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One hurdle to cooking at home is having everything you need on hand, but this doesn't have to be a problem if you know what ingredients can be substituted for others with good results.

For example, I buy canned diced tomatoes by the case-load from our local grocery salvage store. One of those cans can be substituted for two cups of chopped tomatoes in many recipes.

And for recipes I like to make that call for a cup of heavy cream, I can substitute a cup of canned evaporated milk (I always have this on hand!), or I could substitute 3/4 cup milk plus 1/3 cup butter instead.

Also, for every tablespoon of fresh basil a recipe calls for, I could head over to my spice rack and substitute 1 teaspoon of dried basil.

(You may have guessed at this point I'm wanting homemade tomato basil soup today and don't have all the ingredients on hand... :D)

Recipes are just guidelines and you can often substitute other ingredients and have wonderful (and sometimes even better) results, so don't be afraid to make changes and substitutions! Before you run out to the store to buy missing ingredients, ask yourself, "What do I already have on hand that I could use instead?"

What substitutions do you make that work just as well as the ingredients originally called for? What recipes have you improved by making frugal substitutions?
 

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~Homemade yogurt for sour cream in recipes or as a garnish.
~I make my own evaporated milk with dried milk powder.
12 oz can substitution:
1 1/3 cups warm water
1 cup powdered milk
and 1 TB melted butter if desired
~3 TB cocoa with 1 TB shortening, butter, oil or applesauce for each ounce of baking chocolate in recipes
~1/4 to 1/2 the oil in recipes replaced with applesauce. Since I make my applesauce from apple cores it's almost free and really helps cut the cost.
~Italian Bread Crumbs(make my own crumbs in the blender from heels), "Shake N Bake"
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp each of oregano, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, paprika
1/2 tsp salt if desired
~Rice for recipes calling for tortillas. I've often served taco, enchilada and fahita fillings over rice instead of tortillas since that's what I had on hand. It's tasty!
~Cheap london broil instead of stew meat(2-3X cheaper, don't know why but it's good!)
 

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~I make my own evaporated milk with dried milk powder.
12 oz can substitution:
1 1/3 cups warm water
1 cup powdered milk
and 1 TB melted butter if desired
This is awesome! I'm going to keep this one handy for when I run out of the cans of evaporated milk -- thanks very much for sharing this!!
 

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Homemade Kefir - the optimum multi-tasker:
There are always several jars of homemade kefir in the refrigerator. Drain the whey from the curd - I can use it for plain yogurt, sour cream or cream cheese (depending on how long it drains). Give it a good shake and liquefy it and I use it instead of buttermilk. Mix the whey drained from the kefir curd with water (or coconut water which naturally has electrolytes and potassium, along with the whey, which helps the body absorb water better), and lemon or lime juice and a sweetener, for a refreshing drink as good as Gatorade.

Homemade Bisquick
(without having to make a huge amount)
Yield: 1-cup
1 cup flour
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fat of choice (I use butter or coconut butter, but shortening will also work)

Combine all ingredients and use as a substitution for Bisquick (Baking Mix).
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I also use powdered milk products (mostly Morning Moo's Whey-Based Milk Substitute).
-Evaporated Milk - make it double-strength

-Light Cream - triple-strength

-Sweetened Condensed - Add 1 c. powdered sugar to triple-strength

-Drain cooked potatoes and add the powder directly to the potatoes (without reconstituting it with water). Makes fluffy mashed potatoes.

-Cook cubed potatoes and onion in enough water to cover. When the potatoes are done, add the "milk" powder to the potato water to make potato soup.

-Use it as a base to make homemade pudding mixes, Magic Mix, cocoa mix, cultured and made into kefir or yogurt...

-Sugar-Free Cream Cheese
1/4 c. cream cheese, softened (or drained kefir curd)
2 T. Agave Nectar (a low-glycemic sweetener)
2-3 T. half and half or milk
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. Morning Moo's Whey-Based Milk Substitute (powder)
Cream together butter and agave nectar. Beat in milk and vanilla. Add dry milk substitute powder and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add more liquid or "milk" powder to achieve proper consistency.

Tomato Powder
Mix with water, or the addition of spices, sweeteners, etc. to make:
-tomato sauce
-tomato paste
-spaghetti sauce
-pizza sauce
-taco sauce
-bbq sauce
-ketchup

Homemade Tortillas
(flour and corn)
-cut into wedges and baked into tortilla chips
-crust for a pizza
-sandwich wraps

Homemade Gelatins
You can make "JELL-O" with unflavored gelatin, water, sugar (or other sweetener) and fruit juice (lemon, lime, orange, grape, nearly any flavor of fruit juice (we like blueberry pomegranate or cherry pomegranate).

Tartar Sauce
Yields: 1-cup
3/4 c. mayonnaise
1-1/2 T. pickle relish or finely chopped sweet pickle
1/2 T. onion, VERY finely chopped
1/2 T. lemon juice OR vinegar
1/2 T. fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 T. fresh dill, finely cut (OR 1/2 t. dried dill)
Combine all ingredients. Store, refrigerated in a jar or plastic container.

One of the best places to find all kinds of substitutions when you are in a pinch is: Cook's Thesaurus

I have to think that all those "MOCK" recipes were invented by people who couldn't afford or find the ingredients.

Here's a bunch of "mock" recipes: Mock Recipes - MassRecipes.com
 
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