Store Cupboard Cooking

From lockdown lunches to dining in dinners, check out some of Sabrina Ghayour's top tips on dishing up delicious delicacies and cooking creative cuisine

So many people have asked me for advice on simple, pantry/store cupboard based recipe ideas, as many face limited stocks and really need to make a little go a long way and also get the best out of dried goods, spices, tins and jars. When it comes to cooking at home, the one thing I know how to do is turn nothing into something and because I am self-taught, I never played by the traditional rules of cookery. I know how to inject flavour into humble ingredients because in the Middle East and beyond, this is exactly the kind of food we make. Simple, flavourful and economical make up non-European culinary repertoire almost entirely and so I’ve put this little guide together to help give you some ideas of basic things you can do at home to aid you through this period. 

Useful Ingredients to keep in your cupboard

  • Dried and tinned pulses,
  • Rice, pasta, noodles, barley, couscous, bulgur/cracked wheat
  • Tinned soups
  • Stock powders, cubes, gravy granules
  • Tinned fish, ham, corned beef etc
  • Ketchup / brown sauce for bolstering flavour
  • Tomato purée/passata/tinned tomatoes
  • Chutneys/jams
  • Spices and seasonings
  • Dried herbs
  • Cooking oil
  • Dried milk powder, dairy creamer
  • Marmite/Bovril
  • Flour (any kind you can find)
  • Eggs
  • Crackers, oatcake, crispbreads
  • Sugar and honey
  • Henderson’s Relish, Worcester Sauce, Soy Sauce
  • Vinegar
  • Potato flakes/dehydrated mashed potato
  • Peanut butter, tahini etc


Utilising fresh ingredients for the long haul

  • Freeze batches of minced garlic and minced ginger in ice cube trays with a little oil to use for soups, stews, pies and more
  • Freeze batches of chopped onions
  • Freeze batches of finely diced celery, carrot and onion to create flavour bases for soups, stews, casseroles, pasta sauces, risottos and pulse-based dishes
  • Crack eggs and freeze them whole or separated for various recipes and baking
  • Chop and portion up fresh green and leafy vegetables and freeze for use later
  • Pickle fresh vegetables (google pickling techniques online)
  • Use fresh herbs, garlic, ginger, citrus zests and spices and mix with butter to create flavour base for meat, fish, pastas, rice, pulses, soups. This butter can also be frozen and used straight from the freezer
  • Grate or dice portions of peeled root vegetables and freeze for use later
  • Choose and freeze bones, meat and poultry on the bone for bigger flavour in your cooking


Simple tips to bolster flavour

• Tomato puree, curry powder and other spices add wonderful flavour to pulses (both dried and tinned)
• Vinegar is a great ingredient to add a tangy roundness to soups, stews, sauces and casseroles
• Henderson’s Relish, Worcester Sauce, Soy Sauce all provide depth of flavour to dishes
• Milk powder is useful to make sauces, soups and casseroles creamy
• Rice, pastas and pulses make soups far more interesting and help them feed more people
• Spices are great for stews, soups and casseroles when added just after the onions
• Marmalades, jams and chutneys are fantastic as part of marinades and glazes for meats, fish and perfect additions to certain stew/casserole/curry recipes
• Ketchup is a wonderful way to round out tomato-based recipes with just a little sweetness and it also works beautifully as an ingredient for marinades
• Brown sauce, although very British, lists tamarind as a main ingredient and is fantastic with bean ragouts, curries, marinades and in soups and meat dishes
• Powdered mash to thicken soups and stews and use as mash obvs
• Tahini or peanut butter to thicken soups and stews