Your Must-Have Ingredients

An important part of cooking is making sure you have a well-stocked cupboard filled with those little essentials that pop up in lots of recipes but you somehow often manage to forget. Keep these basics to hand and you will always be able to whip up a delicious and easy meal, whether you have been to the shops or not.

Organised pantry

Herb rack

Seasoning in cooking can make all the difference and it can be great fun to experiment with tastes. Make sure you have a varied selection to try with your cooking starting with the basics of salt and pepper. Add in basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme and some hotter spices such as cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, cumin and curry powder.

Dried foods

Pasta, rice, cereal, potatoes and other grains are always important to have around. They can form the basis for most meals and are a great staple to turn to when you need something quick and easy. Don't be caught out with an empty cupboard – buy in bulk and make sure you check at least once every two weeks to see how much you need.

Condiments

Keep stocked up with all those little accompaniments that give the finishing touch to your meal. Mayonnaise, salad cream, ketchup, different types of mustards and jams will all come in handy in your cooking and everyday eating habits. Nuts and seeds are all great to add to baking, pasta and salads or to eat alone as a snack.

Tins

Keeping a good stock of tinned staple foods as well as some in jars is perfect for an easily thrown together meal. Have foods such as tuna, sweetcorn, pasta and curry sauces ready for when you might need them. They usually last for quite a while so don't worry about over-buying.

Baking

To save routing round in the cupboard wondering if you have the ingredients when you decide to bake, make sure you always possess the basic ingredients. Flour, brown and white sugar, baking powder and vanilla extract are all needed in most cakes and biscuits.

Basic cooking ingredients

Keep a selection of frying oils (sunflower, olive oil, etc.) ready for cooking. There is a huge selection that complement different types of cooking but make sure you have some basics for everyday use. Vinegars, such as balsamic or white wine vinegar, are perfect to make homemade salad dressing so keep a few of these to hand as well as garlic and onions, which are used in most dishes. Store the garlic and onions separately from your other basic vegetables so you can easily assess how much you have.

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