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Whether it’s the end of the month and you’re tightening your belt until payday or you can’t get to the shops due to inclement weather, there are many times in life when we might have to turn to the store cupboard or freezer for meal ideas.

Although it’s easy to turn to beans on toast (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), it’s important to make sure you have variety in your diet for the sake of your health and happiness. There are plenty of great dishes you can make using a few basic ingredients.

Starting off with what might be the most important meal of the day, porridge is an easy breakfast solution to find in your store cupboard. Oats are cheap and easy to store and porridge is a very versatile meal. You can cook porridge in a pan or your microwave using water or your choice of dairy or plant-based milk. To make it more flavoursome, sprinkle with brown sugar, mix though honey and top with tinned or frozen fruit.

For lunch, soup is a great option as it’s practically effortless to cook and it freezes well, so you can make a large batch and make it last. You can use tinned and dry ingredients to make a delicious and comforting soup for lunch or a light dinner. Cook up lentils, tinned tomatoes and beans with stock if you like it chunky or opt for frozen peas blended with onion and dried mint for a fresh tasting smooth soup.

Finally, for dinner, rice is a good store cupboard base for a whole range of dishes. You can make a simple risotto or biryani style curry with dried spices and frozen vegetables. Why not make a hearty chilli using tinned tomatoes and frozen mince, or a variety of tinned beans and tomatoes to keep it veggie friendly, and you can throw in some chilli flakes to spice things up. Lentil dahl is a super easy dish to cook and served with fragrant basmati rice is a quick and easy meal.

Of course, pasta is a classic store cupboard staple, and it’s very easy to make a simple sauce to accompany it. Sauté frozen mince with garlic, pour over tomato passata and add a sprinkling of dried herbs for an easy sauce for spaghetti, or keep it really straightforward by stirring pesto through cooked pasta. If you have plenty of milk, butter and flour available you can make a simple bechamel sauce as an alternative to tomato-based sauces, and you can bulk up any sauce by cooking frozen vegetables or meat before adding in the liquid.

Hopefully these are a few simple ideas to inspire you to get creative in the kitchen when you have limited options. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your meals, it’s a good habit to get into, even when you have plenty of food available.

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