Easy Food Substitutes When Grocery Shelves Are Empty
Updated: Jun 25
We live in strange times. The freeways in Los Angeles are empty and so are many of our grocery store shelves. A lot of Chefling users already had cooking and kitchen challenges, but now even the most seasoned cook may find their favorite ingredients unavailable.
We've got a silver lining. With the Chefling app and a few smart ingredient substitutions, you should still be in good shape.
Trust Chefling. Go ahead and buy that zucchini!
If you walk into the store and the things you know how to cook aren't there, your first instinct might be to get just a few items and come back another time. Right now, though, you should be minimizing trips to the store.
As long as there are fresh produce and other ingredients you enjoy the taste of, you should buy them and let Chefling figure out what to do with them. It obviously helps if you have a reasonable base of ingredients like oil, salt, and a handful of spices, plus maybe some rice, pasta or flour. But let's say that nearly all of those things and the things you're used to cooking are out of stock. Don't leave. Be bold! Buy that zucchini and a big bag of quinoa.
Buy plenty of affordable ingredients that you like, even if you are not sure what to do with them. When you get home and tell Chefling about all of the stuff you bought, we are almost certain to have a slew of recipes that you can make with what you have.
Substitute Ingredients that Can Get You Through the Crisis
Another lifesaver during this time of food uncertainty can be substitute ingredients.
We analyzed a long list of substitute ingredients and looked for substitutes that are cheaper than the original, easier to get during food shortages, and/or that had a much longer shelf life than the original ingredient.
Now keep in mind that some of them will work in certain recipes but not others. Applesauce can be a great egg replacer when baking sweets, but it makes for a terrible mushroom omelet.
Additionally, you want to spend as little time in the store as possible, so when you are making your shopping list, be sure to list the substitutions alongside the items you’re willing to replace. That way, if you get to the store and they don’t have brown sugar, you know what to look for instead.
PRO TIP: In the future, we plan to integrate substitute ingredients into the app further, but for now, if you see a substitute here that you want to use in your kitchen, just tell the Chefling app that you have that ingredient in order to see what recipes come up in ‘Ready to Cook’. Then, simply replace the ingredient with your substitute when it’s time to get cooking.