50 Easy Storecupboard Meal Ideas + Pantry Stocking Tips
At first I was unsure about writing this post. Does not not feel a bit like cashing in on peoples fears and going on a massive self-promotion bender at a time when people are frightened and scared to just put together a massive roundup of all my own recipes? However, in these uncertain times when people are faced with self-isolating in their houses for weeks, possibly months on end and suddenly not being able to go food shopping whenever they want – and when they get there being faced with food shortages down to panic buying – the requests I’ve been getting on Instagram to share some of my best storecupboard eats has been hard to ignore.
So, I spent yesterday morning trawling through every single free to access recipe I’ve ever written both here on the blog and elsewhere to bring you a list of 50 recipes you can put together with predominately storecupboard ingredients, with tips on simple swaps and substitutions, choosing long life ingredients, preserving, and how to make something go just that little bit further dotted throughout. I hope you all find this helpful – and as I mentioned on Instagram yesterday if you’re self-isolating and you need some help with what to make from what you’ve already got in the house, or how to make what you’ve already got last longer just get in touch and I’ll do my best to help – you can reach me on Twitter, Instagram messaging or via email.
I know pasta is scarce right now, but for those of you with a good supply at home it is certainly the way forward! If you have eggs and lemons (keep all your citrus in the fridge for a longer life) my Lemony Pork Meatballs with Pine Nuts come in a delicious tomato sauce and freeze beautifully. My Sausage Meatball & White Bean Stew was one of the dishes I made most often as a student. Carrots (in the fridge) and onions (in a cool dark place) keep really well so they’re a great thing to have on hand. If you don’t want to meatball your sausages, my Easy Sausage Ragu is also a firm favourite.
As far as sauces are concerned, you can find my classic tomato sauce made from tinned tomatoes here. This Bloody Mary Penne with Crunchy Parsley Breadcrumbs is in the same vein if you’re looking for something a bit different / a bit more grown up. Frozen peas are a great staple you probably already have, so here is a recipe for whole wheat penne with a pea pesto sauce if you’ve got a basil plant on the kitchen table – now is the time if you’re visiting the supermarket to buy herb pots to keep on the windowsill as they will keep brightening up your meals for longer than a plastic packet of herbs. My Mum’s Simple & Delicious Bolognese Sauce can always be found in our family freezer, and my Freeze-ahead Red Lentil Ragu in mine.
For using more unusual shapes, my One Pan Greek Lamb Meatballs with Orzo and Feta reheat well if you want to make a big batch, just switch the fresh oregano for a sprinkle of dried. Feta is a great long life cheese to keep in the fridge, along with halloumi. Also, over at BBC Food my Orzo Risotto with Lemon & Fresh Oregano has been really popular recently – just switch out the oregano for whatever fresh herb you have to hand, or just leave it out completely!
If you’ve stocked up on pre-made filled pasta, this recipe shows you how to make a delicious herby, nutty butter sauce for it if you don’t have any tomatoes on hand. Butter keeps for ages in the fridge, and freezes well too.
As far as gnocchi is concerned (are we classing gnocchi as a pasta shape) pre-cooked bags last ages but don’t keep well once opened, but then store beautifully in the freezer and cook from frozen. My Gnocchi with Crispy Bacon & Spinach Pesto over at BBC Food is really adaptable to make it vegetarian and vegan and great to make sure no veg goes to waste. Alternatively if you’re out of all things fresh, make it with jarred pesto instead. My Vegan Gnocchi Puttanesca over at Refinery 29 takes just 20 minutes and is made from just 5 store cupboard ingredients.
There is a bit of an egg shortage going on right now as they are the latest panic buy item, but if you already have some or like me (I’m at my parents house in the country right now rather than in the city) have neighbours with chickens or access to farm gates, Eggy Bread is a great meal option for breakfast lunch or dinner, and is perfect to make from either stale bread so it does not go to waste or from slices of bread stored in the freezer. You can find my classic recipe over at BBC Food, or my Eggy Bread Crumpets here.
Judging by my trip to Waitrose on Monday, while there is still loads of beef and lamb on the shelves you’re all buying up all the chicken to fill your freezers (just remember to leave some for others!) This One Pot Roast Chicken Thighs with Lentils and Rosemary is too delicious not to make regularly, but is also happily made with all pantry ingredients. My Sticky Storecupbard Barbecue Chicken does exactly what it says on the tin and can also be cooked in a griddle pan or under the grill / broiler. Surprisingly my Slow Cooker Coq au Vin also is made from things that can be stored in the freezer or have long lives: smoked bacon bits and chicken legs. As far as mashed potatoes are concerned, my Perfectly Creamy Mustard Mashed Potatoes go well here – get creative about your add ins, any leftover creamy dairy or dairy substitute will make a good mash. Mummy’s Spiced Island Chicken Drumsticks are a great lunch idea.
