You can be saucy…for cheap.

Condiments can be expensive when you are looking to add more than the staples-mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard-to your food. Popular sauces are the worst.  You can make them at home with far fewer ingredients than you may imagine…for far cheaper.

1. Steak Sauce

No one in their right mind would sully a good slab of perfectly cooked beef with ketchup (And if you would, please do not admit it.). Top your steak with your own steak sauce.

1/4 C melted, unsalted butter
2 TBS  Worcestershire sauce
1 TBS brown mustard
1TBS tomato paste

To save the most money, make this when you are making a tomato based dish, like spaghetti sauce. You will not miss the tablespoon of paste from the pasta sauce, and you will not waste the tomato paste making the steak sauce alone.

For bigger families and gatherings, this recipe can be doubled. If you need more than a double batch, prepare another double batch to preserve consistency. Store excess in an air-tight container or bottle in the refrigerator.

Use either as a dipping sauce, poured directly over meat, as marinade or mixed into ground meat for hamburgers.

2. Orange Sauce

Top fresh fruit slices or salad, angel food cake, your favorite cheesecake or pancakes, crepes or waffles with this crowd pleaser.

3 C fresh orange juice (with or without pulp)
1/2 C orange marmalade
1/4 brown sugar, packed
1 TBS cornstarch
1 TBS lemon juice

Bring orange juice to a rolling boil, stirring often, until reduced to 1.5 cups. Stir in marmalade and brown sugar until dissolved.

To thicken the sauce: In a small cup, dissolve cornstarch into lemon juice. Add to sauce slowly, stirring constantly. Remove from heat to prevent sticking. Serve warm or chilled.

This orange sauce makes a terrific glaze for fresh fruit pies, especially mango, papaya and other tropical fruits not often associated with pie.

Bake a traditional pie crust. When ready to serve, coat fruit (cut into bite-sized pieces) with warm or room temperature sauce. Top with citrus zest, mint leaves, caramel, cinnamon-sugar and/or whipped cream. Serve immediately.

3. Buffalo Sauce

This American favorite is simple and far less expensive to make than to buy…as little as half the price, even if you do not have these staples in your home. The basic sauce is two ingredients.

Use your favorite red pepper sauce.

1/2 C melted, unsalted butter
1/2 C hot pepper sauce

Want more fire? Add red pepper flakes, fresh ground chili peppers or a few dashes of habanero or tabasco pepper sauce.

Want less fire? Add ketchup a few teaspoons at a time until you can manage the heat. Ketchup will add a stronger vinegar flavor to your buffalo sauce.

Like some sweet? Add 1/3 cup brown sugar or 1/4 cup dark cane syrup or molasses.

Cook your chicken according to taste (grilled, baked or deep fried). Put wings into a bowl. Pour sauce over chicken, cover and shake until pieces are covered.

Other options:

1. Use as a dipping sauce for boneless chicken pieces, grilled, baked or fried.

2. Marinate chicken in sauce prior to grilling or baking. Use additional sauce as baste.*

3. Baste pork ribs in buffalo sauce while grilling.

4. Mix 1/2 cup buffalo sauce with 8-ounces sour cream and 1/2 mayonnaise or salad dressing for dipping chips.

4. No-Cook Pasta Sauce

Choose your favorite shape pasta.

Want sauce done before the pasta is cooked? This ricotta sauce is simple and quick. It is a perfect solution for a quick lunch or dinner.

1 C ricotta cheese
1 C red bell pepper, roasted, seeded, chopped (about three peppers or one small jar)
7 TBS freshly grated Parmesan and/or Romano cheese
1/3 C fresh basil, chopped
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients in pasta serving bowl. Add one pound of freshly cooked, drained pasta. Toss.

White or green peppercorns can be substituted for black pepper. Large or extra cloves of garlic can be used for a stronger flavor. Top with additional shred of fresh basil or fine shreds of fresh Mozzarella.

5. Asian Meat Sauce

Looking for a bit of Asian flair to a regular meat and pasta night? This sauce is super simple.

1 C apple cider
1/3 C hoisin sauce
2 TBS toasted sesame oil
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan. Heat over medium heat until sauce simmers.

Sauce can top chicken, beef, pork, fish or shrimp. To use in stir fry, combine ingredients, but do not simmer. Add to wok one minute before vegetables are completely cooked. Stir to coat and bring to temperature.

For a little extra bite, add 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger or two teaspoons fresh, finely minced ginger root and 1/8 teaspoon allspice.

Stop Breaking the Bank

If you can measure and chop, you can save a fortune by making sauces at home. Because they are freshly made, they taste better. Even when using prepared sauces as ingredients, they have fewer preservatives, colors and salt than their store-bought counterparts. Food made from scratch always tastes better.

* To reduce potential for cross contamination of bacteria and viruses, like salmonella and e.Coli, always discard leftover marinade and use fresh sauce to baste cooking meats and vegetables.


Do you have any variations on these sauces? Have you used them on other foods than the ones listed here?


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(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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