Today’s guest post comes from Tiffany at Eat at Home! Substituting is KEY for saving $$$, and she’s got some great ideas for us…
One of the best ways to save money is by minimizing trips to the grocery. Those little trips to pick up one or two forgotten items can easily pull $40 or $50 from your wallet. Learning how to substitute ingredients in your favorite recipes can save you from those expensive, last minute trips.
Tomato Products – Canned tomato products are some of the easiest ingredients to swap out.
You can use tomato paste instead of sauce, by adding water to the paste. Depending on the recipe you might be able to use sauce instead of paste by reducing the other liquids in the recipe.
Use diced tomatoes instead of crushed or sauce. I’ve run a can of diced tomatoes through the blender when I’m out of crushed or tomato sauce. It turns out a bit thinner, but in some recipes (like spaghetti sauce) it won’t matter much. This is especially true if you’re only short 1 can or if the recipe also includes tomato paste.
You can add a bit of sugar to a can of diced tomatoes to substitute them for stewed tomatoes. If you have it, you can also add a bit of minced onion and celery.
Out of tomatoes and green chilis (Rotel)??? Use a can of diced tomatoes along with a can of green chilis. Or just use salsa instead. You could also just add some hot sauce, taco seasoning, or chili powder to the recipe.
Use American slices for Velveeta and vice versa.
In many dishes you can use cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss, Monterey Jack or a combination of these. Exceptions might be pizza. I really like mozzarella on pizza and another cheese just wouldn’t be right. However, you might be fine with swapping out mozzarella for another kind of cheese on your pizza.
You can use string cheese in place of mozzarella, if you don’t need much of it.
In Baked Goods
Use whole wheat flour in place of white and vice versa. Whole wheat can be heavy, so you might want to use part white instead of all whole wheat.
Use bread flour or cake flour for all-purpose flour. This is not ideal, since it is more expensive, but if it keeps you from running out to the store, it will still save you money.
Use a little cornmeal to stretch the flour when you’re running low. This will work better in some recipes than others. Try it in muffins or biscuits or even pancakes.
In Mexican Foods
By keeping in mind the general flavors and ingredients in Mexican foods, you can make all kinds of substitutions as necessary. You can swap out chicken for beef or use beans instead. Out of tortillas? Put the filling over cornbread, rice, tortilla chips or even salad. You can do this with enchilada filling, tacos, burrito filling etc.
In Italian Foods
For Italian Foods
Use the same principles in Italian foods. Of course, you can use all different shapes of pasta. By keeping in mind all the things that often get added to Italian dishes you’ll be able to make many substitutions. Think about using Italian sausage, grilled chicken, ground beef, tomatoes in various forms, basil, oregano, thyme, parmesan, Romano, mozzarella. The dish you end up with might be much different than the recipe, but if you stick with common Italian ingredients it will be good. You might find you like it even better than the original.
What are your favorite substitution tricks? Do you find it easy to make substitutions or are you more of a “follow the recipe” cook?
Tiffany is a Homeschool mom of 4 kids, ranging in age from 17 to 6 years old. On her blog, Eat at Home she shares recipes and tips to help families put dinner on the table quickly and economically.