I have referred in several previous articles to the importance of storecupboard ingredients. We are fortunate that nowadays we all have a fridge and most of us have a freezer of some description, whereas our parents probably didn’t have either when they were young. These appliances give us much more scope for planning ahead and for always having something in if we haven’t had time to shop. In an ideal world, we would plan meals days in advance and shop appropriately for the week ahead, but this is not always possible when one is trying to keep track of several people and arrangements seem to change at the drop of a hat. It is also vitally important not to over shop and end up throwing food away. Wasting food is wicked, be under no illusion, and it serves only to increase the profits of those who already have too much of the nation’s wealth. I read in the newspaper recently that the average family throws away nearly £400 worth of food a year. Four hundred pounds. That is what I spend on food shopping in ten weeks. That would pay for the food, clothing, housing and education of a child in a Third World country for over a year. Don’t waste food. By the same token, there is no point in leaving 2 teaspoons of gravy in a cup at the back of the fridge unless you have a definite plan for it, as this simply arouses the ridicule and loathing of your peers.
A word about microwaves. I know that many of you nuke everything that casts a shadow and an equal number believe it to be the Baby Belling of Beelzebub. The Wartime Housewife uses a microwave for several limited tasks. Defrosting. Ovaltine. Porridge. Custard. Scrambled egg. My reason is this: bowls in which the above have been microwaved are far less onorous to clean than a saucepan which will have to be left to soak in the sink for a year and a half and then scrubbed with the domestic equivalent of a sandblaster. Controversial I know, but I am a modern woman and until I have staff, the microwave stays.
So what do we need to have in the storecupboard that will reliably prevent you rushing to Macky D’s in an emergency. Over time I will provide many recipes that rely on storecupboard ingredients, but for the time being just make sure you have these in, adjusting the quantities for the size of your family and always buy the best that you can afford, remembering that best doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Also, things like herbs gradually accumulate, so don’t feel the need to run to the shops and buy the lot at once.
|Tinned chopped tomatoes
Tinned kidney beans
Stock cubes – chicken, beef & veg
Tinned whole peaches
Tea and coffee
Rice – easy cook
Sugar – white and dark brown
Flour – plain white, self raising white, plain wholemeal
Pasta – spaghetti and something else
Cooking oil – pref olive but sunflower is perfectly good
|Assorted dried herbs esp. parsley, mixed herbs, sage, thyme, oregano, bay leaves||Spices: cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, ginger|
Fish fillets – coley or basa are cheap and as tasty as anything else
Lamb’s Liver – very cheap, versatile and incredibly tasty
Vegetables – peas, whole green beans, spinach, corn on the cob
Bread (a few slices can be kept in the smallest freezer)
Cheddar – nice strong stuff
Long life double cream (fresh is always better but we’re talking emergency backup here)
|Leftover white wine – put it in a jam jar with a screw lid to save space|
This may seem like a lot, but I bet if you were to rummage through your cupboards, freezer and fridge right now, you would find a lot more, of a lot less use, and several things that would arouse the ridicule of your peers. From this basic list, you can feed a family for a week, including cake, biscuits and ice cream lollies, perhaps only needing to top up with milk and bread. Remember also that you can buy fresh items such as onions, peppers and leeks when they’re cheap, chop them up and put them in bags in the freezer for use when you haven’t got or can’t get fresh.
Please let me know if there’s anything I’ve forgotten or anything you think is essential to your storecupboard.