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The basic kitchen cupboard essentials

This is far from a definitive list and every cook will have ingredients they rely on every day that are not listed here. But this should act as a good check list for anyone setting up a kitchen for the first time (say, at college) or simply trying to put together a shopping list when moving into a new home. Or it could simply jog your memory about what you need to buy from the supermarket on your next visit.

Please note that all the ingredients here are dried goods – we have not included anything that is perishable such as butter or milk or fresh ginger or fresh chillis – and that the list excludes anything related to drinking, most noticeably tea and coffee. So please don’t write to us saying you can’t live without coffee – we already know that!

Dried herbs and spices – note that most spices will lose their potency after being ground so buy smaller quantities of ingredients such as dried cumin or dried coriander or grind your own as and when you need (a good spice grinder is cheap and easily stored).

Black peppercorns
Sea salt
Dried red chillis
Ground cumin
Ground coriander
Cumin seeds
Coriander seeds
Fennel seeds
Ground turmeric
Cinnamon sticks
Wasabi powder

Beans and pulses

Butter beans (in cans/tins)
Cannellini beans (in cans/tins)
Chana dal
Borlotti beans
Puy lentils

Pasta and rice

Fusilli pasta
Penne pasta
Basmati rice
Thai sticky rice

Oils and vinegars

Extra virgin olive oil
Peanut oil
Sesame oil
Red wine vinegar
White wine vinegar
White rice vinegar

Tinned vegetables

Italian plum tomatoes

Sauces and mustards

Sweet chilli sauce
Tomato ketchup (Heinz is our preferred brand)
Soy sauce
Nam pla (fish sauce)
French grain mustard (Meaux is our preferred brand)
English mustard (Coleman’s is our preferred brand)
German sweet mustard

Sugar, syrups and honey

Granulated sugar
Demerara sugar
Golden Syrup
Maple syrup

Flour and baking materials

Plain white flour
Brown flour
Self raising flour
Dried Yeast
Cocoa powder


Worcestershire sauce
Belacan (dried shrimp paste)
Concentrated tomato puree
Pickled cucumbers (Krakus is our preferred brand)
Pine nuts
Shelled walnuts

Have we missed any ingredients you can’t live without? Why not email us at office @ and we’ll add it to the list.