Use This Not That


Today’s post is a continuation of last Friday’s post, Where’s the Beef?

This post shows you how to reduce the cost of a recipe by simply making inexpensive ingredient substitutions for more expensive ingredients.

I then show you how to do it with a real recipe.

Before we begin though I am going to give you a list of some money saving ingredient substitutions.

Use This Instead of That

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

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 = 1 tablespoon 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 honey: 1¼ cups sugar + 1¼  cup water or apple juice or a liquid called for in recipe. You can also substitute molasses for honey.

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 or beef broth.

If you know of other substitutions please share with us all.

Featured Recipe     ??? 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 her 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 save money is simply 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, as I did with garlic for basil.

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 am doing something different. 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.

The New More Budget Friendly Featured Recipe       
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 – $8.95 I saved $2.90

4-5 slices of bacon                   $1.50    Pancetta  $5.75 – 6.75  I 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 I saved $0.30

2 tablespoons butter                 $0.18

Salt and pepper to taste

                                                  Basil $1.50-$3  I saved $1.50                            

                                                  Total I Saved $8.95      

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

NOTE: This post is an update of a post and recipe I originally ran last November. 

Quote of the Day

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

Benjamin Franklin


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