Find out how I feed my family on a shoestring budget.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

What's in the cupboard

I want to talk about store cupboard staples this week, but first I'll start with this week's menu:

Saturday - Shepherd's pie (freezer) and sweetcorn

Sunday  - Crunchy pie (freezer), brussel sprouts, mange tout, roast potatoes and carrots

Monday - Butternut squash Thai Green Curry

Tuesday - Sausage, mash, peas and onion gravy (this is one of my favourite meals ever)

Wednesday - Nut spaghetti bolognaise

Thurdsay - Chips etc

Friday - Pasta bake

This week's shopping was a wee bit over at £46.

I would also like to add my onion bhajis last Friday were a triumph. Here's the recipe I used.

Ingredients (these are approximate)
About a cup full of gram flour

About 3/4 cup of SR flour

Bit of salt

2 tsps of cumin (I didn't have any ground, so I toasted some and ground it in a pestle and mortar)

2 tsps of tumeric

1 tsp of cayenne pepper

1 tsp of garum masala

Lots of sliced onion (I used 4 small onions)

Enough water to make a gloopy batter

Oil for frying

I heated about 1 cm of oil (I used sumflower) in a frying pan until it was really hot.
Meanwhile I mixed the dry ingredients together and then added the onions, mixing them about so they were coverd. I then added the water until it was a thick batter.

I added desert spoon sized dollops to the pan, let them set on one side and then turned them, once or twice until browned. I then drained them on kitchen paper.

These quantities of ingredients made about 15 onion bhajis. Yum!

But the store cupboard, yes, that's the point of this post. . .

I think having a well stocked cupboard is essential to making cheap meals. Sometimes I only need a bit of flour, or a spoonful of raisins, to make something, but if  I had to buy everything I needed for every recipe it would be an onerous task shopping for all this cooking. It does make it hard for me to cost things out though. I forget what a packet of rice costs, let along diving that cost by the small amount I've used. What I do though is try and balance things out so the cupboard is always stocked with essentials and these are bought within the weekly budget.

So what are the essentials? They are (in my humble opinion) as follows:

Plain flour, self raising flour, gram flour and soya flour
Long grain rice
Sugar (icing sugar and golden granulated as standard - I know you're meant to use caster for cakes, but I'm not a stickler for this)
Vanilla essence (although I've run out of this at the moment, but I do have vanilla pods)
Raisins or sultanas
Cocoa powder
Seeds (usually pumpkin and sunflower)
Red lentils
Pearl barley
Dried beans and/or chick peas
Other grains such as millet, quinoa, cous cous and/or bulgar wheat
Sunflower oil
Olive oil
White wine vinegar
Malt vinegar
Chopped tomatoes
Tomato puree
Baked beans
Soya sauce
Yeast extract
Course sea salt
Pepper corns
Cayenne pepper
Peanut butter
Vegetarian gravy granules

I also have peas in the freezer, onions and potatoes and oats in the pantry.

Various other bits come and go in the cupboards, other herbs and spices, stock powders, oils, vinegars and nuts, but what I have described above is my starting point. With these ingredients I can add a few other fresh things and make a meal (or even resort to what's here if needs be). So I make sure I don't run out of these things. I wonder what your staples are?

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