5 Tips for Making a Meal for Under $25

Seek Substitutes

OK, actually nothing's just as good as truffle oil. Bad example. But there are a lot of ingredients that you can substitute without harming the outcome of your dish.

Often, you can pretty easily replace a more ancillary ingredient you'd have to buy with something you already have at home. For instance, in many recipes, you can use the following:

  • Dried herbs instead of fresh
  • Vanilla extract instead of vanilla beans
  • A cheaper cut of meat for a more expensive one
  • Your own homemade infused oils (like basil oil) instead of store-bought
  • Swiss cheese instead of Gruyere
  • A mixture of onion and garlic instead of shallots
  • Yogurt instead of buttermilk
  • Vinegar instead of lemon juice

To find out what would make a good substitute for an ingredient you don't have at home, just do an Internet search for "substitute ______." Keep two things in mind here, though: First, always Google the amounts when you substitute, because they may not be the same for the original and the substitute items; and only do major substitutions for ingredients that aren't the central element of the dish.

Next, DIY.

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