22 money-saving store cupboard meals using tinned or packet ingredients

Money-saving recipe ideas using ingredients from your kitchen cupboard

A selection of the best store cupboard meals and recipes

Store cupboard meals are always good to have in mind, for when the fresh stuff in your fridge is running low and you'd really rather not spend any more money on groceries.

Now that food and energy bills are soaring during the cost of living crisis, these store cupboard recipes are a great way to save money on food – they're cheap to make and reduce food waste in the process. They'll last longer for leftovers and mean you don't end up with a surplus of fresh stuff that could go to waste.

"I feed our family of six for around £35  a week and I am very inventive and creative with cooking," says Vicky Saynor, a waste warrior for her local council who educates schools and communities on food waste reduction. She saves a lot of money by shopping for and cooking with, dry store ingredients. Vicky even gets a lot of her store cupboard foods by seeking out 'yellow sticker' reductions. "For tinned tomatoes and pasta, rice and noodles, damaged packaging means the items can be heavily discounted – last week I bought tinned veg for 2p per can." She also makes meals go a lot further with her kitchen cupboard ingredients. "Any leftovers get used in packed lunches the next day, or I bulk them out with cans of chickpeas and lentils, and make another meal from them."

These money-saving store cupboard meal ideas are all based on cheap ingredients you will find in your kitchen cupboards. Think kidney beans, chopped tomatoes, pasta, dried herbs, tinned veg, and more. From bean burgers to tuna linguine, there are so many delicious, healthy, and filling dinners you can make from your store cupboard, and most of these recipes only have a short list of ingredients, so are easy to make too.

Money-saving store cupboard meals

tuna and brown rice salad

A nutritious lunch or a light dinner, store cupboard dishes like this can be super healthy

1. Tuna and brown rice salad 

Serves: 1 |  Total time: 10 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Cooked brown basmati rice
  • Red kidney beans
  • Canned sweetcorn
  • Bottled or canned peppers
  • Tuna steak in brine

A salad is always a good choice for a summer lunch or a light dinner and you don't need a fridge full of fresh stuff to make one, either. With this tuna and brown rice salad, you'll get all the vitamins you need from the tinned sweetcorn and bottled peppers, while the tuna steaks provide a healthy dose of omega-3 and protein. It's also low-calorie.

Get the recipe: Tuna and brown rice salad

Using a can of chickpeas from your cupboard, these cakes could be served in pitta bread with salad

2. Moroccan chickpea cakes

Serves: Makes 16 |  Total time: 1 hour

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Canned chickpeas
  • Ground cumin
  • Paprika
  • Polenta

These Moroccan chickpea cakes are a really inventive way to use that can of chickpeas that have been lurking in the back of the cupboard for months. Using only stored cupboard ingredients (just swap out the fresh herbs for dried ones if you don't have any) and a couple of frozen vegetables from the freezer, they're delicious with a couscous salad, which can also be made from dry store ingredients. 

If you're wondering 'how long does canned food last?' the answer is indefinitely. As long as the can isn't damaged in any way, e.g. bulges, leakages or rust, they can remain good to eat for several years. Once opened, just pop in fridge in an air-tight container and consume within three-five days.

If you have some yogurt, garlic, and cucumber in the house, you could also knock up quick tzatziki to serve with the cakes.

Get the recipe: Moroccan chickpea cakes

This soup is hearty, healthy and vegan

3. Lentil and chickpea soup

Serves: 4 |  Total time: 35 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Stock cubes
  • Cumin
  • Chilli powder
  • Turmeric
  • Paprika

Made from just store cupboard ingredients, this soup is packed with protein from the legumes, and is super hearty, comforting, and will keep you fuller for longer, so you won't be tempted to snack between meals. It's also totally plant-based so perfect whether you're vegan or just want to reduce your meat intake. Serve with Turkish flatbreads or a big chunk of French bread for mopping up purposes.

Get the recipe: Lentil and chickpea soup

Sweetcorn fritters make a great starter, served with a Thai dipping sauce

4. Sweetcorn fritters

Serves: Makes 8-10 |  Total time: 20 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Plain flour
  • Baking powder
  • Canned sweetcorn

These fritters are made with cupboard-found ingredients, including canned sweetcorn, and make a great lunch or a starter, especially for an Asian-style dinner. They're fabulous served with a tomato and onion salad and a dipping sauce – most of us have a bottle of sweet chilli sauce or a bottle of Sriracha lurking in the cupboard, that will accompany them very nicely indeed.

