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by Sarah Schlichter, MPH, RDN

With all this extra time at home, many of us are spending additional time in the kitchen. However, we may often feel "at mercy" to certain recipes that call for ingredients we may be out of or aren’t available at our local grocery store. With basic knowledge of culinary substitutions, you can make use of what you already have to complete a recipe. (It’s easy, we promise!) Keep reading for more.

What You Need: Breadcrumbs

The Solution: Need a breading for your burgers, patties or baked good but can’t find breadcrumbs anywhere? Try grinding up oats for a similar consistency. You can also crush up chips or crackers and use them as a breading as well.

14 Easy Ingredient Swaps For When You Can't Make It To The Grocery Store

What You Need: Butter

The Solution: Realizing you’re out of butter right as you prepare to make your favorite chocolate chip recipe is the worst. Lucky for you, you can substitute equal amounts of plain canned pumpkin, or ¾ as much vegetable oil.

What You Need: Buttermilk

The Solution: If your recipe calls for buttermilk, you can easily make your own by using milk and an acid, like lemon juice or vinegar. If you have kefir on hand, that is a great substitute as well.

What You Need: Canola Oil

The Solution:Don’t fret if you can’t find canola oil anywhere – a neutral oil, coconut oil and melted butter all work. You can even use applesauce or pumpkin puree in place of canola oil if needed.

What You Need: Cheese Sauce

The Solution:While you can make your own pasta sauce with some tomatoes and spices, you can also make your own cream sauce. Simply soak cashews in water for a few hours, or overnight if you want a creamier sauce. Then, drain and blend them with nutritional yeast to make a cheesy cream sauce. 

What You Need: Cornstarch

The Solution:Trade out a tablespoon of cornstarch for two tablespoons of all-purpose flour.

What You Need: Cream

The Solution: Out of heavy cream for your soup recipe? Puree some cooked garbanzo beans or any cooked legumes to add depth and creaminess. 

What You Need: Eggs

The Solution:Many people who follow a vegetarian, vegan or egg-free diet are familiar with the idea of a “chia egg” or “flax egg.” Both options work well as a binder in baked goods, similar to an egg. To substitute one egg, combine 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 2½ tablespoons of water, stir and let it sit for up to 5 minutes until it becomes gel-like and thick. Similarly, to make a “flax egg,” combine 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed or flaxseed meal with 2½ T of water, and let it sit for 5 minutes to thicken. You can also use ½ of a mashed banana or pureed tofu for an egg replacement.

What You Need: Fresh Herbs

The Solution: Dried herbs make a great substitution for fresh herbs, plus have a long shelf life! Typically, a teaspoon of dried herbs is a replacement for a tablespoon of fresh herbs. You can also use spinach, or another green, in place of basil to make your own pesto!

What You Need: Fresh Meats

The Solution: Can’t secure fresh chicken, turkey or ground beef at your local store? Don’t forget about canned meats. Using canned chicken or tuna for chicken or tuna salads, casseroles, nacho toppings and even soups can work in a pinch.

What You Need: Nuts

The Solution: Many baked goods call for nuts but maybe you don’t have them (or the specific variety) on hand. If you have raisins, sunflower seeds, or hemp seeds, you can substitute those to add some texture to your recipe.

What You Need: Sour Cream

The Solution:Greek yogurt is a fabulous substitute for sour cream with a similar consistency and tart flavor. Plus, its upgraded nutrition profile offers additional nutrients, like protein, calcium, vitamin D and probiotics. You can use it in a 1:1 ratio. Similarly, mayonnaise can be substituted for sour cream and vice versa.

What You Need: Sugar

The Solution:No sugar on hand? You can use applesauce or mashed banana to naturally sweeten a recipe and make it healthier. Honey or maple sugar are other options for substitutions. 

What You Need: Tomatoes Or Canned Tomatoes

The Solution:Swap fresh tomatoes for a can of diced tomatoes or vice versa. To make your own tomato sauce, combine equal amounts of water and tomato paste.

**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.