Store cupboard staples


Life has been crazy here since Christmas in both a work and personal sense, hence lack of blog updates. There are big, exciting changes afoot and it means our cupboards are beginning to run low. All intentional you’ll understand. It’s made me realise what I class as staples in the cupboard and wonder where on earth that tin on chickpeas came from. I can’t stand the things.

sweet storecupboard

As the snow settles thick outside what you have in your cupboards seems even more important, especially if you can’t make it to the shops. We will however try to avoid the end-of-term concoction of pasta with baked beans we may have eaten once or twice at university.

Heinz baked beans

Ok, I have a weakness for these haricot beauties. There always has to be a tin in the cupboard, oh and they have to be Heinz. Don’t try to pass off any other brand, I can tell and I think they don’t taste the same. Hot buttered toast or a Full English isn’t the same without a spoonful of beans. Did you realise that they also class as one of your 5-a-day? Yes they do contain sugar and salt, but I think the fibre content makes up for it.

Custard powder

Bird’s custard powder was invented by Mr Bird so his wife, who was allergic to eggs, could eat custard. Come on, can you imagine apple crumble without custard? It’s not worth thinking about. Custard powder is essentially yellow vanilla flavoured cornflour (with a couple of other minor ingredients). You don’t have to just make custard with this powder. Replace 1-2 tbsp of flour in cakes with custard powder to give a lovely taste and extra fluffiness to the sponge.


We always have spaghetti and basics pasta in, but at the moment we also have orzo, macaroni and a giant couscous. Yes couscous is classed as a pasta. All types essential in my book for making a quick dinner, salad or bulking out soup.

Vanilla paste & extract

Unsurprisingly given my job I’m never short of vanilla in the house. I rarely buy the pods any more, though you may spot one in the photo, as they work out quite expensive and prefer to buy the vanilla paste. If you haven’t tried the paste I wholeheartedly recommend you do. It gives wonderful flavour to proper custard and biscuits. But don’t stop at sweet dishes, it also works well in marinades for meat.

Sugar – lots of

Granulated, caster, icing, muscovado, soft light, Demerara, you name it I can probably find a bag of it somewhere. Some sugars are interchangeable but some can make a significant difference to the taste and texture of a recipe. If you’ve run out of caster sugar for a recipe briefly blitz some granulated sugar in a blender.

Worcestershire sauce

This pungent sauce has the ability to turn a run-of-the-mill dish in to something far better. Hubs insists on sprinkling it on cheese on toast and I add it to most meat sauces. Forget umami paste, just use this sauce.


I used to be a huge fan of chopped tomatoes, until I realised passata gives better taste and texture to dishes. It makes a wonderful pizza sauce, but also makes a fabulous quick tomato soup. Only in the last year have supermarkets begun to sell their own brand passata and it is now as cheap (if not cheaper) than decent tinned tomatoes.

In reality I could go of for ever with all the ingredients I think a kitchen cupboard shouldn’t be without.

What do you see as store cupboard staples?

Disclaimer: The lighting in my kitchen makes it nigh on impossible to take good photos of the contents of my kitchen cupboards. Normal blogging and photography will resume soon.

Post Author: Jules

Freelance food geek who's passionate about food education.

27 thoughts on “Store cupboard staples

    Maria @ Feisty Tapas

    (January 19, 2013 - 11:48 am)

    Are you finally moving then? I am being very inspired by the idea of keeping pulses etc together in big containers like you do, my pulses, pasta, rice, etc cupboard is always a mess and I always struggle to find anything (not to talk about my husband who never looks past the first row).


      (January 19, 2013 - 11:56 am)

      Hopefully very soon, yes. I started to store things in Tupperware as I got fed up finding red lentils all over the shelves. It also makes searching for ingredients easier.

        Maria @ Feisty Tapas

        (January 21, 2013 - 3:05 pm)

        I think it’s a genius idea. I came back to say that your post got me emptying all the cupboards yeserday, going through everything, making lists to attach to the inside of the kitchen cupboard doors… I now know what I have and my staples are: pasta, rice, noodles, quinoa, chopped tomatoes (this is a huge basic in this house), tomato purée, soy sauce, tinned beans (usually cannellini, chickpeas and red kidney beans), tuna, anchovies, olives, different types of flours and sugars and I always have long-life milk just in case. Let’s not forget the all-important coffee!


          (January 21, 2013 - 4:10 pm)

          Good choice. I always have powdered milk in. Handy for baking and when we’ve run out of milk.


    (January 19, 2013 - 12:20 pm)

    Our staples are very similar to yours – baked beans, pasta, passata, etc. Again for my work, there’s always lots of different sugars and flours – in their own dedicated cupboards! There’s a wealth of things in Tupperware for the same reason, I was fed up at finding the escaped lentils etc on the shelves!

