Lockdown has really focussed my mind when it comes to shopping and checking what we need to have in the house. The list below includes the store cupboard staples I have identified as versatile and filling foods and therefore essential to have in stock at all times.
I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone to see this at the top of the list. Strong white flour has been flying off our shelves since lockdown began. It is great for a wide range of well known foods (breads, wraps, flatbreads, pizza bases, pastry and so on and so on), but you may not realise you can also use bread flour for cakes, pancakes, Yorkshire puddings, thickening sauces and much more.
The basic oat is a humble ingredient but has so much going for it. High in fibre and also surprisingly high in protein, oats are both nutritious and cheap. And, wonderfully enough, they are grown right here in the UK, keeping their carbon footprint down too. Like the strong white flour, they are also useful in a range of foods, from the sustaining bowl of breakfast porridge, to delicious snacky flapjack and even included in a range of cakes and great added to a fruit smoothie. They make a great base for adding all those other random store cupboard ingredients to.
All hail tinned food! And tomatoes are king among these. I don’t know what I’d do without a constant ready supply of tinned tomatoes. They make up the base of so many of my meals, including Bolognese, lasagne, chilli, curry, pizza base, pasta sauce and the list goes on. Plus, you can buy these in bulk when you do make your shopping run and don’t have to worry about them going off.
I know not everyone eats eggs but for us they provide a valuable source of essential nutrients. We aim to get them only from a reputable source and, luckily enough, Chloe’s Mum keeps chickens so we know our eggs are coming from happy chickens which are free to roam the garden. As with all the ingredients on this list, eggs are incredibly versatile and can make a meal if you haven’t got much in the house. Omelettes, quiches, soufflés and plain old eggs on toast all pass for a quality meal. We like to add a fried egg to the top of a vegetable stir fry, yummy. Eggs are also useful in lots of baking although I can’t justify cooking with them at the moment as we would get through so many.
I always have a selection of dried beans in the house and usually go for haricot, kidney and black beans. Although I use them mixed in lots of recipes it is useful to have them separate for when you want something different. We use dried beans in the following recipes: homemade baked beans (uses haricot beans and, when batch cooked and frozen makes a delicious, quick, nutritious meal), refried beans for wraps (uses black beans), and mixed bean chilli. I’ve even used beans in brownies and homemade veggie burgers. Dried beans need a bit of prep as they take a while to cook but you can cook up a batch and freeze them or pop them in the slow cooker in the morning. As well as being versatile, beans are also incredibly good value and an excellent source of protein.
As with beans, these are a good staple for a lot of meals and, unlike the dried beans, they don’t require all that prep. Many a time it has got to 5’o’clock with no tea plans and lentils have come to the rescue. They are great in veggie Bolognese, lasagne, dahls and I’ve even tried a red lentil chocolate cake. My favourites are French or Puy lentils but red lentils are also a good bet and nice and versatile.
The humble spud. “Mash ‘em, boil ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew” as good old Sam Wise Gamgee would say. The way you cook a potato can transform a meal. There’s not much out there that beats a good roast potato but it is a completely different meal addition to mashed or even jacket potato. It’s also lovely to get something which can be grown so locally, or even grown yourself if you have the space. We get ours from the wonderful Paul’s Organics.
A bit cliché perhaps but pasta is THE go to quick meal and is a good base for a whole range of other ingredients. Taking only 12 minutes to cook it has been a real winner for those evenings when you suddenly realise how hungry you are. And, as with many of these store cupboard staples, it doesn’t really go off so you can buy it in bulk to make sure you’re never caught short.
Well that’s it, eight store cupboard essentials…at least in our household. We’d love to hear whether you have found this helpful and what you can’t do without in your kitchen.