Finally, if you are still having a roast chicken (oh how I wish in London I had a freezer big enough to hold one for emergencies!) do make stock with the leftover carcass to use in soups and stews so that not a scrap is wasted.
Black pudding freezes beautifully, and my Baked Eggs with Potatoes & Black Pudding is modern comfort food at its finest. Potatoes are also the backbone of my Tinned Tuna Fishcakes over at BBC Food which also freeze beautifully. If you can’t get spring onions but you so have chives in a herb pot, substitute for them instead.
My Bombay Potato Tacos are totally storecupboard if you leave out the cherry tomatoes – just add more frozen peas instead. Also, tortilla wraps freeze really well if you put greaseproof paper between them before you do, and they’ll also keep longer in the fridge than in the pantry.
If you want to mix things up on the side dish front, check out my Indian Spiced Potatoes – when I’m running low on spices I sometimes switch out ground spices for whole making these (and remember you can always make your own ground spices using a mortar and pestle) and if you’re out of lemons lime juice also works well to finish the dish. Also, my Simple Potato Salad is mostly storecupboard and will benefit from this spring onion / chive substitution, too.
Kimchee is a great thing to buy as it is great for you and lasts an age in the fridge. Start off by making my Kimchee Fried Rice (just a warning, while I have made sure only to include free to access recipes here this does involve signing up to my mailing list to download the recipe!) This Easy Coconut Kedgeree is also a great fried rice dish for any time of day if you’ve got some salmon or trout fillets in the freezer – it will also help the fish go further! And, my template for any Egg Fried Rice recipe I make is up on BBC Food, perfect for working with what you’ve got. Also over at the BBC: my Mixed Vegetable and Almond Biriyani uses frozen veg, and comes in at just £1 a head!
I know we’re coming into spring, but soups are easy to make, pretty much always freeze well and are perfect if you or someone within your household is sick. My Warming Carrot Soup is a classic, my Sweet Potato Soup with a lovely fresh ginger kick over at BBC Food is a real fan favourite, and also over on their site my 5-Ingredient Tomato, Chickpea & Pasta Soup is made from totally storecupboard ingredients.
While bread freezes well and I hope you have a good stash in the freezer, if you’ve got flour, salt, yeast and water you can also make your own. You don’t even need weighing scales to make this Anywhere Mug Bread, and if you run out of yeast you can also try your hand at making your own sourdough starter. Also, for making bread a meal, if you’ve got onions, butter, jarred or tinned anchovies and olives, you can make a Traditional French Pissaladier for dinner as the weather gets warmer.
Things from Tins
Aside from an onion my 10-Minute Chickpea Tikka Masala over at Refinery 29 comes totally out of tins and jars. My Madeiran Tomato & Onion Stew is a great way to do something different with a tin of tomatoes, and my Super Easy Meat Free Chilli works just as well without the peppers if you’re out.
We need to treat ourselves more than ever now. If you have eggs and butter, this Gluten-free Swedish Chocolate Cake goes really far and keeps really well. My American Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares also keep for ages in the tin. And, of course, I’m seeing people already making my Super Simple 3-Step Chocolate Brownies in self isolation on Instagram.
My Raw Chocolate Ganache Bars over at Great British Chefs are made from all storecupboard ingredients, and you have to keep them in the freezer anyway! Also for the freezer do try my Easy 3-Ingredient Blueberry Frozen Yogurt. My Boozy Innocent Smoothie Popsicles (with or without the booze) are the way you’ll be wanting to consume fruit and veg if you do get a fever. My Chocolate Covered Frozen Banana Pieces are great to give to kids. From the freezer, my soft berry crumble template will work with any frozen fruit and you can easily swap the butter for vegan alternatives.
If you can’t get eggs and the stores are out of butter, get vegan butter or margarine instead and make my Vegan Biscuits over at BBC Food. Honestly, all the non-vegans I’ve fed these to honestly can’t tell the difference.
On the miscellaneous front, you’ll thank me later if you make a batch of my Easy Mint Mojito Syrup for the fridge – it also tastes great just splashed into sparkling water if you run out of mint and limes with which to mix up a cocktail. Also, if you’ve got any scraps from peeling fresh ginger or lemongrass kicking about, don’t waste them! This is the tea infusion I make to drink when I have a cold.