Ingredients you should keep in your cupboard for emergencies or when times are tight.
These days we’re all aware of the cost of food and look for ways to reduce the amount we spend on feeding our families. There are also times when we have unexpected visitors for whom the budget hasn’t accounted. Over the years I’ve learned that by always having certain ingredients in the cupboard, fridge or freezer there is always a meal at hand. Here are some of the things you can usually find at short notice in my household.
1. Eggs: with eggs in the house you always have a meal. Whether it is throwing together an omelette, turning leftover food into fritters or simply cooking them your favourite way accompanied with another ingredient, eggs are a quick and inexpensive way of producing a meal. A quick internet search will provide ideas of how to cook eggs and quick simple meals you can produce with them.
2. Bacon: along with the eggs, bacon helps other ingredients go a long way. It isn’t necessary to buy expensive bacon. Look out for bacon pieces that are much cheaper and can be added to meals to give flavour and make them go further.
3. Canned salmon, tuna or smoked fish: canned fish can be used at any time of the year to produce a quick and simple meal. Add it to salads, rice, pasta or a cheese sauce to make a quick and simple meal. Recipes for old fashioned fish pie, fritters and omelettes can easily be found online. Throw in a few vegetables as well and you’ll impress those you’re feeding.
4. Rice and pasta: if you have any of the above ingredients, or fresh or frozen vegetables in the house, a tasty meal can quickly be thrown together. You are only limited by your imagination. Combine family favourites or whatever leftovers you have in the fridge.
5. Canned tomatoes: with a can of tomatoes and a few fresh or dried herbs, you can produce an imaginative meal from rice, pasta or cheap meat out of the freezer. The options are unlimited, but old favourites such as homemade spaghetti bolognaise or chilli con carne come to mind.
6. Flour and cooking oil: these two ingredients should always be in your cupboard. Use leftover meat and vegetables to make fritters and omelettes, whip up a sauce or gravy to accompany a meal, or thicken a casserole to make it go further.
7. Cheese: I’m not sure about other countries, but here in New Zealand cheese is becoming expensive. However, I would never dream of having an empty cheese compartment in the fridge. Cheese can be added to sauces or be the base for a meal of it’s own. You don’t need to use too much. Again, there are plenty of hints and recipes online to provide inspiration for chaep meals using cheese.
I’m sure you’ll all have other ideas and ingredients to add to these. However, these are suggested as a starting point. With these in the house you’ll never have to panic if unexpected visitors drop by at meal time, or if the grocery budget isn’t going to stretch as far as you need it to. Stocking up with some of these when they are on special will make meal planning a lot easier in the future.
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