Pantry

A well stocked pantry is the absolute key to creating incredible leftover dishes. You might think it an expensive outlay at the beginning but a good selection of spices and basics will keep you well fed for weeks if not months and years!

Here are the essential cupboard fillers I always have to hand to spruce up my second day dinners:

EGGS

Eggs make extraordinary meals, either on their own poached on toast or whipped up into quiches and frittatas. They will genuinely revolutionise your cooking and help you stretch cooked vegetables and meat for further dinners and lunches in the week.

FROZEN PASTRY

I always keep frozen puff and filo pastry in my freezer. It keeps forever if stored correctly and you can whip up pies, pasties and boreks out of last night’s meat.

TINNED TOMATOES

Tinned tomatoes form the base of so many pasta, rice, casserole and stew recipes. Buy in bulk and save money.

ONIONS AND GARLIC

Onions and garlic transcend most cuisines. They are cheap and better still they will inject flavour into any meal you cook.

SPICES

I have an old cardboard box full of jars of spices. I always buy in bulk from my local Indian, Asian or Middle Eastern shops because they are cheaper. A good stock of spices is an excellent investment. The main ones to get are:

Cumin, turmeric, ground coriander, paprika (sweet and smoked), allspice, whole cloves, whole cardamon, star anise, cinnamon, black peppercorns and ground galangal.

CARBS

Potatoes, Basmati rice, pasta, cous cous, noodles. These are great cheap and cheerful options and will make your more expensive ingredients stretch much further.

I always buy my Basmati in bulk from the local Indian shop –  I am still getting through a 10kg bag of rice I bought nearly two years ago and it hasn’t gone off or diminished in quality.

CONDIMENTS

Soy sauce, fish sauce,  Dijon mustard, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise, vegemite. They last ages and will jazz up salads, stir-fries, braises, curries and more….

OILS AND FATS

Olive oil, Canola oil and sesame oil. You’re pretty much covered for everything if you’ve got these in your kitchen.

Buy the olive and canola in bulk and save money. Sesame is more for flavouring and you only need a dash in most dishes because it’s so strong.

Butter is, of course, a household staple. My husband would lose his mind if he couldn’t have butter on his toast in the mornings so we always have a block or two in the pantry – not the fridge!!

STOCK

Chicken stock is essential to a lot of cooking. But there’s no need to buy it. One of the best ways of making your chicken stretch is to create stock from the offal, bones and leftover straggly bits of meat. Freeze it in small portions to add to your risottos, rice dishes, soups and stews during the week.

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