Jamie Oliver's cupboard essentials to make pukka meals in a pinch

Jamie Oliver's cupboard essentials to make pukka meals in a pinch


We know many people are trying to find ways to spend less on their groceries this year, planning to buy ingredients that can make more meals for less.

Lots of us will benefit from finding clever ways to get the most out of the ingredients we buy and making sure we use up what’s already in the cupboards or freezer.

At the heart of this type of cooking is your store cupboard: a library of brilliant, long-life ingredients you can use to make a huge range of delicious meals.

What’s more, you can spend less on these staples if you shop smartly at the supermarket. Look out for essentials that have been locked on price, price-matched or have exclusive discounts with a loyalty card.

There are so many misconceptions about the store cupboard. For one, we think these types of ingredients aren’t as good as fresh. That just isn’t true. It’s time we took another look.

So many cultures cook from the store cupboard as a matter of course. In the Mediterranean, home-cooked meals are often made by being shrewd and savvy with ingredients.

They embrace seasonal, fresh food alongside tinned produce, capturing nutrients in brilliant, budget-friendly ways. The luxury comes from the knowledge and enthusiasm you need to cook extraordinary things.

And that is the key: knowing how you can get the most out of these ingredients, enabling you to spend less. By maximising what’s in your store cupboard and trying out new recipes, you can have the confidence, opportunity and freedom to create amazing, delicious meals that are good for your wallet, good for you and good for the planet.

Enjoy flavours from around the world every day of the week thanks to the ingredients in your store cupboard. Herbs and spices – whether dried or in pastes, such as curry paste or pesto – are not only delicious but last a long time too, so there’s limited waste (unless you forget about them, hidden behind the tin of custard).

They can take you from bland and boring to delicious and memorable with one shake. Whether you’re looking at a sweet potato, a pasta bake, fish or chicken, there’s something there that will turn it into a magnificent meal.

Everything about the store cupboard is exciting. If it was fashion, it would be accessories. If it was Formula 1, it would be tyres and suspension. It’s the most fun part of cooking. You can tell a lot about a cook by looking in their cupboard.

The secret to having a store cupboard that works hard for you is getting the combination of ingredients right. The first thing to do, especially before you go shopping, is to take stock of what you have.

Go through everything and group ingredients together; get rid of anything that’s out of date; familiarise yourself with what’s there, so you know the holes you need to fill. You don’t need to stock up all at once – just buy one thing each week to add to it and soon you’ll have a treasure trove of ingredients.

With good recipes and food knowledge, the store cupboard can save you money while putting fire in your belly. Visit realfood.tesco.com to discover my store cupboard essentials hacks – featuring the store cupboard and freezer items that help spend less on your groceries shopping, by making meals for further and taste better, all from just 40p per head.

Jamie’s store cupboard heroes

Tinned plum tomatoes

A great way to get another of your five-a-day into your meals.


Buy a bag and you’ll have dinner for days.

Hot chilli sauce

Just a subtle shake can give the most incredible flavour.

Self-raising flour

Versatile: Can thicken sauces, lightly coat anything from fish to halloumi and even makes a cheat’s pasta.

Patak’s tikka masala paste

Use it for curry and also to flavour stews, marinade meat or toss through potatoes before roasting.

Green pesto

Swirl into soup or drizzle over grilled and roasted meats.

Jamie’s store cupboard recipes

Jamie’s Hodge Podge Soup

A cheap warming and filling meal (Picture: Supplied)

Serves six, 40p per person

Jamie says ‘Wholesome, hearty and flexible, this humble soup will give you a big hug on a chilly night. It’s super-easy to tweak according to what’s in your veg drawer – embrace the seasons but also use the best of your freezer and store cupboard. This recipe makes six portions, so batch up for future meals.’

Jamie’s More Veg Sloppy Joes

A munch when in a crunch (Picture: Supplied))

Serves six, 83p per portion

Jamie says ‘This is my Italian-style take on the classic. It’s packed with flavour, yet easy and quick to make. I’ve used mince with added veg, plus tinned beans, to help the meat go further – so it contains more of the good stuff and is easier on the wallet too.’

Jamie’s Odds & Ends Arrabbiata Al Forno

Waste not want not (Picture: Supplied)

Serves four, 88p per portion

Jamie says ‘We’re all on our own journey when it comes to food waste but on the whole we continue to throw away perfectly good food. The chilli sauce is optional, depending on your taste. This can also be frozen.’

Jamie’s Harissa Falafel

A bit of culinary sunshine (Picture: Supplied)

Serves two, £1.66 per portion

Jamie says: ‘These chickpea patties are fun to put together and great for getting kids involved. Served with toasted flatbreads, red cabbage and a lemon-and-chickpea yoghurt, this is summer-fun finger food at its best.’

Jamie’s Veggie Cheat’s Folded Pizzas

Keeping it simple (Picture: Supplied)

Serves four, 79p per portion

Jamie says ‘Veggie pizzas are great things to make with the kids and super delicious too. Try mixing up your toppings with different seasonal veg and herbs – just remember, less is more when it comes to pizza toppings.’

Jamie Oliver is the Good Food Ambassador for Tesco

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