1. Chickpeas

    Chickpeas, like many pulses, are high in protein and add a nutty flavour to dishes. Try blitzing up classic Middle Eastern falafel and houmous or adding to a colourful layered salad for easy lunch options, or bake until crisp for some tasty roasted chickpea snacks. For a more robust meal, use them to bulk out dishes such as this hearty harissa chicken stew or to create the base of flavour-packed veggie burgers

    A saviour for vegan cooking, too, the water in chickpea tins (aquafaba) is a great substitute for egg whites in vegan meringues

  2. Lentils

    Green, red, split or Puy, lentils are an inexpensive way to bring substance and texture to dishes. Keep in the cupboard ­for last-minute meal inspiration – go for a spicy lentil stew, a hearty vegan take on a moussaka, or a fresh, summery puy lentil salad with Parma ham and peaches. Unlike some other pulses, dried lentils don’t need soaking so are easy to turn into a classic Indian-style dhal or a comforting bacon and lentil soup.

  3. Kidney beans

    A source of fibre, kidney beans have a creamy centre that works well with spicy flavours, and are most commonly added to Mexican dishes such as chilli con carne (or veggie chilli) and burritos. For an Indian twist, try in this warming dal makhani recipe where their creamy texture helps create a rich, smooth curry. If in a hurry for lunch, kidney beans are also great for making a speedy lobio dip or adding to a fresh buddha bowl salad.  

  4. Tinned tomatoes

    From plum to chopped and passata to purée, tinned tomatoes firmly deserve their spot in your store-cupboard. Spread passata on pizza bases before adding your favourite toppings, or create your own comforting bowl of tomato soup with a tin of chopped tomatoes. Pasta and tomato sauce is an easy go-to dinner, or take it up a notch with this creamy chicken, tomato and chorizo pasta bake. Slowly reducing tinned tomatoes concentrates their flavour, which is perfect for a tangy tomato dip alongside a picnic pie.

  5. Coconut milk

    Coconut milk, made from the pulp of fresh coconut flesh, is the creamy base for many dishes, both savoury and sweet. Used in Asian cuisines to balance the fiery heat of chilli, you can use it in everything from a classic veggie curry, to a fragrant Malaysian laksa soup and hot Thai beef panang curry.

    If following a vegan or dairy-free diet, coconut milk is a great alternative to dairy, especially in baking. Try instead of whipped cream to top fluffy scones, to add richness to a decadent layer cake, or as the base for an indulgent salted caramel.

  6. Tinned fish

    Tinned fish should be used for more than just a quick sandwich filling... Combine flakes of salmon or tuna with leftover mashed potato for speedy fishcakes. Give tinned tuna a fresh French spin with a classic niçoise salad or turn into a budget-friendly dinner with a comforting tuna pasta bake.

    Anchovies are a great secret weapon in the kitchen, they add subtle salty seasoning to dishes, such as in this fish stew with green salsa, and pair particularly well with lamb as with this herb-stuffed lamb roast

  7. Noodles

    Having noodles on standby means you can whip up dinner in no time, as most varieties take just minutes to cook. Look out for different varieties to try in different dishes. Thick udon noodles are great for soaking up all the hearty flavours of this veggie ramen soup; wide, flat noodles are perfect for stir-frying in the sticky sauce of a classic pad Thai; and thin, delicate rice noodles are great for filling spring rolls. For a different flavour, try nutty soba noodles in a crisp rainbow salad.

  8. Peanut butter

    The jar of peanut butter in your cupboard is useful for more than just toast in the morning. For a more indulgent start to the day, try these almond, berry and banana breakfast tacos with crispy tortillas and grated chocolate. Crunchy peanut butter is great in a chunky satay dipping sauce for smoky sugarsnap peas, or use it to bind together crisp cumin-spiced carrot burgers for an easy vegan meal.

  9. Porridge oats

    Keep a big bag of oats in the cupboard ready for any number of breakfast options. Make your own healthy take on a crunchy granola, soak in milk and yogurt for easy overnight oats or bircher muesli ready to be topped with fresh fruits in the morning, or bake up a batch of chewy flapjacks.

    Beyond breakfast, use oats to add nubbly texture to dishes in place of flour or breadcrumbs – such as in the crunchy, nutty base of this frozen cheescake or to form a golden crust on these savoury baked mushrooms.