Mary Hunt

Have you ever discovered you’re all out of a certain ingredient when you’re in the middle of preparing a recipe? I hate when that happens. And I don’t want to run to the store.

For me, an unscheduled trip like that could easily cost $40, maybe more. That’s just how impulsive I can be. I’ve learned that when I’m in a pinch, I need a pinch hitter!

Here is my list of cooking and baking substitutes that I refer to often.

Need an egg? Combine 2 tablespoons of water, 2 tablespoons of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.

Thicken gravy. If you’re out of flour, you can substitute up to 3 tablespoons of pancake mix. It works well. Just don’t go over 3 tablespoons, or your guests will be looking for the maple syrup.

Breadcrumbs. Crumble 1/2 slice of bread, and mix 1/4 cup broken crackers.

Baking powder. For each teaspoon of baking powder, substitute 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar and 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch.

Baking soda. You need to use two to three times more double-acting baking powder than baking soda. Replace an acidic liquid ingredient in the recipe with a non-acidic liquid i.e. water instead of vinegar or lemon juice.

Buttermilk. Combine 1 cup of fresh milk and 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice.

Allspice. For 1 teaspoon, combine 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves.

Apple pie spice. For 1 teaspoon, combine 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg; 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice; and 1/8 teaspoon of ground cardamom, ginger or cloves.

Cream. You can make the equivalent of 1 cup heavy cream by whisking together 3/4 cup milk and 1/3 cup soft butter or margarine. (This is for use in cooking or baking, not for whipped cream.)

Honey. Mix 1-1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup liquid (the same type of liquid called for in the recipe).

Plain yogurt. Cottage cheese blended until smooth makes an excellent cup-for-cup substitute for plain yogurt.

Sweetened condensed milk. To make the equivalent of a 14-ounce can, pour 1/2 cup of boiling water into a blender. Add 1 cup nonfat dry milk, 2/3 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons melted butter and a few drops of vanilla extract. Cover and blend on high speed for 30 seconds or until smooth. Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator in a covered container for two days.

Chocolate chips. For the equivalent of 6 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips, mix 9 tablespoons cocoa, 7 tablespoons of sugar and 3 tablespoons of butter.

Brown sugar. Brown sugar can be replaced with 1 cup of white sugar and 1 to 2 tablespoons of molasses, mixed well with a fork. Hint: This is so much better than commercial brown sugar you’ll be tempted to make a permanent switch.

Chocolate mousse. I don’t know how often, if ever, you’ve discovered you are fresh out of chocolate mousse. But you can never be too careful about this kind of thing. So you are prepared for an unscheduled chocolate fix, learn this substitute: Stir sifted cocoa powder into a tub of any Cool Whip. Then taste. Unbelievable, huh?

White cooking wine. Mix 1/3 cup white grape juice and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (not rice wine vinegar).

Red cooking wine. Mix 1 cup grape juice, 1 tablespoon strong tea and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar.

Mary Hunt, founder of, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Send tips or address questions to: Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740, or email her at

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