There is nothing more frustrating than having your heart set on baking or cooking something delicious, only to discover you are out of one, or more of the ingredients. Picture: Supplied
There is nothing more frustrating than having your heart set on baking or cooking something delicious, only to discover you are out of one, or more of the ingredients. Picture: Supplied

Quick-fixes for when you're missing an ingredient

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Sep 14, 2021

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There is nothing more frustrating than having your heart set on baking or cooking something delicious, only to discover you are out of one, or more of the ingredients. Or there is the even worse scenario, where you return from the grocery store without the main thing you went there for in the first place.

But worry no more, fellow forgetters. Below is a compiled list of ingredient substitutions that can save the day in an ingredient emergency, courtesy of cookbook author Chantal Lascaris and food blogger, Lindsey Dietz.

Lascaris says she once made a delicious butter chicken for a group of friends and left out the rice – by accident (you can imagine her horror!) Don’t judge. It happens. She notes that even the most experienced of them in the kitchen can trip up – and that’s okay.

Lascaris says cooking, for her, has always been about experimenting with flavours and different ingredients and – most importantly - cutting yourself some slack when you get it wrong.

“As a professional cook, the aim of course is to not get it wrong as best as you can, and so I’ve learnt over the years how to switch things up. You may not always have the correct ingredients in your cupboard – or you may over spice or under spice a pot of food (or, hey, leave out the other half of your meal altogether!).

“When this happens, we tend to believe there is no way out, but there is. There always is. Believe it or not, the cooking process comes with forgiveness. They’re called Substitutes – and they work. Just when you think you’re doomed to fail because you’re missing an ingredient that the recipe calls for, think again. Most often, you’ll be able to replace a missing ingredient in the pot with a little something else that’ll do just as well,” she says.

Chantal Lascaris’ quick-fix substitutes for missing ingredients:

Shallot - red onion

Parmesan cheese - pecorino Romano (easily available)

Fresh parsley - dried parsley or celery leaves

Nutmeg - cinnamon

Greek yoghurt - double thick yoghurt

Red onion - chives or shallots

Soy sauce - Worcestershire sauce

Sumac - lemon pepper or lemon zest

Lime - lemon

Bacon - pancetta

Chilli flakes - fresh chopped chillies

Corn kernels - frozen corn or canned corn or mange touts

Spaghetti - zucchini spirals

Honey - brown sugar

Walnuts - pecans

Dried mint - fresh mint or dried marjoram

Garlic - no substitute

Lindsey Dietz’s quick-fix substitutes for missing ingredients:

Swap agave nectar with raw honey or maple syrup.

Most people assume agave nectar is a healthy food; it’s not. It has almost the same chemical structure as high fructose corn syrup. If you must have a liquid sweetener, raw honey or real maple syrup are your best bets.

Swap commercial soy sauce with fermented soy sauce.

Almost all commercial soy sauce is not made with only soy; it’s also made with wheat and a whole host of other nasty ingredients, including MSG. Naturally fermented soy sauce, such as wheat-free tamari, is just soy and salt.

Swap canned beans with dried beans.

Dried beans are so easy to cook – no need to feel scared. Give your dried beans a good, long soak in water with apple cider vinegar before you cook them to make them super easy to digest.

Swap store-bought dressing with home-made dressing.

Store-bought dressings (even “organic” ones) are almost always made with rancid and or GMO vegetable oils and contain preservatives and hidden ingredients like MSG and sugar.

It’s super easy to make your own with ingredients you have complete control over.

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