Food Substitutions

Don’t want to make trip to the grocery store for one ingredient? Great – its probably not a good idea right now anyway. Fortunately, there are many easy, healthy food substitutions that are a great way to add more nutrients to your food, while limiting your trips to the store.

Here are a few healthy food substitutions using what you already have and some fresh produce and pantry items we provide at the Foodbank!

Zoodles for Noodles 

Try using Zucchini noodles instead of regular spaghetti! They are really easy to make using a spiralizer or peeler and taste great in a stir fry or doused in a (we recommend marinara or yellow curry!) sauce. Add them to soups or ladle your favorite sauce on them and you won’t be able to tell the difference. You can do this with any veggies – cucumbers, carrots, beetroots, even sweet potatoes are so easy to spiralise. You’ll get an extra serving of vegetables and the taste will be just as good!

Try this recipe: Easy Garlic Parmesan Zoodles made with spiralized veggie noodles

Credit: Downshiftology



Dates for Sugar

Next time you’re craving a cookie or ice cream, try substituting dessert with a couple of dates instead. You’ll be surprised at how naturally sweet they can be and their flavor will help curb your sweet tooth. Try them stuffed with peanut butter and cacao nibs or in a smoothie! 

Credit: Bella Edwards Instagram (@bellaeatwards)





Cauliflower for Potatoes

Cauliflower can be a bit of a hit or miss vegetable – often people love it or hate it, but substituting cauliflower for potatoes is definitely a win-win. Cauliflower dishes like cauliflower mash, cauliflower soup, and so many others can be made for a healthier substitute to potatoes. The taste and texture can be really hard to differentiate (I almost like it better than potatoes) and you’ll be getting some extra nutrients in while indulging in yummy comfort food.

Try this: Chunky Cauliflower Chowder and Mexican Cauliflower Rice





Jackfruit for Meat 

Next Meatless Monday, try substituting jackfruit. Jackfruit, a tropical fruit native to Asia that resembles pulled pork, is becoming one of the most popular meat alternatives for vegans, vegetarians and anyone who’s looking to lead a healthier lifestyle. A healthy and cheap option, jackfruit will often come in cans and stores well in your pantry. Loaded with nutrients like vitamin C, potassium and fiber, this fruit is super versatile and makes a great vegetarian option. Try it as a substitute in pulled pork sandwiches, in tacos, or in chili. 

Try this: Easy Jackfruit “Chicken” Quinoa Bowls


Ingredient Substitutions: these come in handy when you need an ingredient in a pinch, but don’t have that ingredient on-hand. There are a ton of shelf-stable, easy ingredient substitutions you can make when you don’t have exactly what you need!

A few easy-to-remember tips:

  • Use applesauce instead of oil when baking. Try substituting applesauce for half the oil requested in cake and brownie recipes. 


  • Butter Substitute: For baked goods, coconut oil, margarine, or lard can replace butter as 1:1 substitutes


  • Fresh Herbs Substitute: For each tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs, use: 1 teaspoon dried 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground or powdered



Here are a few more handy substitutions that can be used anytime, anywhere:


Egg 1 whole 

2 1/2 tablespoons of powdered egg substitute plus 2 1/2 tablespoons water

Or 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute

Or 1/4 cup silken tofu pureed

Or 3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Or half a banana mashed with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Or 1 tablespoon powdered flax seed soaked in 3 tablespoons water


Fats for baking 1 cup 1 cup applesauce OR 1 cup fruit puree


Milk–whole 1 cup 1 cup soy milk OR 1 cup rice milk OR 1 cup water or juice OR 1/4 cup dry milk powder plus 1 cup water OR 2/3 cup evaporated milk plus 1/3 cup water


For an encyclopedic list of ingredient substitutions, visit the Food Network or