Make What You Love with What You Have: A Compilation of Substitute-Friendly Recipes by Alyssa Perez

How many times have you opened your fridge and nothing screams “eat me!” You sigh at the thought of having to actually make something. I’m a little different. I pride myself in being able to whip together a delicious meal regardless of what I have sitting in my fridge or pantry. Now, I want to share a few of these substitute-friendly meals for those who struggle to see potential in their selection. The following recipes can be substituted with any protein or veggie you have on-hand. 

La China (Tofu and Veggie Stir-Fry)

Tofu and vegetables are my holy grail. Inspired by my time as a vegetarian in China, this recipe can easily be substituted with any veggies you have on-hand and your favorite choice of protein. This dish works especially great for meal prepping! 


  • Avocado oil
    • Sub: almond oil; corn oil; canola oil; peanut oil; safflower oil; sesame oil; sunflower oil
  • 6 oz. extra-firm tofu pressed and 1/2-inch cubed
    • Sub: chicken; your favorite protein
  • 1 tsp. garlic minced
    • Sub: garlic powder to taste
  • 1/4 yellow onion sliced
    • Sub: white onion; your favorite vegetable
  • 1/2 large red pepper sliced length-wise
    • Sub: yellow pepper; green pepper; your favorite vegetable
  • 2 c. broccoli florets
    • Sub: cauliflower; your favorite vegetable  
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 oz. rice noodles cooked
    • Sub: bean sprouts; your favorite noodles


  • Sub: teriyaki sauce and chili powder
  • 1 TB soy sauce
  • 1 TB teriyaki sauce
  • 1 TB toasted sesame oil
  • 1 TB Srircha sauce 
  • 1 tsp. ketchup
  • 1/4 tsp. rice vinegar


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add enough avocado oil to cover the full surface area of the skillet. 
  2. Using tongs, add the cubed tofu into the hot oil. Let sit for about 7 minutes. Flip the tofu. Fry another 6 minutes until golden brown. Remove from heat.
  3. Place a paper towel on a plate. Use the tongs to place the fried tofu on the plate. Pat dry with another paper towel. Set aside. 
  4. Use the same avocado oil that was used to fry the tofu to sauté the vegetables. Leave 2 TB of avocado oil in the pan and remove the remaining oil from the pan.
  5. On medium heat, add the minced garlic. Heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. 
  6. Add the red peppers, onion, and broccoli to the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until softened, about 8 minutes. Stir often. 
  7. On low-heat, add the cooked noodles and fried tofu to the vegetables. Mix together until warmed, about 2 minutes. 
  8. Prepare the sauce. Combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl until well blended, about 1 minute. 
  9. Pour the sauce over the tofu, veggie, and noodles in the skillet. Mix together. Enjoy!

Alyssa is a Chicago-native foodie based in Washington, DC. Through the pandemic and working from home, she has been able to focus on her love of food and creating simple-yet-delicious recipes from her own kitchen.

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