What’s for dinner tonight? I’m always heading to my cupboards to save the day. Here’s a list of my most valuable cupboard staples. This is what I like to keep stocked up on. They’re basic, versatile ingredients that are used pretty frequently and have a long shelf life.
- Flour: plain, self-raising, bread flour
- Sugar: white, brown, icing sugar
- Rice: White, brown, Arborio (for risotto) – they’re all essential. But make your life easy and get a rice cooker, you’ll be glad you did.
- Corn Meal
- Baking Powder
- Bicarbonate of Soda
- Beans (Dry & Canned): A great source of good protein, and also very versatile. They make a great side or main dish. Plus there are so many different types: cannellini, chickpea, black, black eyed, pinto etc. Remember that dried beans need soaking overnight – so if you’re in a hurry, canned would be the way to go.
- Pasta: Dried pasta is cheap, keeps forever and becomes a meal in minutes. Just get a good variety of shapes, and cous cous.
Sauces, Oils & Vinegars
These cupboard staples are essential to add flavour and can be used to make a million different dressings and sauces that will liven up even the most boring meals.
- Oils: vegetable or sunflower, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, toasted sesame oil, non-stick spray
- Vinegar: apple cider, red wine, rice, balsamic
- Soy Sauce
- Mirin: A type of rice wine similar to sake.
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Hoisin Sauce (or any Asian sauces): This list can be long, just choose your favourites: Hoisin, teriyaki, chilli sauce & paste, black bean sauce. So many meals can be wonderfully elevated by pretty much any one of these.
- Mustard: wholegrain, yellow, Dijon
- Peanut Butter: Not just for the obvious. If you mix it with some soy sauce, Asian chilli paste and some chicken broth to thin it a bit – you’ll end up with a super simple and delicious sauce for pretty much anything.
Herbs & Spices
For super fresh and affordable spices for cupboard staples, look for them sold in bulk (this is becoming more popular in supermarkets and online).
- Whole Peppercorns
- Chilli Flakes
- Chilli Powder
- Cayenne Pepper
- Smoked Paprika
- Curry Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Cocoa Powder
- Greek Yoghurt
- Grated Parmesan
- Grated Cheese (can also be kept in the freezer for longer term storage)
- Flour Tortillas (almost anything can be made into a quesadilla for a quick meal!)
I like to keep a variety of frozen fruits and vegetables on hand. They’re always there ready and waiting to be thrown into a soup, smoothie, casserole, pasta, or even a curry, without worry that they’ll go bad quickly.
- Broccoli Florets
- Fruit: blueberries, strawberries, mangoes, pineapple
- Edamame Beans
I also like to make sure I have some meat stored in my freezer for quick meals.
Extremely convenient and usually fairly inexpensive, so they can certainly be a life saver. I try to stick to tins with as little additives as possible.
- Tomatoes: puree, passata and chopped
- Beans: black, kidney, baked
- Coconut Milk
- Beef, Chicken & Vegetable Stock: Super important. The base of most every soup starts with one of these.
- Dried mushrooms: They need hydrating, but are fantastic.
- Capers & Olives: Whether added to a pasta sauce, pizza or turned into an appetiser – used all the time!
- Marinated artichokes: For pizza or alone as an appetiser.
- Pasta Sauce
So there you have it. What about you? What ingredient can you not live without having on hand at all times? Let us know in the comments below!