5 Little Luxuries — All $6 or Less! — I’m Adding to My Cart This Week

published May 12, 2023
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Woman carrying a shopping basket, standing along the dairy aisle, reading the nutrition label on the bottle of a fresh organic healthy yoghurt.
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Whether you’re an avid cook who puts dinner on the table for your family multiple nights a week, or just someone who needs to find easy ways to jazz up your work lunch, the discovery of a new ingredient can be a true springboard for inspiration. Having a little arsenal of versatile shortcuts or punchy pantry items can make all the difference in a meal that is “meh” vs. “wow!” And finding as many ways to put that new item to work means that you won’t toss out half-used jars of this and that due to inertia. 

I love bringing a new ingredient into the kitchen and seeing all of the different ways to incorporate it into my meals (and snacks!). Here are a few of my current favorite supermarket finds — all under six bucks — that are keeping things exciting in the kitchen.

Credit: Katie Workman

1. Laura Chenel Orange Blossom Honey Goat Cheese

Adding a handful of fresh goat cheese crumbles to a salad — whether it’s a grain-based medley, simple lentil salad, or a lettuce salad — adds creaminess and tangy interest. But there is a world beyond plain goat cheese, and I have been loving the Laura Chenel flavored chevres made in Sonoma Country, California. Explore the many varieties — the Orange Blossom Honey to Black Truffle to Cranberry, and the newest flavor Mango Habanero — and match the flavor of the cheese to the flavor profile of the other ingredients in the dish.  

The orange blossom would be perfect sprinkled into an herbed quinoa salad. And I can think of lots of ways to use the black truffle version (like, strewn over some warm honey roasted figs!), but I spread it all over some crusty bread and now I have to buy some more. Think of crumbling some over a tray of warm roasted or grilled vegetables. Or slice the chevre log (bread up some disks if you like) and bake or pan sauté them, and use them to top a salad, bistro-style!

Buy: Laura Chenel Orange Blossom Honey Goat Cheese, $5.49 for 4 ounces at Laura Chenel  

Credit: Katie Workman

2. Lee Kum Kee Hot Blended Sesame Oil

Sesame oil is a staple ingredient in dressings, noodles, stir-fries, and more. But what I love about this version is that it adds some heat as well as that toasty sesame flavor, thanks to the addition of chili pepper powder. Two flavor boosts for the price of 1 ingredient! 

I use this where I would use regular sesame oil to give some more punch to stir-fries like sesame asparagus and shiitake mushrooms and easy General Tso’s chicken. And in a different application altogether, try making hummus without tahini using this flavorful condiment!

Buy: Lee Kum Kee Hot Blended Sesame Oil, $4.39 for 3.9 ounces at Instacart

Credit: Katie Workman

3. Melissa’s Cooked Quinoa

I’m a huge fan of whole grains, but as easy as they are to cook, sometimes we just need a shortcut. This tube of precooked quinoa (vegan, gluten-free, and protein-packed) can be used in so many ways, it’s kind of dazzling. You can crumble the log and add the cooked quinoa to soups and salads, or mix it into meatballs and hamburgers to add structure and stretch your ground meat further. Or, slice the tube of quinoa and fry up slices in a bit of olive oil until crispy, then serve them as a side dish, or top them with roasted tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, or caramelized onions and spinach.

Buy: Melissa’s Cooked Quinoa, $5.99 for 17.63 ounces at ShopRite

Credit: Katie Workman

4. Maille Whole Grain Old-Style Mustard 

Mustard isn’t exactly a revelatory ingredient for many, but two things to note: Mustard adds zing to EVERYTHING (marinades, dressings and pan sauces, and more) and whole grain mustard adds texture, too. I love using this type of mustard with its little crunchy whole mustard seeds in my vinaigrettes, Brussels sprouts, and this pork roast which is one of the best things to ever happen to a pork shoulder. It also will turn a simple ham and cheese sandwich into a lunch to remember.

Buy: Maille Whole Grain Old-Style Mustard, $3.46 for 7.3 ounces at Walmart

Credit: Katie Workman

5. Roland Manzanilla Olives Stuffed with Anchovies 

If you want to add instant salty umami to a dish, a few of these olives stuffed with anchovies roughly chopped will do the trick. That’s providing you can stop eating them right out of the can.  Briny olives stuffed with even brinier anchovies is a surefire way to wake up any dish, not to mention your taste buds. I like to add these to a cherry tomato antipasti salad, and if you want to use them in green olive tapenade you will be rewarded with a serious flavor boost.  Also try adding them to a Nicoise salad or caponata.

Buy: Roland Manzanilla Olives Stuffed with Anchovies, $1.99 (on sale) for 3 ounces at Instacart 

What budget-friendly items are you adding to your cart this week? Tell us about it in the comments below.