Food Substitutions to Help You Get Through Quarantine

woman shopping at grocery store with mask on; Food Substitutions to Help You Get Through Quarantine

Are you finding it difficult to get a few food staples? Don’t worry, we’ve got you. Dietitian Emma Rueth, UnityPoint Health, gives us ways to continue making our favorite recipes and get our protein, even though the grocery store shelves are sometimes bare. Plus, three expert tips on freezing that will make your supplies last longer.

Here’s What to Use as an Egg Substitute

If you run out of eggs, or you simply can’t get any from your grocery store, here are three egg substitute options to try.

  • Flaxseed or chia seed. To replace one egg, whisk together one tablespoon of chia or ground flaxseed with three tablespoons of water until fully absorbed and thickened. It may cause a heavier product, so this option is best in pancakes, waffles, muffins, breads and cookies.
  • Applesauce. Apple sauce can work in place of eggs in baked goods recipes, too. To swap out an egg, use ¼ cup of applesauce for every egg.
  • Egg replacement powder. Look for this in the allergy-free section. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for use.

“If it’s scrambled eggs you’re craving, firm or extra-firm tofu is a good replacement. Just drain and crumble your tofu and add a few of your favorite spices to make a protein-filled meal,” Rueth says.

How to Substitute Baking Powder for Baking Soda & Vice Versa

If you have baking soda, you can use this to make a baking powder substitute by combining one-part baking soda with two parts cream of tartar and one-part corn starch. If you only have baking powder, you should be able to replace baking soda in a recipe by tripling the amount of baking powder. Here are examples:

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder = ¼ teaspoon baking soda + ½ teaspoon cream of tartar + ¼ teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda = 3 teaspoons of baking powder

Make Your Own Healthy & Easy Homemade Pizza

Frozen pizza is a hot item during this quarantine. If you can’t get your hands on your favorite kind, don’t sweat it. Rueth says making pizza at home can be a cheaper, healthier option than traditional frozen pizza – especially when it comes to sodium content.

“You can make pizza with almost anything. Try naan, pita, English muffins, bagels, sliced bread, eggplant rounds, zucchini slices and more. You can also try making pizza dough at home with flour and instant yeast,” Rueth says.

For topping, Rueth suggests pasta sauce to replace pizza sauce. You could also try pesto, sliced tomatoes or tomato paste cooked with some water (to thin it) and spices. Get creative with your toppings. Use whatever cheese and other toppings you have handy. Even diced cheese sticks would work.

Try These Options for Meat Substitutes

Remember, dried or canned beans and legumes are great, shelf-stable protein substitutes for meat. 

“Purchase canned beans, rinse them and throw them into your soups, stews, salads, etc. I like to use lentils to replace ground meat in recipes like Shepard’s pie. You can also buy dried beans, like chickpeas and black beans, to make in your instant pot, slow cooker or on the stove,” Rueth says.

Need a Rice Substitute? – Don’t Sweat it!

Quinoa, millet, farro and even oats are all whole grains that could replace brown rice in recipes and nutrition.

“If you are looking for a lower carbohydrate option, try purchasing cauliflower rice (also known as “crumbles”) or making your own by lightly pulsing cauliflower in a food processor,” Rueth says.

Make the Freezer Your Friend

If you’re someone who used to visit the grocery store a couple times a week to grab odds and ends, you’re probably experiencing a change in routine. Rueth suggests a few ways to make the freezer your friend.

  • Freeze milk. Make sure to pour some-to-half of a gallon into another container, since milk will expand when frozen and break the plastic. Just thaw in the fridge when ready.
  • Freeze bread. Toss your whole wheat bread into the freezer to extend the shelf life. Pre-sliced bread usually freezes best. It’s easy to grab one or two slices from the freezer and pop them in the toaster.
  • Freeze fruit. If your stash of fruit starts to wilt, pop it in the freezer. You can always use those berries in recipes later. Buying frozen fruit is also a good option. Frozen fruit is just as healthy and fresh.

Try These Quarantine Recipes

Whether you’re trying to make quick snacks or looking for healthy recipes to make from pantry staples – Rueth identifies some of her go-to recipes from the blogs of fellow registered dietitians.


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