Which store cupboard are you?

Why choosing meal plans using one of our three types of store cupboard will save you time and money.

When we built our meal planner, we tried to think about all the ways we could make shopping easier and more cost effective. We realised that one of the reasons people choose the recipes they do, is because they already have some of the ingredients they'll need in their kitchen cupboards. That makes a lot of sense — less shopping to get home, less expense, and a chance to use up ingredients that won't be fresh forever.

“It makes a lot of sense - less shopping to get home, less expense, and a chance to use up ingredients”In fact, if you're working to a budget, or with limited space, sticking to store cupboard ingredients you already have is generally a good idea: if you don't have balsamic vinegar and whole grain mustard to hand, you'll think twice before buying them both for the sake of one recipe. And if you do buy them, you'll probably hope to use them again in the near future — you won't want 90% of a jar of an expensive ingredient sitting around until it passes its best before date.

Three types of cook

We decided to apply this simple principal to our meal plans. If some people want to save money and space by sticking to basic store cupboard ingredients, we should make sure we have plenty of meal plans that will work for them.

If other people want to work with a slightly wider range of store cupboard ingredients, but avoid anything too fancy or expensive, we should have plenty of meals that work for them too. Finally, we should also have lots of meal plans that work for more ambitious cooks, who don't mind keeping more costly and specialist ingredients to hand.

We call these three types of store cupboard Basic, Typical and Cook's. Pick the one that suits you best and then, when you use our meal plans, you'll find that whenever you need to use ingredients in small quantities (like herbs, spices, sauces and flavouring) we'll only ask you to use ones that are already in your store cupboard.

The store cupboards are useful in other ways too; they've helped us tailor our meal plans to suit different types of home cooks' needs. We recognize that different people have different skills and resources and want different results from their home cooking. Some people want to impress others and challenge themselves, others just want something quick and easy.“To make the most of these ingredients we expand the scope and complexity of the dishes in the meal plans, but not by too much.”

So, as a rule, the store cupboards also indicate the level of involvement and enthusiasm required of you. Basic is ideal for the cook who wants to keep it simple and easy. Cook's will suit the enthusiasts looking for a challenge.

What's a basic store cupboard?

There's nothing fancy about a basic store cupboard. Just lots of straight forward, easy to find, versatile ingredients: things like mixed herbs, sugar, vegetable oil and stock cubes. Recipes and meal plans that use this store cupboard will tend to be easy and fairly quick. If you're working with a basic store cupboard you'll never have to do anything complicated with pastry or need a food processor. Meal plans that use the basic store cupboard tend to cost between £7 and £16 per person for seven dinners. See the basic store cupboard.

What's a typical store cupboard?

Meal plans that use our typical store cupboard expect you to have a few more ingredients to hand in addition to the basics: specific herbs and spices like oregano, rosemary and paprika; olive oil as well as vegetable oil; etc. So you can make the most of these ingredients we sometimes expand the scope and complexity of the dishes in the meal plans, but not by too much. Meal plans that use the typical store cupboard tend to cost between £9 and £18 per person. See the typical store cupboard.

And a cook's store cupboard?

Finally, there is the cook's store cupboard which makes use of everything in the basic and typical store cupboards along with some fresh herbs and spices, slightly less common dried herbs and spices like tarragon and turmeric, plus baking ingredients like cream of tartar and vanilla essence. These meal plans can be a bit more expensive ranging from £12 to £27 per person for seven dinners and sometimes require a bit more skill and time to cook. Some may require a food processor or other less common items of kitchen equipment. See the table below for what you'll need for a cook's store cupboard.

Store Cupboard: Basic Typical Cook's
All the basic items plus... All the basic & typical items plus...
Dried herbs, spices & seasoning Salt & Pepper
Mixed herbs
Mixed spices
Chilli powder
Curry powder
Dried oregano
Dried rosemary
Dried thyme
Crushed chillies
Ground cinnamon
Ground coriander
Ground ginger
Bay leaf
Ground Cumin
Garam masala
Cayenne pepper
Fresh herbs & Spices Garlic
Fresh basil
Fresh chillies
Fresh mint
Fresh parsley
Oils & vinegars Vegetable oil
Olive oil
White wine vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
Concentrates, flavourings & stocks Lemon juice
Tomato puree
Vegetable stock cubes
Gravy granules
Beef stock cubes
Chicken stock cubes
Cooking wine – red & white
Maple syrup
Sauces, pickles & preserves Ketchup
Light soy sauce
English mustard
Worcester sauce Dijon mustard
Tabasco sauce
Wholegrain mustard
Dairy goods Margarine/butter
Grated Parmesan
Baking ingredients Sugar
Plain white flour
Baking Powder
Peanuts/mixed nuts
Brown sugar
Corn flour
Self-raising flour
Cocoa powder
Golden Syrup
Icing sugar
Vanilla extract/pods
Cream of tartar
Bicarbonate of soda

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