It comes in varied flavors and has so many uses in the kitchen.
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Credit: Adobe Stock / dule964 / Jiri Hera

Welcome to Thrifty. A weekly column where associate nutrition editor and registered dietitian, Jessica Ball, keeps it real on how to grocery shop on a budget, make healthy meals for one or two and make earth-friendly choices without overhauling your entire life.

Variety is the spice of life, especially when it comes to your eating pattern. Research has even shown that eating a varied diet can make you healthier by lowering your risk of high blood pressure and more. It probably helps that I love to cook a lot of different things, and my grocery hauls are a reflection of that. But there are a few tried-and-true ingredients I never leave the store without, like eggs and frozen berries

The door of my refrigerator and my pantry are full of different condiments, some that I use often, like mustard, and some that I don't, like preserved lemons, but I love them all the same. I love so many condiments because they can be an easy and unique way to add flavor to your meals. Fish sauce and soy sauce elevate simple eggs and rice, tuna salad wouldn't be tuna salad without mayonnaise, and I'm pretty sure I could eat olive tapenade with a spoon. But there is one go-to condiment I never leave the store without: hot sauce. 

There are so many hot sauces I love, from Frank's to Sriracha to locally made bottles with unique flavors. I even made my own hot sauce to help use up the peppers from my garden. Running out of hot sauce warrants an immediate grocery trip in my mind. It's something that I always have on hand, and always have in my grocery basket if I need to restock (or see a new flavor I want to try). 

One of the great things about hot sauce is how versatile it is. Not only does it vary in spice level and flavor, but also it can be used in a variety of ways. Sure, it's great for topping dishes with, but hot sauce also is a great addition to marinades, salad dressings, braises and more. Hot sauce is a great way to add flavor to your food without turning directly to the saltshaker (though some hot sauce brands can contain a bit of sodium, so be sure to read labels when at the store). 

There are a lot of delicious condiments I keep on hand, and everyone's preferences are different, but hot sauce is definitely the one I use the most. Even if you have a lower spice tolerance, there is probably a mild hot sauce you would enjoy. While there are several condiments I love (read: mustard is a very close second), hot sauce is the one I never leave the store without.