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Clever food swaps that will save you money
We have all done some form of baking in our lives. Whether it’s fairy buns for school bake sales when we were kids, melt-in-the-mouth chocolate chip cookies (because really, you can’t beat them), or lovingly baking a loaf of bread, we’ve all done it (and most likely, our stomachs have enjoyed the results!)
Growing up, our founder Jasmine Birtles always had cake in the larder, and she learned to make scones when he was just six years old. She’s a true cake fanatic – her day is never complete unless she’s had at least one cake! To be honest, that’s a motto we could all live by – ‘a slice of cake a day keeps the doctor away’, sounds much more fun. But, as with everything else, baking ingredients have gone up in price recently.
A dozen eggs currently costs £3.23 on average, according to the Office for National Statistics. This has shot up in the last year, and the once cheap and filling food staple is becoming increasingly difficult to afford. Luckily, there are a few alternatives you can use to keep costs down.
The master-bakers at Fabflour.co.uk suggest you consider using flax seeds, aquafaba or chia seeds to make your own cut-price ‘vegan eggs’, if you’re struggling to find cheap hen eggs.
Combine one tablespoon of flax seeds with three tablespoons of water and let it stand for five minutes – this is known as a ‘flax egg’. For ‘aquafaba eggs’, whip three tablespoons of aquafaba (chickpea water) for up to six minutes for the equivalent of one large egg. For chia seeds, use one tablespoon of seeds and two and a half tablespoons of water for the equivalent of one egg.
You can also use apple sauce in baking recipes in lieu of eggs, if you happen to have some in the fridge. Use 62g of unsweetened apple sauce for one egg. It adds a delicate sweetness and moisture. Because apple is a natural pectin, it will also help to bind the cake. However, be aware that as it’s denser than an egg it might change the texture of your sweet treats.
Julie, a home-baker in Yorkshire, said that vinegar is a lifesaver when you’re out of eggs. Long used by the vegan community for its binding properties in baking, you mix one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to replace one egg in baking.
The people at Hellmann’s mayonnaise suggest coating chicken breasts with mayo instead of dipping it into beaten egg for an easy breaded chicken option. Similarly, the chefs at the recipe box site Gousto say you can use two tablespoons of mayonnaise instead of an egg, and you won’t even notice the difference.
There are other clever swaps you can do if you’ve run out of an ingredient. For example, you can make your own buttermilk at home. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to 225g of milk and let it stand for five minutes. For recipes that mention buttermilk, you can use sour milk instead.
You can replace butter in cake-making too. Swap it for homemade apple sauce, a squashy avocado, mashed banana, oil or nut butter, depending on what you have available. Make sure that whatever you’re swapping it for works with the flavour of your cake: try apple sauce in carrot cake, avocado in chocolate cake, oil in light flavoured sponges like vanilla or Victoria sponge, and nut butters in cookies
You can even make your own homemade butter from leftover cream. Former Great British Bake Off contestant Val Stones, said that she makes butter and whey from old cream. Val said: “Place the cream in a blender,or use a stick blender, and beat until the butter forms onto a blob and leaves behind the whey. Pour the whey out through a sieve and allow the butter to drain in the sieve. You can use that butter to make garlic butter or parsley butter. It can be wrapped and frozen until needed. The whey can be used to make a batch of scones.”
If your recipe calls for brown sugar but you only have white granulated in the cupboard and you don’t want to buy brown sugar that you might not use again, you can drizzle in one tablespoon of black treacle to every 200g of granulated sugar for light brown sugar and two tablespoons of black treacle to every 200g of granulated sugar for dark brown sugar. A 454g tin of Lyles black treacle is £1.75 at Ocado.
Then there’s savoury products. Research from Love Canned Food has found that families can save over £650 a year from switching from fresh produce to canned fruit, veg, fish and meat. They compared 25 of the most popular products and found that 80pc of canned alternatives were cheaper.
If you’ve bought fresh tuna recently you won’t be surprised to learn that one can of tuna is £2.10 cheaper than its fresh alternative (per 100g). If you run out of tins of tuna, mackerel (90p at Tesco) or sardines (47p at Tesco) make good alternative in salads and sandwiches.
Here are a few food swaps that the team at MoneyMagpie practice.
Vicky Parry said: “Banana can act as a fantastic binding agent in pancakes (instead of eggs). Also, cauliflower makes a fantastic rice alternative.”
Another of Vicky’s favourite is using butter beans as mash. A tin of butter beans is 59p in Aldi this week, so if you can’t stretch to the £1.59 bag of Maris Piper potatoes, try mashing butter beans instead. “They’re absolutely lovely,” she said, “and you don’t have the risk of potatoes going off in your pantry.”
Isobel Lawrance said: “Sometimes I have used crushed-up ready salted crisps when I haven’t had breadcrumbs. I also freeze up bread ends and use them to make bread and butter pudding instead of buying a whole new loaf.”
Adam Edwards is a big fan of B&M for its food offerings. “I bought a multipack of 10 Diamond crisps yesterday from B&M for 50p reduced from £1.19” he said, “which blow Walkers out the water. They were like crisps used to taste.”
What are some of your favourite money-saving food swaps? Leave your tips in the comments below!