I’ve recently been on a mission to use up the random packets, tins, and jars in my kitchen cupboards. I had no idea how many strange and half-used things were lurking in there! It used to often happen that I would see a recipe somewhere and decide to make it, realise that there were some ingredients in it that I’d never heard of or used before (mung beans? black-eyed beans? a lot of beans!), go out and buy them, use half the packet and never use the rest. Now we have children, and a much tighter budget since we dropped to one income, I can no longer afford to do this, not to mention the fact that if I served up a pile of mung beans to my children they would look at me with sheer terror in their eyes and probably go to bed hungry.
So, I started by taking a little inventory of all the things I had in the freezer and cupboards. It was long! Then I set about making a list of meals I could make with what I already had, without needing to buy lots of additional ingredients (except meat, fresh veg and so on). I used the BBC Good Food website for this, as it has a tool where you can search for an ingredient and it will throw back all the recipes that use it. Brilliant! I ended up with about a dozen meals we could make just with what was in our stores.
After a couple of months of doing this, we’re now left with only a few weird things in our cupboards (more pate than a French larder, a huge bag of sesame seeds, and lots of frozen spinach). I also feel much happier that our pantry is stocked with things that we’ll actually eat, and since my meal repertoire has reduced dramatically since the advent of family meals, that doesn’t amount to that much. I can see what’s in the cupboards! We have pasta, rice, ready-to-bake bread, chocolate (in a top-secret location), oats, tinned tomatoes, baked beans, raisins, lasagne sheets, peanut butter, nutella, jam, marmite, oils and vinegars, herbs and spices, crackers, biscuits, and nuts. I also have a dedicated baking cupboard with all my flours, sugars, and other cake-y stuff. That’s about it. I’d love to get rid of the biscuits and chocolate but I just can’t kick the habit. I love them.
What are your store cupboard essentials?