Saving money - what’s in the cupboard?

saving money - what's in the cupboard?

By David Nelkin,

Fridge empty? Shops closed? Reached your overdraft limit? Hungry but can’t handle your third Pot Noodle of the week? Oh, the memories! Well, we’re here to help. Just follow our cupboard essentials and ensure your cupboards are well stocked when your parents visit, then you can knock up any of the following in just a few easy minutes. 

Pasta with tomato and anchovy/olive sauce

Dried pasta, garlic, olive oil, tinned tomatoes, sugar, Worcester sauce, basil/oregano, anchovies and olives (optional)

How to do it:

  1. Boil water in a pan with a pinch of salt
  2. Add the pasta in (any shape will do) and cook according to the instructions on the pack. A bigger pan with lots of water will stop the pasta sticking together. While it’s boiling, make your sauce.
  3. Gently fry some finely sliced garlic in a small splash of olive oil. If you like anchovies and olives, throw these in the pan now as well. 
  4. When the garlic is soft and slightly golden, add a tin of chopped tomatoes
  5. Throw in a small pinch of sugar, a splash of Worcester sauce, salt and pepper, and tear in some basil and/or dried oregano
  6. Drain the pasta and add a splash of its cooking liquid to the sauce – it gives it a nice glossiness and helps it stick to the pasta
  7. Pour over your sauce, mix it up, and enjoy!

Bean stew

Tinned cannellini or berlotti beans, onion, garlic, celery, carrot, tinned tomatoes, smoked paprika

How to do it:
Nice on its own, mopped up with some bread, or goes well with chicken, pork or fish.

  1. Finely chop an onion, a couple of garlic cloves, a stick of celery and a carrot and fry gently in a little olive oil until soft
  2. Add in tin or two of berlotti or cannellini beans, or mix them together, and then add a tin of chopped tomatoes. A splash of red wine will add to the flavour.
  3. Add pepper and a teaspoon of smoked paprika, and cook the flavours out for 5-10 minutes.


A few potatoes, onion,, vegetable oil, 3 eggs, milk

How to do it:
One of my favourites, this Spanish classic will fill you up, goes with a variety of toppings, and will keep for a day or two. You can make this more exciting but adding ingredients to the mix, such as prawns and/or chorizo (cook this before adding), or top the tortilla with a mix of tuna mayonnaise.

  1. Finely slice or chop a couple of potatoes, and finely slice an onion. Use a mandolin if you have one.
  2. Shallow fry them in some light olive or vegetable oil until softened, but do not let them brown. If you’re keeping healthy, you can gently boil the potato in some water until slightly soft instead.
  3. In a bowl, whisk your eggs, a splash of milk and some black pepper, and then pour in the onions and potatoes.
  4. Heat some butter in a pan until bubbling, then pour in the egg and potato mix. Keep the heat low-medium to ensure you don’t overcook it. 
  5. When set and slightly golden on one side, it’s time for the flip. Hold a plate which is slightly bigger than the pan upside down over the tortilla, and flip in one smooth action. I’d do it over the sink the first few times and expect a little to ooze out! Then just slide it off the plate and back into the pan for a few minutes until ready.

Tuna pasta salad

Dried pasta, tinned tuna, red and yellow pepper, spring onions, capers, red chilli, dill or basil, a lemon, avocado, mayonnaise, salad cream, olive oil

How to do it:
This one is a common university staple – I remember the numerous times I’d go to a mate’s for dinner, and this was served up. And with just a couple of little tips you can make it all the more exciting and tasty.

  1. Boil your pasta according to the instructions, and set to work on the tuna mix
  2. Drain your tins of tuna and empty them into a large bowl 
  3. Chop up a red and yellow pepper, and slice a couple of spring onions for starters 
  4. Now throw in a couple of teaspoons of capers, a finely sliced red chilli (or tobacco sauce), and some fresh herbs like dill and basil
  5. Add the zest of a lemon, and the juice of one or two lemons as well
  6. An avocado chopped up is a must
  7. Add this mix to the pasta, and then throw in a couple of spoons of mayonnaise, a dash or two of salad cream, and a nice drizzle of extra virgin olive oil