Get the recipe: Sweetcorn fritters

Snack cupboard looking barren? Make your own – and they're super healthy too

5. Spicy baked chickpeas

Serves: 8 |  Total time: 45 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Canned chickpeas
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Cumin

Step away from the crisp cupboard, because this fantastically spicy and healthy snack is super easy to make and a great protein hit. Just dry out the canned chickpeas, drizzle them in olive oil, coat them in salt and spices and bake. Perfect for summer garden parties, or just for grazing while watching the telly. And an ideal accompaniment to a cold beer or a large gin and tonic, if you ask us.

Get the recipe: Spicy baked chickpeas

As good as a takeaway treat, but made from your store cupboard

6. Spicy mixed bean tortillas

Serves: 4 |  Total time: 35 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Tortilla wraps
  • Canned chopped tomatoes
  • Kidney beans
  • Canned mixed beans in a mild chilli sauce

Kinda like quick veggie chilli, but served in a wrap and with added cheese, these spicy mixed bean tortillas are easy to make and even easier to eat. They're a hit with kids too and pack a proper protein punch. If you're out of fresh carrots or onions, it's perfectly acceptable to use tinned or frozen varieties.  Definitely a comforting one, and ideal for a midweek dinner.

Get the recipe: Spicy mixed bean tortillas

A tasty and healthy stew from the master of healthy dishes

7. Deliciously Ella's three-bean stew

Serves: 6 |  Total time: 50 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Canned chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons tomato purée
  • Canned butter beans
  • Black beans
  • Canned cannellini beans

For a quick lunch or light dinner, try this stew from the healthy recipe guru. This dish uses canned tomatoes and butter beans, black beans, and cannellini beans to create a nutritious and filling meal that has also earned its vegan stripes. It's also one worth batch cooking so that you can freeze portions for another day. Use canned veggies if you're all out of fresh, and serve on a bed of rice (brown, if you're feeling particularly virtuous). Ella recommends serving with mango salsa, or you could try to use Greek yogurt or sour cream if you have any in the fridge.

Get the recipe: Deliciously Ella's three bean stew

A hearty – yet low in fat – midweek dinner choice

8. Quorn sausage bake

Serves: 4 |  Total time: 40 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Dried spaghetti
  • Canned chopped tomatoes
  • Dried mixed herbs
  • Smoked paprika
  • Tomato ketchup
  • Vegetable stock cube

A store cupboard triumph, this delicious twist on the traditional meaty sausage bake dish has full vegetarian credentials and is low fat, thanks to the Quorn sausages (straight from the freezer). You will need dried spaghetti (though other pasta shapes are available and could even work better), chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock, herbs, and cooking spray. Hearty, tasty, and ideal for an easy midweek family dinner, especially if you're trying to cut back on meat.

Get the recipe: Quorn sausage bake

The humble bean is jazzed up to perfection

9. Smoky beans on toast 

Serves: 3 | Total time: 15 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Canned baked beans
  • Brown sugar
  • English mustard
  • Smoked paprika
  • Ground cumin
  • Chilli powder

Who doesn't love that iconic British dinner of beans on toast? But, much as we adore the humble baked bean, there are times when it pays to pimp it up into something a little more special. Here, served on toasted sourdough, we give you beans made smoky with the addition of some flavoursome store cupboard staples like mustard and paprika. The bacon gives a delicious salty twist (though it could be ditched or swapped out for some grated cheddar if you're not a pork eater). A smashing brunch, lunch, or TV dinner dish.

Get the recipe: Smoky beans with bacon on toast

store cupboard recipes

Made with very few ingredients, this pasta dish can be made with tinned crab or tuna

10. Tuna, lemon and chilli linguine

Serves: 4 |  Total time: 15 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Dried linguine
  • Canned crab meat or tuna in brine

This linguine is traditionally made with crab, but, if you don't have any in the cupboard, it can easily be swapped out for tuna in a versatile recipe like this one. Using a sprinkle of chilli (flakes, if you don't have fresh) and the zest and juice of a lemon, it's a simple, speedy, refreshing meal with tastes of the summer that'll give you a spring in your step and have you dreaming of holidays on the Amalfi coast.

