You don’t need a massively stocked kitchen to make decent meals for you and your family. However, there are a few essentials that can help jazz up things up if it’s starting to get repetitive or if you’re wanting to try something new.
Some of these items may not feel like essentials, and you might think that they’re a little bit pricey, but believe me, they will soon be the cornerstone for some fresh-tasting and wholesome mealtimes.
Items listed will also keep for a little while, so if you’re struggling to get to the shops as regularly as you’d like, then these bits and bobs should keep you going.
Know your oils, lads. Olive oil is not for frying in, it doesn’t handle the heat very well and will make whatever you’re trying to cook taste awful.
When buying olive oil, go as fancy as you see fit but obviously, the more expensive it is then the better quality it will be.
The gold stuff can be a real game-changer if you’re using it properly as it’s extremely versatile. Drizzle it on top of veggies, salads, pasta, use it in marinades and make sauces with it. It’s full of ‘good fats’ and will help keep things interesting.
Lemon juice can do double-duty. Not only is it fabulous for freshening up spicy dishes in Spanish or Mexican cuisine, adding zing to salad dressings, and making cheat’s buttermilk or sour cream, lemon juice is also antibacterial and keeps your home clean and smelling citrusy, so if you’re also struggling to get your usual cleaning products you can make your own with a lemony zing.
Much like lemon juice, vinegar is fantastic for adding tang and balancing out flavours. It also makes a great DIY cleaner although the smell might not be as welcomed.
If you need an easy way to add some deep, dark and savoury flavour (known as umami if you want to impress your friends), a splash of soy sauce will do the trick. A bottle can also last up to about 2 years in the fridge so don’t feel too guilty if you buy it and you’re not splashing it around on everything.
Eggs are the absolute MVP and if you can eat them, they’re cheap and will keep well for a couple of weeks. I would absolutely recommend grabbing some if they’re in stock. They’re protein powerhouses, very versatile (not many other foods can be used for cake and to top a rice dish) and low calorie (so long as they’re not in the form of aforementioned cake).
Red, green or somewhere in the middle, apples are fantastic to snack on as they’re relatively low calorie but still very filling. Some even say they’ll even keep you more energised than a cup of coffee.
Chop them up and slather on some peanut butter for a decadent snack that feels way naughtier than it actually is. Stick them in a pan with some sugar and water for 10 minutes and et voila, you’ve got a pie filling, ice cream topping or just something sweet to chuck in your face before the kids work out what’s going on.
Porridge with jam, porridge with chocolate, porridge and stewed apple, porridge with dried fruit and nuts… not to mention flapjacks and oatmeal cookies. ‘Nuff said.
Onion, ginger and garlic
This is the ultimate trifecta. These veggies are hardy as heck, being able to be stored for 1-2 months, up to 6 weeks and wait for it, HALF A YEAR respectively. Not only are these heroes hardy, but they will also make mealtimes super.
If slicing and dicing isn’t your thing, tubes or jars or pre-prepared onion, ginger and garlic will hang out in the fridge for just as long, and frozen ready-chopped onion can be found in most supermarkets.
Other seasonings and herbs
If you’re new to the game, head to the herbs and spices aisle and pick up some pre-blended mixes, they might seem to be expensive or pointless but I can assure you they’ll be an investment as if you’re finding yourself eating the same meals on the daily, a few shakes of a different seasoning will keep things interesting and they’ll keep for what feels like forever.
Gentlemen, go forth and master your kitchens. As a bonus, if you’re getting stuck for ideas on how to cobble what’s in the cupboards, Ready Steady Cook-style, websites such as SuperCook can help you worked out what to make based on what you already have in the house.
Happy cooking, be sure to tag us in all of your store cupboard creations!