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Pantry bliss: what to keep stocked in your cupboards all the time

Stock up and you’ll never be caught short.

HAVING A CUPBOARD stocked up with all sorts of essentials is probably the biggest gift you can give yourself.


Because on one of those days (which are most of the days, to be fair) that you don’t feel like being a gourmet chef and whipping up a meal that incorporates tiny amounts of fifty different ingredients, you can head to your well-stocked pantry and with a few carefully selected items make a meal out of some of the staples plus whatever you have left in the fridge.

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You won’t believe the difference having a couple of tins of tomatoes in the cupboard will make to your evening.

To help you out we’ve rounded up a list of items we think should be on hand at all times.

Let us know in the comments below if you have any items your pantry can’t manage with out.


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Eggs are a great staple to keep on hand at all times. From whipping up an omelette or scrambled egg in the morning (or in the evening), to making something more fancy like huevos rancheros (using our other cupboard staple favourite, a tin of tomatoes)  you can pretty much have a complete meal using eggs and very little else.


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More specifically – tins of tomatoes. They’re a great thing to having hanging around in the back of the press – you can use them in myriad ways, from pasta sauce, to soup, to bulking up a stew, to huevos rancheros (above). There’s no limit to their versatility.

They last for ages, and there’s more lycopene in cooked tomatoes than raw, so they’re even more healthy than the raw ones – and you don’t have to worry about them turning to sludge in the fridge.

Win win.

Tins of beans – chickpeas, bortelli, haricot… 

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Beans are a great source of protein and can be added to lots of meals instead of, or in addition to, meat in various dishes. Like the tinned tomatoes they keep for ages, and can be whipped up into something delicious with relative ease.

Throw a tin (open it first…) into a soup or stew, add chickpeas to a stirfry for extra protein or blend them up into hummus for an tasty, healthy snack.


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You might not have had lentils since your mam made you eat them as a child and you’ve had PTSD ever since, but you really should give them another chance.

They’re a great source of protein for any days you don’t feel like having meat, and they’re the basis of a lot of Indian dishes. So if you like Indian food such as dahl, then you should definitely have these little guys on hand.


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Having spices on hand can take a meal from blah to bling in no time at all.

Adding depths of flavour to a meal is really simple with the addition of a few well-chosen spices and you can experiment as much as you like to find the combination that best suits you.

People often shy away from spices, afraid that they don’t know what they’re doing and will ruin a dish, but add a little and taste then add more as necessary and you’ll be grand.

Cooking is all about experimentation after all.


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Dried pasta is great to have on hand – again, it keeps for ages and can be used in so many ways.

You can make a sauce out of the tin of tomatoes you always have on hand now and throw it over some cooked pasta, or it’s easy to make a minestrone soup with the tomatoes and a tin of beans (and other ingredients of course). You can even make a baked casserole with it, and top it with loads of cheese… Delicious.


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Rice is another carb that’s handy to have around- as it’s dry you don’t have to worry about it going off like potatoes are apt to do.

You can use it as a side in innumerable dishes from curry to stir-fry, or you can make it the basis of a meal itself such as biryani.

Leftovers can be turned into salads or sautéed with a little soy sauce and served as a brand new dish the next day.

Stock cubes

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Stock cubes are little bundles of flavour that can be added to almost every meal – from soups, to casseroles, and stews. You can even mash up the stock cube with a little oil and spread it over a chicken to add flavour before roasting.

They will liven up almost any dish you can think of adding them to, and are the jumping off ground for getting more adventurous with flavour in your cooking.

What do you make sure to always have on hand in case of a dinner emergency? Let us know in the comments below.

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