Storecupboard Staples: Need Some Recipe Inspiration?

Food shopping isn’t what it used to be what with wearing masks (tricky when you are trying to see if raspberries have any fragrance or how a scented candle smells) and, with gas prices about to shoot through the roof, many of us will be watching our pennies from now on. So it got me thinking. I need to be more organised so that I don’t buy food I don’t need and accordingly I have written a list of everything in my freezer. Was shocked because there was enough stuff in there to make about two weeks worth of meals! So my plan is to eat all that up before buying more. I’ve also been checking out what storecupboard staples are lurking in the larder. But what can you cook with them? Just click on any of the following blue links for some really useful recipes…

TINNED TOMATOES – wonderfully versatile (and wonderfully inexpensive at around 30p per tin). You can blitz this storecupboard star into a soup, a pasta sauce, or a piquant salsa dip.

RICE / NOODLES Rice is probably my fave staple as it takes the flavours of most cuisines – Italian, Indian, Asian and so on. There are no less than 52 recipes over on the BBC GoodFood website using rice. Last night we ate (for that read ‘gobbled up’) this quick and easy Prawn and Chorizo Paella.


NOODLES are another treasure – they can be added to chicken soup, stir fried with chopped veg or used to make Vegan Singapore Noodles.

It’s a distinct pleasure to dip a hunk of fresh bread into a good extra virgin OLIVE OIL. And it’s a very healthy dressing when drizzled over salads and vegetables. Despite the bottles usually being rather decorative, they need to be kept out of sunlight in a dark cupboard. Alternatively groundnut or vegetable oil are both flavourless and great for everyday cooking.

Most of us have FLOUR in our storecupboards – although I’ve heard it’s one of the staples that can be hard to get hold of at the moment. If you do have some then try making these amazing flatbreads from scratch – it’s quick, fun and they taste really good.

High in protein, TINNED PULSES truly deserve their place in the well-stocked storecupboard. A tin of chickpeas can be added to a salad, used to make falafels or transformed into hummus with olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and garlic. Lentils will bulk out a Shepherd’s pie, while kidney beans are just the job for a chilli or veggie burgers.

BAKED BEANS are cheaper than other tinned pulses. Scrummy on buttered sourdough toast (I always keep a sliced loaf in the freezer) and, with a fried egg plonked on top, makes the perfect Sunday night supper. If you want to add them to, for example, a casserole, simply rinse off most of the tomato sauce first.


Probably the most versatile carb of all time is PASTA. Whether spaghetti or any other kind – let’s be honest, there isn’t a huge amount of it in the shops at the moment, so we’re lucky whatever we get! Fabulous made with just garlic and a drizzle of olive oil, it also pairs well with almost anything including cheese, tomatoes or cream.

TINNED TUNA adds a punch of flavour and protein to pasta, sandwiches or combined with potatoes to make fishcakes. Also good as a topping for a baked potato or as the main element of tuna nicoise. Other oily fish like salmon, sardines and pilchards are full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids and a wise choice, especially those that have been tinned in water, tomato sauce or unsaturated fats like sunflower or olive oil (rather than in a salty brine).

Ready made CURRY PASTE combined with either tomatoes or coconut milk means you can always make a curry. Such as this Tender Duck and Pineapple curry.

A tin of COCONUT MILK can also be used to make a smoothie, especially if you are diary intolerant. You can also combine it with chicken or prawns for a light and subtle sauce or soup, or add to your baking or desserts for a creamy, sweet finish.

Where would our Italian cooking be without CAPERS AND OLIVES? I love them on Pissaladiere (a pizza that has grown wings and gone to heaven!). Also great blitzed to make a tapenade, added to a pasta sauce, popped onto a pizza or used in a potato salad. Capers in melted butter and lemon juice make an instant sauce for white fish and I also love lots of them sprinkled over dry fried halloumi.


REDCURRANT JELLY can be used in sandwiches instead of mayo, or added to gravy and casseroles. My son and I adore it as a fruity accompaniment to roast chicken.

RED WINE VINEGAR If you have Jamie Oliver’s Five Ingredients cookbook, you’ll know that red wine vinegar is one of the most frequently used ingredients. It is a fat-free, low-calorie way to ramp up flavour. Can also be used to dress salad leaves.

PEANUT BUTTER is pretty versatile. It’s yummy in a banana smoothie, great for baking and makes an easy satay sauce for chicken and stir-fries. My favourite recipe using peanut butter is Satay Sweet Potato Vegan Curry – absolutely yum. And, as we all deserve a treat these days, how about this Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Cake… (licks lips).

One recipe that always goes down a storm in our house is Prawn and Salmon Burgers and the magic ingredient is SWEET CHILLI SAUCE. Blended with mayo it makes a moreish dressing.

PORRIDGE OATS are perfect for a filling breakfast, even in the warmer months. Or use it to make a big batch of bircher muesli – it’ll keep in the fridge for a few days. Oats are also super useful in baking, from biscuits to crumble toppings.  

HONEY is not just for toast or porridge, it makes a fantastic marinade for salmon fillets and is great drizzled over roast carrots. It’s also handy for counteracting against the heat of chilli in dipping sauces.

MUSTARD is a great way to add a fiery burst of flavour to your meal. It can be used to glaze meats and fish, spice up sauces and, of course, is the basis for a homemade salad dressing. My fave recipe using mustard is the rather strange sounding combo of Pork chops and pasta – another firm family favourite.

Hope you have found a bit of inspiration here – happy cooking! If you’d like more recipes using tinned produce, can recommend Tin Can Cook by Jack Monroe. MORE INFO

Did you know there are 900 recipes on this website?

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3 years ago

Thank you Grace – perfect timing as I had just said to DH that I was planning on using a packet of paella rice that he’d bought some time ago!

Deborah J Hull
Deborah J Hull
3 years ago

Just love you ladies ! Be safe . Hugs to you both .

Helen Jones
Helen Jones
3 years ago

Thanks for these. Some great ideas here, will get cracking?

1 year ago

You are an inspiration to us all Grace!
More REALLY yummy – but simple – recipes.
Thank you

Annabel & Grace
1 year ago
Reply to  gillyml

Thank you Gilly – very kind of you to let us know… best wishes, Grace

1 year ago

Thank you so much for your store cupboard ideas Grace. I will definitely be making the Satay Sweet Potato Vegan Curry…it sounds delicious and an easy dish for me to make.

Annabel & Grace
1 year ago
Reply to  Dee

… and thank you Dee for your lovely comments. Enjoy the curry! G x