As many of us find ourselves housebound (the only responsible and sensible thing to do right now, if you can do it), here is an opportunity to spend more time in the kitchen.
If you have kids, this is also a chance to get them involved. Cooking is an invaluable life skill, that will help them and keep them healthy for many years to come.
Seeing bare supermarket shelves can be unsettling. At the same time, there are many storecupboard ingredient swaps that you can use if you are out of something. Remember to be flexible, experiment, have fun and skip extra toppings and garnishes that are probably not that important right now.
Here are some of my favourite storecupboard ingredient swaps. I hope you find them useful. Please do share your tips in the comment box below. And if you find yourself in a cooking dilemma, drop me a line and I will try to help as much as I can. Love to all!
Dried herbs for fresh herbs: 1 tsp of dried herbs = 1 Tbsp of fresh herbs
Herbs are an easy way to add flavour to food. You can, of course, grow your own even if you only have a windowsill. Alternatively, you can substitute fresh herbs for dried herbs. Dried herbs tend to be stronger so you will need to use less.
For example, if a recipe calls for 1 Tbsp of fresh parsley, you can replace it for 1 tsp of dried parsley. This rule of thumb works for most herbs and for most cooked dishes and salads.
Oil for butter in baking: 225g of butter equates to about 180ml of vegetable oil
I often prefer to use oil instead of butter when baking. 225g of butter equates to about 180ml of vegetable oil. Do keep in mind though that this substitution works best for baking recipes where you do not have to cream the butter first.
Nuts for cream or milk: soaked nuts
No cream or milk in the fridge.. why not make your own?
Simply soak some almonds and cashews overnight in water. Drain the next day. then whizz in a blender adding water until you have the desired creamy or milky texture.
Lentils and beans for meat
You can substitute lentils or beans for meat in a wide variety of dishes from bolognese to shepherd’s pie and hotpots etc..
If you are in doubt, use the same the weight of cooked lentils or beans that the recipe calls for in meat. It is a simple and healthy swap!
Dry pulses and beans for canned variety
Canned pulses are a brilliant time saver but when supply is short or you have time on your hand, it is quite straightforward to use dry pulses instead. Because it takes some time to prepare, it is probably best to make up a big batch ahead to use throughout the week.
Typically all you need to do is soak the dry pulses or beans overnight and cook them the next day. Check out this handy guide from Pulses.org.
Egg substitutes in baking
As I have been learning more and more about vegan baking, substituting eggs is one of my favourite storecupboard ingredient swaps.
From adding structure, leavening, stability and moisture, eggs play different functions in baking. Fortunately, there are many other ingredients you can use if you run out of eggs. Beware though, if a recipe calls for more than 4 eggs, it is unlikely you can substitute them effectively. Here are some of the most versatile ways to replace 1 egg:
1 egg = 1 Tbsp of ground chia or flax seeds mixed with 3 Tbsp of water
1 egg = 60ml of mashed banana (1 small banana) / silken tofu / yoghurt / apple sauce / stewed apples
For more egg-free recipe inspiration, make sure you visit my vegan baking section.
For meringue and mousse, you can easily swap egg whites for unsalted chickpea brine. It works a treat and you can even make hummus with the drained chickpeas. A double treat!
Check out my vegan Curried Chickpea Sandwich and Chocolate Mocha Mousse recipe duo below.
Tomato Paste for Canned Tomatoes
Short of canned tomatoes while making a curry, chilli, soup or tomato sauce? Don’t panic, you can as easily use tomato paste.
Simply mix 4 Tbsp of tomato paste in 200ml of water. Stir 1 Tbsp of flour into 200ml of water in a separate bowl. Mix to combine. Add 1 to 2 tsp of sugar to reduce acidity. This can then be used as a substitute for 400ml of canned tomatoes.
If the recipe like the Peanut Butter Sweet Potato Curry below calls for both tomato paste and canned tomatoes, simply replace both ingredients by the substitute above.