reviewed November 2023

About the Author

Deborah Jeanne Sergeant writes articles for consumer and trade publications, marketing and promotional materials, and web copy. Visit her at SkilledQuill.net.

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