Store cupboard staples: a list of essentials you should never be without

by - Sunday, May 20, 2007

After reading Tracy's article about the freedom of household routines, I remembered a great tip from Marguerite Duras: keeping a list of store cupboard essentials.

This is something I've done for a while now. On our fridge we stuck a list of all the kitchen essentials we can't do without, and tick things off as they need replenishing. That way we never run out of household essentials. There are loads of meals and uses for these items, so even if an unexpected guest arrives, we always have something to cook for them, and have the essentials for keeping things clean.

Here are the basics we list:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Harrisa (Tunisian chili paste)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Milk
  • Tea and coffee
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Hard cheese
  • Potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Tomato puree
  • Tinned tuna
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Flour
  • Bread
  • Olive oil
  • Olives
  • Lemons
  • Vinegar
  • Good quality chocolate
  • Wine
  • Toilet paper
  • Light bulbs
  • Washing powder
  • Kitchen sponges with scouring pads (Spontex)
  • Fuses
  • Heavy duty tape (gaffer tape)
With these things kept in stock, we're never caught out. These pantry essentials are also very cheap to buy in bulk, which is great for households on a budget! Lemons, vinegar and cheap washing powder suffice for most household cleaning tasks: vinegar and soapy water for windows, powder and lemons for cleaning dishes, surfaces and floors; lemons for chopping boards (see this post for more ideas). With the food I've listed, it's even possible to create an impromptu three course meal for unexpected guests:
  1. For starters, spoon some harrissa and mayonnaise on a plate; drizzle in olive oil and serve with flakes of tuna, olives and slices of french bread for dipping.

  2. For the main course, a dish of pasta and home made tomato sauce sprinkled with grated cheese, or an omelet served with potato wedges and flavored with the cheese.

  3. Chocolate and coffee for desserts, or if you have the time you can make a cake with these basic ingredients, flavored with the zest of a lemon.

The good quality chocolate and wine can also be gifts for your guests. Toilet paper is undoubtedly essential for any household, and you'd be surprised how useful strong tape can be!

Of course, our list won't suit every household, but you can always adapt your list to your personal needs. It's a very useful thing to do, and with such basic store cupboard essentials you know you'll never be thrown off guard again! In the near future, I'll also be posting some tasty Tunisian recipes, many of which use these store cupboard essentials with only a few other ingredients.

Please leave your comments if you have useful lists you use for better organisation in your home: I love to read hints and tips about better organising my home.

Image credit: Chispita_666 via Flickr

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  1. The list of basics is a great idea. Especially as I don't like going to the supermarket, if I had a list like that, I could probably just do one shop a month to the supermarket and just visit the local farm shop and farmers market for fresh stuff during the month. Thanks for the idea.