It’s always frustrating to run out of ingredients when you’re cooking. You’re all set to make a dish, and suddenly, you have to rework your game plan. Fortunately, you can overcome this obstacle without going to the store. Here are some tips for what to do when you run out of ingredients.
The most obvious way to overcome missing ingredients is to substitute them. For example, if you run out of tomato paste in a recipe, use tomato sauce or puree instead. If you run out of buttermilk, mix lemon juice or vinegar into regular milk to create a substitute.
Whatever ingredient you’re missing or low on, you can always research substitutes to ensure that you have solutions on hand.
Sometimes, you have to work with what you have. When you run out of ingredients, improvise! For example, if you’re out of cream cheese for your frosting, mix unsalted butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla flavoring to make a buttercream icing.
If you’re missing pasta for a spaghetti dish, opt for zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash instead. It’s important to keep an open mind and be creative with your available ingredients. Who knows? Your improvisation meal may turn into your next favorite dish.
Simplify the Recipe
Sometimes, it’s best to simplify the recipe if you’re low on ingredients. Instead of making a complicated lasagna recipe that requires ricotta cheese and several types of meats, try a simple vegetable lasagna with cheese.
It will still be delicious, but that way, you don’t have to worry about the ingredients you don’t have. Simplifying a recipe can actually make it better, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Swap the Dish
If all alternatives don’t work, swap the dish for another recipe that uses the available ingredients. You can search for recipes that use the ingredients you have in the kitchen or choose a similar recipe with fewer ingredients.
For instance, if you’re making pizza but don’t have tomato sauce, consider making a white pizza with alfredo sauce, garlic, and cheese instead.
Have Some Backups
Lastly, it’s always good to have backups. Of course, you should stock up on essential ingredients like flour, eggs, sugar, and common spices, but flavor oils can replace inconvenient cooking ingredients like rosemary, almond, and pistachio extracts. Ultimately, when you have a variety of ingredients, you can make some fun recipes, have substitutes on hand, or create new dishes.
Mistakes happen, and running out of ingredients is just one of them. But don’t let that stop you from creating tasty meals. With simple swaps and backup plans, you can tackle almost any recipe and feel confident in the kitchen.