Making sure your pantry is stocked with the essentials is key; having the basics on hand makes life a lot of easier when you’re cooking from scratch and can help you get creative. So next time you’re writing your shopping list, preparing for a dinner party or looking for recipe inspiration, be sure to have the following staples to hand. Not only are they affordable, they are versatile and have an array of health benefits too.
Beans are a cheap and easy protein source, making them the perfect staple for both vegans and non-vegans alike. If you’re looking for an on-the-go meal, buying them in a can is your best option but if you’re sticking to a low budget then buying dry beans in bulk and cooking them yourself is the way to go.
While tofu is often used as a meat substitute, it’s one of those ingredients that can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. Silken tofu can be used to make smoothies, recreate your favourite puddings and ice creams as well as an egg substitute in baking. Firm tofu, on the other hand, is great for slicing, cubing and can be fried, baked or grilled. The possibilities are endless.
Grains are a great source of carbohydrate, that provide us with energy and nutrients. They are naturally low in fat and can be used to create an array of side dishes as well as a hearty main course. Whole grains such as brown rice, spelt, quinoa and buckwheat are preferable as these are unrefined, which means that they are a better source of fibre and nutrients. Refined grains such white bread, rice and pasta can still be enjoyed, but in moderation. It’s all about balance.
There are a wide variety of non-dairy milks out there now including soy, rice, oat and various nut milks. While the dairy alternatives are similarly priced to ordinary milk, look at out for supermarket own brands as these tend to be cheaper. Alternatively, if you have the time, making your own milk can be a good option.
Spices are essential for everyday cooking; they bring flavour and depth to dishes and are often what makes the meal memorable. Staple spices include garlic, onion, paprika, chilli, basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, ginger, vanilla and cinnamon. It’s worth experimenting to find your favourites. Building a collection can take time so why not buy a spice a week to spread out the cost?