Sauces are great for stockpiling because they have a good storage life and provide a lot of flavor to otherwise bland foods. Sauces can also make an excellent base for soups and stews!
This list is based on the following criteria:
- Quality of Ingredients
- Concentration Factor
- General popularity
- Shelf Life
There are a lot of sauces out there that I like, but there is only so much room on this list. I encourage you to add other favorites in the comments section as well as any tips for making your own sauces!
This sauce is wonderful for providing a lot of flavors but not a lot of heat. Don’t get me wrong it is spicy, but it is mostly chili peppers and vinegar. At just over $1 for a pint, it is a bargain for sure and it lasts a long time. You can get huge containers of it for around $3 or $4.
If you like a little more fire, then Tapito is a good sauce to look for. It is another one of those sauces that comes in small and large containers for under $5. It is in glass, so you have to be careful about breakage.
There are many different kinds of soy sauce out there. I get the La Choy because it has no wheat in it. I did not know that a lot of soy sauces have wheat in them. Soy Sauce is great for a lot of different cooking. I use it to add a good flavor to soups and stews and of course a lot in stir-fries and other Asian dishes. You need to be careful about buying in bulk. Sometimes I have found you don’t save anything by getting a half gallon container. The larger containers are usually plastic whereas when you get, the smaller containers, you get glass.
The smaller bottles can be easily placed on a table for dispensing as well whereas the large ones cannot be. Restaurant supply stores may have a better deal than what I have been able to find. I usually just get mine at the grocery store and deal with a lot of glass bottles because of the cost.
This stuff is another inexpensive sauce. You can get a huge supply on Amazon for not much. The regular size containers are 19 oz I believe, but you can get a 28 oz size and a six pack of those at that. Considering how long a single small bottle lasts, buying a six pack of 28 oz ones is enough to add a lot of flavor to your preps
I need mustard, or at least I think I do. You can get mustard powder and use that for emergencies but you have to add other things to it, or it is just bitter. Giant bottles of the classic yellow mustard are great, or you can get the stoneground mustards on sale at your local grocery store. The link above is for a 16 pack of mustard, which is enough to do for quite some time.
This is the sauce you see on the table at basically every Mexican restaurant in the area I live. It has a lot of flavor, but I don’t feel it is very high on the heat factor.
For meat dishes and Indian foods, curry sauce can be nice to have. This is a highly rated paste that is very affordable in bulk. If you are trying to make sure you have the ability to cook a wide range of cuisines then curry paste should be a part of your preps. Well done curry is good, but I have eaten some that were not that great. If you haven’t tried it, you should give it a chance. Curried chicken is excellent!
This is a good alternative to soy sauce. It has a lot of amino acids like it says and a good flavor. Bragg is a really good brand. I buy their apple cider vinegar all the time, and they make a very good salt free seasoning.
This soy sauce alternative is less expensive than some bulk soy sauces if you buy the Bragg’s in the gallon size. I have never heard of it going bad even if it is not a traditional soy sauce. I recommend not buying it in the small size containers because the price is so much higher per ounce. I had no idea until now that you could get it for so much less by getting a gallon at a time.
This is the classic hot sauce for wings. It is good for those that like Tabasco. You can get a gallon for not much. If you are doubtful about purchasing other hot sauces this is a safe bet to satisfy a lot of people.
I am amazed how inexpensive Salsa is online Pace Chunky is less than 6 for 64 oz. At that price, it is an excellent choice for cooking and snacking. I eat a lot of corn chips and salsa because they are gluten-free and less expensive than crackers.
Salsa is a good base for soups and a variety of dishes. I like it better than pasta sauce sometimes because it seems to have a bit more substance to it than a lot of thin pasta sauces in a jar.
A half gallon for under $5? What? I am not sure how Amazon does it with their Prime Pantry, and I know shopping local is great but that is hard to deal to turn now. Of course, you have to remember that this is a lot of sauce and if you don’t have refrigeration during an emergency, it is not going to last long.
For cooking for a big family, this is a good size. 67 oz means you could use this as an excellent affordable soup base. Add 25- 50% water and some veggies, macaroni, etc. and you can have a big pot of soup!
