What to Use When You Run Out of Basic Pantry Ingredients

It’s been weeks since social distancing guidelines have been instituted. While many people seem to be paying no heed, if you are, you may be starting to run out of some staples. I know I am! Today, I’m sharing with you some of my top tips for substituting basic pantry ingredients you can use in a pinch!

Brown eggs on a table beside a white bowl.


While there’s not a fabulous substitution for scrambled or poached eggs, there are some good substitutes for eggs in baking! Depending on what you’re making, these are some subs to consider for 1 egg:

  • Half of a banana, mashed
  • 1 Tbsp ground chia or flax seeds, soaked in 3 Tbsp water for a few minutes
  • ¼ cup of canned applesauce, canned pumpkin, or mashed sweet potatoes
  • 3 Tbsp liquid from a can of chickpeas
Jar of white flour.


If you have another grain, like oatmeal, you can toss it in your food processor and grind it into a powder. If you’re making bread that won’t work great, but it will work in recipes for pancakes, muffins, and the like.


For use in baking, you can sub milk with:

  • Some yogurt or sour cream thinned with water
  • Fruit juice
  • Liquid from canned fruit
  • Powdered milk reconstituted with water per package directions


Use any oil you have, 1 for 1 for butter. Sometimes the end result will be a bit different, but it will work. You can also substitute half, or in some cases more, of the butter in baked goods with applesauce, canned pumpkin, or mashed sweet potatoes.

If you have no butter or oil and need to saute something, you can also use plain water or a bit of broth.


Onions impart so much flavor in foods! In recipes that call for onions, use 1 Tbsp onion powder, or 2 Tbsp dried minced onion for one medium onion. Try not to use onion salt if you can help it. Salt is one thing most of us probably are getting too much of since we’re using more preserved foods!

Head of garlic on a dark background


In recipes that call for garlic, use ⅛ tsp garlic powder for 1 garlic clove. As with the onions, try not to use garlic salt if you can.

Italian Seasoning

For every teaspoon of Italian seasoning a recipe calls for, add ½ teaspoon oregano, ¼ teaspoon marjoram, ¼ teaspoon thyme, and ⅛ teaspoon each of basil, rosemary, and sage. If you don’t have one of those, simply leave it out. Gotta do what you gotta do!

Chili Powder

For every tablespoon of Chili powder, use 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, ½ teaspoon cayenne powder, ¼ teaspoon of oregano, and ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika.

Curry Powder

For every 2 teaspoons of Curry powder, use ½ teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon coriander, ½ teaspoon turmeric, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch each of cayenne pepper and black pepper.

Tell me what basic pantry ingredients you’re struggling with substituting in the comments! I’ll answer you and add it to the list above! You’ve got this!

Are you looking for some recipes? Check out this great compilation: Pantry Staples!

Table with baking ingredients on it, and a bowl with flour and eggs in it.

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