One of the big stories right now is food prices inflation. The cost of a number of staples is going up. Not only that, but some recipes call for ingredients that are somewhat pricey anyway. If you are going to make meals at home, it’s fun to try things out — and it keeps things interesting for your family. However, there is no reason to spend a gourmet amount of money on a gourmet meal. You can make some simple substitutions to reduce the cost of a delicious meal at home.

Photo: RobbplusJessie

Simple — and Less Expensive — Substitutions

Here is a list of 11 substitutions for some of the common ingredients you might see in dinner favorites:

  1. Wine: Wine can be expensive, but it is easily substituted by grape juice. I’ve used white grape juice instead of white wine. You can also use purple or red grape juice to substitute for red wine. Apple juice also works for white wine, and cranberry juice for red wine.
  2. Milk: Dairy is being hit by food prices inflation, and you might not want to buy a gallon of whole milk for a recipe. You can use powdered milk, or you can combine 1/2 a cup of evaporated milk with 1/2 a cup of water.
  3. Ravioli pasta wraps: If you want to make easy raviolis for a low cost, you can buy a big pack of egg roll wrappers or won ton wrappers.
  4. Maple syrup and molasses: Real maple syrup can be a little pricey, as can good molasses. Both of these things, however, can be replaced by honey. You can also add brown sugar to some water to make a substitute for maple syrup.
  5. Fresh herbs: It’s nice to have fresh herbs, but it isn’t always possible. If you don’t have them growing fresh at your home, buying them at the store can be expensive — and they might go bad before you use them. You can substitute one teaspoon of dried herbs for every tablespoon of fresh.
  6. Bottled tomato sauce: This is used in so many dishes, but it can start to add up. If you need tomato sauce, you can create your own with one six-ounce can of tomato paste + 1 cup water. This will replace 15 oz of canned or bottled sauce. For pasta, you can add in meat, olives, capers or whatever you want to give it a personal touch.
  7. Balsamic vinegar: Instead of rushing out to get another type of vinegar (and paying for it) you can substitute your own version. Red wine vinegar (1 tbsp) + honey (1 tsp) will work.
  8. Fresh mushrooms: I love mushrooms, but they can be expensive when bought fresh. Dried mushrooms are often less expensive, and they last longer.
  9. Capers: Instead of buying capers, you can use green olives, which are often less expensive.
  10. Broth: Instead of buying broth in a can, you can make your own using ingredients from a former meal and freeze it. Or, you can use bouillon.
  11. Cake flour: You don’t need to buy special flour. Just measure out the required amount using all purpose flour, and the subtract two tablespoons.