Store cupboard essentials
By Molly Fitzpatrick
A store cupboard is an essential part of every kitchen; a good one will hold a stash of different ingredients that can be incorporated into a range of dishes. By keeping a stocked store cupboard you’ll save time and prevent stress when it comes to whipping up a delicious meal. Here are ten ingredients to keep at hand at all times.
Sea salt and black pepper
These may seem obvious but they can honestly breathe life into a dish. Although salt should be used sparingly; it can enhance ingredients that might otherwise be bland and boring. I go for sea salt flakes as they add as much flavour but encourage you to use less. Pepper on the other hand, can be used as heavy handily as you wish.
Extra virgin olive oil
Olive oil is one you’ll use on the daily, for frying, roasting, for dressings and in marinades and sauces. Although there’s much debate over which oil is the healthiest, I always go back to the old reliable. It’s one of the better ones and its taste can’t be beaten.
Tinned tomatoes are the base for a countless number of dishes, curries, pasta dishes, chilli con carne to name a few. They will literally last for years in the cupboard, and they’re cheap as chips! If you have a tin of tomatoes in the house you’ll be able to figure out something for dinner even with an empty fridge.
If you cook Asian food, soy sauce is a must. It’s one of the main seasonings in Asian cuisine, and can be used in marinades, sauces and as a dipping sauce. If you’re your avoiding gluten go for tamari instead, it’s gluten free unlike soy sauce and has a similar flavour.
Honey is hands down my favourite natural sweetener. It’s great for baking and for adding a touch of sweetness to breakfasts (I can’t have my porridge without it!). It can also be very handy in marinades and dressings to add something to cut through the acidity. Honey also contains antioxidants which help reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease.
Vinegar (balsamic, red wine, apple cider, rice)
Vinegar is great for adding depth and living up to a dish, and of course if you’re a fan of salads you’ll always have a bottle at hand. Balsamic and apple cider are perfect for dressings and vinaigrettes, just add a two parts olive oil, one part vinegar, a squeeze of honey, a dash of lemon juice and season and you have yourself a delicious dressing in under two minutes! Rice vinegar is great when it comes to Asian cooking.
Possibly the most comforting flavour, cinnamon is a healthy addition to both sweet and savoury dishes. It’s called for in a lot of baking recipes, pork dishes and tagines and chillies. It’s also great dusted over a sliced apple for a healthy snack.
Grains (bulgar wheat, rice, quinoa)
It’s so important to have a range of grains and grain products in the press, they are so versatile and can be used to bulk out a dish. When it comes to pasta and rice try and go for the whole grains and they are higher in dietary fibre, essential for good gut health.
If you don’t have time to make your own stock, stock cubes are great to have. They are necessary for making soups and stews, and can be used to add flavour to sauces too. Try and go for natural and low salt ones as they often taste just as good and are better for you.
If you have a sweet tooth like me, you’ll crave something sweet after dinner. To prevent midnight runs to the local Tesco express to buy my body weight in chocolate, I like to always keep some dark chocolate in the cupboard. Although it’s nowhere near as milk chocolate you’ll settle for it if it means you don’t have to walk to the shop. A healthier way to satisfy those chocaholic cravings.