Most of us have seen food costs increase sharply in recent months, with the price of the average person’s groceries considerably more expensive than it was this time last year.
It’s no surprise then that many people are looking for ways to cut the cost of their food shop, and one way you can do this is by swapping out more expensive ingredients for cheaper ones.
Knowing which ingredients can easily be switched out of a recipe isn’t always easy, so whether you’re an experienced cook or a complete novice in the kitchen, here are some food swap ideas which might help to reduce the cost of your food bills.
Swap 1. Cream, butter and mayo for yoghurt
Most of us will have a pot of yoghurt sitting in our fridge, but did you know you could use it as a substitute for a number of other dairy products in recipes? Yoghurt is incredibly versatile and it can be used to replace ingredients in both sweet and savoury dishes.
Generally, if you buy supermarket own brand yoghurts, it’s one of the cheapest dairy products so why not try swapping it in for the more expensive dairy items?
Swapping out cream for yoghurt could substantially cut your costs if you use cream frequently. Not only is it cheaper than cream, but yoghurt can be used as a replacement for cream in a huge number of recipes, whether it’s adding it to a curry, or putting it on a dessert.
If you’re looking for a pouring cream consistency then you can mix the yoghurt with milk to achieve this. If the recipe calls for whipped cream, remember that yoghurt won’t whip up in the same way, but opting for a thick Greek yoghurt could make a healthier alternative.
Yoghurt can also be used as a butter alternative in a variety of recipes, particularly in baking, and with 250g of butter costing an average of £1.93, versus £1.10 for 500g of Greek yoghurt, this swap could save you a fair few pennies.
Proportionately you can replace butter in cake recipes with a 1:1 ratio with full-fat Greek yoghurt. It’s important not to use low or no-fat options as these won’t work in a cake. Greek yoghurt has a tenth of the fat of butter, so it’s already considerably better for you too.
While this isn’t strictly a dairy product, yoghurt can make a great replacement for mayonnaise when it’s used in salads and dressings. Price-wise, yoghurt is generally cheaper than mayonnaise, particularly if your favourite mayo is a brand-named product.
Use yoghurt in 1:1 ratios for mayonnaise, such as in pasta or potato salads or in a creamy dressing. If it doesn’t have that savoury taste you’re after, try adding a touch of mustard powder and a splash of vinegar.
Not only does yoghurt make a great substitute for mayonnaise, but it’s lower in fat and is loaded with vitamins and minerals so it packs a bigger nutritional punch.
Swap 2. Chicken breast fillets for whole or bone-in chicken
Chicken breast fillets can be twice as expensive per kilo than whole or bone-in chicken. So buying a whole chicken and breaking it up or buying bone-in, skin-on cuts could save you a considerable amount of money if you purchase it regularly.
There aren’t many recipes where different cuts of chicken can’t be used interchangeably, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Be aware that cooking times will vary if you’re using bone-in cuts, so make sure you adjust the times accordingly.
Also, if you’re in the habit of buying pre-cooked chicken slices, then buying a whole chicken and cooking it yourself could save you a lot of money.
Swap 3. Beef mince for alternative meats
If you’re keen on bolognese, chilli con carne or burgers then swapping beef mince out for alternative meats could help you save money.
Beef can be one of the more expensive types of meat so swapping out some, or all, of it and replacing it with minced pork, lamb, chicken or turkey, could make things cheaper.
If you’re really looking to cut costs, then you might want to consider replacing a portion of minced meat with a handful of lentils or beans for sauce-based dishes. Quantity-wise, you can replace 500g of uncooked meat with 150g of uncooked lentils. With lentils costing around 35p-40p for 150g, this should cut your costs dramatically.
Swap 4. Fresh fruit and vegetables for frozen ones
Frozen fruit and veg are usually considerably cheaper than fresh ones, and in some cases, they’re almost half the price, making them a great cost-saving alternative.
As well as being cheaper in the first place, most frozen fruit and veg have a much longer shelf life than their fresh versions which means there’s less chance you’ll waste money on food that goes mouldy before you can eat it.
While the thought of frozen vegetables might bring to mind soggy, unappealing vegetable mixes with freezer-burnt peas and sweetcorn and strangely uniform carrots, their quality has improved over the years, so if you’re using them for everyday cooking, the difference isn’t noticeable.
Swap 5. Fresh herbs for dried
Fresh herbs can add flavour to all sorts of dishes, but they aren’t the cheapest and in a number of situations dried herbs will work just as well.
If you’re replacing fresh herbs with dried ones in a recipe, remember that dried herbs are usually stronger in flavour than fresh ones, so you’ll need less. It will vary from herb to herb, but generally, for every tablespoon of fresh herbs, you’ll need one teaspoon of dried herbs.
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