Get the recipe: Tuna, lemon and chilli linguine

store cupboard recipes: bean burgers

These tasty vegan burgers are all based on those tins of beans you've got at the back of the cupboard

11. Bean burgers 

Serves: 4 |  Total time: 30 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Cannellini beans
  • Can of butter beans
  • Red kidney beans

A store cupboard staple recipe if ever there was one, you can use any combo of tinned beans, and even chuck in some lentils too if it takes your fancy. These burgers are meat-free and vegan friendly and cost a fraction of their beef counterparts. If you like your veggie burger with a bit of spice, we can highly recommend stirring a spoonful of harissa paste into the mix. Failing that, add some chilli sauce to the top after cooking, or some sliced jalapenos from that jar at the back of the fridge. Hopefully, you've got some baps in the freezer but they're also perfectly acceptable without.

Get the recipe: Bean burgers

A quick lunch that takes us back to our student days

12. Homemade pot noodle

Serves: 1 |  Total time: 20 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Canned sweet corn
  • Chicken stock cube or stock pot
  • Dried fine egg noodles
  • Soy sauce

A pot noodle is a retro classic that gives us that warm nostalgic glow of youth. It's also totally devoid of nutritional content and riddled with additives – but not if you make your own version. Using instant noodles and canned or frozen vegetables, with stock and soy sauce for flavour, simple comfort food makes a refreshing change from that cheese sarnie when you want to grab something swift during a working lunch.

Get the recipe: Homemade pot noodle

tuna pasta bake

This store cupboard family classic has a clever new use for the humble packer of crisps

13. Tuna pasta bake

Serves: 1 |  Total time: 30 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Canned sweet corn
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Tomato purée
  • Dried penne pasta
  • Canned tuna fish in sunflower oil
  • Ready salted crisps

Tuna is a great store cupboard essential as it's packed with protein and omega-3. This is a classic family recipe and it contains mostly tinned foods like sweetcorn and cupboard-stocked ingredients like pasta. There's even the addition of a smashed-up packet of crisps to create a crunchy topping in a rather in-genius twist. A proper crowd-pleaser that'll warm the cockles when you're tired and emotional, or want some comfort food on a dreary, drizzly day.

Get the recipe: Tuna pasta bake

This is a one-pot dish that saves on the washing up

14. Jambalaya

Serves: 1 |  Total time: 35 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Long grain rice
  • Canned tomatoes with chillies and peppers

With only six ingredients, this homemade rice recipe, all the way from New Orleans in America's deep south, is one to whip up in a flash. You can always swap the chorizo for sausages, or use frozen prawns and other seafood instead – there are no rules. A great one to batch cook, and it will get tastier the next day as the flavours deepen, so makes a cracking quick lunch.

Get the recipe: Jambalaya

You can't go wrong with mac 'n' cheese as comfort foods go, plus it's cheap and has few ingredients

15. Macaroni cheese with broccoli

Serves: 4 |  Total time: 40 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Macaroni
  • Canned sweet corn
  • Plain flour

Using pasta from the cupboard, cheese (that you can freeze if you want it to last longer), and frozen broccoli, it's easy to make this comfort food classic, universally beloved by kids (and most grown-ups too, to be fair). Swap the broccoli for frozen sweetcorn or peas to up your vitamin quota if that's what you have in, or cauliflower will work nicely too.

Get the recipe: Macaroni cheese with broccoli

A kinda Nicoise salad that is simple, cheap, and tasty

16. Crushed potatoes with tuna

Serves: 4 |  Total time: 15 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Canned tuna in spring water
  • Sweetcorn

A good one if you've got some potatoes to use up is this simple lunch inspired by the joys of a Nicoise salad, but with fewer ingredients. Another great use for the humble tin of tuna, paired with some store cupboard olives, a drizzle of oil, and topped with a hard-boiled egg for an extra protein hit, it hits the spot on flavour and costs a mere 59p per serving. Take it to work to save on pricey sarnies.

