One of the first things you learn when cooking vegetarian foods is that it's important to find ways to infuse the food with flavor. You don't have the fats and flavors from meat/fish to rely on so you have to find that elsewhere. Perhaps the most important way is through fresh and interesting ingredients including spices. Another important way is through vegetable broth.
Now, making vegetable broth is not that hard and it's what I used to do when I first became vegetarian. I would make a whole pot of it and freeze it and use it in portions. But because I was only feeding one person (myself) I found that I wasted a lot of it and it was taking up a lot of space in my freezer.
Growing up, my mom had always used Maggi cubes to enhance the flavor of her food and so I went off in search of a vegan version of the bouillon cube. I found what I was looking for at the health food store and was happy to use them until I realized a key ingredient found in both Maggi and health food store bouillon cubes is derived from MSG (that's yeast extract). There's really one bouillon I've found that doesn't contain the ingredient and it's actually a vegetable broth powder by Vogue Cuisine. There are other makers of vegetable broth powders but I like Vogue Cuisine's the best in terms of taste and the others still have the yeast extract. I have only been able to find Vogue Cuisine's vegetable broth powder at two health food stores, one which is close by rather expensive (so I can't buy anything else there--I have to go specifically for the broth powder) and the other a bit further in the city (although I can do all my grocery shopping there). I have been opting to buy it at the closer store. This additive was worth it and I was willing to pay the $4.50 for the 4 ounce jar. Well, today I went to buy it and they were charging $5.15 for the 4 ounce jar! I laughed out loud shaking my head. It's one teaspoon of broth powder for ever cup of liquid. Today's split pea soup had about 14 cups of water--so it would need almost 6 tablespoons of vegetable broth powder! That's making what should be a relatively cheap soup much more expensive. I still ended up buying four jars with the clear understanding that I have to do something different--either suck it up and drive to the city and get it or . . . try this recipe for vegan chicken-style broth powder or this variation. I can get nutritional yeast pretty inexpensively from the bulk bins at whole foods so this might be worth a try. If I had a deep freezer, I would really just prefer to go back to making the broth from scratch. It's so simple! But then again, I like the idea of freezing the broth in in ice cube trays--that would reduce a lot of waste. I will try that too. But, oh, the broth powder was so . . . easy. (((sigh)))
Are there any other inexpensive flavor enhancement tricks that I'm missing?