Our top 12 … pantry essentials


Fridge bare? Don’t despair.  With these 12 pantry items always on hand, you can conjure up dinner without a dash to the shops.


Sometimes there are just those nights. It’s been a full-on week and you haven’t planned dinner.  There’s something unidentified frozen in the freezer and it’s too late to defrost it.  Your fridge is pretty much empty except for some wilted vegetables from last week’s shop. Before you give in and summon an expensive Uber-eats solution, take a look at your pantry.  If you keep it stocked with these twelve items, you can whip up a quick and inexpensive meal in no time.


The Pantry Top 12


1.     Olive oil – the utility oil for dressing a salad or starting the base of a sauce or soup with onions and garlic.


2.     Canned tuna - a versatile and long-keeping protein and essential pantry staple. Toss into pasta sauces or a bean salad.


3.     Canned tomatoes - the perfect base for all sorts of sauces and soups.


4.     Onions & Garlic - the foundation of almost all dishes. Include Spanish onions if you like them sliced raw in salads.


5.     Chicken stock - for soups and sauces.


6.     Dried herbs and spices - keep a small selection of your favourites in your pantry to add flavour and character to your dishes.  Spice mixes like a Moroccan, Italian or a curry mix are very handy and instantly take you to that cuisine.


7.     Pasta – keep long and short varieties for a range of dishes.


8.     Canned beans, lentils, or chickpeas - keep a few cans of your favourites for salads, curries or to make into a dahl.


9.     Potatoes - slice for a bake, roast, or mash.  An everyday variety like Bintje will do the job for most uses.


10.  Rice - a staple to soak up your sauces, to serve with dahl or a vegetable curry.


11.  Frozen vegetables - ok strictly not kept in your “pantry” but keeping a bag or two of frozen veggies in your freezer – for example broccoli, carrots or peas, can be a lifesaver to add to a quick curry, frittata or soup.


12.  Eggs - so versatile as either a stand-alone meal like scrambled eggs or an omelette, or as the main ingredient in a frittata.


Top 12 pantry meals

Ok so you have your twelve pantry items – now to get creative with them.  If you’re a reasonable cook the following list will be well within your capabilities.  The internet is a great resource so if you aren’t sure about how to make something, just search it.  If you haven’t got exactly the ingredients the recipe calls for, improvise with what you have.


1.     Tuna pasta

2.     Pasta Napolitana

3.     A basic risotto or pilaf

4.     Bean and tuna salad

5.     Slow cooked beans in a tomato sauce

6.     Scrambled eggs or an omelette

7.     Vegetable frittata

8.     Vegetable soup

9.     Minestrone

10.  Vegetable and chickpea curry

11.  Dahl

12.  Chickpea and tomato tagine with rice


We’re sure there are many more meals a creative cook can come up with using our Pantry Top 12 staples.

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