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Back to basics: how to cook with pantry staples

Saucy beef ribs

Your pantry is a wealth of possibilities, packed with ingredients that are waiting to be made into something magical – and delicious! With these budget-friendly pantry tips, you’ll save time and reduce hassle.

Fresh Ideas expert Amanda

Cooking with sauces

"Your pantry or fridge is a treasure trove of flavour for elevating go-to recipes. Add a dash of sauce to just about any meal to create delicious depth.”

- Amanda

Pantry staple sauces

Amanda’s tips for saving your sauces

  1. Sauces are a simple and effective way to add a delicious flavour boost to marinades, burger patties, pasta dishes, casseroles, roasts and soups.
  2. Leftover sauces take up room in the fridge and are often forgotten about. Do a quick check of your fridge before heading to Woolworths; you might have the perfect substitute on the shelf already!
  3. Swirl empty sauce jars and bottles with warm water to get the last bits out. Waste not, want not.
Fresh Ideas expert Claire

Cooking with canned food

"A well-stocked pantry can be a lifesaver when you’re time-poor. Bonus: it’s budget friendly, too! When the weather starts to cool, I always make this hearty and easy vegetable & bean cassoulet recipe.”

- Claire

Pantry staple canned food

Claire’s canned food tips

  1. Canned beans are so versatile and quick to cook. Simply drain, rinse and heat. Cannellini beans have a creamy texture and can be puréed to replace mashed potato or to thicken soups. Butter beans are also known as lima beans. These beans are similar to cannellini beans, but much larger. Have you ever tried making your own homemade baked beans? Give it a go! They’re delicious braised with vegetables and served over toast (not to mention easy on the wallet). Black beans and kidney beans pair well in Mexican-style recipes.
  2. Canned lentils are a perfect ingredient to extend or bulk up a meal, and will also increase your vegetable intake. Try adding them to your bolognese to help thicken and stretch the dish.
  3. Canned tomatoes are an essential pantry item. They are the base of many winter recipes including casseroles, stews, soups and pastas. Try to choose the no-added-salt varieties if you can.
  4.  Four-bean mixes are generally a mix of chickpeas, green lima beans, red kidney beans and borlotti beans, so the can is fantastic for adding variety to tacos, soups or salads.
Fresh Ideas expert Tamara

Cooking with grains

"Go beyond boiling grains. Try toasting them to add extra crunch to your dish.”

- Tamara

Pantry staple grains

Tamara’s tips for glorious grains

  1. Grains are a budget-friendly way to extend or bulk up meals. Simply cook first, then add to salads, stews and soups during cooking. 
  2. Grains such as buckwheat (despite its name) and rice are free from gluten and a good alternative to pasta and couscous
  3. Quinoa is technically a seed and is also gluten-free. Quinoa is available in white, red and tri-coloured varieties as well as flakes, which can be used instead of breadcrumbs to coat a schnitzel or make stuffing
  4. Store grains in separate airtight containers. Make sure you rinse quinoa, buckwheat and rice before use.

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