Feeling the pinch? With a bit of smart shopping you can save on your grocery bill without sacrificing flavour. Hurrah!

If you’ve ever delved into an Ottolenghi book you’ll know the pain of forking out for that lengthy list of ingredients (hello saffron).


Never fear: we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve to make food shopping a little bit more frugal.

Swap: shallots for leeks
Why it works: leeks pack a serious onion flavour punch, but without the fancy-pants French price tag.

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Via: Mallory Dash/CC-BY-SA 2.0/Flickr: MallyDally

Swap: tahini for peanut butter
Why it works: tahini is, in effect, sesame butter. It may sound strange to substitute the nutty element of your hummus for peanut butter but it works (thanks Nigella) and your wallet will thank you for it.

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Via: Asha Pagdiwalla/CC-BY-SA 2.0/Flickr: ashapagdiwalla

Swap: saffron for paprika and turmeric
Why it works: the flavours might not be the same, but saffron is often used as a food dye and these two spices will make your foods just as mellow yellow at a quarter of the price. 

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Via: Zoyachubby/CC-BY-SA 2.0/Flickr: zoyachubby

Swap: fresh peas for frozen
Why it works: frozen peas can taste just as good – if not better – as the fresh pods you'll find in any supermarket, because they've been frozen just after picking, giving them less time to go starchy. Bonza. 

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Via: Ruth Hartnup/CC-BY-SA 2.0/Flickr: ruthanddave

Swap: Parmigiano-Reggiano for Grana Padano
Why it works: they're like cousins but Grana Padano is milder, nuttier and cheaper. Didn't everyone get that memo?

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Parmesan cheese

Via: Maggie Hoffman/CC-BY-SA 2.0/Flickr: maggiejane

Swap: truffles for porcini or a drizzle of truffle oil
Why it works: you won't get the same intesity as you would with truffles, but the pungent flavour will be there – plus you'll have a few extra coins in your purse.

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Swap: chicken breast for the whole bird
Why it works: while butchering a bird may sound like a terrifying prospect it's not difficult, and buying it whole is more economical.

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Swap: buttermilk for whole milk with lemon juice
Why it works: if a recipe calls for buttermilk but you don’t want to leave the rest of the carton to fester at the back of your fridge, this will be your saviour.

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Via: Melissa Wiese/CC-BY-SA 2.0/Flickr: 42dreams

Swap: sweet potatoes for carrots
Why it works: they both turn sweet and sticky in the oven. Mmm.

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Sweet potato

Via: Mike Licht/CC-BY-SA 2.0/Flickr: notionscapital

Swap: vanilla pods for vanilla extract or paste
Why it works: you’ll get the same aroma and flavour, just not the same intensity. With the paste, you'll even get those lovely black specs in your food, so no one will know (unless you tell them) how thrifty you really are.

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Via: Ted Mjajor/CC-BY-SA 2.0/Flickr: ted_major

Swap: pancetta for bacon
Why it works: the porkie products taste similar but your good old streaky bacon is a lot cheaper.

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Via: Pink Sherbet Photography/CC-BY-SA 2.0/Flickr: pinksherbet

Swap: cardamom for equal parts of ground cinnamon and nutmeg
Why it works: you'll get that similarly enticing warm and spicy-sweet aromatic flavour.

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Via: Mauro Cateb/CC-BY-SA 2.0/Flickr: mauroescritor