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7 Low-Cost Substitutions for Expensive Ingredients


Save money on cookingCooking at home saves a lot of money! However, some recipes call for ingredients that are way outside of your budget. Here are some inexpensive substitutions that many home cooks will appreciate. While gourmet foodies might be able to tell the difference, most people won’t be able to.

1. Filet Mignon

Filet mignon is really tender and readily available at most stores. However, it’s one of the most expensive cuts of beef available.

If you’re looking for a lower priced substitute, you’ll have to head to a butcher shop where they process whole animals in house. That’s because the cut you want is almost unheard of in the conventional shopping scene.

You’re looking for the teres major, also known as the mock tender. It’s a really lean steak cut located on the shoulder blade of the cow. It’s a lot cheaper per pound but every bit as tender and delicious.

2. Saffron

Famed as one of the most expensive spices on the market, saffron is rising in popularity among foodies. It adds a beautiful color and a unique taste to dishes.

A much lower priced substitute for the home chef on a budget is a pinch of paprika mixed with turmeric. You’ll get the sweet taste and the yellow coloring saffron is known for.

3. Cream of Tartar

Snickerdoodles call for cream of tartar. So do a few other baking recipes, and some meringue recipes. This white powder helps baked goods rise and helps stabilize egg whites.

While it’s not necessarily expensive, shelling out money for something you won’t use very often is hard. So leave the jar on the store shelf, and use a substitute instead.

If the cream of tartar is used in a baked dish, replace both the baking soda and the cream of tartar the recipe calls for with baking powder. Your goodies will rise nicely, and you’ll save some money.

However, if the cream of tartar is used to stabilize egg whites, such as in a meringue recipe, you don’t want to add baking powder. Instead, replace the powder with an equal amount of white vinegar. This will stabilize the egg whites for you.

4. Fish Sauce

Many Thai dishes call for fish sauce. While you can pick up an inexpensive bottle at the supermarket, it’s often not the best quality and will quickly go rancid.

Instead, simply use an equal amount of soy sauce in your recipe. It’ll still taste good!

5. Tahini

A popular ingredient in hummus, tahini is made from sesame seeds. It’s also fairly expensive for just a little jar.

To keep the cost of your homemade hummus down, use an equal amount of peanut butter and add a splash of extra olive oil to thin it down a bit.

6. Butter

There’s really no substitute for butter when you’re wanting to spread something on a piece of fresh bread. However, when you’re baking you can definitely keep your costs down by leaving out the butter.

For muffins, cookies, and other baked goods, an equal amount of applesauce can be used in place of the butter. Not only is applesauce less expensive, it also contains significantly fewer calories per serving.

7. Red Wine

Save the expensive wine for the dinner table, not your baked goods. Simply replace the wine in the recipe with an equal amount of cranberry juice. You’ll get the same color and flavor profile but at a lower price.

Cooking Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive!

When you replace expensive ingredients with lower priced ones, shop for seasonal produce, and stretch your meat, you’ll be preparing great meals for your family for much less.

For more money savings tips, be sure to check out the other articles on the SideMoney blog.

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