Beware a bare pantry

By admin
04 May 2014

Stock up on essential foodstuffs to save money, eat more healthily and stay trim and well this winter

HOW often do you resort to eating takeaways because you have “nothing in the cupboard”? Or rustle up something using whatever’s in the fridge, no matter how unhealthy it is?

We posed this question to our Facebook followers and received an overwhelming response. Many said they had trouble stocking their kitchen cupboards – like mom-of-two Kayleigh Tricker of Fourways, Gauteng, who says she’s a bad shopper and never really knows what to stock up on.

As a result she and husband, Jonathan often get takeaways for supper for them and their sons, Tyler (3) and Connor (20 months). In their pantry you’ll typically find rice, noodles, baked beans, flour, tuna, cereal such as Corn Flakes and Coco Pops, chips and biscuits. The freezer is usually bare.

Due to a lack of planning, Kayleigh says, they often go to the shops two to three times a day for odds and ends, which is becoming unhealthy and expensive.

“Because I don’t have the basics in my cupboards I always have to think about what to buy for dinner and it’s usually a choice between pizza, Chinese food or fried chicken.”

She’s determined to stock her cupboards properly this winter, using our guide. “My kids deserve to grow up in a wellorganised

household where they eat healthily and if they feel hungry there should be something for them to snack on.”

Not stocking your cupboards correctly is one sure way of courting poor health and weight gain. In this article, Part 2 of our Gear Up for Winter series (see the 10 May issue, for Part 1 on why people gain weight in winter), we show you how to gain control. We’ve compiled the failsafe shopping list that will ensure you never run out of affordable, healthy options for meals.

Don’t forget to make sure the snack cupboard is filled with “fast food” such as raisins, dried fruit, unsalted nuts, rice cakes, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, crackers, pretzels and biltong.


  • No-name brands are usually less pricey.
  • Parboiled rice is usually the most affordable rice. Buy in bulk, divide into portions and freeze.
  • Buy high-fibre cereals that keep you fuller for longer. Sugary cereals won’t sustain you until lunchtime.
  • Buy canned foods in bulk (up to 12 cans) when on special but check the expiry date.
  • Soups in sachets or plastic tubs can be bought in bulk and frozen for up to three months.
  • If you can’t afford salmon, tuna is a good alternative.
  • Grate cheese when you buy it in bulk and freeze it. You tend to use less cheese when it’s grated .
  • Buy chicken breasts on the bone – they’re usually cheaper than fillets.
  • Buy fresh fish because it’s much cheaper than frozen, packaged fish. Ask the fishmonger to fillet the fish for you. It’s best eaten fresh but can also be frozen.
  • Save electricity by defrosting meat overnight instead of using the microwave.
  • Don’t add seasoning to the pot directly from the jar as the steam spoils the contents of the jar.
  • Freeze leftovers to serve when you’re running short of time.



Wholewheat pasta

Brown rice


High-fibre, low-sugar breakfast cereals such as bran flakes and no-added-sugar muesli






Soup (light versions)



Low-fat coconut milk

Tomato-based pasta

sauce – little or no additives



Tuna in water or oil



Fruit (in juice not syrup)



Dried fruit


Dried herbs

Tomato purée


Curry paste or powder

Low-fat mayonnaise

Canola or olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Soy sauce

Wholegrain mustard

Worcester sauce




Mature Cheddar cheese

Low-fat cream cheese

Plain yoghurt

Skimmed milk

Olive spread

Oil-free salad dressing

Grated ginger

Grated garlic


Chicken breasts

White fish and salmon steaks

Lean mince



A bag of berries

Wholewheat pita breads

Ciabatta rolls

Wholewheat wraps


Here’s a seven-day eating plan to get you started. If you’re well stocked with staples the only fresh items you’ll need to buy are bread, fruit and vegetables.

*All items in red are stock items from your fridge or cupboard.




MONNo-added-sugar muesli topped with a chopped pear, 2 T plain yoghurt and skimmed or semi-skimmed milk.Tinned salmon and chickpea salad dressed with an oil-free dressing and served with a crusty wholewheat roll.A chicken breast, spinach, peas and sautéed mushrooms baked in a can of low-fat mushroom soup and topped with wholewheat breadcrumbs and 1 T grated cheese. Serve with brown rice and a salad.
TUESA bowl of berries topped with plain yoghurt, a drizzle of honey and 1 T chopped nuts or seeds.A jacket potato stuffed with baked beans and served with a large mixed salad.Fish cakes made from canned salmon and mashed potato served with peas and grilled tomatoes.
WEDA banana and oats or red berry fruit smoothie made with milk and plain yoghurt.Spicy chicken strips, sliced onion and red peppers stir-fried with spicy seasoning and served in a wholewheat wrap with a salad and salsa.Spicy vegetable and bean stew served with crusty wholewheat bread. 
THURSA toasted wholewheat pita spread with low-fat cream cheese and topped with a sliced banana and drizzle of honey.Lentil and vegetable soup served with a crusty roll.Lean mince chilli con carne served with brown rice and a large green salad.
FRIWholegrain breakfast cereal with skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, topped with a sliced banana.Hummus made from butter beans or chickpeas served with toasted pita strips and red pepper, cucumber and carrot strips for dipping.Wholewheat pasta served with pasta sauce from a jar and ready-cooked spicy chicken served with a large salad.
SATA poached egg and grilled mushrooms on toast.A jacket potato stuffed with readycooked spicy chicken, sweet corn and chopped tomato in low-fat mayonnaise dressing. Serve with a green salad.White fish fillet brushed with wholegrain mustard and baked with a small can of chopped tomatoes, two chopped spring onions and a few olives. Serve with boiled new potatoes or a salad.
SUNHeat a small can of chopped tomatoes with a pinch of chilli flakes in a small frying pan to reduce the liquid and break an egg in the centre. Cook until the egg is set and serve with wholewheat toast.Sardines mashed with a little Worcester sauce and mustard, piled onto a toasted ciabatta roll and grilled until hot. Serve with a mixed salad.A roast chicken breast stuffed with spinach and low-fat cream cheese and served with roast potatoes, peas and grilled tomato.

-Kim Van Reizig and Carmen Petersen

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