Storecupboard Staples

I'm lost without my storecupboard.  I cook from scratch the majority of the time and without a stock of storecupboard basics this would prove to be far more challenging than it actually is.  By keeping a stock of basic items I can whip a meal in a short time and don't have to worry about buying everything I need to make a meal each time I want to cook something and also allows me to cook different things if I find a new recipe that inspires me.  So, here is my guide to what the best stocked storecupboard should have and what you can use it for:

Herbs

Herbs are a cheap and easy way to add flavour to anything from an Italian inspired dish to roasted veg.  Dried herbs are a good buy and last for ages as well as adding a nutritional punch.  The following are a good basic range to have in the cupboard:

  • Oregano
  • BasilP1000647
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Tarragon
  • Rosemary
  • Bay leaves

Spices

I love spices and use a lot in my cooking.  They add flavour, depth and warmth to a whole range of dishes both savoury and sweet and add some pretty powerful nutritional extras to your diet.  Some can be used for both types of dish such as Ginger,Cardamon and Turmeric:

  • Cumin (seeds or ground)
  • Chilli powder or flakes
  • Paprika
  • Ginger
  • Coriander (seeds or ground)P1000642
  • Sea Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamon 
  • Cayenne
  • Turmeric  
  • Garam Masala contains a load of spices giving you the building blocks of a curry 

Condiments

These can make a huge difference between lack lustre and scintillating to a whole range of savoury dishes:

  • Worcestershire sauce (great for meat dishes)
  • Mustard (English for adding flavour to cheese dishes and Dijon for salad dressings)
  • Honey (preferably raw – not heat processed to it retains its nutrients) as a natural sweetenerP1000640
  • Maple syrup (a natural alternative to sugar for sweetening)
  • Vinegar (balsamic, white wine, malt)
  • Peanut butter
  • Soy sauce (preferably Tamari as it fermented properly)
  • Olive, Rapeseed or Coconut oil (use cold pressed where possible as it won’t have been damaged in the manufacturing process)

Sauces & Stocks

  • Tomato Ketchup (can add sweetness to tomato dishes without using sugar)
  • Brown sauce (gives a depth of flavour to meat dishes)
  • Beef, veg, chicken stock cubes
  • Sweet chilli sauce (great for Asian dishes)

Food Staples

These are often the building blocks of a meal and can bulk out a meal with little cost:

  • Plain Flour (for thickening and coating - if you are gluten free use a multipurpose gluten free flour)
  • Self Raising Flour (for baking)
  • Corn flour (for thickening sauces, great if you’re gluten free)P1000648
  • Lentils - bulk soups and stews out and are a handy source of additional protein
  • Rice – (brown basmati can be mixed with wild rice and red rice for variety)
  • Quinoa (use instead of cous cous, high in protein and great for gluten free diets)
  • Polenta (ground corn, can be served as a porridge or left to set and fried instead of toast)
  • Millet (alternative to oats or wheat based cereals)
  • Porridge Oats (makes a quick easy breakfast or can be used in baking)P1000651
  • Dried pasta  - (short and long) either wheat based or gluten free
  • Noodles – make a nice change to pasta and great with Asian inspired dishes (try rice or buckwheat for a change or if you are gluten free)

Meal basics

Food that is the basis of a meal.  I find it is better to buy better quality tinned goods to get the best flavour:

  • Chopped tomatoes (the basis of almost everything I make that has a sauce - be it a stew, casserole or tomato soup)
  • Tomato Puree (adds an extra depth of flavour to sauces)
  • Tinned beans (bulks out meat dishes, can be used in vegetarian dishes or as the basis of bean pate or Chickpeas for homemade Hummus)P1000655
  • Dried beans / lentils (it takes a little time to cook dried beans, but is much cheaper than buying ready cooked in a tin- using a pressure cooker takes the hassle out of cooking beans.  Lentils can be added to a dish at the beginning and will be ready in around 20 mins)

Fridge staples

  • Cheese - go for strongest flavoured cheese - by using a strong flavour, its goes further so you use less 
  • Eggs (can be a meal in themselves)
  • Butter (preferably organic)
  • Tomato puree 

Veg (I use the following in almost everything I cook and lemons for dressing salads and making Hummus)

  • OnionsP1000659
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Bell pepper
  • Lemon
  • Fresh Ginger

 

Other items I tend to keep are nuts, seeds (great for snacking and adding to breakfast cereals), nut butters, dried fruit, Coconut (for snacking and making snack balls).

Keep these items in your fridge and cupboard and you'll have everything you need to make a healthy, nutritious meal quickly and easily.

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