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How nutrient-rich store cupboard staples can help with budgeting.

Eating healthily while balancing the household budget can be daunting, but a nutrient-rich diet is achievable if your store cupboard staples are put to work.

Good nutrition is essential at the very best of times but, when the financial climate changes, getting the balance between healthy food and affordable eating can have a positive effect on our mental as well as our physical health.

With the run up to Christmas and New Year leaving us with depleted energy reserves and empty wallets, we bring you our guide to six store cupboard ingredients that can ensure a healthy balance to your diet while keeping a watchful eye on expenditure.


Beans means… a tasty dollop of protein as well as minerals such as iron and immuneboosting zinc. Whether they are canned or dried, dieticians and nutritionists are agreed that beans are an excellent, low-cost store cupboard staple. Dried beans are better value than canned and can be bought more cheaply in bulk. With a huge range available from black beans to cannellini and pinto there can be variety as well as financial benefits to reaching for beans. Don’t forget that they are a great source of fibre too.

GRAPE TREE TIP: Batch cook your dried beans and add them to soups, stews, and salads throughout the week. Do remember some tinned beans have extra salt so you may wish to rinse them before eating.


Bulk buying whole grains such as quinoa will give you a head start on ensuring a protein and fibre rich diet while ensuring that you feel fuller for longer. The anti-inflammatory qualities of the plant flavonoids contained in quinoa may help protect against disease and promote overall good health. Quinoa also contains more fibre than other grains, including brown rice, while also being gluten free.

GRAPE TREE TIP: If you’re new to quinoa try rinsing it and boiling with a dash of salt. It can then be used to make a sweet breakfast porridge with nuts, cinnamon, and honey.


Affordable, adaptable, and always available. The humble oat has so much to offer in terms of what it can bring to any diet. Breakfast oats with a tasty topping are the obvious way to start the day as is a hearty bowl of porridge. Oats can positively affect cholesterol levels and help regulate blood sugar while assisting digestive health. Ground up oats can be used as flour to make pancakes and waffles and, when paired with a rich source of vitamin C, can increase the absorption of iron.

GRAPE TREE TIP: Use oats in crumbles, cakes, muffins, granola, and chewy flapjacks. Working to a budget doesn’t mean all treats have to stop.


If you have no tinned tomatoes in your store cupboard, then the larder is truly bare. Every cook’s comfort blanket, the tinned tomato is an affordable basis for sauces and soups alike. The best source of the carotenoid pigment lycopene, tomatoes are the exception to the rule that cooking them reduces their health benefits. Lycopene is even better absorbed when heated. Scientific research has shown lycopene may help prevent some cancers.

GRAPE TREE TIP: Tinned tomatoes have a long shelf life and can provide a vitamin A and C lift. No pantry should be without these affordable, hardworking staples.


Herbs and spices lock in three essential qualities; price, goodness, and taste. Inexpensive yet with a flavour profile to lift the most mundane meal, herbs and spices will add value with a long shelf-life. Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory which may help with depression and improve heart health, while cinnamon is anti-viral and anti-bacterial and may aid the ageing brain. While herbs like rosemary can improve memory and boost alertness. Don’t underestimate the health properties of a spicy sprinkle.

GRAPE TREE TIP: Spice up your life with anti-inflammatory sprinkles and health-giving flavours. A health-giving turmeric tea or a sprinkle of cinnamon on your coffee is an inexpensive treat at any time.


With healthy fats, proteins and minerals in abundance, nuts are one bulk store cupboard staple that will serve you well from dawn until dusk. Nut butters in porridge for breakfast and on toast at lunch will ensure that a cheap and nutritious spread is always to hand. They can also be used in sauces for bigger meals and even for nibbles with drinks. Versatile, convenient, flavoursome and – above all else – affordable, nuts will take you through the day with ease while being crammed with fibre, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids.

GRAPE TREE TIP: Watch out for the delicious macadamia, this nut is higher in fats than other nuts.



CONSIDER BULK BUYING: The bigger the better in terms of making a saving, but only if you have the space to store the larger packs of your favourites.

BATCH COOKING: If you are making a tomato sauce for a recipe, consider making two or three times the recipe quantities and then create different dishes from the same base ingredients. You can freeze the extra portions until they are ready to be used.

OVEN READY: If you have the oven on to cook dinner why not cook your dried pulses at the same time? Bring them to the boil on the stove and then transfer to the oven to continue to cook.