Autumn pantry staples

30 April, 2020

Everything you need to make tasty meals at home from what’s in your cupboard

Having a well-stocked pantry is more important than ever this autumn. As Australians follow the instructions to stay home as much as possible and reduce shopping trips, creating meals from what’s in your cupboard is an important skill to develop. But creating delicious and nourishing meals from the pantry can be a bit of an art form. So, what do you need to have on hand to ensure you can easily put something together, especially when everyone is home for three meals a day (plus snacks!).

Carb it up

Pasta and rice are pantry essentials, but supply can still be a bit patchy. Thankfully, places like Hospo Market at Chatswood Interchange are making it easier to grab pantry basics with
preorder and contactless pick up. But the good news is that there’s loads pantry-friendly basics that you can use as the foundation for your meals. If you’ve not experimented before, now’s the perfect time. Try quinoa or pearl barley instead of rice. Play around with rice noodles, soba noodles or even low-carb options like Slendier’s products make from konjac. Wraps and flatbreads like tortillas and naan are also shelf-stable to have in your cupboard ready to go.

Add your protein

Pulses and legumes like chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, cannellini beans, black beans and more are an excellent addition of protein to any staple. You can either buy ready-cooked in tins for a quick and easy addition to your meal, or you can buy dried legumes. Most dried legumes will need some soaking to reduce the cooking time, but with a bit of forethought, it’s not a huge burden. You can also soak a whole pack and then portion up cooked beans in containers or ziplock bags in your freezer to use when you’re ready. Tinned fish is also versatile, with salmon, tuna, sardines and more all available. Smoked fish can also add a depth of flavour that pantry-based meals can often lack.

Mix in your flavours

There’s so many directions you can go from what’s just in your cupboard. Tinned tomatoes can take you to Italy, Mexico and so much more. Coconut milk can transport you to south- east Asia. Jars of antipasto veggies can help you replicate that “under the Tuscan sun” feeling in your backyard. Stock up with herbs and spices, curry pastes, dried fruits, jars of preserved vegetables and more to add a punch of flavour to your store-cupboard cooking. Tetra packs of stocks and ready-made sauces are also a convenient pantry option. Don’t forget vinegars and sauces, like chilli sauce and mustard, to add a bit of zing!

Top with some texture

Finally, it’s great to have some options in the cupboard that can add a bit of crunch. This is where nuts and seeds can be fantastic to have on hand, as well as things like packs of crispy
fried shallots from the Asian grocery aisle.

What are some of your favourite autumn pantry staples and how do you use them?

With a bit of creativity, there’s so many meals you can create from what you’ve already got in the cupboards. Risottos, pasta dishes, soups, the options are many if you start playing with potential combinations. What are some of your favourites?