Simple substitutions for common kitchen ingredients

Does COVID-19 have you home bound? No need to run to the grocery store with these kitchen staples

Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing made it more difficult to go to the grocery store, once you get there, you’re often faced with empty shelves.

And, with home baking and cooking at an all-time high — at least that’s how it looks from my social media feeds — you do not want to get halfway through a recipe only to discover you’ve run out of brown sugar or butter.

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If that’s the case, now is the time for taking that deep dive into the back of that pantry, kitchen drawer, cupboard or fridge to find options for finishing that dish or loaf of bread.

I scoured everything from Pinterest to the Food Network to online cookbooks to create this list.


I’m starting with yeast because bread has to be the number one item I see being baked at home.

Add equal parts baking soda and lemon juice to equal the amount of yeast called for in a recipe.


Use 1.5 teaspoons of white wine, sherry or Champagne vinegar for each tablespoon of lemon juice needed. For each teaspoon of zest use 1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract.

Sourdough starter

I’ve been reading stories about friends leaving sourdough starter on friend’s doorsteps while they self-isolate or self-quarantine, but what if none of your squad has a starter passed down from generation to generation? This is a five-day process so for the sake of space, here’s a link to all-things sourdough on Pinterest, including some simple starter recipes.

Baking powder

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar replace one teaspoon of baking powder


Vegetable shortening will mimic the texture and fat content of butter: use an equivalent amount

Cooking oil: use an equivalent amount.

Regular margarine

Eggs (for each egg needed)

1/3 cup applesauce

1/4 cup pureed banana (about a half of a banana)

One tablespoon ground flax seeds or chia seeds plus three tablespoons water

1/4 cup blended silken tofu

Three tablespoons vegetable oil plus one tablespoon water

Two to three tablespoons of mayonnaise (for cakes)


Keep in mind the flavour will be affected, but almond, coconut, cashew or soy milk will do in a pinch if you’re out of the regular stuff

Heavy whipping cream

Combine 2/3 of a cup of whole milk with 1/3 of a cup of melted butter (unsalted if you have it)

Sour cream

Plain Greek yogurt

3/4 cup of cream cheese plus three tablespoons milk


One cup of milk combined with one teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar

Brown sugar

Mix one cup of granulated sugar with ¼ cup of molasses for dark brown

Mix one and 1/2 tablespoons of molasses with one cup of sugar for light brown sugar


Semisweet: Combine a one-ounce square of sweetened chocolate with four teaspoons of sugar

One ounce of semisweet chocolate chips with one teaspoon of shortening

Unsweetened: Combine three tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa with one tablespoon of shortening or vegetable oil

Garlic (for each clove)

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (omit 1/2 teaspoon salt from the recipe)

1/2 teaspoon jarred minced garlic

1/2 to one teaspoon minced shallots

Onion (for one medium onion)

One and 1/2 to two teaspoons onion powder

One cup chopped shallots

One and 1/4 cups chopped leeks, green onions or scallions (white and light green parts only)

One cup frozen chopped onions

Tomato sauce

Mix equal parts tomato paste and water

Add canned tomatoes for extra flavour

Bread crumbs

Oven dry three to four slices of bread in the oven and then crush in a blender or food processor

Croutons or stuffing cubes, crushed

Cracker crumbs

Crushed tortilla or potato chips, depending on your recipe

Crushed pretzels

Crushed Cornflakes

Fresh herbs (for each tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs)

One teaspoon dried herbs

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground or powdered herbs





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