Best Basic Foods

This page on Basic Foods completes our set of three pages listing different types of foods.

The other two pages can be directly accessed under the list of Our Other Pages given below - as in

Eat More Fruit Keep Well and The Green Vegetable List.

This page, as well as featuring the best basic foods, lists many tips to help you in the preparation and storage of food.

There are also tips on using up left-overs and ideas for meals.

If there is something that is not covered here, please let us know.


1. Store bread in the refrigerator. This way it stays fresh for a week and does not go mouldy. Always make sure the plastic bread bag is tightly closed otherwise the bread will dry out. Bread is probably one of the best basic foods but still needs your care and attention. The price of wheat is increasing making bread very expensive, so this tip will save you money.

2. When storing cheese in the refrigerator, place it in a small plastic lidded container with a sheet of paper kitchen towel inside, folded to the correct size. This will help to absorb all the excess moisture the cheese produces and keeps the mould away for a longer period.

Check periodically to see that all is well.

Some suppliers now sell their cheese in plastic bags that can be re-sealed. These appear to be very effective.

3. Rice - another one of the best basic foods. Keep some cooked rice in the freezer. This can be used when you buy a take-away (as a monthly treat?) instead of spending money and ordering the shop’s cooked rice. Thanks to Julie of Southampton for this tip.

4. Cooked rice should be cooled completely and only stored in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Any longer period can increase the risk of food poisoning. It can be frozen directly after cooking - cooled first, of course.

5. Surplus eggs can be frozen. Whisk two eggs gently together with 1 level teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. Store in small plastic containers and freeze. These eggs can be used in cakes, omelettes, scrambled egg dishes, pancakes etc. The small, plastic containers used by manufacturers for humous are ideal. Eggs are wonderful they even come complete with their own packaging - the shell. Definitely one of the most versatile and best basic foods.

6. An old fashioned food but still one of the best basic foods which is coming back into popularity as a winter warmer and filler. Pearl Barley will bulk up a winter casserole, just rinse and add three heaped tablespoonfuls to the dish when you start the cooking process. Left over baked beans etc. can be used up in a casserole.

Extra tip: The Pearl Barley takes on the flavour and colour of the meat and is really appetizing. Real tummy warming food!

7. Ask your local butcher or deli if they have a ham bone to spare. Definitely one of the best basic foods. The chances are that there will be sufficient meat left on the bone to make a delicious meal at very little cost. If you smile sweetly you may even get the ham bone free - just think of the budget, save money and have a giggle! Ham, eggs and chips for supper a real super treat!

8. Don’t waste the leftover juice from a can of tinned fruit. Use it if you are making a jelly. Substitute it for part of the water you would normally use.

9. Or use this leftover juice to make porridge instead of the usual water. Delicious.

To make your usual porridge even more tasty, add a tablespoon of sultanas to the mixture before cooking. This will sustain you for even longer during the morning.

10. If you are making Yorkshire puddings and have some batter left over, quickly make a few pancakes.

11. Pancakes can be stored in the freezer packed with a sheet of greaseproof paper between each pancake and then popped into a plastic bag and sealed. Use them filled with a mixture of leftover rice and chopped chicken with a splash of tomato sauce on the top. The children will love them and they make the budget stretch further.

12. If you are fortunate enough to have a Slow Cooker, use it to cook the cheaper cuts of meats and other basic foods. Take a look at these Slow Cooker Recipes and see how easy it is to produce good, cheap filling recipes.

13. If you make a habit of batch cooking you will save money and time. Batch cooking is a term used for cooking a large quantity of any item or recipe then freezing it either as it has been cooked in the casserole or dividing the large quantity into individual portions (batches).

If you do this with several different recipes such as casseroles, cauliflower cheese, pasta dishes, tuna casserole, etc. you will have a selection stored in the freezer.

These dishes can either be used if one member of the family is going to be arriving late for their meal, or if you are living on your own and would like to select your evening meal from a choice of several different tasty dishes.

They are also very handy when unexpected guests arrive and you can quickly produce a home cooked meal. Portion(s) of pasta or tuna quickly thawed and served with garden peas look very impressive.

Batch cooking is a real boon. You will be able to buy cheap plastic containers from the Pound Shops. These are microwaveable which is an added bonus. For extra saving you can also re-use lidded plastic food containers from take-away meals etc. but don't try microwaving them unless it clearly states they are 'microwaveable'!

14. Don't drink bottled water, tap water is fine and far, far cheaper. Nothing is more basic of all the best basic foods than water. We cannot live without it.

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