This size sauce comes in meat flavored and some veggie varieties depending on your preference.
Pesto is hard to find in a big size. Classico is not bad, and you can get it in 13.5 oz size for under $5 on Amazon. I was happy to see you could get pesto in a large jar for a reasonable price. My favorite pesto comes in a jar half this size. For putting back this pesto has a good flavor. Spread on bread and toast with a little parmesan cheese for a snack or appetizer or use on your favorite noodles. I like to make pesto pizzas occasionally.
Wow 86 oz each, and you get two for under $26. That is amazing for a marinade and cooking sauce that is this versatile. This marinade works for beef, pork, chicken, and veggies. If you already have a lot of soy sauce then this might not be your favorite thing to put back due to space concerns.
It does contain some high fructose corn syrup. I know sometimes I say a lot of negative things about it but a little bit in a sauce is not enough to keep me from considering it for putting back since I don’t consume it in other things.
This is some very calorie rich stuff. The problem is that it doesn’t keep when opened for very long. If you have refrigeration then getting fairly large size containers is okay. If not then consider very small sizes.
Packets of mayo are not a bad idea for when you just want enough for a few sandwiches and refrigeration is not available in abundance.
If you want to put back a lot of ketchup, then I recommend just buying a case of it and then making sure to rotate your stock just like you would any other item in your pantry. You can also just make your ketchup using tomato paste. Check out the end of this post for more on that.
Sauces are good sources of salt.
During tough times salt might be harder to get. Sauces help add salt to basic foods. Even if you are on a restricted sodium diet, you may find that you need to make a bit of effort to get the salt you need to maintain health. If you have to watch your salt, then put back a mix of sauces or get low salt sauces and just make sure you add salt as you need it.
Consider condiment packets and smaller containers for small households and more perishable sauces.
You can get to all kinds of condiment packets. For single preppers, they might not be a bad idea either. Some people go as far as saving all the extra condiment packets they get at restaurants or to go orders.
Be careful and check ingredients lists carefully if you have any allergies or ingredients you want to avoid.
I am not trying to start a debate about food ingredients. It is your personal choice what you choose to put into your body. I do want to acknowledge that Backdoor Survival has a diverse group of readers and I have been given the impression that a lot of you try to avoid or have to avoid some ingredients. Here are a few things to look for on a label.
Any artificial colors or flavorings
Some people, especially children, are sensitive to a lot of dyes and flavors found in processed foods.
Very high sodium content
Sauces are meant to add some flavor and more often than not they have a lot of sodium in them. My advice is to try for lower sodium sauces if you are on a sodium-restricted diet. Also, make sure to have a lot of spices on hand to add to sauces so you can add flavor without adding extra salt.
Sugar or High Fructose Corn Syrup
Some sauces are quite sweet. A lot of condiments use high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener and thickening agent. Sugar is a higher quality ingredient, but it is still something plenty of people try to avoid or have to due to diabetes.
The bad reputation high fructose corn syrup has earned has led to many major producers to stop using it in ketchup, which is definitely one of the most widely sold and consumed sauces.
Until I had friends that could not eat wheat, I was not really aware that soy sauce often has wheat listed as an ingredient. Some brands like La Choy make a point to say they are gluten-free.
Peanuts and peanut oil
I have to wonder why so many kids are allergic to peanuts now. I grew up in the 80s and 90s and cannot recall anyone during my grade school or middle school years that was allergic to peanuts. Now some have very extreme reactions to tiny amounts.
I have to watch out for this one myself. I can eat cultured dairy, but cream and powdered milk are not okay. Milk powders and products are cheap fillers that add flavor and calories. You see a lot of dairy by-products in foods and sauces. Whey and nonfat milk powder are a good example. The whey is left over from cheesemaking, and nonfat milk powder means that the fat got used for something.
Alas, eggs are another food that an increasing number of people are sensitive to. Eggs are also an indicator that a sauce is more perishable.
Some people say they are sensitive to MSG. I have never had any effects from consuming it but it is something I avoid just in case. Plain old salt is fine with me for a flavor enhancer.
