Store Cupboard Staples – The Nutritionist’s approach to cooking during lockdown

Whilst my favourite foods are usually the fresh kind – there’s a lot to be said about the humble store cupboard. Possibly now more than ever, people are ransacking their cupboards to see what meals they can piece together whilst supermarkets are putting restrictions on how much we can buy during the 2020 Lockdown.

Some of you may even now have store cupboards packed to the brim with staples – tins, jars and packets – ready for self-isolating, but have no clue what meals to make from them In fact, recent statistics show that only one in four Brits actually know what to make with those store cupboard ingredients.

So to make your life a little easier, here’s some of my favourite things to do with store cupboard essentials which are nutritious and delicious too;

Tinned Coconut Milk

Coconuts contain significant amounts of fats, mostly in the form of medium chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs) in particular lauric acid – Lauric acid is converted in the body into a highly beneficial compound called monolaurin, an antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial compound.

My all time favourite store cupboard recipe is Lentil Dahl – I make this on the regular (never mind just on lock down) as it’s cheap, packed with nutrition and you can make a big batch and stick in the freezer for a rainy day

  1. Simply saute onions with tons of garlic and chilli. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala and fresh grated ginger.  
  2. Add lentils, coconut milk and some stock and cook until the dahl has thickened.
  3. Top with some fresh coriander, roasted squash or sweet potato & a squeeze of lime

Coconut porridge is also a delicious treat to make with coconut milk.

  1. Simply cook your oats as normal but use coconut milk and water.
  2. Flavour with cinnamon, nut meg and cardamon for extra tastiness

Adding coconut milk to soup also keeps you fuller for longer as well as giving the soup that creamy luxurious quality. My Butternut Squash & Ginger soup is a great immune boosting comfort food for lockdown days. Get the recipe here;

Tinned Tomatoes

These have been hard to come by in the Brighton & Hove supermarkets but if you happen to have some left in your store cupboard – there’s endless things you can do with a tin of Tommys. Cooked tomatoes release a compound called lycopene, which is important for protecting your body against free radical damage.

One of my faves is an Easy Bean Stew – here you’re using tinned toms as well as tins of beans to get a tasty protein fix! Grab my easy peasy recipe here

Simple Tomato Soup is best made homemade (tinned soups are usually packed with preservatives and sugar) and it couldn’t be easier;

1) Cook chopped onion in olive oil under tender, then add tomato paste.

2) Add whole canned tomatoes and vegetable broth, and gently simmer for 30 minutes.

3) Transfer the soup to a blender, and add a few more essential ingredients – salt, pepper & fresh herbs if you have any – I like basil. I also like to add a tiny bit of honey to balance the flavours and some beans to add some protein. Whizz it up and enjoy!

Tinned Chickpeas

I genuinely feel a bit lost if staple it isn’t in my cupboard! I bang chickpeas in everything! As a rich source of vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein; chickpeas offer a variety of health benefits.

Homemade Hummus is the EASIEST thing to make ever – not only is to better for you than the shop bought (they tend to use rapeseed oil & lots of preservatives which isn’t great nutritionally speaking) it’s also better for the environment to stop buying plastic pots of dip every week.

  1. Add canned chickpeas to a blender with olive oil, tahini, salt, lemon juice, garlic and a bit of hot water. 
  2. Blend until smooth. THAT’S IT!
  3. Serve with carrots, celery, peppers or on oat cakes.

You can pimp up your hummus by adding spices (cumin or paprika work well) or veggies (beetroot is amazing)

Another easy thing to make with chickpeas are Falafels!

1. Preheat oven to 190c
2. Add chickpeas, chopped onion, fresh garlic, lemon juice or ACV, spices (I use cumin, chilli & ground coriander), salt into a blender apart & blend until you get a slightly chunky texture
3. Stir in baking soda and oat flour.
4. Scoop spoonfuls of mixture out and form into small balls & place on prepped baking sheet & flatten them out a bit
5. Bake 10-12 minutes, flip your falafel and bake for another 10-12 minutes or until falafel are golden and cooked through

You can also make a wicked curry using chickpeas, roasted chickpeas make a good snack or even use the chickpea water to make meringues!

Tinned Sardines

I love a sardine. They’re packed with Omega 3 fats, which have anti- inflammatory properties as well as being a great source of protein and containing tons of minerals and vitamins, in particular B12 & Calcium

You can add tinned sardines as toppings to salads, pasta sauces or even make mini fishcakes. My fave is keeping it simple though with Sardines with Pesto on Toasted Rye – check out my tastiest recipes here;

Things on toast

Oats

It’s so secret I’m a little oat obsessed – but for good reason. Oats are a great source of carbs and fibre, in particular the wonder fibre, beta-glucan.  Beta-glucans have been shown to help reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels, promote healthy gut bacteria and… supporting the immune system.

The obvious thing to make with oats is porridge – but I URGE you to pimp this up to make it a balanced breakfast; Check out my post here to find out how…

If you like a bit more of a crunch – how about my easy granola? Shop bought granola usually packs in HUGE amounts of sugar (go check you packet, you’ll be surprised) but when you make your own you get to decide how much you add and what type and it’s so much cheaper.

  • 2 cups raw, whole rolled oats preferably organic & gluten free
  • ½ cup raw nuts, chopped or coconut flakes
  • ¼ cup raw seeds (sunflower or pumpkin seeds are great)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or raw honey
  • 2 tbsps virgin coconut oil
  • cinnamon
  • 1 large pinch fine sea salt
  • Optional: dried fruit e.g. apricots or raisins

Simply combine all the dry ingredients except for the dried fruit – melt the coconut oil in a pan with the honey – then drizzle on top and give everything a good stir. Pour out onto a baking tray and pop in an oven at 180degrees – after 10mins, lightly toss and then pop back in the oven until it’s golden in colour. Leave to cool and store in an airtight container.

Finally a couple of sweet treats – it’s super tempting to eat more when you’re stuck indoors or feeling a little stressed. It’s our body’s natural reaction to being in an environment where food is available, but also a consequence of our stress hormone levels. Making some healthier sweet treats can be much more beneficial to have to hand than a packet of Kit Kats any day. Check out my recipes for Chocolate Orange Oaty Cookies or Carrot Apple Turmeric & Ginger Bites

I have so many other recipes using store cupboard staples – so get in touch if you’re stuck with a tin of something you don’t know what to do with!

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