Student Food Essentials for the Cupboard

by | Mar 12, 2020 | Students

17 Student Food Essentials for the Store Cupboard

When you head out for your next food shop (or get that shop delivered right to your door), you might be a bit bewildered as to what to fill your cupboards with. Students are known for their takeaway diets of pizza and kebabs, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle with homecooked meals is essential to your physical and mental well-being. Here are 17 essential foods for your store cupboard, we’ve even linked some recipe ideas.

1. Cooking Oil

2. Chopped Tomatoes

3. Pasta

4. Rice

5. Stock Cubes

6. Salt and Pepper

7. Flour

8. Bread

9. Potatoes

10. Baked Beans

11. Onions and Garlic

12. Tuna

13. Pesto

14. Soy Sauce

15. Chickpeas

16. Curry Paste

17. Red Kidney Beans

With that in mind, here are some essential kitchen cupboard items that you should not be without, as well as a few recipes to get you started.

1. Cooking Oil

Almost every meal starts with cooking oil. It comes in a range of different varieties than can add different flavours to your dishes. Start with a low-cost olive oil, as it is healthier than vegetable oil, and go from there. You can use it for frying pretty much everything, veg, meat and anything you like.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2. Chopped Tomatoes

Cans of chopped tomatoes are the heroes of kitchen cupboards. They’re super cheap and last a very long time, not to mention they can be used for a versatile range of dishes, like making pasta sauces from scratch or adding some flavour to a curry or soup. Make sure you always have a few of these handy in your cupboard for a quick, delicious meal.

Check out these recipes that use chopped tomatoes:

Tomato Sauce

Hearty Pasta Soup

Spanish Rice and Prawn One-Pot

Chopped Tomatoes

3. Pasta

Pasta is a student’s best friend. There are so many types, and they can be eaten with so many kinds of sauces, veg and meats to create simple, tasty meals. You could probably eat it every single day and never get bored of the stuff. You can check out these delicious recipes below, but for a super quick meal, simply mix cooked pasta and a bit of sauce, some tuna or some pesto.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Seafood Pasta

Mushroom and Sausage Pasta

Wholemeal Pasta Fusilli

4. Rice

Like pasta, rice is a true kitchen staple that will always come in handy. It’s an excellent alternative to pasta if you do eventually get bored, and it makes the perfect side to curries.

Check out these scrumptious rice dishes:

Fried Rice

Spiced Rice with Prawns

Curried Chicken and Cashew Rice

Cooked Rice

5. Stock Cubes

Stock cubes are cheap little bursts of flavour that can take any meal to the next level; they’re essential in pretty much any soup. Vegetable and chicken stock cubes are by far the most versatile, so make sure you keep a pack or two handy for those tasty meals you’re going to be making.

Here are a few recipes to get started:


Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup

Chicken Curry

Stock Cube

6. Salt and Pepper

Even if you’re not much of a connoisseur of herbs and spices, you can’t do without salt and pepper. These two are underrated heroes of the kitchen, and with these two at your side, you’ll master seasoning in no time. Almost every recipe will tell you to season to your desired taste, so get familiar with salt and pepper, they’ll only make your dishes even tastier.

Salt and Pepper

7. Flour

Occasionally you’ll be tempted to make something a little more time consuming and technical, whether that’s a cake or even some homemade bread. In these instances, flour is the perfect kitchen cupboard companion. It’s cheap and lasts practically forever, so get a bag for times like these, or for when you want to impress a date with a homemade cheese sauce or a tasty dessert.

Here are some recipes where you’ll be thankful you have flour by your side:

Pizza Margherita

Victoria Sandwich



8. Bread

Where would we be without bread? Sandwiches are by far the quickest, easiest way to get a good meal. Practically anything can go in a sandwich, and they’re great to take with you to lectures or the library if you need an all-day study session. As it doesn’t last very long, keep half the slices in the freezer for later use, simply toast them to defrost for a delicious toasty.

