Go on. Admit it. You use stock cubes. Of course you do. We all do. I make proper stock from time to time (and freeze it) but when I'm in a hurry (and that's quite often these days) I resort to ready-made, shop-bought stock cubes. The trick is, I think, to track down the better quality brands and to use less of it then the directions tell you to on the packet. Otherwise, everything tastes too salty.
I've just discovered these brilliant mushroom flavoured stock cubes. Made in Italy and exported to the UK, they're currently available in Waitrose and various up-market delis. Perfect for an after-work autumnal mushroom risotto or a Saturday late afternoon beef stew. Makes a change from the ubiquitous chicken, doesn't it?