These tasty buys are here to save you from pandemic kitchen fatigue.

By Stacey Ballis
January 14, 2021
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As we restock our pantries for the pandemic winter, let's take a moment to add some items that will put some spice (literally) into our cooking routines. Check out these 9 great items that you can order online, plus some fun ways to use them, to liven up your winter meals.

Credit: Courtesy This Little Goat

This Little Goat Spices and Sauces

Celebrity chefs will often slap their name on all sorts of products with varying levels of success, but when Chicago homegirl and Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard launched her This Little Goat line of spices and sauces, I was all in. Inspired by her travels around the globe, the spice blends and sauces can be purchased individually or as complete sets.

How to use it: Use the spice blends as easy rubs on proteins from beef to tofu; add to any basic vinaigrette for punchy flavors; or use as a finishing dusting on cooked food. I love the Morocco version sprinkled on basmati or jasmine rice for an easy side dish, and the Belize makes for instant oomph in beef, chicken, and pork.

The sauces can be used straight from the bottle to marinate, as a simmer sauce, or to dress finished dishes. You can mix them with mayo for a creamy drizzle that elevates everything, or use as a flavor booster in chili, soups, and stews. The Tokyo sauce turns a cubed tuna into an instant poke bowl, and the Southeast Asia version is magic with sauteed vegetables. If you invest in one line of spices or sauces, these are the ones.

Buy it: This Little Goat Ultimate Collection ($75), thislittlegoat.com

Credit: Courtesy Amazon

Spicewalla Mediterranean Spices Collection

I've been a huge fan of Spicewalla since its launch—and my collection is the one I probably turn to most often for its versatility. This three-pack is a wonderful way to bring those fabulous Mediterranean flavors to all of my cooking.

How to use it: Begin with their traditional Herbs de Provence, which I love for salads and light dishes like fish and chicken. The Tuscan Seasoning is my favorite addition to all my Italian cooking, from a sprinkle on my pizza, to a pinch in my sauces, to a fast Italian upgrade to a basic vinaigrette. But the true secret weapon in this kit is the Modena Balsamic Rub, which I am pretty sure you could put on a flip flop and make it succulent and delicious. Put on any protein you like, and whether you are grilling, pan-cooking, or oven-roasting, your taste buds will thank you. It is also amazing on roasted root vegetables, which is why I always stock up this time of year.

Buy it: Spicewalla Mediterranean Spices Collection ($16.99), amazon.com

Credit: Courtesy Amazon

Herdez Guacamole Salsa

Most avocado salsas are chunky, more like a guacamole dip. I love this bottled version, which is a true salsa: a pourable bit of magic.

How to use it: This salsa is as terrific as a marinade, salad dressing, or flavoring potion as it is delicious with your favorite tortilla chip. I always keep a bottle in the pantry for last minute zhuzhing. You can stir a tablespoon or two into your next batch of guac instead of lime juice, fork some through rice for an amazing side dish, or even mix half and half with lemon juice or lime juice for a fabulous ceviche marinade.

Buy it: Herdez Guacamole Salsa ($10.99), amazon.com

Credit: Courtesy Amazon

Primal Kitchen Greek Dressing and Marinade

I love Greek flavors, so this bottle is a favorite way to get there with minimal fuss.

How to use it: Whether I am in the mood for a classic Greek salad, or want to marinate chicken for grilling, the avocado oil-based dressing is light and delicious. I will often use it as a dressing for pasta salad, or a drizzle on top of a basic bowl of chicken soup to take it to a Greek place that is anything but boring.

Buy it: Primal Kitchen Greek Dressing and Marinade ($12.99), amazon.com

Credit: Courtesy Amazon

Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp

Szechuan-style chili crisp has been making a splash everywhere. This spicy condiment is crunchy with fried garlic, onion, and soybeans, and the heat is balanced and addictive.

How to use it: Stir it into salad dressings, stir fry sauces, or marinades for a unique and special flavor, but also think outside the box a bit. It is amazing drizzled on vanilla ice cream, tossed with toasted nuts for snacking, or stirred into yogurt or sour cream for a great dip. For some oddly fantastic fusion alchemy, try a dollop on top of hummus.

Buy it: Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp ($8.44), amazon.com

Credit: Courtesy Burlap and Barrel

Burlap and Barrel Turkish Oregano Buds

Burlap and Barrel is the place I go for unusual herbs and spices that I cannot source anywhere else. And these oregano buds in a convenient grinder bottle were a temptation I could not resist. Thank goodness, because I reach for it, in true Chicago fashion, early and often. Oregano is always a tough herb to store; it loses its punch pretty quickly, getting a bit dusty and bland. These buds work more like a whole spice, bringing all that intense oregano flavor you want.

How to use it: Whether I am giving a hearty grind on top of pizza, adding it into soups, stews or sauces, or just giving that last minute je ne sais quoi to a salad, this grinder now sits right next to my salt and pepper as a spice I turn to again and again.

Buy it: Burlap and Barrel Turkish Oregano Buds ($8.99), burlapandbarrel.com

Credit: Courtesy Amazon

Le Bon Magot Tomato and White Sultana Chutney

I am somewhat addicted to this thick chunky salsa, which blends tomatoes with Kashmiri chili peppers for heat, white sultana raisins for sweet, along with ginger and garam masala for spice, and just enough apple cider vinegar to bring them all together.

How to use it: I will do everything from spread it on buttered toast to drizzling it on cheese to using it as a sauce for chicken. It is magic on lamb, can turn a pot of rice into an instant pilaf, and a spoonful on top of a bowl of cottage cheese or thick Greek yogurt is a thing of intense pleasure. No one will tell if you want to dunk potato chips in it, hypothetically. I always buy two jars at a time, just in case.

Buy it: Le Bon Magot Tomato and White Sultana Chutney ($12.99), amazon.com

Credit: Courtesy Amazon

Mesa de Vida Healthy Gourmet Cooking Sauce & Seasoning Set

Whether you are looking down the road at a Whole 30/paleo/keto January, or just want to be more aware of added salt and sugar in your foods, Mesa de Vida recipe starters make life easy. In five terrific flavors including blends like North African, Creole, and Caribbean, these pastes bring all the punch with none of the health repercussions.

How to use it: Use to flavor everything from sauces and dressings to marinades, to make dips, and to amp up soups, stews, and chilis. These are great if you or someone you love has a restricted diet and is tired of scanning labels for hidden sodium and sugar. As a diabetic, I love that I can reach for these jars without worrying about my program.

Buy it: Mesa de Vida Healthy Gourmet Cooking Sauce & Seasoning Set ($49.99), amazon.com

Credit: Courtesy BBQ Guys

BBQ Guys x Spiceology Beef, Chicken, & Pork Rub Variety Pack

Spice rubs aren't just for summer. Even if it is too cold to grill where you are, they still bring amazing flavor to any protein you are cooking, and finding good ones means you always have an easy way to bring some excitement to a weeknight supper.

How to use it: This variety pack has a basic version for chicken, pork, and beef included, but don't feel limited by the labels. The chicken version is great on oily fishes; I like the pork version on rice, potatoes, and leafy greens; and the beef works great with hearty roasted root vegetables. Try a sprinkle on top of your next bowl of dip, from onion to hummus to baba ghanoush, and watch it sing.

Buy it: BBQ Guys x Spiceology Beef, Chicken, & Pork Rub Variety Pack ($44.99), bbqguys.com