By Mara Betsch
Updated: March 02, 2016

Who hasn't cringed at a recipe that contains at least two spices not found in your spice rack? Flavor-packed recipes just got easier—and cheaper—to make.

The product: McCormick Recipe Inspirations ($2 per pack; available at select grocery stores nationwide or online)

The taste factor: Spicy—in a good way. With flavors like Apple and Sage Pork Chops, Rosemary Roasted Chicken With Potatoes, Quesadilla Casserole, Spanish Chicken Skillet, Shrimp and Pasta Primavera, and Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas, there are spice combinations for everyone.

Though any gourmet chef would hail the flavor benefits of fresh herbs and spices, these dried spices hold their own. You can actually taste the sage, red pepper, or dill in each of these quick recipes. And what's better is that they're perfectly proportioned—no measuring spoons required.

The health factor: Adding spices to foods is a great way to add low-cal flavor to your favorite dishes. It's a lot better to add onions, garlic, and paprika than equal amounts of butter or oil. Plus certain spices—like black pepper and ginger—may even increase metabolism.

And all the recipes on the back of the packets have good blends of lean protein, veggies, and carbohydrates. The Shrimp and Pasta Primavera does contain a cup of heavy cream, so be sure to watch your portions!

Editors' pick: Spanish Chicken Skillet. Even though I'm a vegetarian, I used these spices to make a flavor-packed Spanish chickpea skillet instead. The crushed red pepper gave it the kick I like.

Why we love it: The convenience! I can't tell you the number of times I've bought a bunch of parsley only to use a tablespoon before watching it shrivel in my refrigerator drawer. For newbie cooks and those who need to get a meal on the table quickly, these spices will save you time (and money).