We’re going to need to think outside the box and get a bit creative if the ingredients we want or need aren’t available. Start thinking now about alternatives that you can use or make, researching recipes if necessary and saving them somewhere you can easily find them when you need them.
Tinned tomatoes: use fresh tomatoes instead. Blitz them with some garlic, salt and pepper and a drop of olive oil and then warm it through. You can also add tomato puree and/or sun dried tomatoes for extra flavour and a more appealing colour. Better still, given the time of year and that tomatoes aren’t at their best, slice the tomatoes in half and lay them on a tray, sprinkle over salt and pepper, slices of garlic, some dried thyme if you fancy, and a drizzle of balsamic, if you have some. Roast at 140C for at least a couple of hours to enhance the flavour and then blitz them. If you’ve got a red or yellow pepper, roast that too. And, if you like the sauce smooth, push it through a sieve to get rid of the pips.
Mince meat – if you can get a piece of meat instead use that but cook it for longer so that it falls apart or chop it to create your own coarse mince. Alternatively, get inventive with lentils and mushrooms. There is a veggie Bolognese and a veggie chilli recipe here on my website to help you out with two family favourites. If your children aren’t a fan of mushrooms, blitz them a little in the food processor so that when cooked they are more like mince.
Tinned beans – tinned beans are handy but if you can’t get your hands on any then try dried instead. You’ll need to do a bit of planning since they’ll need to be soaked overnight and then cooked for a long time (get your slow cooker out for this) but you’ll be able to cook up a whole load which, stored in airtight containers will last 4 or 5 days in the fridge or which could be portioned up and frozen for when you need them. You’ll save some money too!
Bread – bread might be scarce in the supermarket but your local bakery may well be able to help. If not, have a look for yeast and strong bread flour and give baking a whirl (or maybe you’ve got a bread machine lurking in the back of the cupboard?!). If that all sounds a little daunting, start with some easy flatbreads, scones, a soda bread or even some pancakes as an alternative. If you can’t get the flour you want, try a different one; spelt, rye, gram, there’s lots to choose from. If you’d like help finding a recipe, give me a shout.
Pasta – another much relied upon staple that is proving hard to find is pasta. Relieve some stress and make your own! Just two ingredients needed; 4 eggs and 400g pasta or plain flour. You don’t need a fancy pasta machine to make pasta. A rolling pin or, failing that, a bottle of wine will do for rolling out the dough as thin as you can get it. Cut the dough into 4 or 6 pieces rather than rolling it all at once.
Eggs – there are plenty of vegan recipes available that use egg replacements for baking and other recipes. Check out Elly Pear’s Instagram feed for a recent post on egg substitutes.
Other things you could make yourself are baked beans, pastry and jam!
If you’re stuck when it comes to finding replacements for ingredients you need, get in touch!