Kudos to you for staying in tonight to cook instead of going out to a restaurant. But now your recipe calls for something you don’t have — what do you do? We’ve got you covered with our handy list of food swaps that save money. Not only will you be able to finish dinner without a hitch, but you’ll also save money in the future by not shelling out on items you’ll only use once.
There’s nothing worse than picking up a carton of cream for your recipe only to have it sit unused in your fridge. Within a week it will be expired and you will have wasted your hard-earned money. The good news is there are plenty of substitutes for cream and lots of other ingredients you inevitably use only once before tossing — and most of them are already sitting in your kitchen.
The fact that these food swaps are better for your body is an added benefit, and your body will certainly appreciate it. Keep scrolling for a handy list of healthy food swaps that save money and never stress about not having what you need again.
Find healthier butter substitutes.
There are plenty of healthy butter substitutes out there, whether you’re looking for butter substitutes for vegans or you’re concerned about butter’s saturated fats.
Vegetable oil spreads: These are popular alternatives to butter and are generally considered healthier for your heart than butter. While you may not taste the difference if you smear your margarine on a slice of toast, cooking with margarine instead of butter may affect the taste of your recipe. Margarine won’t hold together ingredients as well as butter, which means you may be better off with regular butter for certain baked goods.
Oil: While you can’t replace butter with oil in your recipes, it’s totally fine to swap melted butter for oil. This will save you money, and oils are vegan-friendly.
Coconut oil: Swapping coconut oil for butter is an option that makes many recipes vegan-friendly. Not only can using coconut oil help you slim down faster, but it also aids digestion and boosts energy.
Fruit or veggie puree: Believe it or not, avocados are a great butter substitute and can give your brownies a creamy texture. Applesauce, pumpkin puree, and prune puree are also excellent alternatives to butter for baking, plus they’re mellow enough to not mess with the taste of your desserts.
Chia seeds: This option won’t entirely replace your butter, but it does a good job of reducing the amount of butter you use. If you let chia seeds sit in water for a few minutes, they will expand and form a gel that you can use for baking. It may not sound appetizing, but your body will thank you.
Is Popcorn Healthy
Pop your own popcorn.
Popcorn is a filling snack that can actually aid with weight loss — but only if you buy the right kind. Buying popcorn kernels in bulk will save you money over buying small boxes of individual bags. Plus, air-popped or stovetop popcorn doesn’t come with all the bad-for-you chemicals like microwave popcorn. You can still customize your popcorn’s flavor by adding seasonings, spices, and low-fat butter.
Opt for meatless Mondays.
While we’re not going to force you be vegetarian 100 percent of the time, there are recorded health benefits of ditching processed meats. Beans, especially when you buy them dry and in bulk, are a cheap and filling alternative to meat products, and they’re still full of the protein your body craves. Plus, beans and lentils are great sources of fiber that will prevent unhealthy snacking. Check out our favorite vegetarian recipes to get inspiration.
Homemade Vinaigrette Dressing Recipe
Make your own salad dressing.
There’s nothing worse than buying salad dressing before the start of a new push to be healthy, telling yourself that you’re more likely to eat salads if you like the dressing you put on it, only to eat salads for half a week and then forget about it. Your salad dressing will sit in the fridge unused until it eventually goes bad. Instead, you should make your own simple salad dressing with ingredients you already have at home.
Olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper are all you need to make a basic vinaigrette for your salads. One part vinegar to three parts oil is a good ratio. Then, season with salt and pepper to taste. Yum!
Make your own buttermilk substitutes.
Buttermilk probably isn’t something you buy unless you have a specific recipe in mind. So for all those times you need it but don’t have it on hand, using sour milk is an option. To make sour milk, simply add one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice into a one-cup measuring container, and fill the rest of it with milk. Let everything sit for five minutes until the milk tastes sour. (This trick also works for non-dairy milks.)
Cooking Wine Substitute
Use unsweetened juice as a cooking wine substitute.
Cooking wine is useful for deglazing pans and adding subtle flavor to dishes, but you use so little during cooking that it’s often not worth it to buy an entire bottle. Unsweetened cranberry juice can be used in place of red wine, while unsweetened white grape juice or apple juice can replace white wine.
Indulge with cream substitutes.
Cream is expensive to have at all times, but you can still enjoy that rich taste. A cheap cream substitute is to mix a tablespoon of melted butter with enough whole milk to equal a cup. This combination works perfectly in place of light cream. If you want a heavy cream alternative, try the above formula but swap out whole milk for evaporated skim milk.
Coconut milk is a vegan cream substitute, but it may give your recipes a subtle coconut flavor. Soy milk and olive oil mixed using the milk and butter formula above is another vegan-friendly alternative to cream.
Bread Crumbs Substitute
Substitute crackers for bread crumbs.
Bread crumbs are a great coating for any recipe, but let’s say you don’t have any on hand. Save yourself money and a trip to the grocery store and substitute crackers for bread crumbs. One thing to keep in mind, though, is to reduce the amount of salt in your recipe if you’re using salted crackers.
Gluten-free oats or crunchy flax seeds are a great option for those with food allergies. Mimic the taste of seasoned bread crumbs by mixing your crunch of choice with herbs and spices. This option is lower in sodium, and your body will thank you.
Cocoa Powder Substitute For Baking Chocolate
Swap cocoa powder for baking chocolate.
Baking chocolate is known by many different names, including bitter chocolate, cooking chocolate, and unsweetened chocolate. As the name implies, this chocolate is mainly used in cooking rather than snacking; it’s also extremely bitter because it doesn’t contain any added sugar.
If you’re a master chef who enjoys whipping up chocolatey desserts on a regular basis, then baking chocolate is probably a pantry staple. For the rest of us home cooks, baking chocolate is often a waste of money because we only need a small fraction of the package for a recipe. The good news is cocoa powder is a substitute for baking chocolate. Three tablespoons of cocoa powder plus one tablespoon of oil or shortening is good for every ounce of baking chocolate needed.
Are Frozen Potatoes Healthy
Ditch frozen potatoes in favor of fresh produce.
Raise your hand if you love potatoes. Now raise your hand if you love saving money. If both hands are up, ditch your packages of frozen potatoes for a budget-friendly bag of potatoes from the produce section. This way, you’ll get more bang for your buck and potentially a healthier spud.