Are you in need of grocery substitutions to save money? I sure was.

Let me explain.

I have a family of 6. And we eat every single meal at home… plus we homeschool, so that is EVERY SINGLE MEAL at home.

It makes for a LOT of dishes.

We run our dishwasher twice a day, and we only use paper plates. (I did the cost-benefit analysis, and I assure you it’s cheaper for us to use paper plates than it is to use that many plates, water and soap each day.)

A few weeks ago we ran out of plates and I asked my daughter to stop off at Walmart on her way home and get some.

When she came in I noticed that she bought the generic Great Value brand from Walmart.

Hmm, I thought she knew that I always buy the “Dixie 8.5″ variety”. But she only chose the biggest package on the shelf (it looked like the stack we get from Costco).

I was nervous that those plates were going to bend and dump our food on our laps. But instead I was pleasantly surprised to find high-quality plates for a fraction of the cost.

In fact, using the Great Value plates instead of the Dixie ones from Costco saved us $15 that month! That’s a $180 savings over the course of a year.

And that set me on a course to start looking at all the substitutions in our house.

Which led to this list of the best grocery substitutions that’ll save you the most money. (Sorry, you’ll have to figure out all the frugal grocery saving tips for your family on your own… but this list’ll get your brain fired up and thinking about them!)

If you’re looking to save some money then you’ll want to bookmark this list (or print it out and keep it in your recipe binder) so that you’ll know what you can stop buying and what grocery substitutions will save you money.

grocery substitutions

Don’t Buy: Pricey Dairy Products

Did you know that Greek yogurt can replace lots of things in cooking? It can!

You can replace oil, sour cream, cream cheese and even a partial amount of butter with Greek yogurt in your baking!

Here’s what you can replace with this grocery substitutions idea:

  • Oil (1 cup Oil can be replaced by 3/4 cup Greek Yogurt)
  • Sour Cream (1:1 Ratio)
  • Cream Cheese (1:1 Ratio)
  • Mayo (1:1 Ratio)
  • Cottage Cheese (1:1 Ratio)
  • Butter (1 cup Butter can be replaced by 1/2 cup Butter + 1/4 cup Greek Yogurt)

And if you have a little extra time on your hands, you can save even more money by making your own Greek Yogurt!

grocery substitutions

Don’t Buy: Liquid Broth

Have you seen this little grocery substitutions gem of an ingredient? It’s around $4 and it’s called Bouillon Paste. It’s one of my favorite frugal grocery saving tips.

It makes about 36 cans of chicken/beef/vegetable broth by just mixing it in hot/warm water.

The best part is that you keep it in your refrigerator and it’s so tiny compared to the huge jugs of broth.

Plus, you won’t ever waste another jug when you only have to use 1 cup out of the jug for a recipe.

Here’s a great recipe if you want to try making it on your own!

grocery substitutions

Don’t Buy: Fresh Herbs

Instead of using fresh herbs for your recipes, dried spices will always save you money.

Garlic always dries out before I’m able to use it all. Since usually recipes only call for one or two cloves, the rest of the cloves get lost in the fridge.

Onions always grow an extra stalk before I can use them too. And the worst part is most recipes only call for half an onion! What am I going to do with the other half?! Then I have to remember to use it before it goes bad.

There’s nothing worse than wasting money on food rotting in your refrigerator because it goes bad. That’s why these grocery substitutions are so important!


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While I’d love to be that fancy chef who uses fresh herbs in my fancy receipts. I hate that you have to buy a whole bunch (costing around $4) but the recipe only uses a little tablespoon of it. And again, then the rest goes bad before I can use it up.

If a recipe calls for fresh ingredients, use these dried substitutes and save some moolah while not sacrificing taste:

  • 1 small onion = 1/2 tsp. of Onion Powder
  • 1 garlic clove = 1/8 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh Herb = 1/2 Tbsp. Dried Herb
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger = 1/4 Tsp. Ground Ginger
grocery substitutions

Don’t Buy: Eggs

Now I know eggs are cheap, so this tip is not gonna save you a ton of money, but when you run out of eggs and you want to bake something, you’ll wanna file this information in your mommy brain bank. This is one of the most important grocery substitutions to remember!

1 Egg can be replaced with 1 Tbsp. GROUND Flax or Chia Seed + 3 Tbsp Water

Let it sit for about 10 minutes on your counter (while you’re mixing up the rest of the recipe) and you’ll have a nice jelly egg-like ingredient to use in your baked goods.

The flax seeds are more yellow so I think they look more realistic but the chia has no flavor at all, so you’ll never be able to tell they are in there.

Flax and chia seeds are shelf stable, so you’ll always have the ability to have eggs on hand. And it’s a great frugal grocery saving tip that will save you a trip to the store!

