The Wonders of Store Cupboards

Europe is in lock down! If it hasn’t started for you yet then it will be coming your way soon. Let’s not get into the scary stockpiling of food which leaves some without anything because the supermarkets look like they have been raided. Instead let us look at the wonders of the store cupboard!

It is a time to have a rummage in your store cupboard and freezer.

I had a rummage and found quite a few packets, jars and cans that I had forgotten I had! The falafel mix! The range of small pasta and grains that I had bought to try a couple of months ago but haven’t quite got round to it. A bag of Harina Masa for making Latin American specialities like Pupusa that I made with Scouts a little while ago. And a can of refried beans – I usually make my own! Might have a whole lot more time to search for recipes and ways of using this stuff, like a good recipe for Urid Dahl which does take a good bit of time to cook. And I found a tub of Thai Green Curry paste! A Christmas pudding with a best before date of March 2021! And we have custard powder too.

I found some homemade veggie sausages and some soup, some frozen portions of apple pie and half a tub of ice cream – we have pudding sorted one night then! We have frozen herbs and frozen spinach, peas and free flow frozen minced beef and a bit of a stash of M&S fish cakes and some sausages. It really is nice to have a reminder of what is there before it is past its best. And there is a haggis!

Go have a look and see what odd packets of bits and pieces you bought with the intention of trying something new but never quite got around to it. If you are stuck at home you might find the time to try using these things. You may also realise that it might be time to use up some of the old stuff which could keep you going a while – the meals might get a bit strange.

It is amazing what delicious meals can be thrown together with canned, dried and frozen ingredients. Take a look at Jack Munroe – she has made a living out of making amazing food from store cupboard items and is the saviour of people living on a budget.

I think there is often a bit of snobbery towards store cupboard ingredients, an idea that fresh is always best. In reality, some long life foods are more nutritious and tasty because they have been preserved in some way as soon as they have been harvested or caught, and really are a great way to help us reduce food waste. These foods can also be extremely good value for money which, for some families, may be really important if the effect of the lock down impacts income.

So what wonders should you have in your store cupboard. There is quite a list and I could never get them all down here but let’s have a go. Tinned tomatoes, sweetcorn, beans of all kinds and fish are amazing. You have those in your cupboard guaranteed you have a meal. I am British so I have to own up to a small hoard of baked beans. Frozen veg of all kinds but particularly broad beans, peas, spinach, pumpkin or squash, diced onions, carrots, peppers and various mixtures for stir fries and ratatouille etc. Dried tomatoes, fruit, onions, herbs and spices, jars of pesto and curry pastes, dried lentils of various colours, coconut milk and all grains, flour, couscous, rice and pasta. With a good stock of these you can have some amazing meals for weeks and not need to go out.

The other thing to get a bit of a stash of is herbs and spices. The same few ingredients can be transformed depending on whether you throw in garlic and basil or cumin and chilli, there are so many amazing spice mixes like garam masala and ras-el-hanout. Frozen herbs can really lift a dish with coriander or chopped chives or parsley. Frozen ginger is something I love to have in my freezer.

OK – hands up, guilty as charged – total spice addict. I cannot go past a spice merchant at a market especially if I am in a new city! The smell of them just draws me to them. Buying oregano in Greece is just amazing, paella spice from a market in Barcelona…..

Time to stock up on those long life, glorious saviours of the lock down. Note – stock up not stockpile as though you are not going to leave your house until Christmas!! 2021! Then share your favourite store cupboard meal? Hit me with them. I am going to be getting some store cupboard meals out on Facebook, here on the website and other channels. Get sharing! Life in isolation doesn’t have to mean boring food.

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