Get the recipe: Crushed potatoes with tuna

salmon fishcakes

These fishcakes seriously hit the spot for an easy, but special feeling, dinner

17.  Salmon fishcakes

Serves: 4 |  Total time: 15 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Canned salmon
  • Jarred small capers
  • Tabasco

If you've got any leftover potatoes about the place, this is a great one that, if you have any salmon in the freezer, is a super tasty supper dish (and you could always use tinned salmon instead). Jarred capers and a splash of Tabasco sauce bring the flavour, and it's an excellent use for stale bread – blitz it up into breadcrumbs for the crispy outside. Steam up some frozen spinach or serves with garden peas from the freezer, and a dollop of mayo or sweet chilli sauce.

Get the recipe: Salmon fishcakes

This take on the classic (but mass-produced) biscuit is a delicious store cupboard triumph

18. Homemade Hobnobs 

Serves: 8 |  Total time: 20 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Porridge oats
  • Plain flour
  • Wholemeal flour
  • Caster sugar, golden
  • Golden syrup
  • Bicarbonate of soda

You'll need some butter for these delicious cookies, but all the other ingredients come straight from your store cupboard, and it's the ideal recipe if you've got lots of porridge oats lying around. However much you love the crunch of McVities Hobnobs, you know that your own homemade versions are going to be superior, especially when all squidgy and warm from the oven. Essential with a big mug of builder's tea and a sit-down.

Get the recipe: Homemade HobNobs 

This fridge cake is only so-called as it sets in the fridge – the ingredients are all from your cupboard

19. Chocolate biscuit cake 

Serves: 16 |  Total time: 10 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Caster sugar
  • Cocoa powder
  • Golden syrup
  • Digestive biscuits
  • Walnuts
  • Raisins
  • Vanilla extract

Although there may seem to be rather a lot of ingredients in this chocolate biscuit cake, they can (almost) all be found in your store cupboard – you'll just need some butter and a drop of milk. And other than melting together a few of the ingredients, there's no cooking involved, which is always music to the ears of those of us who are a little challenged in the baking department. It's also a marvelous one to do with kids – and a bit more exciting than a Rice Krispie cake, at that.

Get the recipe: Chocolate biscuit cake

This classic dessert combo is made using that glut of dried fruit you likely have

20. Bread pudding bites

Serves: 6 |  Total time: 2 hours 15 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Mixed sultanas
  • Glace cherries
  • Dried apricots
  • Mixed peel
  • Shredded suet
  • Demerara sugar
  • Mixed spice

Normally served in a bowl with custard or ice cream, or serve simply as you would cake. Use any stale bread you have around, plus sugar and dried fruit from the cupboard. This is ideal if you've got a surplus of baking cupboard ingredients that didn't get used in your Christmas cake/pudding. Top tip – you can also use condensed or coconut milk if you don't have fresh milk. Another top tip – if you don't have any eggs or are vegan, you can substitute them with olive oil  (use 50ml of oil in place of each egg). You're welcome.

Get the recipe: Bread pudding bites

Made with just four ingredients, these flapjacks can be fancied up with raisins or other dried fruits

21. Mary Berry's flapjacks

Serves: 24 | Total time: 40 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  •  Golden syrup
  • Muscovado sugar
  • Rolled oats

This recipe from a baking icon is so simple. There are only four ingredients, so even a baking rookie could handle making these soft, chewy flapjacks. If you want to jazz them up, throwing in some raisins or a sprinkling of desiccated coconut works a treat. They'll keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks. Mary stores hers with a slice of bread to stop them from drying out. And what Mary does, we do.

Get the recipe: Mary Berry’s delicious flapjacks

Jamie's shortbread looks very fancy, but is super easy to make

22. Jamie Oliver's five-ingredient chocolate orange shortbread

Serves: 24 |  Total time: 40 mins

Store cupboard ingredients:

  • Plain flour
  • Golden caster sugar
  • Dark chocolate

It might have a mere five ingredients, but, oh, it feels fancy. Jamie's shortbread is simple and delicious for high tea (yes, we are that posh). You will need to buy a bar of dark chocolate and orange. The zest is to sprinkle over the shortbread, making it a cut above your average shortbread.

Get the recipe: Jamie Oliver's 5 ingredient chocolate orange shortbread

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