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5 frugal substitutes for foodie ingredients.

You’re probably here because you’re a foodie on a budget. 

Duh Kelly.

Well in that case, I’ve got 5 frugal substitutes for fancy ingredients for you.  Swap and save some dinero!

1.  Asiago for Parmesan. Subbing asiago cheese for parmesan can save you over double what you would pay for parmesan (typically around $5.99/lb vs. $11.99+/lb).  And for more savings, buy cheese whole and slice/grate it yourself instead of buying it pre-grated.
2.  Sweet savings!  Swap a Maple/Agave Blend for 100% Real Maple Syrup on your french toast, pancakes or yogurt and save 20-30%.
3. Firing up the bbq for grilled fish?  Making fish tacos?  Replace ahi tuna, tilapia or cod for mahi mahi and save 15-40%.  You can find ahi or cod for between $5-7/lb versus $8-12/lb for more expensive white fish.
4.  Let them eat beef!  Go for chuck eye, flank or skirt steak instead of more expensive cuts and save dramatically!  A good marinade will be your friend as these cuts can be a bit more tough but on the grill, in your favorite Mexican dish or served over rice, these steaks will be a crowd-pleaser that will make your budget happy too.
5.  For quiches, tarts, pastas or casseroles, substitute swiss cheese for gruyere and save some dough without sacrificing flavor.  Gruyere can run upwards of $8 per pound, compared to $4-5 for Swiss.

Want more frugal tips, recipes or restaurant ideas? Let’s connect on Facebook or Twitter.

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’m with you on the cheaper beef cuts. Fish tacos can be made with most fish, and Gruyere is not necessary for most recipes (I just use cheeses I like from cheddar to Gorgonzola to feta), but agave with maple will never do for maple syrup, or Asiago for Parmesan — the flavors are just too different. There is no waste to either of these foods, unlike fish or beef: you can use every drop of the syrup and rinse the jar with a little of the liquid in your next recipe and you can put the Parmesan rind in your next batch of soup or stock for flavoring.

    June 13, 2012
    • Agreed…there’s nothing like maple syrup or parmesan. But for everyday cooking and to save a little these are my go-to’s. Any you recommend?

      June 13, 2012
      • I sometimes use Pecorino Romano for Parmesan — it’s not as sweet, but it works in things like pesto where you have plenty of other flavors. For syrups, I make homemade compotes and fruit syrups for the times when I don’t feel like hitting the maple bottle.

        In the main, I am very frugal: I’ll use sour milk for buttermilk or yogurt in recipes or even sweeten it with baking soda and make it into chocolate pudding. You just happened to hit two of the ingredients that I don’t substitute for. I believe in buying good quality food so I watch for what is on sale and in season and plan my meals around that. Some things, like bread crumbs, I would never buy — figure out how to make your own Panko, I say.

        June 13, 2012
      • Agreed!

        June 13, 2012
  2. Love these recommendations – such good ideas! I often buy cheese on sale and freeze it for later use, especially if it’s a cheese I’ll grate. I also buy maple syrup online in the largest amount possible – it ends up being cheaper that way in the long run. It never really goes bad, so it’s a good deal.

    June 13, 2012
    • Great ideas! Didn’t realize you could freeze cheese!

      June 13, 2012
      • You can, but it does change the texture a little. If you will be grating the cheese, then it’s okay.

        June 14, 2012
  3. Heather #

    We buy a gigantic Parmesan from Costco, grate the whole thing (workout for your upper body!) and then freeze in good sized amounts. I haven’t noticed it changing the texture at all. Props to my hubby who grew up working in a pizza restaurant for the cheese freezing tip!

    June 15, 2012
    • Great idea! I’ll tweet it!

      June 15, 2012

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