In light of the recent and ever encroaching pandemic and peoples ever increasing reliance on their pantry to give people some tips and tricks when restocking their pantry/store cupboards. Its something I actually covered quite extensively in the first edition of my ‘A Book To Change Your Perspective on Food’. Now that the ridiculous hoarding behaviour has calmed down we can now re-evaluate our food cupboards. In regards to the wide variety of opinions on use by dates I am of the opinion that if its dried it will be fine until its exposed to moisture then you run the risk of degradation. Ensure everything is either in jars or tightly sealed to make sure it remains fresh.
Top 5 Savoury/Sides
- Lentils – red/green/yellow investigate your local international shops and world foods isles you will pick up some bargains
- Rice – Risotto/Arborio, Brown/Wild rice mixes
- Noodles – Wholewheat medium egg noodles, available from all supermarkets, inexpensive and great for quick stir fries
- Bean mixes – tinned are most convenient, also saves the hassle of ensuring that they are cooked properly as this can be dangerous.
- Pasta – despite there being a shortage recently stock levels have been replenished – we now have a variety of gluten free and standard wheat gluten pastas widely available.
- Cinnamon – stick and powder form, readily available in the shops great for spicing all kinds of dishes.
- Ras el Hanout – spice mix now readily available, has rose petals in it, looks and smells amazing – version without rose petals also available.
- Chilli – sweet chilli sauce, powder or a spice grinder can be added to many things to enhance flavour.
- Cumin – Seeds and Ground as both bring different flavours to the party
- Dried Ginger – Not to be confused with fresh it is not the same however there are now lazy versions for those who cant use their fresh up in time.
- Chai tea bags – now widely available, highly perfumed but can also be used to make fantastic tea-breads and other delights.
- Self-Raising and Plain – I realise recently this has been more sort after than some Class A Drugs – try a gluten free plain flour like Buckwheat for savoury and some sweet dishes as it brings a pleasant nutty taste to the dish. For those looking for a gluten free all purpose alternative I am told that Cassava Flour is the closest and is now quite widely available but having never used it I cannot pass comment on how well it does in cakes etc.
- Baking power and Baking Soda – for those who never buy self raising flour or cannot get it these are important.
- Demarera/Brown sugar – any un-refined (non-white) sugar really, there are many to choose from, even coconut, but it comes down to what you prefer.
- Cocoa powder – Unsweetened drinking chocolate, available pretty much everywhere.
- Honey – versatile and great for soothing hot drinks, if you have any local suppliers its always good to support them if not any of the blossom honeys available will suffice.
- Dates – there are quite a few different kinds of dates available, the most common are Deglet and Mejool, its best to buy the pitted dried dates largely for ease of use. If possible buy in fairly large quantities as they form the basis of an excellent quick caramel sauce.
Fruit and Vegetables
- Sweet potato – I don’t know about you but i find i seem to accidentally waste white potatoes i guess they must turn too quickly. However sweet potato is just as versatile, lighter and better tasting, you can mash it, bake them, oven chip them and roast them and put them in salads, you can even make a sweet pie with them Once cooked it also freezes and keeps quite well if you have left over.
- Butternut squash – similarly as versatile as the sweet potato, best last minute soup/oven chip accompaniment . They both keep better in the cupboard until peeled/cut in half, then you just wrap them in cling-ﬁlm and store in the salad section.
- Tomatoes – tinned or fresh – I personally keep both, I keep the fresh in a fruit bowl on the side (you can buy the cheaper family packs then as they ripen in the warmth of the kitchen). Each form carries its own merits but if you prefer to keep to tinned they cover a multitude of uses.
- Root Vegetables – There are so many available through out the winter and early spring with carrots available all year round. They can be used in any number of dishes – I personally think that celeriac is very underrated but I know that not everyone is of the same opinion.
Dried Fruits and Other Essentials
- Dried mixed fruit – cheap and easy to come by, you can avoid the ones with candied orange if you prefer although i feel the orange helps lift a lot of dishes both sweet and savoury.
- Quality seedless raisins – They are not too expensive and worth buying for the depth of flavour they help create.
- Dark chocolate – Essential – it can be used in so many ways – nothing fancy required.
- Nuts – you can buy a mixture of separated nuts or just a big bag of mixed. I would suggest getting peanuts/almonds/cashew separate so you can make nut butters if you require.
- Goji Berries – widely available in dried form, a super food great for sprinkling over desserts, salads and even to snack on.
- Condensed Milk – not to be confused with evaporated milk. It is a refined sugar but essential for making no churn ice cream – there is a recipe in my book or the lovely Teigan Gerrard of Half Baked Harvest – I urge you to invest in her book too it is filled with amazing recipes.
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