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8 Food Swaps That Save Money

Whether you're prepping an affordable winter meal or need a last-minute ingredient swap for a recipe, these 8 food swaps are easy and affordable.

8 Food Swaps That Save Money

Cooking on a budget doesn't have to be bland—and forgetting an ingredient at the grocery store doesn't have to be a crisis. 

It's happened to the best of us. You start putting a recipe together, only to discover you're out of a key ingredient. But don't worry! There are actually a lot of easy swaps you can make whether you need a last-minute swap or you're looking for an affordable ingredient alternative. Here, we've put together eight tricks that will save you time and money. 

1. Make your own buttermilk

Only need a few tablespoons of buttermilk for a recipe? Instead of buying a big bottle, you can make your own version by adding one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to one cup of regular milk. 

2. Swap Greek yogurt for sour cream (and vice versa!)

Need something tangy to top off your chili, or something creamy to mix into banana bread? In cases like these, the two ingredients can be used interchangeably. So grab whatever you already have in your fridge—nobody will notice the difference!

3. Sometimes dry is a good thing

Fresh herbs can be pricey, and chances are you won't get to use that whole bunch of parsley, basil, or dill before it starts to go bad. Instead, stock your pantry with dried herbs or your freezer with frozen ones. It might cost you more upfront, but you'll be able to use less and keep them longer. 

4. Embrace frozen veggies

When possible, cook with frozen vegetables. They're just as nutritious, and often, significantly cheaper. If you need vegetables to mix into a casserole or soup, head to the frozen food aisle. As a secondary ingredient, no one will notice. 

5. Sub in some soy sauce

Need a dash of Worcestershire? Dig around for a soy sauce packet from the last time you got sushi takeout. It will add the same rich, savory, umami flavor to whatever you're making.

6. Mix and match sweet syrups

Maple syrup, honey, and agave have similar levels of sweetness and similar consistencies. If a recipe calls for honey but you only have a bottle of agave in your pantry, swap it out!

7. Grate your own cheese

... and get an arm workout, too! When you buy a bag of shredded cheese, you're paying a premium for convenience. That's awesome when you're short on time. But if not, buy cheese in block form and grate it yourself. Your wallet (and your biceps) will thank you!

8. Choose your chicken wisely

Chicken is one of the most popular proteins. If chicken breast is your go-to, consider swapping it sometimes for more affordable chicken thighs. Though thighs can be a bit fattier than the breast (trim, trim, trim!) they also have a lot more flavor, making for savory, filling dishes. 

Check your Save mailer for coupons and deals on pantry staples, food substitutions, and ingredient swaps for whatever you're cooking.