My store cupboard essentials

So many people ask me what I keep in my cupboard, so it is time I share my list. A well stocked store cupboard (and fridge and freezer) is the secret to so many things:

1. Minimising food waste – because you can always make something for dinner with what is left in the fridge if you have a few essentials to hand.

2. Eating more healthily and saving time and money – because you’re less likely to go out to eat, go shopping again or get take out if you can rustle up something from what you already have.

3. Less stressful cooking – if you know what you have, and don’t have to wade through a hundred packets of pasta to find it you’ll be a more efficient cook.

Have a clear out first

I really recommend you having a clear out of your cupboard before you re-stock it. Here are all my tips for sorting out your cupboards. If, like most of us, you have lots of random, almost empty bags of pasta or rice, throw them into a pot of soup or make jumbled pasta and pesto for dinner. Also ditch any spices and herbs you’ve had for over a year and replace them with fresh ones. Your taste buds will thank you.

Pace yourself

Please don’t feel you need to rush out and buy all of this in one go. Add a couple of things to your basket each week as space and budget allows.

Good habits

Get into the habit of quickly checking your store cupboard before you go shopping each week – plan what you can make that week to use what you have and then just buy the fresh things you need to go with your store cupboard essentials as well as replacing any essentials you’ve run out of.

My list of essentials

Starches and meal bulkers (you can get most of these very cheaply in the bulk bins at Whole Foods)

  • risotto rice
  • pasta – shells or penne and linguini or spaghetti. I like De Cecco for regular pasta or brown rice pasta for gluten free meals
  • brown rice – basmati or Thai Jasmine
  • gnocci
  • cous cous
  • quinoa
  • rice noodles
  • dried red lentils
  • all purpose flour
  • spelt flour
  • baking powder
  • whole rolled oats

Nuts and seeds

  • almond slivers and whole almonds
  • raw, un-roasted and unsalted sunflower seeds
  • sesame seeds

Flavour boosters and oils

  • olive oil – (one for cooking with and one for dressings), coconut oil, canola or rapeseed oil
  • garlic
  • onions
  • vinegar – balsamic and red wine vinegars. Throw in some sherry vinegar or rice wine vinegar too if you can
  • black peppercorns
  • Sea salt – A ‘finishing salt’ like Maldon and a standard grainy cooking sea salt
  • red chili pepper flakes
  • stock powder/paste – Marigold powder or Better Than Bouillon paste
  • dried oregano
  • ground cumin or cumin seeds
  • ground or whole coriander seeds
  • herbs de Provence
  • fennel seeds
  • ground cinnamon
  • smoked paprika
  • Dijon mustard
  • Thai fish sauce – nam pla
  • soy sauce or Tamari
  • Sriracha
  • un-bleached sugar and dark brown sugar
  • pure grade B maple syrup
  • runny honey
  • Marsala – keeps for ages and is a great standby for when a recipe needs a bit of wine but you don’t want to open a bottle

cans and jars

  • canned chickpeas (garbanzo), cannellini beans, black beans
  • canned or jarred tuna, sardines, anchovies in olive oil
  • canned or jarred tomatoes (no added salt, diced)
  • bottle or jarred passata
  • roasted red peppers
  • coconut milk


  • veg – organic spinach, kale, peas, corn. To stir into stews, pasta sauces, frittatas or soups
  • fruit – organic blueberries, raspberries, pineapple chunks. For oatmeal, yoghurt, pancakes, smoothies or crumbles
  • ends of loaves – to turn into crumbs or croutons
  • sliced good bread for sandwiches and toast
  • cooked rice/quinoa – saved in single servings
  • fresh ginger – can be grated from frozen
  • Parmesan – can be grated form frozen. Also freeze Parmesan rinds to throw into soups and stews
  • fresh chilis – I buy a bag from the Asian supermarket and wash them, then dry and freeze them whole ready to chop and throw into curry, stew and soup etc
  • frozen salmon and prawns
  • tomato sauce in single serving containers
  • stock


  • Free range eggs (large)
  • Milk (or a nut milk)
  • Grass-fed salted butter – I like Kerrygold
  • Plain yoghurt – Greek Fage Total or plain organic cow, goat or sheep’s milk
  • Cheese – mature Cheddar (Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar in the US) and Parmesan or Pecorino, cream cheese
  • lemons

I’d love to see your store cupboard, so remember to share on my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest when you make it. Tag it #ystcook so I can see!

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