It appears that we must all prepare for the arrival of the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown in the UK. It hasn’t happened officially but with our European partners locking down one by one, it’s inevitable. Panic buying has already started, toilet paper seems to be the top purchase item on the public’s shopping list but as a foodie, I’m all about the food. I have a large pantry and a deep freezer, so I personally bulk buy anyway (yes, I’ve had Costco Membership for years), but given the current climate, I wanted to share some of my hints & tips for being able to stay home and still eating well. Here is my store cupboard staples list.
Kitchen and pantry essentials
Please find below a list of the most used, versatile, and budget-friendly pantry staples. Keep these pantry essentials on hand for quick and easy meals!
- Tomatoes – Tinned tomatoes in the juice are a versatile ingredient. They can take centre stage as a simple sauce for pasta as well as being an ingredient in dishes like Bolognese or chilli.
- Fruits – Tinned fruit keeps for ages and will count towards your five a day. During the winter it can be a good way of getting more exotic fruits in your diet like peaches, apricots, and pineapple. Just make sure the fruit is tinned in fruit juice rather than syrup.
- Tinned fish – Tinned tuna is a useful ingredient to have to hand, whether you use it for a simple tuna sandwich filling, to top a salad or jacket potato or for more substantial meals like a tuna bake or in a tomato-based pasta sauce. Don’t just stick to tuna: oily fish like salmon, sardines, and pilchards are also a good choice. The important thing is to choose fish that have been tinned in water, tomato sauce or unsaturated fats like sunflower or olive oil rather than in brine to keep the salt down.
- Beans & Pulses are a good ingredient to bulk out meat dishes as well as being a vegetarian source of protein. Dried pulses keep well too but when they are tinned in the water they are ready to eat making them a quick and easy choice.
- Nuts and seeds: Always a great stand-by to keep in your kitchen. Use as instant nutrition when you have no time to cook, but wonderful added to your food, both savoury and sweet, cooked or raw.
- Herbs and spices: Adding flavour is important when it comes to cooking with less salt. Dried herbs and spices are an inexpensive way of doing that and have the advantage of keeping for a while if they are kept well sealed and out of direct sunlight.
- Pasta: Higher in fibre than white pasta, whole wheat pasta is a filling choice and will keep for a long time in your cupboard ready for a quick evening meal. Use it as a starchy accompaniment for main meals as well as having it cold in pasta salads.
- Flour: flour can be useful for making bread, pancakes, and scones, as well as to thicken a white sauce or casserole. I bake a lot, so I have everything from plain flour to self-raising, bread flour which contains a higher percentage of gluten and also specialty flours such as wholemeal and pizza flours, to rye flour for my sourdough baking. I also have ‘chappati atta’ for all my Indian bread.
- Dried fruits such as sultanas, apricots, figs and dates are all useful for adding sweetness to breakfasts, stewed fruit and adding to stews and casseroles. While dried fruit won’t have the vitamin C that fresh fruit does, dried fruit still contributes to your five a day and can also be a source of nutrients like fibre and iron.
Fresh fruit and vegetables
- Onions A basic ingredient that contributes towards your five a day, onions are a versatile ingredient whether you are making a cooked dish or a salad. They keep well stored in a cool, dark place without needing to be refrigerated. You can also buy fresh and freeze to increase the shelf life of onions.
- Potatoes: Whether they are baking potatoes, sweet potatoes or new potatoes, these root vegetables keep well when stored in a cool, dark place. Eat them with their skins on to benefit from some extra fibre. Again, these again are frozen if making french fries/ chips, or wedges; grated for hash browns to increase the shelf-life. Obviously can also be bought as frozen versions
- Eggs, whether that be for breakfast, lunch and dinner eggs, are quick to cook source of protein and keep well. Use them when they are at their freshest for poaching and for a Spanish omelette, boiled or scrambled if they are nearing their use-by date.
- UHT Milk, whether it’s for hot drinks, on cereal, or to make a white sauce, milk is in most of our fridges. Using low-fat milk like semi-skimmed, 1% or skimmed milk will help to reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet. It might seem like a small change but because milk is such an everyday food the benefits can add up.
- Frozen vegetables can sometimes have more nutrients in them than fresh and will count towards your five a day. Having a bag of peas in the freezer means you will never be short of a vegetable to serve with your main meals and you can also use defrosted frozen peas as an addition to salads as well as to make a filling soup.
- Ice-cream. Yes, you can hardly call ice-cream a staple food group but who hasn’t felt better grabbing a spoon and eating right out of ice-cream tub. There’s a reason why it is called a comfort food and in this climate, I think we all deserve a hug from a tub.
In the coming days, I will be uploading more recipes to this blog and also posting on my new social media ch