You need vanilla extract for practically everything.... I'm sure McCormick is making a pretty profit charging $2.75 for 1oz of the stuff. ;) So why not make your own?
I found a few different recipes for making vanilla extract but there are a couple of basic concepts worth noting: Use Grade B - extract grade vanilla beans and for every 1/3 cup of vodka you need 1 vanilla bean. Thats basically it. You simply snip the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and submerge them in vodka. Let the extract sit for at least 6-8 weeks. Leave in a dark place and give them an occasional shake. I used Svedka Vodka (any higher quality vodka would work well) but I have seen recipes that add or use dark rum.
I had a lot of difficulty finding the perfect bottles. Feel free to browse around but trust me, if you want to save some time Sunburst Bottle has a few differently shaped smaller bottles. Just make sure what ever you get is glass. Vanilla beans can cost up to $5 for just a couple of beans but Vanilla Products USA offers them at a great price and even has awesome deals like get 10 vanilla beans free with a purchase of $10!! With all those vanilla beans you'll be able to make your own vanilla sugar, homemade vanilla bean ice cream, or add it to your rice pudding recipe. Yum yum yum!
Although there really isn't a true substitute for vanilla extract sometimes I'll use Dr.Oetker Vanilla Sugar. But out of curiosity I googled "substitutes for vanilla extract" and found that