Sometimes that killer-looking recipe online is killer on the wallet, too, calling for all kinds of expensive, fancy-pants ingredients that can add up fast. But you need not forego: We’ve come up with a list of five frugal foodie substitutions that bring million dollar flavor to the table without breaking the bank.
Swap Prosecco for Champagne
True Champagne must come from the Champagne region of France, meaning that there are a very limited number of true Champagne producers—and they can pretty much charge whatever they want for their bubbly. For the same delicate bubbles, try prosecco, which comes from Italy, or a sparkling wine from another country like Chile or even the U.S.—believe it or not, New Mexico has a great gruet.
Asiago for Parmigiano Reggiano
Like Champagne, true parmigiano reggiano must come from Italy and be produced in a very specific way, which explains the hefty price tag of around $12 a pound. You can easily swap asiago for parmesan in most recipes and save almost 50 percent without sacrificing a bit in flavor.
Maple Agave Blend for 100% Pure Maple Syrup
This one’s a no-brainer, since a maple agave blend will taste—duh—like maple syrup. But pure maple syrup fetches a pure premium price, whereas the agave blend should save you up to 30 percent at the checkout counter. If you can find a place to buy either one in bulk and bring your own container, you’ll likely save even more.
Mahi Mahi for Ahi or Cod
For most dishes where you’re looking for a budget-friendly firm fish filet, like for grilling or fish tacos, Mahi Mahi will stand in beautifully for the more expensive Ahi or cod. US-caught Mahi Mahi is rated a good choice by Seafood Watch, making it a healthy choice for your wallet and the planet.
Swiss Cheese for Gruyere
In a casserole, quiche or pasta dish, you and your guests won’t notice the difference if you swap out super-pricey Gruyere for good old holey Swiss cheese. The two have a similar melting style and flavor profile, so the swap should work without a hitch in any dish.