Must-have grocery staples

Keeping your storecupboard, fridge and freezer well stocked with basic ingredients will make preparing meals – even at the last minute – a breeze
Published 8 December, 2022

Having a well-stocked storecupboard, fridge and freezer is beyond helpful for weight loss, so commit to filling them with the kinds of healthy foods you and your family want. As you expand your storecupboard, shopping will take less time each week.

Stock the storecupboard

Storecupboard items last a long time, so if your budget and storage space allow, create a stash of items such as tinned beans and pulses, chopped tomatoes and passata, light coconut milk, tuna, salmon, and anchovies; dried pasta and noodles; rice and grains; jarred olives, capers and roasted red peppers; and oils and vinegars.

  • Go-to basics like breadcrumbs, flour, baking powder, sugar, chilli sauce and dried herbs and spices are essential. If you love Asian inspired foods, keep a supply of soy sauce, hoisin sauce, curry paste and sesame oil.
  • Storecupboard produce basics are the workhorses of the kitchen, so always have onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, shallots and garlic on hand. Storing them in a basket in a col dark cupboard will keep them fresh for weeks.
  • Keeping your storecupboard, fridge and freezer well stocked with basic ingredients will make preparing meals – even at the last minute – a breeze.
  • Convenience foods make cooking healthy meals a possibility when you feel you have no time. As well as the usual tinned tomatoes and beans already mentioned, short-cut ingredients such as pasta sauces and microwave rice and other grains are must-haves for quick meals.
  • Nuts are great flavour, texture and nutrient enhancers. Just a sprinkling can take a dish to the next level, so stock a few favourites: almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, pine nuts and peanuts are all versatile. Seeds like chia, pumpkin, sesame and linseed or ground flaxseed are also terrific, particularly in breakfast dishes. Buy nuts and seeds in small quantities. If storing them for longer than a few weeks, pop them in the freezer.

Stock the fridge

Always keep on hand basics like low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, ketchup, mustard, reduced-fat mayonnaise and low-fat spread.

  • Weeknight meals call for quick-cooking veg. Buy a few of these each week for recipes and side dishes: asparagus, carrots, peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green beans, kale, mangetout, spinach and courgettes.
  • Keep a selection of fresh fruits to use in salads and main dishes, and for snacks throughout the day. Apples, pears, kiwis and citrus all keep well and are delicious for snacking and versatile for cooking.
  • Fresh herbs will add brightfragrance and flavour and a hit of colour that’s not matched by their dried counterparts. Try to keep parsley and one or two other favourite herbs on hand. If you can, grow your own: an outdoor herb garden takes up only a small space, or you can grow herbs indoors in pots near a sunny window.
  • Don’t forget refrigerated convenience foods, such as prepared pesto, salsa, grated cheese, fresh pasta, pre-washed salad greens, prepped butternut squash and pre-cooked lentils and beetroot.
  • Stock the freezer

  • Keeping a stash of healthy frozen foods means making fewer trips to the supermarket, and if you buy when foods are on offer or in larger packs, you’ll save money too. Meats, poultry and seafood spoil quickly in the fridge, so buy a couple of items fresh for early in the week, then rely on foods from the freezer for later in the week.
  • Skinless chicken breast fillets, turkey mince, steak, pork loin steaks, fish fillets, prawns and fruits and veggies are great staples for your freezer. Divide them into portions before freezing.