    We tend to make sure there’s always tinned tuna in the cupboard, as it’s the only ‘fish’ except for smoked salmon the OH will eat; although this year I’m hoping I can get him to be more adventureous!


      (January 19, 2013 - 9:16 pm)

      Tinned fish is essential. Although I’m not a big fish eater I make what I call emergency fish cakes from tinned tuna/salmon.

    Janice Pattie (@serialcrafter)

    (January 19, 2013 - 4:39 pm)

    I had a major storecupboard audit recently and wrote down all the things that were there, so I could plan recipes to use them. There weren’t too many things out of date, but some getting close. Tinned salmon is another of my stapes and I always like to have couscous as it’s so quick to cook.


      (January 19, 2013 - 9:13 pm)

      I like couscous for the same reason.

    Sally - My Custard Pie

    (January 19, 2013 - 5:44 pm)

    Really like this post. Looking into other people’s cupboards is like browsing their bookshelves….very revealing. Agree with most of your list – although I can get Vanilla pods here for a reasonable cost. Passata is essential – and flour of many kinds as I try to make bread as often as possible. Good olive oil. Garlic. Lemons – the most versatile ingredient.


      (January 19, 2013 - 9:08 pm)

      My excuse for not including flour is that I have so much I have to store it outside my store cupboards. I agree with you about garlic, essential ingredient.

    Adam Basey

    (January 19, 2013 - 8:47 pm)

    Rice, pasta and our Chinese cupboard is constantly stocked full


      (January 19, 2013 - 9:09 pm)

      I love that you have a cupboard dedicated to Chinese food.


    (January 19, 2013 - 9:07 pm)

    I am glad to see it isn’t just me that has store cupboards stacked to the gunnels. But where is the peanut butter?

    Will have to give vanilla pasta a go.


      (January 19, 2013 - 9:12 pm)

      Ah peanut butter is in the photo, I think the malt vinegar is on top of it. We go through lots of it, usually because Hubs eats it straight from the jar.

    Helen Tarver

    (January 19, 2013 - 10:18 pm)

    Spent today starting on my shelves too. It would seem, as there are 4 cans, that either coconut milk is a staple, or else I like to think it is but never get round to using it!


      (January 21, 2013 - 4:13 pm)

      I have a habit of buying things I think I’ve run out of, but haven’t.


    (January 20, 2013 - 9:53 am)

    Balsamic spray, mega useful in summer for salads and sprinkley veg stock too.


      (January 21, 2013 - 4:13 pm)

      Great ideas. I forget you can get balsamic in spray form.

    Glenda - Dining In

    (January 20, 2013 - 10:01 am)

    Ours are similar to yours. Always have brown rice, pasta, lentils, bread making stuff ie. flours and yeast, tins of tuna, tomatoes and beans, sugar, tea. Lots more as well.


      (January 21, 2013 - 4:16 pm)

      Its pleasing to see how many people have baked beans as staples.

    Jen @ BlueKitchenBakes

    (January 20, 2013 - 5:07 pm)

    I always seem to have honey, tinned tomatoes, stock cubes, pearl barley – excellent for bulking out a stew and cheap, also have to have custard powder on stand by as it makes life so much easier at pudding time. Obviously as a baker there is always flour and sugar in the cupboard plus a big bottle of homemade vanilla extract.


      (January 21, 2013 - 4:17 pm)

      I forget about pearl barley. Have you ever tried it instead of rice in risottos? delicious.


    (January 20, 2013 - 10:12 pm)

    I have a pretty full store cupboard with similar bits but I in fact love chickpeas so always have them and other pulses in as well as chopped tomatoes which I have to say I prefer to passata, not sure why. I have a terrible tendency to buy tons of stuff whenever i am in an Oriental supermarket mainly because of my addiction to fish sauce and Sriracha chilli sauce but I also end up with all manner of other stuff which sits there for months too!


      (January 21, 2013 - 4:21 pm)

      I always get a bit overexcited when I see ingredients from other countries that I’ve never seen before.

    A New Year Inventory | A Greedy Piglet

    (January 20, 2013 - 10:49 pm)

    […] We got to chatting about store cupboards on Twitter today, that’s me, Wendy, Linda, Helen and Jules, as Jules had blogged a suggested store cupboard essential list. […]


    (January 21, 2013 - 8:25 pm)

    Ours are quite similar:, tinned tomatoes, pulses, rice, pasta, bread – making ingredients, and then loads of herbs and spices.

    […] of tidy cupboards, what are your store cupboard staples? Jules from Butcher, Baker has shared some of hers this week and I have to say, many of them are […]

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