Oh, and did you realize that 1 avocado can substitute 1 egg as well? Avocados are wayyyyy more expensive, so you won’t save any money, but it’s a fun substitute when you’ve got boys who love green things that kinda look yucky. Avocado Ice Cream anyone? Or maybe Buttercream frosting? Hmmmmm.

grocery substitutions

Don’t Buy: Meat

Meat is one of the most expensive parts of any meal. Especially steak and ground beef.

There are two super simple grocery substitutions you can include in your next recipe: Beans and mushrooms.

Simply chop or blend them up and add them to your ground beef while it’s browning.

I promise your crew won’t even notice them inside your dish. They are invisible!

grocery substitutions

Don’t Buy: Baking Chocolate

I love trying all kinds of new recipes when I get into the baking mode. But since I hate stopping and going to the store for just one ingredient, which is usually baking chocolate, I’ll do anything to find a substitute.

If you are in need of baking chocolate next time to are baking, use this substitute!

1 oz Unsweetened Chocolate = 3 Tbsp. Cocoa + 1 Tbsp. Butter (or vegetable oil)

1 oz Sweetened Chocolate = 3 Tbsp. Cocoa + 1 Tbsp. Butter (or vegetable oil) + 3 Tbsp. Sugar

That’s what makes grocery substitutions money savers!

grocery substitutions

Don’t Buy: Lemons

While I love everything lemon, I just can’t stand it when a recipe calls for lemon zest and that’s it. What am I going to do with the naked lemon?!

And since I don’t normally keep lemons in stock in my fridge, I’ll use a substitute or two from having to go to the store!

1 tsp. Lemon Zest = 1/2 tsp. Lemon Extract

1 tsp. Lemon Juice = 1/2 tsp. Vinegar

1 Tbsp Lemon Juice = 2 packets of True Lemon

We make lemonade all the time. Our one trick for staying away from soda is making lemonade. Not only is it cheaper, but so much healthier! It’s my favorite grocery substitutions for pricey lemonade too!


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Travelling soon? Use this tip we use for our road trips! We use packets of “True Lemon” and a stevia sweetener to make “homemade lemonade”. We bring gallons of water to use as refills.

If you do have to buy lemons, don’t miss out on the great idea so you don’t waste even one piece of the lemon! You can make your vinegar smell better for all your cleaning recipes, or freeze the rind with some water and clean your stinky garbage disposal.

grocery substitutions

Don’t Buy: White/Red Wine For Cooking

While I’m usually a stickler for staying the with exact recipe ingredients, sometimes I just don’t want to spend another $6 for one ingredient just to make this new recipe? Am I right?! Grocery substitutions to the rescue!

So now when you come across a new recipe that calls for White or Red Wine, you don’t have to toss it!

Use the same amount the recipe calls for but use unsweetened Apple, Grape or Cranberry juice instead.

That’s sooo much cheaper.

And another tip is to always keep one of those juices in your freezer. They are way cheaper than the shelf stable stuff, and they last longer so you’ll always have it on hand. Just add water and you’ve got juice!

grocery substitutions

Don’t Buy: Buttermilk

Usually during the holidays I come across Buttermilk recipes. The last time it was Buttermilk Cranberry Orange Muffins. They were great but the half wasted carton of buttermilk was not.

Instead of buying another carton of buttermilk, use this grocery substitutions trick instead.

1 cup buttermilk = 1 Tbsp. Vinegar + 17 Tbsp. Milk  (or fill the rest of the cup measurement). Stir and let sit for a couple of minutes before adding to the recipe.

If you have SOME buttermilk on hand, but not enough for your recipe, you can substitute some greek or plain yogurt in place of it. 1 cup buttermilk can be substituted for 1/3 cup buttermilk plus 2/3 cup greek or plain yogurt.

grocery substitutions

Don’t Buy: Pricey Nuts

While nuts are a staple in our household, and usually the star in all our holiday meals, nuts are just expensive in general.

There are great grocery substitutions to those pricey nuts.

Skip: Macadamia Nuts, Hazelnuts

Buy: Peanuts, Almonds or Walnuts

Your guests won’t notice the slight flavor difference, but your wallet sure will!

When it comes to saving money, one simple way to save is to make cheaper substitutes for things you are already buying. You won’t feel like you are missing out, and in some cases it’ll save you time from having to run up to the store if you’re out of something.

Next time you make your shopping list, put an asterisk next to 5 items to remind you to look for another option when you get to the store. Find your own “paper plate” substitute and save $180 this year too!

You see, with a little imagination and price comparison, you can find your own set of grocery substitutions that will save you money!

It’s not that hard, and you probably won’t even notice the difference. Save your hard earned money with these frugal grocery saving tips!


YOUR TURN: What substitution are you going to make first? Do you already substitute something? Share it with me in the comments below!

grocery substitutions

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Top 10 Grocery Substitutions To Save You Money