I do not subscribe to the Bisto fan club. Every time I go to someone's house and the Bisto comes out, I sigh a little inwardly. 'Ah. Bisto'. I haven't got anything against Bisto per se and personally I love using Oxo and Knorr stock cubes for flavourings in sauces, pies, stews and soups.
But the art of using good natural stock seems to have gone down the (sauce) pan these days.
FREE gravy is the best gravy! It is healthier, not packed with salts and preservatives, and perfectly complements the food you are serving.
All you need to invest in is some supermarket own-label cornflour. I use Sainsbury's own and it has kept me going for almost two years.
Suppose you are cooking a roast dinner? Firstly, are you boiling any vegetables? Do not strain the water into the sink. Pour a tiny amount into a bowl or jug, allow it to cool and then mix in one to two tablespoonfuls of cornflour, depending on how thick you want it to be. Stir until it has become a white liquid. Add a little more water as necessary. It should look like milk.
Pour more veg water into a small saucepan and add the liquid cornflour from the jug. Add some salt and pepper, and put on a moderate heat. Stir occasionally. You will see it start to thicken.
Never add cornflour powder directly to a saucepan of hot vegetable water. It will not thicken but congeal in weird white lumps that look like snot.
Take the meat from oven and use a baster or large spoon to gather up some of the meat juices from the bottom of the dish. Add this to the saucepan and stir. If you fancy, add some herbs or spices. Sometimes to darken it up I add a tiny squirt of brown sauce, but only if I am cooking with beef or lamb.
What this gives you is gravy made from the very food you are about to eat, so the flavours match what you have cooked, instead of competing with it.
It is also extremely cost-effective and much healthier for you. Get on that budget gravy train!