|The BCB [budget conscientious bandit]|
I used to be obsessed with Recipe book purchasing until I noticed something about 6 months ago when I started making daily meals for my husband & I - I end up in 1 of a few common situations:
1) The ingredients are seasonal - and not offered the time of the year I need them to be
2) The ingredients can be very expensive (definitely not adding saffron to my mashed potatoes, thank you)
3) The ingredients are not in my pantry, or fridge
So every time I wanted to bake or cook, I would always be forced into grocery store trips that ended up costing more in gas, and time than the recipe was even worth. While i'm a strong believer in shopping at multiple stores because the money saved definitely outweighs the expense of purchasing everything at one market (for example, I was paying 3.99 a lb for ground turkey at 1 market, then after wandering around my new city, I found a place that sells a 5 lb frozen package of ground turkey for 5.99 - you get my point, that will add up!) I do not advocate driving out for ingredients (1 exception to the rule; only if you're headed out to get stuffed cabbage supplies)
The most important thing I do to start any activity in the kitchen is to always keep an organized Fridge & Pantry. You think you'll remember everything you have, but eventually you'll come to the point where you're purchasing so many doubles, that you create an extra expense for no good reason! It's far greater to keep things organized in in this arena because no other area in your house will cost you more money. There's all kinds of great guides to keeping a well stocked pantry & fridge out there, and a lot of recipe books have them conveniently there for you.
I should make a clear note, that with baking there are a lot of exceptions to substitutions. Baking is a matter of perfectly executed precision due to it's highly complex dependency on molecular relationships, and cooking is really requires taste.
While I am not a schooled chef, I am one by trial and error, and lots of reading. There's a whole world of information waiting for you to search it online. Having issues with an ingredient and need a replacement? Type in into your preferred internet search engine. I'll use this next situation as an example because it was my personal discovery - Let's say you didn't have Nutmeg in your Pantry for a recipe, so you type online 'Nutmeg Substitution' and here's my answer, but we'll pretend it's from the internet search you did 'Use Pumpkin Pie Spice. It has Nutmeg & other spices that'll add a unique twist to your dish & I guarantee you'll never use just Nutmeg. Message me if you need the resources, but if not, have fun discovering that virtually every ingredient can be substituted! My current favorite - instead of buttermilk (which I dread paying for because i'll only use it in that particular recipe -- 3/4 cup milk, and 2 tbsp vinegar and stir a little. Set for 5 mins. It's the base for my favorite pancakes!) See you guys soon! - BCB