There are so many different kinds of food, it’s practically impossible to run out of new things to try. Within each category of food, there are endless different variations. If you’ve ever wondered what makes whole wheat bread taste and feel different from rye bread, you have wondered about what substitutions can do to change a recipe.

Substitutes in recipes can be used for several reasons. Whatever your reason, you might discover a new way to enjoy an old favorite. Here are some of the best reasons to use substitutes in the kitchen.

There Was a Whole Dozen Eggs in Here Yesterday

Maybe the most common reason to use substitutes when cooking is simply not having any or enough of an ingredient. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to run to your neighbor’s house for that one missing thing, but if that’s not an option, knowing what you can use to get the right results is important. 

Knowing what to use when you have two eggs but need four can be priceless. Can you replace the vegetable oil with butter? These are the bits of knowledge that can keep you from losing your mind and keep you from making that mad dash to the grocery store that inevitably becomes a half-day affair.

I Love This Recipe, But it Doesn’t Fit the New Year’s Diet

If you’re trying to cut back on calories but have a dish or two that you can’t let go of, substitutes can give you some more freedom in your food choices. Being able to change out some high-calorie ingredients with some more health-conscious options can give you an edge on your diet without sacrificing your favorite foods. Making changes in your life for better health is a noble goal, and this can help you get there just a little bit easier.

This Bread Should Be a Little Bit Fluffier

Making good recipes great is another good reason to understand how different ingredients can change – or not change – your favorite recipes. Wouldn’t it be great to know that changing out some butter with a plant-based product could change the consistency of that cake just enough to make it perfect? Maybe there’s something that could lighten your pie crust enough to make it just like Grandma’s. Maybe Grandma will want to know how she could make hers better.

This Recipe and That Would Be Great Together

Combining foods is a good way to explore new flavors in the kitchen. But not all ingredients just go together. If you want to make a combination dish, knowing what each ingredient does to the final product can help you know what you need to keep from each recipe, and what to leave out. Knowing what the items from each recipe do can let you know what you need to get the results you’re hoping for.

No matter what your reasons are, knowing a little about substitutes in the kitchen can help you get the perfect results. And experimenting with substitutes is a great way to learn what works best, and when.