Kitchen cupboard essentials for standby suppers

Kitchen cupboard essentials for standby suppers

Useful cupboard ingredients can save your life when there’s no time to get a midweek shop done.

It’s midweek, almost all your fresh ingredients from the Saturday morning supermarket shop have been eaten or have started to sprout mould. Still, you don’t have to reach for pricey ready meals or a takeaway by Wednesday night! By having a few good dried or tinned standbys in stock you can knock up a great family dinner with just a few ingredients from the cupboard and the freezer.

Risotto rice

A 500g box of risotto rice will see you through two family meals and only needs a stock cube, some butter and chopped onion to get going. Add grated parmesan (that other loyal standby that will last for ages sitting inside your fridge door) when it’s cooked through, for a rich tangy finish. Whether it’s fresh mushrooms or frozen peas, lightly cook these in a knob of butter or olive oil (flavouring with a small amount of fresh garlic or a dash of garlic salt to taste) and stir into the rice for added colour.


You’d be hard pushed to find a mum in the UK who hasn’t thanked her lucky stars on several occasions that her kids love pasta pesto – a perfect cupboard standby! However, you can make a ten-minute pasta supper for grown-ups too, by making a sauce from a few chopped veg (onions and garlic are enough, but add a little courgette or mushroom finely chopped if you have them fresh) cooked gently in a generous splash of olive oil, adding a teaspoon or bouillon powder or dried herbs, as desired. Keep a small bottle of lemon or chilli olive oil in the cupboard to add an extra kick to quick fix suppers like this.


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Chopped tomatoes

There’s no need for fresh tomatoes if you have a can of chopped tomatoes in the cupboard. Add some finely chopped onion and a little olive oil to the tomatoes and pour over lightly cooked fish fillets or chicken (from the freezer) and bake for 20 minutes.

Forget orange lentils that get soggy too quickly. Keep either a tin of green lentils or a box of puy lentils on hand for nights when you want a sausage supper but don’t have the energy for peeling and boiling potatoes for mash. Cook the lentils through in 10-15 minutes by gently simmering in a pan with plenty of boiled stock – add chunks of onion or garlic clove if you fancy. Serve with hearty sausages for a meat or veggie supper.


Although traditionally cooked couscous dinners take hours to prepare, you can cook through half a pack of dried couscous in no time, stirring in dried herbs and any ingredients you have to hand – lightly fried onions and garlic that have become meltingly soft, hunks of meat or fish, cubes of lightly steamed red or green pepper, whatever you fancy!

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I love straight to wok noodles, some Lazy ginger , garlic and leftover chicken, Pour over chow mein sauce et Voila!

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i like to keep a bag of frozen veg in the freezer for bulking up meals when i run out of fresh veggies!

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