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You know the situation. The bread has run out. The crisp box is empty. There are no biscuits, and you’re out of fruit for the packed lunches. Your meal plan went out the window, and your fridge isn’t forthcoming when you ask it what’s for dinner. But, before you declare your NEED to go shopping (there’s no food in the house!), stop for a moment and think about what you might be able to rustle up. It is possible that there are 5 (or more) meals to make with what you already have. Read on to discover some store cupboard dinners.
What food do you already have?
The chances are, you have quite a few bits between your fridge, freezer and cupboard. Things like tinned tomatoes, baked beans, pasta, potatoes. Random bits of bell pepper that you didn’t use. Onions (most people usually have these and if you don’t, you should start). Garlic and a store cupboard of herbs.
Even if you really do need to go and buy stuff for the lunches, your food bill will be a lot lower if you start with what you’ve got. At best, you’ll be avoiding a trip to the supermarket for as long as possible (always a bonus). And you could always pop to your local convenience store for some essentials like milk and bread.
Please note these recipes are a rough guide, and your ingredients will vary depending on what you have and how many people you are feeding.
What can you make?
Here are five of my go-to dishes when I’m in money-saving and avoiding-the-supermarket mode:
- Dried noodles
- Onion sliced thinly
- Garlic, thinly sliced and chopped
- Veg such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, peppers, carrots
- Leftover roast chicken or roast pork, cut into small cubes, or prawns
- Crushed peanuts or cashew nuts
- Curry powder
- Sesame oil (if you have any)
- Soy sauce
- Spring onions, sliced (if available)
Fry the onion, veg and garlic in a tablespoon of vegetable oil until slightly soft. Add a tablespoon of curry powder and soy sauce. Mix in with the vegetables until covered (add a drizzle of sesame oil, or more vegetable oil if required).
Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions.
Add the meat or fish (vegetarians can substitute this for egg, and vegans could add some tofu, some edamame beans or other protein available).
Add the noodles and drizzle a little sesame oil and soy sauce. Mix together. Sprinkle with the crushed nuts and spring onions, if using.
Serve and enjoy!
The best part about this dish is that you can pretty much use what you already have. The fun part is experimenting and seeing what works.
Special fried rice
- Leftover ham or chicken or pork
- Prawns (optional)
- Onion or Spring onion
- Cooked, cooledrice, about 75g per person
- Green beans or other fresh veg such as peppers, kale or broccoli (optional)
- Soy sauce
- Vegetable oil
- Sesame oil
Cook the rice in advance and allow to cool.
Fry off the onion in a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large frying pan or wok. Add any fresh vegetables you are using, then once softened, add the peas.
Mix the eggs together in a jug and make a well at the side of the wok. Pour in the egg and stir whilst cooking to create a scrambled effect.
Once the egg is cooked, mix all the ingredients together and add the cooked meat or cooked prawns, stirring until heated through.
Add the cooled, cooked rice. Fry the rice with the rest of the ingredients (it’s important that the rice has cooled to avoid it getting sticky), adding a drizzle of sesame oil and a few sprinkles of soy sauce. Mix well until the rice is coated in the soy sauce. Top with sliced spring onion if you have any, and some sesame seeds (again, if you have any), and serve, adding more soy sauce to taste.
Sausage and beans pasta
This is something I like to make using frankfurters, but if you don’t have any you can always use sausages. You can buy packs of frozen sausages from the supermarket which are much cheaper than those in the fresh section, and it means you have a good supply for when you’re stuck for inspiration.
- Sausages or frankfurters
- Any beans (canned or dried, you could even use baked beans. Just remember to soak and cook your dried beans first).
- Medium onion
- Olive oil or vegetable oil
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- Tomato purée
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 300ml chicken stock (optional – use your judgement as to whether you will need the extra liquid)
- Sprinkle of dried oregano
- Chopped fresh basil (or dried)
If using sausages, cook them off in the oven first then cut into bite-sized pieces.
Fry off the onion and garlic in a little oil. Add about a tablespoon of tomato purée and mix together. Add the sausages or sliced frankfurters, then add the beans. Mix together.
Add your tinned tomatoes and chicken stock if using. Add salt, peppers and herbs.
Let simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Serve with your choice of pasta, or rice.
Tuna potato pie
This is a very, very basic recipe that is a throwback from my school days.
It’s also super easy and tasty, provided you like tuna of course!
- Butter or margarine
- Packet of salted crisps, crushed
- Grated cheddar cheese (optional)
- Peas or other frozen veg to serve
Make mashed potato with butter and milk, then add tuna and mix together.
Add the potato and tuna mixture to an oven-proof dish, and sprinkle with cheese and crushed crisps. Pop in the oven for approximately 20 mins, or until the top is golden. Serve with peas or other frozen veg.
This is my go-to when we have minimal ingredients in the house! We always have eggs, and generally always have flour and margarine.
- 1 onion
- Grated cheddar cheese
- 6-8 eggs, depending on
- Milk, cream, creme fraiche or natural yoghurt
- Butter or margarine
- Ham (optional)
For the pastry base, mix 220g flour with 110g margarine or butter to make fine breadcrumbs. Add 6-8 tablespoons of cold water to bind the ingredients. Knead together just enough to make a smooth dough, then wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for about 20 minutes, or until ready to use.
When ready to make your quiche, pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees. Grease a quiche or flan tin.
Roll out your pastry so that it’s large enough to cover the tin. Gently lift and place the pastry over the tin, folding and pressing in the sides to fully cover the dish. Take your rolling pin and roll it over the top of the quiche dish to make a clean cut. Press the pastry against the edge with your fingers tips if necessary.
Cut a round piece of greaseproof paper to fit inside the quiche dish, place inside then add some baking beads. Part-cook the quiche base for 20 minutes, leaving to cool for a few minutes before adding the filling.
Fry off 1 onion in a frying pan. Add the onion, cheddar cheese and any other ingredients to the pastry base, spreading evenly.
Mix the eggs together in a jug with some salt and pepper, then add the milk so that you have approximately 60% eggs and 40% milk. Alternatively, you can substitute the milk for cream, or have a mixture. If using yoghurt or creme fraiche/sour cream, reduce the amount of milk and add the thicker liquid as required. You need a mixture of about 60/40, or 50/50 eggs/dairy.
Carefully place your quiche in the centre of the oven and cook on 200 degrees for about 35-40 minutes, until golden brown. To check it’s cooked through, gently press the egg mixture in the centre of the quiche. It should ‘bounce’ and not sink. Don’t worry if the quiche has risen excessively when you take it out, it will even out as cools.
Serve hot or cold. You can serve with salad and new potatoes, chips or crusty bread if you have any.
Other quiche combinations
You can put whatever you like in a quiche, but here are some popular combinations, or some you may not have heard of:
- Cheese and onion
- Ham and cheese
- Ham and mushroom
- Salmon and broccoli
- Spinach, feta and sweet potato
- Vegetarian (any veg will do!)
Store cupboard dinners/fridge staples
Here’s a list of staples you might want to keep on hand:
- Vegetable oil
- Tinned tuna
- Tinned tomatoes
- Tomato purée
- Plain flour
- Tinned or frozen peas
- Frozen or tinned Sweetcorn
- Frozen sausages
- Dried beans (kidney beans, cannellini beans etc)
- Oats (so you can always make porridge if you run out of breakfast cereal)
I’d love to hear your go-to store cupboard dinners for when you’ve got little left in the house. Let me know in the comments below!
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