With the season of cosy soups and hearty stews right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to stock your kitchen cupboard and make sure you’re prepared to get creative this winter. The days of stocking up until spring may be gone, but when you run low on healthy staples on those dark and chilly nights it’s all too tempting to reach for the takeaway menu — so a bit of pioneer spirit doesn’t hurt!
The main thing to keep in mind of course, is what you like to eat. If the thought of anchovies makes you green, there’s no point leaving them to rot at the back of your kitchen cupboard (though bear in mind they can be used as a seasoning in some recipes.)
The same goes for spices – some people love a hot and spicy curry on a cold winter night, but if your tastes run milder then skip the chilli and cayenne pepper.
- Tomatoes are one vegetable (or technically fruit!) that may be healthier when tinned. The preserving process releases a substance called lycopene—which may help prevent prostate and breast cancer. Tinned tomatoes are excellent to have on hand to form the base of a casserole, or whizz up for pizza or pasta. Whole plum tomatoes tend to have the richest flavour.
- Pulses – a great source of protein, and fantastic in casseroles, chillis or to bulk out a soup, have a variety of chickpeas, cannellini beans, kidney beans and lentils on hand.
- Tuna, salmon or sardines – great to whip into fishcakes, add some protein to a pasta dish or simply as a sandwich filler.
- Dried pasta, noodles and a couple of varieties of rice and grains. There is something particularly lovely about fresh pasta, but it’s always worthwhile having some tried on hand to whip up a simple and nourishing meal. Wholegrain rice is full of slow-release energy – use it for stir fries and to turn a soup into a full meal. Bulgur, quinoa and barley can also bulk up soups or to add a twist to a stir fry dish.
- Nuts and seeds keep well and are great in porridge, salads or as a snack on their own. Nut butters are also great for snacking – on toast, crackers or apples!
- Honey, olive oil, vinegars, soy sauce – take your marinades, dressings, sauces and stews to the next level with the right splashes of flavour.
- Porridge oats, for the classic winter warming breakfast, but also for baking flapjacks, scones and biscuits, and several fish and meat recipes. Oats are one of the most nutrient-dense foods, and are rich in antioxidants.
- Spices – your favourite spices are a matter of taste, but some staples to have on hand include: oregano, smoked paprika, chilli, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, curry powder, sea salt, black peppercorns, nutmeg and turmeric.