It is very easy to get into a groove with cooking, bringing out the same old recipes time and time again no matter what time of year it is. But while falling into a pattern is understandable, it’s not good for your diet, your pocket or your interest in saving money.
Every now and then I fall into a pattern of retreating to around five dishes I seem to cook all the time. And it makes me lazy with shopping as well. So when this comes upon me, I take some time out, ditch my usual shopping list and head to the store to perk things up a bit.
I’ve also learned to peer into my store cupboard a bit more. It’s amazing what you actually find in there once you take a proper look! Everything gets pushed to the back and there are probably the beginnings of a dozen or more easy meal ideas in there too if you look hard enough.
Preparing Simple Meals With Store Cupboard Essentials
What are store cupboard essentials? These are those food items you can keep and store in your pantry for long periods of time. The non-perishables.
The good thing about knowing some handy store cupboard recipes is that you usually have enough at hand not to have to go out shopping if you don’t want to. Let’s say money is a bit short and you want to skip shopping for a few days until you get paid. You can probably do it quite comfortably if you have a good store cupboard to fall back on.
Canned goods are excellent for this purpose. They keep for ages, you can use them in lots of different ways and they are pretty cheap for the most part too. I usually keep one tin each, of carrots, new potatoes, peas and sweet corn just in case I need them.
One of my favorites is tuna bake. Since pasta is a good store cupboard ingredient as well (cheaper when bought in bulk) you can cook some up, throw in some of the tinned sweet corn and some canned tuna, and hey presto, you have a simple dish that lasts for more than one night. Why not stir in a packet of cheese sauce to moisten it up a bit too? For more great tuna dishes, check out this article on the various ways to use a can of tuna fish.
The trick is to look at your store cupboard differently from how you do now. For instance, just check out the different ways you can cook potatoes with the ingredients you find in your pantry. You have to think about how you can combine ingredients to produce the best result. For example I like to keep a good stock of rice handy as well, and I could easily alter the above recipe by substituting the pasta for the rice. You just have to try out different things and think of how you can cook them as well.
Stock cubes are another good item to have, although the cheapest way to get them is to make them yourself once you have roasted a chicken or other joint of meat. Simply make the stock and freeze it in ice cube trays. You can then pop one or two out whenever you need them.
It’s definitely worth getting to know your store cupboard on a more regular basis. For instance, think about how you can start adding other ingredients to it when you need them. Tinned tomatoes or passata can provide a healthy base for a lot of dishes, and dried beans and pulses can also bulk out numerous meals.
So start saving money, getting creative and getting acquainted with your store cupboard!