Your store cupboard essentials

23 September 2011 | 0 Comments

Your store cupboard is a fantastic resource. Here, we take a look at some of the essentials it should contain.

Foodies and shoppers seem to be increasingly enamoured with the delights of speciality products from farmers' markets and the like, but are we neglecting a brilliant resource in our store cupboards packed with non-perishable foods? 

A well stocked store cupboard is a fantastic resource, which comes into its own after a trip away, a fridge or freezer breakdown, or arrival of a hoard of hungry, unexpected guests.

With recent advances in food technology, preserving and packaging, long-life products are becoming increasingly interesting and tasty. The days of dubious tinned products such as Spam, Fray Bentos pies, pot noodles and the recent candwich could be numbered.

So how should you stock your cupboard to cater for every eventuality?

A three step process

Although long-life products have improved beyond measure in recent years, they still are designed to cater for many tastes and palates. My trick is to start with the basics, add some spice, then jazz it up by adding fantastic ingredients from the cupboard.

Get the basics

My basic pantry contains both dry and tinned goods. Aside from the obvious pasta and rice on my dried goods shelf, there are packets of grains such as cous cous, bulgar wheat and quinoa. Learn to love lentils, they are cheap, tasty and packed with protein. Delicious in dhal and also beautiful with Aldo Zilli's baked cod.

In addition to tinned tomatoes and baked beans, stock up on other beans and pulses. Borlotti, cannellini and flageolet beans are delicious, and together with chickpeas can be mashed to a purée or whizzed into a hummus style dip. Alternatively, try Jo Pratt's chilli and chickpea bites.

Tinned fish is versatile, tasty and many are rich in essential omega 3 oils. Stock up on tuna, mackerel, anchovies & sardines, add to pasta sauces, or make into pâté.

Tinned vegetables are more varied, I tend to only buy sweetcorn.

I also keep keep seeds and dried fruit – perfect for snacking, as well as tea, coffee and a tetrapack of milk.  

Ready made

Stash a few jars of pasta sauce, once the premium brands are jazzed up with some spices and additions, it is hard to believe that are not home made. Jarred sauces can also be added to rice for a risotto or pilaf. Take a look at this asparagus and pea risotto for some inspiration.

Tilda makes excellent microwavable pouches of flavoured basmati rice, that are ready in two minutes, and perfect for embellishment.

I keep two or three types of savoury biscuit - most are wrapped in small packets to ensure freshness once opened. Oatcakes are especially versatile, working with both jams and savoury dips. 

Throw in some good jam, chutney and peanut butter and you are all set.

Add some flavour

Stock up on your spices. I especially like Steenbergs Organic as they have a vast range of high quality spices and blends, all of which are ideal for adding flavour and interest to your store cupboard meals. I also keep Marigold bouillon and Knorr stock pots.

Very Lazy has jars of tasty chilli, ginger and garlic (also in single teaspoon sachets), all tasty and great for adding to your store cupboard meals.

Top quality oils and vinegars are essential in the pantry, then add another layer of flavour with a range of sauces and condiments. Stash some soy sauce, mustard, horseradish and chutney.

Jazz it up and add some interest

Deli delights such as jarred capers, peppers and olives or dried mushrooms are perfect for enhancing dishes adding texture and more layers of flavour. Stock up on your favourite deli treats.

Bake it!

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to bake cakes without butter or eggs. Simply leave out the egg, and use oil rather than butter. 

What do you think?

Although I would miss fresh, chilled and frozen goods very fast, I am sure that I could manage without them without getting too bored for at least a few days.

What is your top store cupboard meal? Let us know in the comments box below.

Also worth your attention

Why you should learn to love your freezer

Surprising uses for everyday ingredients

The £2 ingredient every kitchen should have


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