I know you’ve been there. We’ve ALL been there.
At some point in time you’ve brought home an oddball ingredient listed in a recipe, only to use a tiny little bit. Then as you stick the rest in the fridge or pantry, you wonder to yourself, “How in the world am I going to use up the rest of this without making this same recipe million times over?”
And then week (or several) later, when that particular item gets moldy or expires, you kick yourself in the foot as you throw the item into the trash thinking, “Well shoot! There goes $5 (or $20!) down the drain. What a waste!”
Oh gosh. I could wish for a nickel for every time I did that, but it really wouldn’t make much of a dent in the money I know I’ve wasted!
The madness stops today. Instead of throwing away our hard-earned money, let’s be proactive and purposeful in our spending and cut out ingredients we don’t really need anyway. Surely we can be creative and find a substitute, right? Do we REALLY need to have 50 different spices in the cabinet when we only regularly use 5-6?
These list of the top 25 frugal food substitutions will help you whittle down your cabinets so you’re only spending money on the foods that really count and will give you the most bang for your buck. For all the items listed below, there’s a really, really good chance you have the substitution already in your pantry. If by some chance you don’t, I’m 100% positive you can find it at a local store for an affordable price.
My small disclaimer: When you swap one ingredient with another, you always run the risk of variation in taste and different behavior in cooking. However, most changes in taste are so slight that the average person doesn’t even notice. Simply use your best judgement and taste as you go.
My second small disclaimer: This is not the end all, be all of substitution lists. I tried to compile a comprehensive list of substitution ideas and do you know how long it it was?
Folks. Are you REALLY going to stick around here and read every possible substitution idea known to man… for 9.Full.Pages?!
I think not. So I took the liberty of ignoring the common ones and sharing only the best of the best – the ones that trim your grocery bill and even help you find a way to use real food instead of the fake stuff. Let’s get to it!
Allspice: 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon + 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg + 1/4 tsp cloves (makes 1 tsp)
Apple Pie Spice: 1/2 tsp cinnamon + 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg + 1/8 tsp allspice + dash ground cloves OR ground ginger (makes 1 tsp)
Butter: pureed white beans, applesauce, coconut oil (for up to half of the butter in the recipe)
Buttermilk: find 7 substitution ideas HERE
Cardamom: ground ginger OR equal parts cinnamon + nutmeg
Cheese: find 6 substitution ideas HERE
Chervil: tarragon OR parsley
Chili Sauce: 1 cup tomato sauce + 1/4 cup brown sugar + 2 Tbsp vinegar + 1/4 tsp cinnamon + dash ground cloves + dash allspice (makes 1 cup)
Chocolate, semisweet: 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder + 2 tsp sugar + 2 tsp butter
Corn Syrup: 1 cup granulated sugar + 1/4 cup water (makes 1 cup)
Creme Fraiche: 1 cup heavy cream + 1 Tbsp plain yogurt & let stand for 6 hours at room temperature
Egg: 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 Tbsp water OR 1/4 cup pumpkin puree OR 1 Tbsp vinegar + 1 tsp baking soda (full tutorial here)
Flour, bread: 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 Tbsp vital wheat gluten (makes 1 cup)
Flour, cake: 1 cup minus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour (makes 1 cup)
Flour, pastry: 1/2 cup all-purpose + 1/2 cup cake flour OR 2 Tbsp corn starch + all-purpose to make 1 cup
Flour, self-rising: 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp salt + 1/4 tsp baking soda (makes 1 cup)
Half & Half: 1 Tbsp melted butter + whole milk to make 1 cup
Heavy Cream, not whipped: 1/3 cup melted butter + 3/4 cup whole milk (makes 1 cup)
Mace: ground allspice OR round nutmeg
Pumpkin Pie Spice: 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon + 1/4 tsp ground ginger + 1/4 tsp ground allspice + 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (makes 1 tsp)
Saffron: dash ground turmeric
Savory: thyme OR marjoram OR sage
Tarragon: chervil OR fennel seed OR anise seed
Thai Seasoning: 1 tsp ground coriander + 1 tsp crushed red pepper + 1/4 tsp salt + 1/4 tsp ground ginger + 1/4 tsp garlic powder + 1/4 tsp onion powder (makes 1 Tbsp)
Vanilla Beans: 2 tsp vanilla extract per 1 bean
Wow… I’m thinking you could easily save $50 right there! Who knew simple swaps could save so much?!