Having some core ingredients to hand means that you can make a range of meals that are easy to prepare. If cooking isn't something that comes naturally, getting to grips with these basic ingredients can help your confidence grow, and over time you can add to your store cupboard as you become more adventurous in the kitchen.
We can all recall days when we've been on the go from start to finish only to open the fridge or cupboard at dinner time and wonder what on earth we can rustle up.
It's on days like this that we often end up putting some khichdi or dal and riceor ordering a home delivery.
Of course, this is fine once in a while, but it's actually easier than you might think to avoid this scenario by simply stocking up on some store-cupboard basics.
All you need for this classic pizza is tomato-based passata sauce and mozzarella cheese and the pizza base.
If you don't fancy making your own pizza dough, buy vacuum-packed bases, or ready-made fresh pizza bases you can freeze. Pizzas are quick and easy to prepare and you can be as adventurous as you like, adding ham, olives, canned fish, vegetables, and any other ingredient you fancy.
A white sauce is an incredibly useful thing to be able to make and is also extremely easy. The three main ingredients are butter, flour and milk.
Once the melted butter and flour are combined in a pan, the milk is stirred in gradually to make the sauce. This is added to ragu and lasagne sheets for a classic lasagne; cheese can be added to make cheese sauce to pour over cauliflower; add bacon and pour over pasta for a pasta bake; or add some fresh parsley to make a delicious sauce to go with fish.
Seasoning and other ingredients such as mustard or grated nutmeg can be added for extra flavour.
Most recipes use self-raising flour as this has a raising agent, namely baking powder, added in, which makes the cake rise. or you could use plain flour and add your own baking powder.
Liquid is added gradually to risotto to cook the rice, and this should be stock to ensure a depth of flavour.
Eggs are of course the key ingredient here. To make a basic omelette, you would need butter or oil, depending on your taste, to heat in the pan before adding the eggs to prevent the eggs from sticking.
Milk isn't essential, although some recipes do add a dash of milk to the eggs. And seasoning is down to you, but isn't essential.
It's easy to add other ingredients to omelettes to make a more complete meal. Try adding some grated cheese and pieces of ham during cooking, or combining herbs and cooked frozen spinach with the eggs to add a nutrient boost.
Tomato purée, and sometimes tomato sauce, is great for adding to meat dishes or other dishes with fresh ingredients to add texture, colour and a rich tomato flavour.
However, these wouldn't form the basis of a dish as this flavour would be too intense. It's easy to make tomato pasta by frying an onion, then adding either fresh or canned tomatoes and reducing these in a pan over a medium heat to form a nicely textured sauce.
There are plenty of variations to this dish: try adding canned tuna while cooking, and bacon, peas or anchovies for added flavour.
All of the above ingredients form the basis of many everyday dishes. As well as core dry ingredients, there are basic items it's worth keeping in the fridge and freezer too. The following are all useful items to keep stocked up on: