As a college student who is discovering a new passion for the culinary arts, I am always looking for alternatives to expensive ingredients. After all, I am not going (or even willing) to spend hundreds on a quarter pound of truffles for one pasta dish. Thankfully, there are plenty of alternatives to expensive ingredients!
1 Peanut Butter
Who knew that peanut butter would be one of the best alternatives to expensive ingredients? Peanut butter can always be found in my pantry, and it is a great substitute for tahini. Finally,I now know another way to use my beloved jar of Skippy peanut butter other than just mixing it with my Nutella for a late-night snack!
Apples, oranges, and bananas can be found year-round at supermarkets. So can berries, but they are usually twice as much. I also love tropical fruits and peaches, but those come with a high price tag as well, especially during the winter. Those fruits have to be shipped from far away places, like Chile. It turns out that apples add more crunch to tarts and pies, but it doesn’t lose any flavor.
3 Brown Sugar
Yayyy for baking ingredients! Brown sugar is usually another staple in pantries. Ever since I have spent so much time on the East Coast, I have loved maple syrup more and more, but organic maple syrup can cost as much as $16 a bottle. My buddy discovered that mixing brown sugar with hot water can do the trick, too. Brown sugar has a rich flavor, and mimic the rich flavor in maple syrup.
4 Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is an ideal base for many dishes and sauces. Worcestershire sauce is pricier, and you will definitely use soy sauce a lot more. It can replace any marinade, and you are unlikely to tell the difference.
5 Porcini Mushrooms
I am not a fan of mushrooms, so I was debating just skipping them if the recipe called for them. However, it was the main ingredient, and I did not feel like giving up on making the dish. The mushrooms that I needed were truffles. Immediately, I knew that it would be a problem because I did not want to dish out $200 for a vegetable that I am not fond of. Porcini mushrooms, which my mom loves and recommended, have a rich flavor and are a fraction of the price of truffles!
6 Skirt Steak
I don’t eat meat, but many of my best friends do. When they ask me to help them prepare dinner, I usually give in and make steaks with them. I have discovered that skirt steak is much cheaper than filet mignon. And according to them, if you grill it and season it perfectly, skirt stead is equally as tender.
I love rosemary! It is such a versatile ingredient and can be put in pastas, soups, and chicken dishes -- you name it! Rosemary is a wonderful substitute for more unusual ingredients, such as juniper berries.
8 Pumpkin Seeds
I love pine nuts, and although they are not the priciest ingredients, it is always good to find cheaper options that to the trick! Pumpkin seeds are very crunchy and have a similar flavor.
9 Milk with Lemons
Buttermilk actually is not expensive, but the thought of just using just some and then having to toss out the rest bothers me. So I use milk and lemon juice, and it is actually a good alternative! For each cup of milk, add one tablespoon of lemon juice.
There you go, ladies! These are some of my favorite alternatives to expensive ingredients. What are some of your favorite substitutes?