Sorting, planning and stocking up your pantry is one of the best things you can do to eat well and ultimately waste less. Channel your inner Marie Kondo and get your pantry in order with these spring cleaning hacks to help you cut food waste.
Photography: Natalé Towell
Organising your cupboards will make it easier to use your dry store as the starting point to plan your weekly shop, rather than over-buying from habit or a hungry stomach, and ultimately chucking it in the bin.
Start your cupboard clean-up by collating those pesky half-full packets of nuts, pastas and grains, store ingredients in clear, labelled jars, find ways to upcycle kitchen scraps and organise your cupboards so you know where everything is.
Once you’ve sorted your pantry, stock up on useful staples that will help you magic delicious meals whether you’ve got leftovers that need using up, a glut of veggies or an empty fridge.
Here are more storecupboard hacks to help you cut food waste:
1. Bulk up
Dried pasta, grains and beans can add bulk and sustenance to a midweek meal. Try these Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Orzo.
Sort through the various packets of pastas, rice and grains you have in the cupboard. Collate almost-finished pasta packets (you can bash up any longer shapes) to use up in a minestrone or to throw into a broth. Store grains and dried beans in labelled jars so you can easily see what you have, then stock up – if you need to – on a variety of grains for interesting salads as well as beans and pulses to throw into curries and stews. A selection of different pastas and noodles are a good way to bulk a last-minute meal so you’re not rushing out to get takeaway.
2. Preserve those citrus rinds
Preserve lemons with this step-by-step guide.
Got leftover squeezed lemon halves destined for the bin? Pack them with salt and pile into a jar to preserve them. After a few months, the salty brine will break down the skins into a perfectly edible, potent hit for your salads. Here are more clever ways to use up leftover orange, lemon and lime rinds.
3. Break free from a pine nut-only pesto
Make leftover herb-pesto using this easy guide.
Collate those pesky half-empty packets of nuts and swap them in next time for a revelatory new sauce. Don’t have basil? Use spinach leaves or soft herbs that need using up, then toss through pasta for a delicious last-minute meal. Alternatively, make a quick snack for the kids by blitzing up nuts with dates and cocoa powder, then rolling into choc-balls.
4. Quality stock is key
A good odds-and-ends soup, using the vegetables and meat scraps you have in the fridge, is only as good as the stock you use. Keep one to hand; we’re in love with 9 Meals From Anarchy Uncorrupted Veg Stock. Alternatively, freeze your Sunday lunch chicken carcass to bung into a pot and turn into stock when you have more time; here’s how.
5. Stock up on useful flavour bombs
Jarred red peppers are a great storecupboard staple; they add a summery vibe to eggs, pizza bases, fresh salsas, stews and salads. These jarred red peppers come from a cooperative in Pelagonia, Macedonia who grow, harvest and source fantastic produce.
Stock up on harissa – a hot and spicy sauce that’s ideal stirred into couscous, tagines or mayonnaise for a flavour-packed dip. We’re loving Olives Et Al’ Chilli Harissa.
Keep a jar of anchovies for adding depth to quick pasta sauces (like this storecupboard spaghetti recipe), stock up on tahini for whipping up into salad dressings and quality curry pastes for jazzing up fish fillets or roast potatoes.
6 . Reuse stale bread
Turn stale bread into breadcrumbs, croutons or crispbreads.
Use this guide to turn stale bread into breadcrumbs, croutons and crispbreads – they will last for ages if stored in an airtight container. Breadcrumbs, in particular, are a useful ingredient to have in any kitchen; they add golden crunch to pasta bakes and salads, they bind burgers and meatballs, and provide the crumb for fish fingers and chicken kievs.
7. Wilting herbs? Use them to infuse oil
Infuse quality olive oil with those last sprigs of sage or rosemary, lemon peel or chilli to add instant flavour to fried eggs, salad dressings or a simple slice of sourdough. Here’s a step-by-step guide.
8. Tinned tomatoes are your saviour
Organic passata and tinned tomatoes are a versatile staple. Simmer with punchy spices for a simple supper that you can mop up with bread. Try Georgina Hayden’s storecupboard Egg & Tomato Curry recipe.