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Whip up a store cupboard meal without going to the shops

Whip up a store cupboard meal without going to the shops
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Some week’s life gets a little mad and for one reason or another the weekly shopping trip doesn’t happen. When this occurs it’s easy to imagine the cupboards are bare, leaving you reaching for your phone to order a takeaway. But if your budget won’t stretch that far, or the food crisis enters a more prolonged phase over a few days, then it’s time to get creative. If you make a habit of home cooking on a reasonably regular basis, then even the most empty of cupboards usually houses an untapped source of nutrition that can save your bacon.

Make an Inventory

Unless you religiously rotate the items in your store cupboard chances are there are items lurking at the back that you totally forgot were there. And the same goes for your fridge and freezer. Before you give up all hope, take an inventory of what you actually have in stock. And remind yourself of what flavours, oils, herbs and spices you have to hand too. These are your ingredients for success. Remember that most balanced meals include an element of carbs, protein and veggies. Make a list of all the things you have to hand under each category. You don’t have to create a meal that includes all three elements, but these lists will help you to organise your ideas.

Pick and Mix some Recipes

Whip up a store cupboard meal without going to the shopsAs you work out what you actually have available you’ll probably start to generate some meal ideas as you go.

*Pasta of any shape and size is incredibly versatile. Even if you lack veg and meat or fish protein you can mix it with cheese and butter, tinned tomatoes or even just a tablespoon of pesto sauce or herby oil to create a filling meal.

*Rice can accompany pretty much anything, it is delicious when fried with egg or anything else you have to hand, pepped up with a splash of soy or Worcester sauce. A simple omelette and buttered bread is another easy delight, as are pancakes, for which you need only eggs, flour and milk.

*And if you have hamburger patties but nothing to go with them think about breaking them up back into basic mince to create a Bolognese sauce, or a simple cottage pie. Any white fish, or tuna, can be mashed with potato to make burgers with a difference, and who can resist a steaming plate of corned beef hash?

*And don’t neglect your veg. A lone carrot can add texture and flavour to a salad or a meat sauce; lettuce leaves work well as wraps for any protein you care to stuff them with, along with slices of any remaining veggies you have languishing at the bottom of the fridge. If your veg are looking a bit sorry for themselves, chop them up into some stock, cook and then blend to make a soup. Leek and potato soup made with milk and chicken stock is delicious and nutritious.

Be Prepared to Experiment

The trick is not to get too hung up on having specific ingredients for a particular dish – for years I would rail against making a Tuna Pasta Salad dish that is a family favourite, if I didn’t have sweet corn in stock. This is by no means the only veg in the recipe I use, and its absence is really no big deal. The message here – be prepared to be flexible. If a recipe calls for something sweet, or vinegary, look at what you have that could work as suitable alternatives. Or even leave that element out altogether and see how it tastes. The worst that can happen is that the flavour is different from that which you are used to – you may even discover a variation of a meal that you prefer to your usual dish.

Use your Leftovers

Unused portions from a previous meal can often form the basis for the next. Extra meat or fish is especially versatile and can be used with some simple spices to make a curry, served with a salad or wraps, or perhaps form the basis of a pasta bake. Look at leftovers and an opportunity, not a ‘second best’ and you will open your eyes to the possibilities. Spare potatoes can be mixed with mayo to make a potato salad. Add a little tuna or serve with kippers from the freezer and you have another meal. Use what you have, don’t reject nothing. You may even surprise yourself by generating more than one meal from your store cupboard. This could be the start of a whole new way of cooking and saving money for your family.

 

 

 

 

 

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About Cally Worden

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About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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