3 minutes Inspiration

Making Ends Meet – Switch and Swap

In this article, Country Range development chef, Paul Dickson focuses on making simple changes to your ingredients cupboard or menu to cut costs and improve margins, without compromising on taste or quality.

Whether you are planning to freshen up your menu for Spring or looking for ways to save on staple store cupboard ingredients, here are some creative yet simple ways to improve margins without impacting on the quality of the end product. As an added bonus, look out for the interesting ingredient swap that all of you bakers out there really must try!

Paul is a Home Economist and food stylist working in London and the North West, creating exceptional visual stories in film & tv, on social media and in print.

A Surprising SWAP

Mayonnaise is such a versatile ingredient which can be used in so many savoury dishes. However, did you know it is fantastic added to carrot cake? It really works and keeps it nice and moist! Simply replace the oil or butter you would usually use with mayo. You won’t be disappointed! You can find the full recipe online.

Fresh or Frozen

I only buy fresh fruit when it’s in season, but otherwise, frozen fruit is perfectly good, especially if it’s being stewed to use in crumbles or blended into smoothies or sauces. A huge cost saving can be made by buying frozen fruit, particularly berries. Just like peas, they’re picked at optimum freshness, and they freeze down really well. At this time of year, when berries are still a few months away from being in season, having a variety of frozen berries can give you some fresh and fruity dessert options for your menu, without using costly imported ingredients. As we emerge from
the winter months into spring, something like this summer pudding is a welcome, lighter change and works perfectly with frozen mixed berries.

Switch it up

Moving your baked beans to the Country Range brand is a seamless switch which can help you to cut costs without compromising on quality. Created specifically for the food service industry, the beans hold their shape in a Bain Marie and don’t dry out whilst keeping warm. Baked beans are a nutritious and low cost ingredient which can be used in so many inventive ways. Why not spice them up by adding chorizo to your recipes? You only need to use a small amount, making it an economical addition. Use it to make these pork and chorizo burgers with an oozing baked beans centre.


It is estimated that in the UK, 1 in every 13 households adopt a vegan or plantbased diet, which in itself is a reason why you should ensure that your menu includes plant-based options. However, the increasing cost of meat is another reason to consider substituting plantbased alternatives for more expensive ingredients. Your plant-based dishes don’t have to scream that they’re just for vegans. Create crowd-pleasing menu options which appeal to meat-lovers and vegans alike, such as this mushroom risotto which is perfectly decadent but only uses a handful of ingredients, just as good quality Italian cuisine should be. Packing in flavour and textures is another great way to negate the need for meat in a dish. Mexican food is a winner for this, such as combining beans, spices and crisp salad into a satisfying burrito. It’s simple and low cost to make, but it really packs a punch.