Easy swaps for key pantry ingredients

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Wednesday, 02 September 2020.
Tagged: health, healthy cooking, healthy eating, healthy lifestyle, nutrition

Easy swaps for key pantry ingredients
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So, you're ready to cook. Recipe ✔. Pans ✔.  Eggs ??? ✘ Oh no! 

My quick list of easy pantry swaps can help you avoid the last minute panic when you don’t have a particular ingredient listed in a recipe. It’s not exhaustive but a good starting point. Love you to add more to it. It will help you turn cans or tins, packets and bottles from your cupboard into tasty and healthy meals so you can nourish yourself and your family.

No steak?

  • Chicken pieces
  • Lamb cutlets or steaks
  • Eggs
  • Pork steaks
  • Fish fillets
  • Cheese
  • Tofu cubes
  • Haloumi
  • Large mushrooms (flats)
  • Eggplant halves 

No beef mince?

  • Any meat mince e.g. lamb, pork or a blend
  • Chicken mince
  • Turkey mince
  • Quorn mince (read more about quorn)
  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • Mushrooms
  • Any legume such as cooked or canned lentils or cannellini beans

No pasta? Try one of these other starchy carbs as a side to stroganoff or a curry

  • Rice
  • Couscous
  • Freekeh
  • Quinoa
  • Potatoes – mashed, boiled, roasted or wedges
  • Bread or toast
  • Mountain bread/flatbread
  • Sweet gold potatoes – mashed, boiled, roasted or wedges
  • Parsnip – mashed, boiled, roasted or wedges
  • Cauli rice
  • Chick peas
  • Soy beans
  • Cannellini beans
  • Adzuki beans
  • Lentils

No thin long pasta?

  • Zucchini noodles
  • Thinly sliced cabbage – works great in a stir-fry

No fresh bread?

  • Toast
  • Crackers
  • Crispbreads
  • Muffin English (savoury type)


  • Scones, plain
  • Damper
  • Beer bread
  • Any of the starchy carbs above

No broccoli?

  • Broccolini
  • Green beans
  • Brussels sprouts, halved
  • Chinese vegetables like bok choy or choy sum (good in stir-fries)
  • Silverbeet (chard)
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage

No raw salad ingredients?

Organic vegetable in orange plastic pot or home planting on wooden table. Container vegetables gardening.

  • Grow your own if you can or pick from a small pot on the window sill
  • Use herbs such as basil or flat-leaved parsley in place of lettuce
  • Lightly steam some veg such as asparagus, broccoli, or green beans, let them cool and add a dressing.

No lemon juice?

  • Lime juice
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Any vinegar – white, apple, Balsamic, rice wine
  • Verjuice
  • White wine

No eggs?

  • Liquid from canned beans (aquafaba)

 The bottom line

 For almost every ingredient, there is another. Be resourceful. Try out things. I am still searching for foods that sub for onions and lemon rind. Let me know on Facebook if and when you find something. 

Catherine Saxelby About the author

About the Author


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Catherine Saxelby has the answers! She is an accredited nutritionist, blogger and award-winning author. Her award-winning book My Nutritionary will help you cut through the jargon. Do you know your MCTs from your LCTs? How about sterols from stanols? What’s the difference between glucose and dextrose? Or probiotics and prebiotics? What additive is number 330? How safe is acesulfame K? If you find yourself confused by food labels, grab your copy of Catherine Saxelby’s comprehensive guide My Nutritionary NOW!