Food & Drink

Sauces you can make for (nearly) free using fast food condiment packets

#neverenoughsauce. Photo via Chick-Fil-A

[Ed note: (Everything is vegetarian) (Everything is gluten-free except the bonus round) (The spicy cream sauce is vegan)]

Depending on the generosity of your local fast food chain, you probably have a fridge drawer full of assorted dipping sauces and condiments. My collection comes from ordering chicken nuggets on my way home from the bar, getting adventurous with the sauce choice, then forgetting entirely about the Sweet Chili while I eat my naked / unsauced nuggets in a sleepy haze. Somehow, I never remember the sauce collection the next time I have a post-bar snack; thus the collection grows.

In terms of sauce-use, I see myself as having three choices:
1) I can throw the packets away, helping destroy the planet almost as much as my nighttime nugget habit and putting (semi) good food in the garbage.
2) I can eat the sauce straight out of the packet, which is fine on occasion, but really not very filling.
3) I can take a long look at the condiments acquired and decide to make my next meal into a spring cleaning effort.

In the spirit of condiment appreciation and innovation, here’s what to do with your 67 ketchups.


9 more seasons, Morty
9 more seasons, Morty

Overachieving Marinara Sauce
12 ketchup packets
1 salt packet
1 pepper packet
1 tablespoon second roommate’s dried Italian herbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder your dad sent you in a housewarming package
¼ cup water
¼ cup oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chicken stock powder from the massive container you bought off Craigslist for five bucks

You volunteered to cook for your Tindr date. Why did you do that, when you know full well all you have in the cupboard is pasta and ketchup? Because you are intrepid in a pinch, you lack instinctual fear, and your inventiveness only grows with every unpaid internship you take! Good thing you have five roommates.

Heat ketchup in a double-boiler you make by putting a metal mixing bowl on top of a pot of boiling water. Keep ketchup on heat until all ingredients are combined. Add oil to compensate for ketchup’s gelatinous texture. Add water to help the chicken stock powder combine with sauce. Add lemon juice to counteract inherent sweetness of mass-produced sauce, and add Italian herb mix and garlic powder so the sauce completes its disguise. Toss two servings of cooked pasta in the sauce until well-coated; plate pasta.

Makes two servings.



Sweet Breakfast “Curry”
8 honey mustard packets
1 mild Taco Bell sauce packet
1 teaspoon housewarming garlic powder
6 drops soy sauce you “adopted” from the communal fridge when your company downsized
2 packets take-out duck sauce from when you were hungover after your company downsized
¼ cup hot and sour soup leftover from the same night you ended up with duck sauce (just the liquid, not the tofu or other solid soup parts)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 mustard packet
1 tablespoon chicken stock powder from that same massive container

Man, rice is just the best. Filling, versatile, costs you pennies on the pound. It only makes sense to buy the biggest bag of rice that Costco had when your friend with a membership brings you shopping! Now all you have to do is stay the course and not eat anything but this rice until rent is paid. Keep your palette interesting with something other than insta-ramen flavor packets.

Mix everything together in a resealable container – use a fork or whisk to ensure the different viscosities of liquid combine thoroughly. Add a generous dollop to three cups of cooked rice and stir to evenly coat; replace remainder in fridge. Sauce-rice leftovers can be stirred into hot water or chicken broth with more lemon to make a filling egg drop soup.

Makes 3 – 5 servings depending on how saucy you like your rice.

Gowanus Picnic Potato Salad Dressing
1 McDonald’s creamy ranch packet
2 McDonald’s habanero ranch packet
2 Wendy’s mayonnaise packet
1 Chik-fil-a honey packet
3 packets salt and pepper
2 tablespoons first roommate’s dead dill plant

You decide to explore the world of Bushwick street art and got some friends to agree on a day to venture forth together. Your maternal friend (his hat says “Cat Mom” in fancy script) suggested starting the outing with an ironic picnic along the Gowanus canal and volunteered you to bring the starch. Get thee to dollar store; you’re going to need a travel-safe bowl and a serving spoon you’re okay with accidentally dropping into a Superfund site.

Combine all ingredients. In your picnic-intended bowl, place a layer of cubed, cooked potatoes then spoon in some sauce. Add another layer of potatoes, spoon in more sauce, and repeat until out of potatoes or sauce. Mix with large spoon. Refrigerate until you have to catch the subway.

(Be aware, this sauce is sharp-spicy like the habanero peppers at one point involved in the habanero ranch. Taste before mixing with potatoes, and add more mayonnaise and creamy ranch if needed. No shame.)

Makes enough dressing to cover four side servings or two entree servings of potatoes.

Bonus Round Gravy
¼ cup fourth roommate’s flour
5 McDonald’s creamy ranch dressing packets
¼ cup diced onion
1 tablespoon chicken stock powder, by now an old friend
1 pepper packet
1 packet medium Taco Bell sauce

Your fourth roommate’s girlfriend drank out of your water bottle and gave you a sinus infection. All you want is hot food and someone to behead you. While you wait for your third roommate to finish building the guillotine she’s kit-bashing from the fifth roommate’s abandoned IKEA project, wander around the kitchen in a NyQuil stupor and make some gravy that you can taste despite your illness.

Heat a non-stick pan warm enough that a test drop of water sizzles for a while but doesn’t evaporate instantly. Add flour to pan. Stir it constantly and continually, watching for a uniform brown to develop without burning the flour, the pan, or yourself. About the time you have to open a window to prevent your smoke alarm from sounding, take the flour off the heat. Let it cool entirely before scooping the flour into a bowl holding the ranch packets. Stir rapidly with a fork until the mixture coheres without pockets of ranch or flour. Dice the onion finely and cook until transparent. Allow this to also cool completely before adding to the ranch gravy, along with the rest of the ingredients. Stir well. Leave in an open container on the counter overnight then spread over toast and consume with two scrambled eggs for tomorrow’s dinner.

Makes two servings of toast-coating.

Wouldn’t you love to have all this Brokeing news in your inbox? Subscribe!

Leave a Reply