A note on sauce expiration dates
Sauces that contain a lot of sugar, salt, or vinegar have a long shelf life. Sometimes other preservatives are added to increase shelf life as well. Tomato-based pasta sauces and mayonnaise are more delicate, so you should be more careful.
When purchasing any canned good to put back, check to make sure the expiration date is not coming up too soon. Sometimes places like Amazon will have exceptional deals on something because it only has a year left on the date rather than the three years it has when it leaves the cannery.
Ingredients to put back for making your own sauces
While technically not a sauce it is the main ingredient and I think having some put back is a good idea because you can use it to mix with your other sauces or to create your own tangier sauce blends. Less expensive kinds of vinegar can be used for cleaning as well. I just wouldn’t use my Bragg’s Apple Cider for that purpose!
I order the 24 packs of Muir Glen No Salt Added Organic Tomato Paste. It is an amazing deal I found, and it can be used for so many things. I buy it instead of a bunch of specialized tomato products. I can use it for pasta sauce, making ketchup, BBQ sauce, and more. I choose the paste form because the size is right for a lot of cooking and it stores in a smaller space than a ton of watered down tomato products.
Your favorite oils
Olive oil, sunflower seed oil, and grape seed oil are all commonly used in sauces and marinades. A lot of vegetable oils are just soy or canola or a blend of the two.
Sugar or another sweetener like stevia or agave nectar
You have a lot of choices when it comes to sweeteners. Even if you don’t have to watch your blood sugar, you may prefer stevia or agave after you try it.
Just iodized salt will do. You could use some type of gourmet seas salt, but I doubt you will be able to tell the difference using regular iodized table salt.
Xanthum gum or cornstarch
I learned a long time ago that if you didn’t add sugar or some type of thickener. Xanthum gum is a very common food ingredient, especially in processed sauces and gravies.
We keep pineapple juice on hand for use as a sauce component. Canned orange juice makes an excellent base for sweet sauces too. We normally cook it down until the volume is reduced by half.
Creating your own sauces
If you want to take the time and make some fancier sauces and can them in mason jars or similar, you can have your own custom blends on hand rather than spending an hour on a fancy sauce for a special meal later on! Making a gallon of a sauce instead of a pint doesn’t really take that much more effort except for the canning part.
Ketchup on the cheap
A 6 oz can of organic tomato past is $0.90, but organic ketchup in a 20 oz container is at least $2.50. While I have to add salt, sugar, vinegar and some spice, the cost will still be half the cost.
While I am not saving a lot since we don’t use a lot of ketchup, I can put back tomato paste in a much smaller space than a bunch of premade ketchup. You can add garlic powder or any other spice you might want too, and since you are making your own blend, you can have control over the salt content and thickness.
24 small cans is a lot less trash than 24 containers of ketchup, so that means less recycling and hauling to the dump. Things like this matter when you don’t have garbage pick up or if you are in a crisis and garbage services are not available. Metal cans biodegrade faster than plastic by a long shot too!
This is some really strong mustard powder. If you get the three pack of 16 oz tins, you will have enough dry mustard to last for years. Fans of this dry mustard say that it keeps forever. After using several years past the expiration date, it is still tasty and great!
Keep in mind this is dried mustard with no salt or any other flavorings. If you want to play around making your own mustards, this is a great powder to start out with. It has a lot of zing to it so use sparingly until you learn the concentration you like.
So how much space should you dedicate to sauces and sauce ingredients?
We cook practically all the sit-down meals we eat so flavoring agents like sauces and spices are important to add flavor and complexity. Starting out with raw ingredients means you have to use quite a bit of spice. I am always surprised how much salt it takes when you are cooking from scratch even though we do not make very salty meals.
If you cook and eat a lot at home, I advise strongly considering the number and amount of sauces and spices you have on hand for any extended event. Although a lot of flavor is not required for your ultimate survival, it can sure help morale to have great tasting food.
How much you should put back should be based on factors such as how many meals you cook per day, family size, and how long a period you want to be prepared for.
Do you have any recipes for sauces you would like to share? Any sauces you love that are not on this list?
Samantha Biggers can be reached at [email protected]
More food storage tips? Get Backdoor Survival LIFELINE!