Top 10 healthy storecupboard recipes

Discover our nutritious, budget-friendly meals which make the most of simple storecupboard ingredients such as tinned tomatoes, cans of beans and dried pasta.

Kidney bean curry in a pan and plates with white rice and spoons

No time to go shopping or running on a tight budget? We've rounded up our ten favourite healthy storecupboard recipes which are made using just a handful of ingredients, mainly featuring staples from the cupboard, fridge or freezer.

Cooking with dried ingredients, canned foods of frozen veg doesn't mean compromising on nutrition. In fact, they can work out healthier, as well as quicker and cheaper. From comforting one-pots and fragrant curries to perfect pasta and speedy paella, raiding the cupboard will be something to look forward to. 


1. Lentil ragu

Two bowls of lentil spaghetti bolognese topped with cheese

Lentils are a storecupboard saviour and a fabulous source of iron and folate – both of which act to regulate energy levels. Our super healthy lentil ragu combines a pack of red lentils with two cans of chopped tomatoes and other veg to make a satisfying sauce which delivers a mighty four of your five-a-day. Why not make a big batch and freeze your leftovers for a speedy midweek meal?  

Make the most of lentils in out hearty roast fennel with lentil salad.


2. Smoky bean baked eggs

Pan of baked eggs in tomato sauce with beans

Of all the dipping mediums, we think baked eggs in tomato sauce comes pretty near the top. This smoky bean baked eggs has just five ingredients – two of which hail from the storecupboard (cans of tomatoes and beans). Up the veg content with spinach and throw in some ham, if you like. Be careful not to over cook the eggs or the yolks will harden. All that’s left to do is dunk in some crusty rye bread or sourdough.


3. Creamy pesto & kale pasta

Bowl of pesto pasta with kale

Dried pasta is a storecupboard hero. Whatever shape you chose, this versatile ingredient works in harmony with a wonderful array of sauces and ingredients, providing endless pasta possiblities. This comforting creamy pesto & kale pasta marries penne or mafalda with pesto and reduced-fat soft cheese for a flavour-packed dinner. 

Try more budget pasta recipes


4. Tarka dhal

Bowl of tarka dhal topped with parsley, next to bowl of chopped tomatoes

If you're in the mood for spice, this simple tarka dhal is a lentil-laden wonder which only takes 10 minutes to prep. The key is to simmer lentils slowly until they form a thick, soupy consistency, before adding fried onions, garlic, herbs and spices. Top with chopped tomatoes and coriander for extra plant-based power. To make it vegan, swap the ghee for a vegetable oil.

Try more delicious dhal recipes.


5. Easiest ever paella

A wide pan of seafood paella with peas and chorizo

If you've got rice and frozen veg to hand, you're guaranteed a good dinner. One-pan dishes like our easiest-ever paella are great for throwing in whatever ingredients you've got in the kitchen. This foolproof recipe is so simple it can be on the table in half an hour – perfect for a Friday night feast. 

Although frozen food often gets a bad rep, they often retain more vitamins than fresh produce. We've used frozen mixed seafood and peas in this Spanish-style dish that conjures up the sizzling days of summer. As well as providing the attactive yellow colour, turmeric also boasts several health-boosting properties, such as being an anti-inflammatory and supporting cognitive performance.
 

6. Bean & barley soup

Bowl of bean, spinach, tomato and barley soup, topped with grated Parmesan

A can of beans goes a long way; they're a cheap, nutritious way to add fibre to your food. This low in fat, vegetarian bean & barley soup is a true celebration of storecupboard staples, featuring chickpeas, butter beans, canned tomatoes and pearl barley. It takes just 5 minutes to prepare and can be frozen, making it a quick way to score three of your five-a-day.

Got a few more cans to use? Check out our bean soup recipes


7. Spaghetti with sardines

Bowl of spaghetti with sardines, olives, capers and tomato sauce

On the hunt for a heart-healthy supper? Sardines are not only a fantastic source of omega-3, but also cheap and have a long shelf life in tinned form. This spaghetti with sardines recipe combines the oily fish with garlic, black olives, chopped tomatoes and sharp capers for a quick and easy meal. Add a squeeze of lemon juice for tang, if you like. 

For a veggie alternative with an extra kick, try our scrumptious storecupboard spaghetti puttanesca.


8. Raid-the-cupboard tuna sweetcorn cakes

Fishcake on a plate with mayo and salad leaves

Tinned fish is a lifesaver when you need to whip up a healthy, budget-friendly supper. Our aptly-named raid-the-cupboard tuna sweetcorn cakes use simple ingredients such as tinned sweetcorn and tuna, breadcrumbs, eggs and potatoes. Shape them into patties then fry for a few minutes either side before serving with a dollop of mayonnaise and salad leaves. Plus, these fishcakes freeze really well if you want to save some for later. 

Discover more fabulous fishcake recipes.


9. Kidney bean curry

Kidney bean curry in a pot and on a plate with rice

When the fridge is bare but your stomach is rumbling, this vibrant, vegan kidney bean curry comes to the rescue. Canned kidney beans provide an excellent source of plant-based protein and help to control blood sugar levels. Combine them with a tin of chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic, smoky paprika and garam masala for a delicious dinner which hits three of your five-a-day. Scatter with coriander and serve with basmati rice to soak up the juices. 


10. Storecupboard tuna bean salad

Tuna, beans salad in a wide bowl

Being short on fresh ingredients doesn't mean you can't enjoy a nutritious salad. This speedy, low in fat storecupboard tuna bean salad uses food you might have already, such as tinned cannellini beans and tuna, onions, garlic and potatoes. Finish it off with a bag of fresh salad leaves or any other greens you have in the fridge.


Get more storecupboard and budget cooking ideas...

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Top 10 storecupboard recipes
Top 10 vegetarian storecupboard recipes
All our storecupboard recipes
Healthy batch cooking recipes
Top 10 autumn storecupboard essentials
Top 10 healthy budget dinners
Budget midweek family meals
Storecupboard one-pot recipes

What are your favourite healthy storecupboard recipes? Leave a comment below...

As many countries urge populations to stay at home, many of us are paying more attention to our diets and how the food we eat can support our health. To help sort out the fact from the fiction, BBC Future is updating some of their most popular nutrition stories from their archive.

Comments, questions and tips

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susieg49
25th Apr, 2020
Hi, my store cupboard must haves are any tinned beans, dry and packet lentils, tinned tomatoes, and frozen veg. Including cauliflower and broccoli. Some frozen grated cheese and you can make anything. Curries and many one/pots!
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