With a well stocked & organised storecupboard you will always have the begginings of something good to eat! Start by taking a look at what you've already got...that's it open up your cupboards & take everything out! I will bet that there are some things in there well past their sell by date! Don't worry when I first started out on my mission to be more organised I found 3 jars of mustard, a few(!) jars of herbs, loads of odd bits of pasta & FOUR jars of chilli powder all way past their expiry date!!
Tidy storecupboard, happy storecupboard!
Once that job is done make a list of what you need. The list I have provided below is what I normally keep in my storecupboard but you don't have to copy it if it doesn't suit you, tailor it to your & your family's needs & tastes. Also don't buy everything at once if budget doesn't allow, I've built mine up gradually & continue to add to it all the time!
What to buy?....& where?!
Like most of you I use my local supermarkets regularly but in the last few years I have become a big fan of discount shops like Poundland & Home Bargains! These places are great for things like ready filled salt & pepper grinders, jars & tinned goods, I recently bought a jar of really well known brand pesto sauce for 99p!
Asian supermarkets are a gold mine too & if you're lucky enough to have one locally I recommend you have a nosy around it. I buy spices from mine & they are really good value, I can get a 100g bag of paprika for 99p as opposed to half as much for the same price in other supermarkets! I just keep any old jars for decanting bagged spices into.
Also take a look around your local Aldi or Lidl, they have some really great quality storecupboard ingredients at decent prices too.
I've split the storecupboard into 2 lists. The first is “Basics” ingredients which most of you will probably already have & that can form the base of many recipes. The second is “Extras” a selection of items that although not essential will widen your options when it comes to choosing what to cook!
Dried Pasta, tubes, twists, bows-whatever you like!
Rice, I usually have Basmati in but Long Grain is good too.
Stock cubes, Beef, chicken & vegetable (Good old OXO is fine!)
Olive oil, for frying.
Worcestershire Sauce, adds extra flavour to lots of savoury dishes.
Salt & Pepper, in ready filled grinders.
Tomato Puree, I usually buy tubes but jars are just the same.
Dried Herbs, start with Parsley, Thyme & Oregano & go from there.
Spices, a good Curry & Chilli Powder (to your taste) then add things like Paprika & Cayenne Pepper as & when budget allows.
Cornflour, great for thickening sauces & stews etc.
Tinned Tomatoes, the base for so many of my recipes!
Tinned Tuna, a good way of getting fish into your diet.
Tinned Sweetcorn, a great way to sneak veg in.
Tinned potatoes, saves peeling!
Condensed soups, these make great quick sauces or bases for casseroles.
Sun Dried Tomatoes
Thai Green or Red Curry paste
Tandoori Mix (powder)
Also tinned Chickpeas, Kidney Beans, Coconut Milk
To Coldly Go.........!
You can keep some useful ingredients in the fridge & freezer too, just be aware of use by dates! Here are some of my favourites.
A block of decent cheddar, buy as good as your budget will allow & make sure it has plenty of flavour.
Low or ½ fat Creme Fraiche, adds decadent creaminess but with less guilt!
Cream Cheese, as well as plain there now lots of other flavours available. Garlic & Herb & Chives are particularly good. Use them in pasta dishes & as a base for quick sauces.
….& in the freezer!
Frozen Peas & Spinach, these can both be thrown in with pasta while it's cooking or added to stews & casseroles.
Blocks of pastry Shortcrust & Puff, a great time saver for a pie or pud.
I also find that buying things like frozen chicken & fish fillets works out cheaper than buying fresh. There is no shame in doing this & I don't feel that
you compromise on quality or flavour!
When it comes to fresh vegetables I tend to buy as I need it, that way I find I have less waste. However if you're smart (which I know you are!) you could, for example buy a bag of potatoes & have enough mash for a cottage pie, a fish pie & maybe enough left over for tuna fishcakes or a bag of carrots could make a big batch of carrot & cumin soup for the freezer!
There are however a small selection of fresh goods that I always keep in & these are;
Onions, white &/or red