You can make so many delicious dinners with a just few key ingredients to hand, but have you got the rights things in your storecupboard? It’s all well and good having a lovely piece of meat, fish or stellar vegetable, but you need a whole cast of supporting ingredients to create a delicious dinner. The day you decide to go shopping to kit out your storecupboard it’s going to be more expensive than your usual shop, but what you buy will set you up for weeks (and possibly months) of easy, tasty recipes.
Patrick Drake, head chef of recipe box scheme HelloFresh, reveals what everyone should have in their storecupaboards. “I’m not saying list is exhaustive by any means, but these are the things I keep in my storecupboard, all of which I use at least once every week,” he says.
1. Dry herb mixes
At the very least have an Italian herb mix and Provencal herb mix
Making a ratatouille? Need to bolster a tomato pasta sauce? You can buy lots of individual pots of herbs (which inevitably end up sitting in the cupboard for years) but a couple of great dry herb mixes are versatile enough to perk up a big variety of dishes.
2. Core spices
Mild chilli powder, smoked paprika, curry powder, ground cinnamon and Chinese 5 spice
From Mexican to Middle Eastern and as far as the Orient, this little selection of spices covers a whole variety of world flavours. Smoked paprika is a slight obsession of mine.
3. Versatile condiments
Ketchup, Dijon mustard, Coleman’s mustard, light soy sauce, kecap manis, fish sauce, hot pepper sauce and Worcester sauce
There’s a reason that ketchup has been one of our nation’s favourites since the 1800s – it goes with pretty much everything! It can jazz up your burger mix, create a retro prawn cocktail sauce or give chow mein a certain je ne sais quoi. These are your secret ingredients – the ones that take your recipe from a 7 to a 10 (and the secret is because they often contain a fair bit of ‘umami’, or a distinctive savoury flavour.).
White wine vinegar, red wine vinegar and good q
uality balsamic vinegar
Vinegar is great for a salad dressing but it also makes an appearance in delicious sauces like Béarnaise or Hollandaise, or even in a stir fry. White vinegar is also the secret to making perfect poached eggs!
Maldon sea salt and black pepper, in a pepper mill.
There’s really no substitute for either. Really.
Quinoa, brown rice, medium egg noodles, penne pasta and linguine pasta
These are my personal favourites. Forget what the pack says, cook quinoa in a big pot of salted water for around 12 minutes then drain and fluff it up. Perfect every time. Brown rice is healthier than white rice (and it tastes better too). Plus, it’s good to have a long and a short pasta to complement different sauces.
Black beans, Puy lentils, kidney beans, sweetcorn, coconut milk, and (lots of) tinned tomatoes
Dinnertime saviours! I always keep a couple of tins of each in my cupboard. In a pinch, they’ll bulk out a salad, make a quick pasta sauce or help you make a curry in a hurry. Absolutely essential.
Psst! Patrick Drake is head chef at recipe box scheme HelloFresh, which delivers all the ingredients you need to make their recipes – already measured out – to your door, for quick, convenient and tasty meals. Want to try out HelloFresh’s recipe box scheme? Click to get 50% off your first HelloFresh box.
Very Lazy garlic, Very Lazy chilli (chopped up and stored in vinegar) and Luchito smoked chilli.
There are lots of good quality cheat ingredients out there and these are a few of my favourites. Good food doesn’t need to be hard work!