Realizing you’re out of a crucial recipe ingredient is frustrating at the best of times. But things are a little different in the age of COVID-19. It’s not as easy as popping over to the store at any time to pick up extra items.
Whether you’re quarantined because you have the symptoms of the new coronavirus, self-isolating because you’re in the high-risk category, or sheltering in place as your local government demands, you may find your neighborhood store is running low on everyday pantry basics due to panic-buying and hoarding. You might not be able to get what you need when you need it.
But you don’t have to ditch your recipe or revise your meal plan just yet. HuffPost has suggested a few food substitutions to help you make it work.
If you’re cooking, any oil will do in place of butter; consider olive oil, vegetable oil or sunflower oil. For baking, use the same amount of regular margarine, lard or solid coconut oil. And if you only have half the amount of butter you need for baking, use applesauce for the rest.
HuffPost recommends using any one of the following in place of each egg in a baking recipe: 1/3 cup of applesauce, 1/2 pureed banana (1/4 cup), 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds or chia seeds and 3 tablespoons of water, 1/4 cup of blended silken tofu, 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of water, or 2 to 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise (for cakes).
You can overcome a lack of sour cream by replacing each cup with a cup of plain Greek yogurt. You can also use 3/4 cup of cream cheese and 3 tablespoons of milk. Or, sub in 1/3 cup of melted unsalted butter, 3/4 cup of milk, and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice (for baking).
Garlic is used in all sorts of savory recipes to add flavor. But you can replace each clove of garlic with 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder or 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt — just make sure to omit 1/2 teaspoon of salt from the recipe. You can also use 1/2 teaspoon of jarred, minced garlic or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of minced shallots.
Onion is another widely-used ingredient since it’s a vegetable that provides seasoning for so many dishes. For each medium onion, use 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of onion powder or 1 cup of chopped shallots. You can also substitute 1 1/4 cups of chopped leeks, green onions or scallions (but use the white and light green parts only) or 1 cup of frozen chopped onions.
Out of table salt? You can use 1 1/2 teaspoons of Morton kosher salt, 2 teaspoons of Diamond Crystal kosher salt, or 2 teaspoons of soy sauce for each tablespoon of salt you need.
If you’re all out of rice, you can use the following (all quantities are for the uncooked product) for each 1 cup of uncooked white or brown rice: 1 1/4 cups of couscous, 3/4 cup of barley, 1 cup of quinoa, 1 cup of bulgur, 1 1/3 cups of wheatberries, or 1 1/2 cups of kasha. You can also use 2 cups of orzo pasta.
If a recipe calls for fresh produce, it’s fine to use dried or tinned versions. For instance, use 1 teaspoon of dried herbs for each tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs, or sub in 1 1/2 cups of canned whole tomatoes or 3 tablespoons of tomato paste for each pound of fresh tomatoes.
And remember, frozen fruits and veggies are just as good for you as fresh — perhaps even more so. Just ask “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi, who posted a video message on Twitter to share her stocking-up recommendations.
A lot of you have asked what type of pantry items to get while you’re in self-quarantine. Here are some things you can buy instead of hoarding toilet paper. Remember we’re all in this together 💜: pic.twitter.com/SstLroAZVI
— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) March 14, 2020
Many more chefs are sharing simple, healthy recipes, cooking hacks and shopping lists to make very mealtime more isolation-friendly. For instance, TV host and celebrity cook Rachael Ray provided an extensive collection of 15 meals made only with “pantry staples,” including canned goods and frozen foods.
“Keep Calm and Cook On,” Ray tweeted, encouraging her fans to “cook with a little more love, lean a little more heavily on your pantry…”
I know the grocery shelves look bare + your pantry scares you right now, but here’s what it is: we’re all gonna spend more time at home. Time to focus on who + what we love. Cook with a little more love, lean a little more heavily on your pantry…https://t.co/BKm5TOxnyP pic.twitter.com/rxrYvwCwvu
— rachael ray (@rachaelray) March 13, 2020
Other chefs are also joining the effort. For example, Antoni Porowski of “Queer Eye” is one of several celebs giving cooking lessons on social media.
It seems that the coronavirus may not work as an excuse not to cook tonight. You’ll just have to be more creative!