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Here’s a scenario many of us may be all too familiar with:

You’ve been itching to try this new recipe you came across online. Now, you finally have the time to actually start cooking–but you suddenly realize that you’re out of sour cream! To make matters worse, you don’t have the time to go to your nearest supermarket to grab that and a few other ingredients you need. What should you do?

Fortunately, some of the more common ingredients used in the culinary world can be substituted with a similar ingredient. If you are too busy to head out for some grocery shopping, here is a list of the most common ingredient substitutions you can use without compromising what you plan to make in the kitchen:

Yogurt or buttermilk for sour cream

You can use yogurt as a substitute for sour cream on baked potatoes and only very few people, such as highly trained chefs and culinary arts students, can tell the difference in taste. Buttermilk can be a good replacement as well for baked goods.

Applesauce for oil

Applesauce can be a replacement for oil in many baked recipes, especially for recipes that want to use that distinct apple flavor. When substituting this ingredient, make sure to use the same amount. If you need one cup of oil, then you should use one cup of applesauce. Since the moisture in the applesauce can be very strong, remember to drain some of the extra moisture out first.

Lemon juice for vinegar

Lemon juice gives a bright, citrusy flavor to any meal. It’s also quite acidic, making it a relatively good option as a substitute for vinegar when used in small amounts. You can use this if there’s no vinegar available and for dishes when a small amount is needed.

White sugar and molasses for brown sugar

This isn’t technically a substitute since brown sugar is made up of white sugar and molasses. Think of it as making your own brown sugar. Just mix one cup of granulated sugar with a tablespoon of molasses. If you want a darker brown sugar, increase the amount of molasses used to two tablespoons.

Tomato paste and water for tomato sauce

Since tomato paste is a rich form of tomato puree, you can easily dilute it to the consistency of tomato sauce. By adding one cup of water to three quarters of a cup of tomato paste, you will get the texture and thickness of tomato sauce. With that in mind, it’s probably a good idea to have a few sachets of tomato paste at home at all times.

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