Here are a few adventurous sandwich ideas:

Club Sandwich

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

Open Prawn Cocktail Sandwich

Baked Bread

9. Potatoes

Mash them, roast them, slice them, fry them; the possibilities with potatoes are endless. Make sure you’ve always got some to hand for that much needed hit of carbohydrates. They’re full of vitamins and will keep you feeling full. Store them somewhere dark and cool, and they should last for weeks.

Here are a few potato-based recipes to sink your teeth into:

Cottage Pie

Roast Potatoes

Leek and Potato Soup


10. Baked Beans

Baked beans can be found in every cupboard across the UK, and it’s not hard to see why. These delicious little beans can make a meal all by themselves (although a bit tastier with a nice piece of buttered toast). Slathered in a jacket potato or just as a side dish to some eggs, baked beans are perfect for a quick meal. Always keep some in your cupboard, they’re super cheap and last a long time.

Jacket Potato with Baked Beans

11. Onions and Garlic

This duo can turn any dish into a taste sensation. Chopped up onion fried alongside some garlic is the starting point of so many recipes. Whether it’s a curry or a Bolognese, these two can certainly ramp up that flavour to the next level.

Here are a few recipes that these two make an appearance:

Spicy Root and Lentil Casserole

Beef Stroganoff

Italian Sausage and Chestnut Pasta

Onions and Garlic

12. Tuna

Tuna isn’t for everyone, but if you like it, it’s a nutritional ingredient that isn’t too pricy and is packed full of protein. Tuna can be stored for years and works well in pasta, salads and sandwiches.

Check out these tuna recipes:

Tuna Pasta Bake

Tuna Burgers

Tuna Sweet Jacket Potatoes

Canned Tuna

13. Pesto

Pesto is a great staple for a kitchen cupboard as it’s such a versatile flavour producer. It can be used as the central sauce for a wide variety of dishes and can be bought cheaply and kept in a cupboard until it’s ready to be opened and used.

Here are a few pesto-based recipes to take a look at:

Creamy Pesto and Kale Pasta

Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Creamy Pesto Chicken with Roasted Tomatoes

Pesto Pasta

14. Soy Sauce

If you’re a fan of Asian food, soy sauce is a great cupboard component to get. It is one of the most common sauces used in Asian cooking, and it can liven up dishes to create some delicious meals. And if you check out Asian supermarkets, you’re likely to find it for a very low price.

Check out these recipes that use soy sauce:

Scrambled Egg Stir Fry

Chicken Noodle Soup

Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas

Soy Sauce

15. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are high in protein and make a perfect dish for anyone looking to incorporate more vegetarian meals into their life. They’re super cheap and last a long time, so make sure you grab a few tins the next time you’re doing your shop.

Check out these delicious chickpea-based dishes:

Chickpea Curry

Chickpea Fajitas

Chickpea and Coriander Burgers


16. Curry Paste

Curry sauces aren’t that hard to make, but who has the time? For an easier, less time-consuming way to make curries at home, keep a jar of curry paste handy to add a dollop every time you want to rustle up a tasty curry dish.

Here are a few curries to get you started:

Thai Squash and Pineapple Curry

Thai Green Chicken Curry

One-Pot Mushroom and Potato Curry

Curry Paste

17. Red Kidney Beans

Finally, much like chickpeas, kidney beans are a great, cheap source of protein. You can buy them in water or even in a sauce for an even quicker meal. They are the critical ingredient of a delicious chilli con carne, but also make great jacket potato fillers and curry additions.

Check out some of the ways red kidney beans can become part of your meal repertoire:

Kidney Bean Curry

Sweet Potato Jackets with Guacamole and Kidney Beans

Chilli Con Carne

Red Kidney Beans

We hope that this list has helped inspire you the next time you’re going food shopping. At Student Housing Lancaster, we provide premium student accommodation in Lancaster. Contact us today or take a look at our available listings on our website.