With 'lockdown 2' well under way the government's central message is again to stay at home and help protect the NHS from being overwhelmed this winter. Limiting the number of times you need to visit a supermarket with smart shopping and an inventive use of your store cupboard, will go far to help the countrywide effort to socially distance ourselves.
Here is a few top tips on how to use your store cupboard wisely:
In order to preserve the colour texture and taste of vegetables, it’s important to blanch them before freezing. Leafy greens, broccoli and peas can all be blanched for 2 minutes in boiling water. Then plunge into ice water. Once cooled arrange into Tupperware, label and freeze.
If you’re worried about your perishables going out of date, faster than you can eat them, choose to stock up on root vegetables like onions, potatoes and squash. They have a longer shelf life and are so versatile – roasted, mashed or blitzed into a soup.
Pickling is great also a great way to preserve vegetables that can then be used as an ingredient within your cooking or as a side dish to a meal. A basic brine is equal parts vinegar and water and you can pickle just about anything from lemons and tomatoes to carrots and cabbage. Raid your cupboards and get creative with what spices you choose to add – try pickling cabbage with pink peppercorns and cumin seeds.
Never throw the carcass from a roast chicken away, always make stock! Put the carcass into a pan of water (add a couple of chopped up carrots, half an onion, a couple of garlic cloves and some whole peppercorns if you want) leave to simmer on a low heat for 3-4 hours. Once cooled, decant into Tupperware and freeze or use straight away with tinned coconut milk, dried chilli and flat rice noodles to make a comforting noodle soup.
"Bread is always a great thing to have in your cupboards, whether it’s fresh or dry" says Head Chef Matthew Whitfield. "When the bread has had its best day and is starting to turn stale, I would always advise drying it out in the oven. This prevents it from going mouldy and you can then blend it up into bread crumbs to sprinkle over a pasta bake, cottage pie or macaroni cheese".
Matthew also recommends use up all your cheese ends in one sauce to create a real depth of flavour – it will take your mac and cheese to the next level!
You can make some really delicious and interesting meals from tinned ingredients. We recently discovered a great recipe from a book called ‘Tin Can Magic’ by Jessica Elliot Dennison for Sage Garlic and White Wine Butter Beans served with toasted sourdough. Buy the book online here.
Whizz up some tinned chickpeas with pickled beetroot, jarred tahini, dried cumin, salt and pepper for a delicious twist on a conventional houmous.
Add tinned lentils to bulk out a vegetable lasagna and provide a source of protein.
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