The monthly 'empties' post is something that you see on a lot of beauty blogs; beauty bloggers show off the lotions and potions that they have finished off that month as a sign that those products are worth purchasing. So, I thought I'd do a foodie version - the cupboard staples that I've polished off during the month of March. When it comes to cooking everything from scratch, there are some things that are worth stocking up on, things that I purchase time and again, using up every last drop - they're not all featured here but I thought this was a fun way of talking about these much loved ingredients.
Dark Soy Sauce
I prefer dark soy sauce to the light stuff, which I find tastes a bit too salty. Our staple meal when we're hungry and tired is a stir fry - meat, veg, noodles and a splash of soy sauce is all you need for a quick and satisfying dinner. I've mostly given up on buying ready-made stir fry sauces (except the occasional teriyaki, which Paul loves) because this is so much simpler and more cost-effective.
Used for the same purpose as the soy sauce - a splash of sesame oil (and a few toasted sesame seeds, if you have them) is the perfect addition to a simple stir fry for a great depth of flavour, and it stops all the noodles sticking together. It's taken me a long time to get through this little bottle as I've used it sparingly - the flavour is strong but not so much that it overpowers the rest of the dish.
An obvious one. We only use olive oil for cooking, as I prefer the taste to other oils - and I'm a bit of a food snob/Jamie Oliver fanatic. I've been trialling rapeseed oil after receiving it in my Deluxebite box but the flavour is a bit more intense, and I think it would work better in a salad dressing than just for simple frying or roasting.
Not your most traditional of cooking ingredients, perhaps, but this is one alcohol in our cupboard which only gets used for cooking! Penne alla vodka is my absolute go-to when I'm feeling a bit lazy and want to fill up on carbs. It's super simple, super delicious and I always have all of the ingredients on hand. I sent the recipe over to Becs for the Meat Free March recipe swap, so head over there if you want to try it for yourself.
I can't even count how many cans of chopped tomatoes I get through in a month. I get a bit panicky if I don't have any in the cupboard, because they're the perfect base for so many easy and delicious meals - I use mine for curries, pasta sauces and stews. I know some people prefer a smoother passata, but I like the lumps.
Not just for drinking - although if we use some in cooking, the rest inevitably gets drunk so I do spend a little bit more. The same isn't true of red wine, which also gets used for stews and sauces and the like, but usually stays in the cupboard to be used up rather than being drunk, as we're not big fans of red. This particular white wine made it's way into a risotto, but I also use white wine to cook salmon, to make a buttery sauce for chicken in proscuitto, and if I'm lucky to get my hands on some clams - a spaghetti vongole. The options are endless, of course - and it's worth having a bottle in the fridge for a culinary emergency!
This isn't everything that we've got through in one month - but just a few of the key ingredients. There's plenty more that I can think of, but rustling around in my recycling bin isn't my idea of fun, and it probably isn't yours either! What cupboard staples have you used up this month?