Monday, 17 September 2018

20 Ultimate Food Staples for Quick and Tasty Meals

Paper bags filled with fruits and vegetables

Apologies for not blogging as frequently, I have just moved into my own flat with my boyfriend, It was such a hassle. 

Are you new to cooking? Worried about starting university and not knowing what to stock in your cupboards? Would you like to take a break from pot noodles?  I’m here to help!

In this post, I will be discussing about my ultimate food staples, the things that always end up on my shopping list. Fingers crossed this will inspire you and make a change in your cooking habits.

The main point to note is that creating delicious dishes requires practice. Experiment with different flavours, ingredients, spices that you have never tried before. Don’t worry about failing when it comes to food, failures always turn into lessons.  

1. Garlic

Garlic may be the enemy of vampires, but it will be your best friend in cooking. Crush it, chop it, toss it in stir-fries and stews. You can make fantastic marinates with garlic, whether you are marinating meat or roasting vegetables. I tend to put some garlic in the water when I’m boiling pasta or rice as it helps to give some kick to simple ingredients. I know that peeling garlic can sometimes be a little bit of a nightmare, that’s why there are ingredients like this to save some time.

2. Tinned Tomatoes

Tinned tomatoes should be a staple in every person’s cupboard. Why spend a fortune on pre-made sauces when you can make your own! Spaghetti bolognaise is quick to make, you can even freeze it in bulk to save some money. Tinned tomatoes could also be used to make soup, combine it with pasta and butter beans. Perfect for those lazy autumn evenings. 

3.  Lentils

Lentils can be a great alternative to pasta and rice. Great to use as a base for stews or soups (I tend to combine lentils with tinned tomatoes) Red lentils are your best bet as they cook quicker than dark. 

4. Oats

A bag of supermarket own-brand oats costs around £0.70. Don’t be fooled, oats are not only great for porridge. To make delicious breakfast bars, you could combine oats with some nuts or a cheap trail mix and honey (agave syrup if you are vegan). Wrap the breakfast bars in some tin foil and put them in a leftover box. They are fantastic to grab when you are in the rush for lectures or work. 

Oats with blueberries

5. Lemon

Salads tend to be lackluster without any dressing on them, however putting sauce from the bottle on your salad leaves can ruin the healthy element of your meal. Lemon juice with some salt and pepper makes a delicious salad dressing. It also works well in marinates.  

6. Cream cheese

Another great staple when it comes to sauce. I love combining cream cheese, onions and pasta for quick and tasty meals when I don’t have the time for complicated cooking. 

7. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are the royals of the potato world – a healthier alternative to normal potato wedges and mash. I love rubbing sweet potatoes with paprika and baking them in the oven with tomatoes and chickpeas. You could also make an easy soup with sweet potatoes and carrots. 

8. Courgette

Courgette is an underrated vegetable. You could use it in stews and stir-fries, use it instead of pasta sheets in a lasagne, you could even make a stuffed courgette. This vegetable can be a great addition to a vegetarian/vegan curry!

9. Cauliflower

Cauliflower and rice makes a delicious pair, plus it’s one of those vegetables that is quite filling. I mean, you can even make a pizza base using cauliflower, how cool is that!

10. Leeks

Leeks go well with beef in stir-fries and of course for students, leek and potato soup is a fantastic, budget-friendly meal to make. 

Leeks on a chopping board

11.  Kidney beans

Stock up on tinned kidney beans, they are only around £0.30. Kidney beans are a staple in tasty chillies, filling salads and a wonderful protein source. 

12. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are cheap and easy to throw into meals. Oven-roasted chickpeas are delicious. Furthermore, chickpeas can be used to make a curry. You could also make your own hummus using tinned chickpeas. 

13. Stock cubes

You can’t really eat a stock cube (I mean you could try, but I don’t recommend it) BUT, stock is that secret ingredient to the improved taste of food. Add a stock cube to boiling water when you are cooking your rice or pasta. Stock is also a crucial ingredient of soups. Plain flavour begone! 

14.  Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs could be used to make pasta bakes or crispy steaks. They could also be used in making chicken kievs. You could also use breadcrumbs to thicken stews. 

15. Frozen vegetables

Let’s face it, vegetables are great, but they have a short shelf life. To avoid a fridge filled with spoiled vegetables, make sure you are stocked on frozen vegetables in the freezer. When I was a busy undergraduate student, I used to cook frozen vegetables with potato waffles (I know, chef goals) 

16.  Soy sauce

Make your own Chinese takeaway with the help of soy sauce. Soy sauce makes a delicious meat marinade, especially for chicken. Add some soy sauce to casseroles or a little dash to noodles. 

17.  Spinach

I am obsessed with spinach. Boiled spinach, fresh spinach, stir-fried spinach – the possibilities are endless. Spinach has amazing health benefits, it is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, folic acid and other nutritional super-heroes for your body. 

18. Sweetcorn

Tuna and sweetcorn, sweetcorn in curries, sweetcorn in stir-fries, sweetcorn as a side dish or sweetcorn mixed with rice and peas. Clearly, sweetcorn could be used in many different dishes.

19.  Feta cheese 

Greeks love their feta cheese and no wonder why - it’s delicious. Add some feta cheese to spinach, tomatoes and cucumber for a quick and tasty salad. You could also stuff peppers or pastry with feta cheese. 

20.  Coconut milk

Have some tinned coconut milk in your cupboard for making delicious curries or coconut rice. Coconut milk could also make a tasty noodle soup.

That’s it, the 20 ultimate food staples for quick and tasty meals. I hope this list has inspired you when it comes to cooking and creating your food shop list. Cooking doesn’t have to be a student enemy or the enemy of your wallet. Having staples in the cupboard, the fridge and freezer can ensure that tasty meals can be made more efficiently. What are your food staples? Let me know in the comments!  

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  1. This is a really handy post! I'm such a huge foodie and not picky at all with my food so I'd happily have all of those in my cupboards. I love sweet potato and I'd put garlic in just about anything if I wouldn't repel people afterwards haha!


  2. I agree with so many of these! I eat a vegan diet so mine would be slightly different. Oats are so versatile! I use oat flour a lot when I'm baking as well as eating them for breakfast x


  3. I'm such a lazy chef most of the time so this was super helpful! One thing that I always do is make my pasta sauce from scratch so I totally agree with you about the tinned tomatoes and stock cubes! I'll have to look into the rest and do some planning!

    Soph - x

  4. I love all of these food staples, this post is full of so many brilliant ideas and quick tips! Garlic is such a must-have, you can't beat it in pasta! I really love the idea of using courgette instead of pasta sheets - I've had a dish similar to this in Pizza Express and always wanted to make my own at home. Lemon as a dressing is a fabulous idea, I love anything lemon-y so I must do that next time I'm having a salad :) I sometimes put vinegar on my rocket too just to give it a little kick. A pizza base using cauliflowers sounds delicious too! ♥︎

    Sophie | soinspo xo

  5. You have numbered really good starting cooking staples! I love to cook so I am definitely inspired by this post! 😊

  6. These are great. I find a well stocked store cupboard is vital for healthy eating and saves you money because you're using what you have. I always keep kidney beans and tinned tomatoes in my cupboards along with an array of pasta and rice.

  7. After having soy sauce in my ramen noodles the other day, it's a staple I want to add in my cabinets on the regular. I liked this list because their are so many foods I overlook but the items you listed and great meal starters of flavorings. Thanks for this educational list Laura!

    Natonya |


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