Here are a few easy food substitutions to help you save money on groceries and prevent extra grocery trips.
Have you ever been in this situation: start cooking dinner, get half way through the recipe, and then realize you are missing ONE important ingredient??? Now you are stuck with the dilemma of trying to decide if you should take the time to go to the grocery store for that one item or switch dinner plans last minute. This situation has happened to me more times than I can count, and I feel like either decision I make ends up costing me money. If I go to the store I always buy more than that one item, but if I switch dinner plans last minute there is a lot of food that goes to waste. This is where easy food substitutions can be a huge game saver! Here are some easy food substitutions to save money.
Easy Food Substitutions To Save Money
Here are a few of my favorite food substitutions to help you save money, time and headaches! 😉 Let me know what (if any) you would add to this list!
A few of my very favorite recipes call for buttermilk, like my fluffy pancakes recipe here. But, do you want to know a little secret? I have never once bought buttermilk from the store to make them!
Instead, I just make my own buttermilk substitute. It is so quick, easy and I always have the ingredients on hand!
To make your own buttermilk just add 1 Tablespoon of vinegar to 1 cup of milk and stir. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then it’s ready to use! So easy!
*I have also heard you can use lemon juice instead of vinegar, but vinegar is cheaper, so that’s what I use!
2. Lemon Zest
Honestly, I really don’t like zesting lemons. It’s a bit of a hassle, and I never have lemons around anyways.
So, I started substituting lemon juice for lemon zest and it works wonderfully!
You can use 2 Tbsp of lemon juice to replace 1 tsp of lemon zest in recipes.
3. Fresh Lemon Juice
Speaking of lemons, another great lemon substitute is to use bottled lemon juice instead of fresh lemon juice. I always have bottled lemon juice stocked, but I rarely buy lemons. This substitute is perfect to save me a trip to the grocery store.
Use 2-3 Tbsps of lemon juice in place of the juice of one lemon.
4. Ground Beef
Meat is one of the most expensive items at the grocery store. If you’re wanting to save money on groceries I recommend planning a few meatless meals each week.
However, if you’re wanting to cook with meat, specifically ground beef, you can substitute some of the meat for black beans, which will also save you money!
Just mash the beans up and add them to your ground beef while it’s browning. This is also a great trick for stretching dinners a little further, without having to spend a lot of extra money.
5. Greek Yogurt
If you have any baking recipes that call for Greek yogurt, there is a very easy substitute! All you have to do is replace the yogurt with sour cream!
You can use a 1:1 ratio, meaning use the exact same amount of sour cream that the recipe needed of Greek Yogurt.
6. Self Rising Flour
When baking you might come across a few recipes that call for Self Rising Flour. Rather than going out and buying flour for that specific recipe, just make your own using items you probably already have in your pantry!
To make 1 cup of self rising flour mix together:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
That’s it! You’ve just made your own self rising flour for pennies!
7. Half and Half
A cheap and easy substitute for half and half is milk. True, milk won’t be as rich as using half and half, but I make this easy substitute all of the time and hardly notice a difference.
If you are really wanting a flavor more similar to half and half, just add 1 Tbsp of melted butter to a cup of milk and use to replace 1 cup of half and half.
Vanilla extract can be a very expensive ingredient to keep stocked up in your pantry. But, fortunately there is a cheaper substitute you can try! Yay!
My favorite substitution for vanilla is maple syrup. Just use a 1:1 ratio when replacing vanilla extract with maple syrup, making it quick and easy to remember, just the way we like it!
Do you have a recipe that calls for allspice, but you don’t want to buy an ingredient to only use 1/4 tsp?!? I get it, I’ve been there too! Just make your own allspice instead!
To make allspice mix together 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp ground cloves. This will make the equivalent of 1 tsp Allspice.
Save yourself some money and make your own breadcrumbs at home rather than purchasing them at the store! Breadcrumbs are so easy to make and a great way to use up a loaf of bread before it goes bad.
To make homemade breadcrumbs:
- Place 4-6 bread slices on a cookie sheet.
- Put cookie sheet in a 300 degree oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until bread is hard and dry.
- Let bread cool.
- Once cool, put bread into a food processor and pulse until the bread has turned into fine bread crumbs.
That’s it! You will now have breadcrumbs to use however your recipe calls for them! Enjoy!
If you run out of eggs right in the middle of baking, no worries! You can easily substitute mayo (yes, mayo!) for eggs.
Just use 3 Tbsp of mayo to replace each egg called for in the recipe.
12. Corn Syrup
Every time I buy corn syrup for a recipe, it ends up sitting in my cupboard untouched for months and months. I just don’t cook with it enough to make the cost worth it!
So, I’ve started making my own and haven’t looked back since. It is MUCH cheaper than buying the real thing!
To make your own corn syrup mix together:
- 1 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup water
This will make one cup of corn syrup substitute! Enjoy!
13. Cream Of Chicken Soup
Another easy ingredient to make yourself is Condensed Cream Of Chicken Soup mix. You can whip up a big jar of this every few months, leave it sitting on your shelf and then use when needed. It’s so cheap and quick to make!
Check out my recipe here: Cream of Chicken Soup Mix recipe. Let me know if you have any questions about it!
Honestly, I never ever buy garlic. I told my friend this once and she thought I was crazy! It’s just not a priority in my kitchen.
But, when I do have a recipe that calls for one garlic clove I will substitute 1/8 tsp garlic powder instead. It works like a charm!
15. Evaporated Milk
If you are in a pinch needing a can of evaporated milk, just grab a jug of regular cows milk from your refrigerator.
Simmer 2 1/4 cups milk on the stove in a sauce pan. Stir and simmer until the milk goes down to one cup. This should make 1 cup of evaporated milk.
16. Sour Cream
Sour cream (for baking) is another ingredient that has an easy swap! You can substitute 1 cup of plain yogurt for 1 cup of sour cream. And, if you remember from earlier in the article, this substitute works both ways!
If you are using a recipe that calls for 1 cup of plain yogurt and you don’t have any, just use 1 cup of sour cream instead! Easy peasy!
17. Tomato Sauce
If you are needing a can of tomato sauce, but don’t have any on hand, use tomato paste instead!
All you have to do is mix 3/4 cup tomato paste with 1 cup water and you will have the perfect substitute for 2 cups tomato sauce. I love using this substitution when making soups or stews.
Don’t be afraid to get creative when cooking in the kitchen. My first instinct when I am missing an ingredient is to run to the store and buy it. However, if I stop and take a minute to find an easy alternative I have found that I can save a lot of time and money. I promise, if I can do it, so can you!
What easy food substitution would you add to this list? I would love more suggestions!
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I hope this article gave you some good suggestions of easy food substitutions to save money.
A lot of herbs can be substituted by herbs you already have. Leek an unions can substitute each other, just like chives and springonions. Carrots and pumpkin etc.
Sweet Frugal Life says
Thank you for these awesome tips!
Leona Mae Nielsen says
Thanks for the info..
Sweet Frugal Life says