A generally dull meal can always be enhanced with spices, which are usually quite cheap in bulk. Many spices can be **extremely** cheap when bought at an ethnic grocery store. For instance, cumin, garam masala, red chili, and so on will generally be 5-10x cheaper in an Indian grocer than in a supermarket.
Great for additions to sweet or mild foods. Added to plain oatmeal, cinnamon makes a huge difference. Can be added to many baked goods, chocolate, etc.
More than Tabasco sauce, which is quite mild and doesn't have a notably good flavor. Hot sauce will add kick to any savory dish. There are hundreds of different kinds of hot sauces; the heat of a sauce is measured in Scoville units.
Recommended hot sauces:
- El Yucateco (green) - the spiciest sauce you'll find in a normal Mexican restaurant. Has a good flavor. About 9000 scoville units.
- Sriracha Sauce - Ubiquitous sauce in many Asian restaurants, particularly Thai. Cheap, comes in a huge bottle. Many people love the flavor. About 2200 scoville units.