Keep your storecupboard well stocked with canned food, basic ingredients and long life products so you’ll always have a budget-friendly meal to hand.
A well organised and fully stocked storecupboard may feel daunting to achieve at first, but over time it will help ease the stress of making midweek meals. When your budget and time is tight, you’ll be able to rustle up a satisfying storecupboard recipe – no matter how many mouths you need to feed.
Ensure you are storing your food in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. While lots of canned, dried and long life ingredients will last significantly longer than fresh, their lifespan isn’t indefinite, so be sure to regularly check the use by dates. To minimise waste, try to fill your storecupboard or pantry with ingredients that you’re most likely to use.
Having a long shelf life and usually inexpensive to buy, dried goods form the base of many meals so it’s important to have them on hand.
Canned fruit & vegetables
Other canned vegetables such as peas, sweetcorn and green beans can be useful to have on standby, but you may wish to opt for freezer versions – veggies generally retain more of their nutrients when frozen and will be just as convenient to use.
Canned fruit such as peaches and mandarins will help you rustle up a speedy dessert in a pinch – see our tinned fruit collection for ideas – whereas pineapple can be used for sweet and sour sauces and in savoury recipes such as pineapple fried rice.
Canned pulses & legumes
Lentils can be canned, ready to use or dried – both are brilliant for bulking up soups and stews, adding texture to salads or making a batch of comforting dhal. Learn more about the different types of lentils.
Oily fish such as sardines, mackerel and salmon are packed full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids and are readily available in canned varieties. Try stirring them through spaghetti or enjoying them on toast for a quick dinner or lunch.
Carefully chosen condiments can transform your cooking into something special – keep a good selection in your cupboard and you’ll always have the building blocks for a flavoursome meal.
Honey is a natural way to sweeten salad dressings and breakfast bowls and is often used to create a sticky glaze on roasted meats or root vegetables. Try it combined with mustard on sausages, glazed gammon or salmon fillets.
Mustard is a must-have for lifting the flavour of chicken and ham or adding a punch to creamy pasta sauces. We have plenty of mouthwatering mustard recipes.
Lemon juice has a long shelf life when unopened, although you’ll need to store it in the fridge once you start to use it. Use it as a seasoning or a quick-fix substitute when you don’t have fresh lemons.
Vinegar (such as balsamic and red/white wine vinegar) is often used in recipes requiring acidity, so keep a bottle in the cupboard alongside your basic salt and pepper.
Peanut butter can provide a fast and filling topping for toast and apple slices, alongside other uses such as making an easy satay sauce, in cookies or as the star ingredient in our popular peanut butter chicken. Discover more peanut butter recipes.
It can also be useful to keep a few bottled sauces such as tomato ketchup, soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce, sriracha and Worcestershire sauce, depending on your family favourites.
Flour (plain and self-raising, white or wholemeal) is essential for thickening sauces, coating ingredients and all manner of baking. If you’re a bread maker, keep dried yeast and strong white bread flour to hand.
Sugar (white and brown) is another key ingredient.
Oils (such as sunflower, vegetable, rapeseed or olive oil) will regularly be used in cooking methods such as frying.
Stock cubes (vegetable, chicken and beef) can be crumbled into one-pots for instant added flavour and can be used in sauces and gravy, too. Low-salt stock cubes are also available.
Fresh ingredients such as onions, garlic and potatoes will keep for a long time in a cool, dark cupboard and are essential in a wide range of recipes.
Dried herbs & spices
It can be easy to build up a huge collection of dried herbs and spices that languish in the back of the cupboard – over time, they will lose their flavour, so be sure to replace with new versions as often as practical. Here are some basic flavours that are likely to be regularly used:
Spices: chilli (flakes or powder), Chinese five-spice, paprika, curry powder and cinnamon
Herbs: oregano, mixed herbs, rosemary and thyme
Our guide on 10 freezer essentials will also help keep your essential ingredients well stocked.
Discover more storecupboard recipes and advice:
What are your storecupboard essentials? Let us know in the comments below…