Balsamic for Everyone's Budget

Much unlike many a magazine editor who recommends you buy all sorts of crap that they most likely got for free, your Jezebel staff doesn't get jack shit (other than books, unsolicited). And that's how it should be. But on our own time, in our personal lives, we still buy stuff. So this is Worth It, our recommendation of random things that we've actually spent our own money on. These are the things we buy regularly or really like, things we'd actually tell our friends about. And now we're telling you.

There are some people who consider food "fuel" and therefore don't feel like they have to make every eating experience as delicious as possible. (Crazy Spartans.) I am not one of those people, so I'm a huge fan of quick and easy flavorings, be it spice, sauce, or condiment. And if I had to pick one favorite, it would be balsamic vinegar, because it's rich, sweet yet tart, healthy and instantly makes everything from strawberries to sandwiches to salads to Cool Ranch Doritos (for experienced users only) more delectable.

A drizzle of balsamic vinegar is definitely the simplest way to upgrade any snack or meal, but not all vinegars are created equal. I have two current favorites. The first is MarDona Balsamic Glaze, which comes in a chef-style squeeze bottle and has xanthan gum in it which makes it thicker and more sumptuous — you only need a tiny amount. I've used it on everything from proscuitto-wrapped breadstick appetizers to caprese salads to my thumb. I just now squeezed it on some low-fat cottage cheese and bbq chips (I'm working from home today and REALLY need to go grocery shopping) and, I swear, it elevated a pretty gross snack to a new level. I bought it for $9.99 in October and my roommate and I are only halfway finished with the bottle. Definitely worth it.

Then, there's Villa Manodori Aceto Balsamico Di Modena, which my roommate's mom bought us and which I instantly repurchased after we used all of it even though it's $35 bucks for 8.8 ounces because it's so freaking good. I've been trying to eat healthier, and it makes even semi-boring dishes (green salads without anything fun in them, tuna, grilled chicken, green beans) taste amazing. It's definitely pricey — I'll rarely spend $35 bucks on a T-shirt, much less a bottle of vinegar — but in my opinion, it's 100% worth it.

MarDona Balsamic Glaze, 8-Ounce Bottle, $9.99 at MarDonaUSA.

Villa Manodori Organic Balsamic Vinegar, 8.8-Ounce Bottle, $35 at Amazon.

Worth It only features things we paid for ourselves and actually like. Don't send us stuff.

Image via marco mayer/Shutterstock.