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Top tips on flexing key cupboard essentials

Who would have thought 2020 would have gone this way? I certainly didn’t… It’s a surreal time with businesses closing and others having to completely change their business models, for example, changing to delivery only. Unfortunately there will be many cases of staff and skill shortages, plus more focus on cash flow to reduce costs in the kitchen. For many this will mean going back to the basics with ingredients. But who is to say you can’t be fun and creative with these?

Think of different ways to use an ingredient

Now is a perfect time to refine your skills or learn new ones. With skill shortages and the need to reduce costs, the importance around flexing how you use your ingredients will become more important. How can you use what you have now or store cupboard essentials differently? I’ve put together some tips to help you with thinking differently about using ingredients:

  • Can you add the ingredients you have available to casseroles to bulk out and add extra flavour?
  • Could you use your canned liquid from tinned ingredients more effectively? For example, if you have tinned chickpeas, could you use the water to make a meringue? Or, with tinned fruit could you use fruit juice to make a syrup glaze?
  • I am sure your social media feed, like mine will be full of people making the most of home baking at the moment, but could you use additional ingredients to add different flavours and textures? I’m thinking oats or #lentils to give recipes a different twist
  • Can you cook and cool ingredients, then chop up and put into salads?

 

Surplus food doesn’t have to cause headaches…

For many of you who are still open, you may have surplus stock where your volume of footfall has dramatically dropped. This is when you need to be creative so you don’t increase food waste. For example, if you have bread going stale, whizz it up into breadcrumbs and freeze for use later down the line. Can you use more of the meat you prepare or even vegetable peelings? Catering to vegan diets remains important, so if you have excess stock of things like nuts and oats, could you try grinding these to turn them into milks or pastes for nut butters?

Alternatively, there are some fantastic schemes and charities like Fareshare and City Harvest that you can redistribute surplus food to.

 

People find comfort in food when times are tough

As you will have seen in the early days of the virus with the empty shelves in supermarkets, people were stockpiling comfort foods. I couldn’t find pasta for weeks! And also toilet rolls for some unexplainable reason… Comfort foods are naturally what people turn to as a way to make you feel better. In fact, there has been a 33% increase in people wanting indulgent feel-good food already[1]. Are you able to put together classics such as pies, pasta dishes, and curries as these are naturally what the British turn to in these times? In fact, the latter saw orders for takeaway increase 107% since the coronavirus outbreak[2]. Personally I normally choose to go for pizza because who doesn’t love pizza for a treat!? Plus it’s really easy to make!

 

Comfort food doesn’t mean unhealthy, there is a growing demand for better for you food too…

Comfort food really doesn’t have to be unhealthy. In fact, in March there was a slight increase in people wanting to eat healthier[3]. Now when you go on delivery apps, particularly in places like London, you’ll find a whole array of healthier choices. For example, things like poké have proven really popular, especially as you can often personalise meals to your particular diet. For many, they take comfort in eating food that has various health and nutritional benefits to provide light relief, so it is important that you keep this in mind with your menus. The social trend of how consumers are becoming “Wellness Engineers” is still going as strong as ever. This is a growing trend where consumers are looking to continuously improve all aspects of their wellness. As a result, people are desperately trying to maintain routines despite not being able to do a lot of the things they used to. Because of this, I think it is vital that you’re clearly displaying health benefits of menu items or providing healthier swaps for those feeling overwhelmed by lack of healthy choices available.

It’s important that you maintain a great food offer that helps bring a bit of normality back to people’s lives in tough times and helps raise spirits. With reduced services and staff, I completely understand that this can be difficult. This is why we have put together a number of recipe ideas using store cupboard essentials to support you. With all the rapid changes happening in the world right now, I’m sure I’m not the only one looking forward to things going back to how they were before. Stay safe all!

[1] Datassential, 2020

[2] Flipdish, 2020

[3] Vypr, 2020

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