How To Frugalize a Recipe


I am sure it has happened to you as it has happened to me. You see a recipe in a magazine or on TV and you think, “Gee. That sounds great. But I can’t afford it.”

Au contraire!

Today I am going to show you how you can frugalize a recipe. That is, take a recipe and  by taking out some ingredients, substituting some ingredients, or adding another ingredient you too can eat an “expensive” recipe even on a very tight budget.

Before I show you how to do that though, I want to give you some

Frugalizing Substitutions.

To reduce the cost of recipe ingredients substitute the following:

For wine, in general you can substitute any fruit juice or beef, chicken, or vegetable broth.

For red wine use blueberry or grape juice or another red fruit juice.

For white wine use white grape juice or pear juice.

For beef or chicken broth use instant bouillon granules or cubes.

For mustard use 1 teaspoon dry mustard + 1-2 teaspoons vinegar or mustard  = 1 tablespoon prepared mustard.

For fresh herbs use 1 teaspoon dried = 1 tablespoon fresh.

For tomato sauce substitute ½ cup tomato paste + ½ cup water. Cook until the mixture is reduced to ¼ cup. This = 1 cup of tomato sauce.

You can substitute equal amounts of lemon or lime juice for vinegar or vice versa.

For garlic salt use ¼ teaspoon garlic powder + ¾ teaspoon salt = 1 teaspoon garlic salt.

Substitute cracker crumbs or ground oats for bread crumbs in any recipe.

Substitute sour cream or yogurt for mayonnaise in any recipe.

For soy sauce use 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce + 1 tablespoon water.

For ketchup use 1 cup tomato sauce + ¼ cup sugar + 2 tablespoons vinegar = 1 cup ketchup.

In a recipe calling for beer, substitute apple cider.

If you know of other substitutions please share.

Featured Recipe    Frugalized Pasta with ? Tomatoes and ?
From Theory into Practice

The other day I was watching Giada at Home on the Food Network. The show’s title was “Busy Day Menu.” This kind of cooking is right up my alley.

The recipe Giada shared was Ravioli with Arugula, Tomatoes and Pancetta. [Click the link to see the entire recipe.] It certainly lived up to it’s billing as the dish was super easy, no-fuss, quick, and it looked delicious too.

However, I thought both the arugula and pancetta would make the recipe a bit more expensive than I normally like to share here at More Thyme. But I was not worried. I knew right away that I could substitute all sorts of ingredients for some of the more expensive items.

Right off the bat, I knew I could use bacon for the more expensive pancetta. Same for the arugula. I also substitute plain pasta for the usually expensive stuffed ravioli. I do not use any basil at all, substituting garlic.

The easiest ways to frugalize a recipe is to eliminate an ingredient or substitute something less expensive for it. If you eliminate an ingredient all together, it is best to add something else to replace it and that will add flavor.

With my version of Giada’s  recipe you could also save a lot more by leaving out the spinach and simply adding another can of tomatoes. Or maybe you could add another less expensive green like escarole or turnip greens. The options are almost endless. Use your creativity.

In today’s cost analysis I show you how much money you could save at the grocery store simply by making the few changes in the ingredient list I did here.

Pasta With Spinach, Tomatoes, and Bacon
This is what you will need for 4-6 people:

1 pound pasta of your choice

4-5 slices of bacon

2 cloves garlic

1 – 15 ounce can diced tomatoes

3 tablespoons olive oil

5-6 ounces fresh spinach

2 tablespoons butter at room temperature

Salt and pepper to taste

Here is what you do:

Wash the spinach and drain very well.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain.

Dice the bacon into chunks. Fry it in a large skillet or pan until crisp.

While the bacon is frying peel and slice the garlic.  Also drain the tomatoes.

Remove the crisped bacon from the pan with a slotted sppon and drain on paper towels.

Then add the olive oil, butter, and sliced garlic to the bacon fat. Sauté the garlic until fragrant, being sure to scrape up any of the browned bits on the bottom of the pan and incorporate into the butter sauce.

Then add the drained tomatoes and the salt and pepper if using and cook for about 2-3 minutes.

Add the drained spinach and cook until wilted, about 1-2 minutes. Remember the spinach will cook down to almost nothing.


Add the cooked pasta and toss until coated with the bacon-butter sauce and until everything is mixed together well.

Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl, top with the crisped bacon. 

This meal is so delicious since everything is coated with the bacon-butter sauce. Heaven!!!

Bon appétit!!!


1 pound pasta                          $1.29   Ravioli  $4.19 to $8.95 saved $2.90

4-5 slices of bacon                   $1.50   Pancetta  $5.75 to 6.75 saved $4.25          

2 cloves garlic                          $0.14

1 – 15 oz can tomatoes             $0.89

3 tablespoons olive oil               $0.36

5-6 ounces fresh spinach           $2.19    $2.49 Arugula saved $0.30

2 tablespoons butter                 $0.18

Salt and pepper to taste

                                                  Basil $1.50-$3 Saved $1.50                            

                                                  Total Saved $8.95      

Total cost = $6.55
Cost per person for 4 = $1.64

Quote of the Day

Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship

Benjamin Franklin


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