Food

This 15-ingredient grocery list yields a ton of mix-and-match meal ideas

Simple but stable, these ingredients will last a while and are incredibly versatile.

Simple but stable, these ingredients will last a while and are incredibly versatile

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

My grocery shopping strategy has changed in the last few weeks, and I'm sure yours has too. Rather than plan meals for just a few days out, I'm playing the long game now and buying ingredients that take me much farther. What I've discovered is that there's an assortment of resilient ingredients that'll easily get me through to the end of a second week sans grocery shop, and it's a lively week of eating if I spin them right.

So if you'd like to, steal my list. These 15 stable, versatile ingredients can come together in many combinations, many of which I'm laying out for you below. There are some kitchen essentials I'm assuming you already have, things like extra virgin olive oil, butter, salt, garlic and onions. If so, all you have to do is pick up the items the next time you're doing your shop, and mix them match them to make your meals. 

The ingredients:

Canned cannellini beans, lemons, bread, kale, pomegranate molasses, rice, vermicelli noodles, pasta, canned tuna, tomato passata, kimchi, eggs, miso paste, frozen mixed vegetables, any kind of stock or bouillon cube.

Use them up in all of the following ways — or more

Tip: If you run out of one of the starches listed below, swap in another. Like a different kind of bean or tinned fish, choose those instead. You can and will come up with custom combinations beyond what you see here!

Cannellini beans + lemon + bread + kale

Trim about a quarter inch off the top of an unpeeled head of garlic, then add it and a splash of olive oil to a square of foil, and wrap it up tightly. Roast it in a 375F degree oven for about 50 minutes, until it is completely soft and sweetened. Pop out the cloves from the skins and into a blender or food processor, along with a rinsed can of cannellini beans. Add a few glugs of olive oil and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and fresh, squeezed lemon juice to taste. Serve on toast and top with kale.

Pomegranate molasses + rice + kale + cannellini beans 

Cook rice and add to a skillet with a bit of olive oil and minced garlic. Slice some kale and add it to the rice, along with the cannellini beans. Add a splash of stock so the rice doesn't stick, and a couple of tablespoons of butter. Cook until the kale wilts and the cannellini beans are hot. Season with salt and pepper and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil and pomegranate molasses. 

Pomegranate molasses + pasta + kale + cannellini beans + lemons

Saute an onion in oil and when it's soft, add some torn kale leaves. Let that soften and add drained cannellini beans and the zest of a whole lemon. Cook some pasta and add to the kale and bean mixture. Stir in enough pomegranate molasses to liven up the dish, along with a splash of lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. 

Cannellini beans + kale + tuna + lemon

De-stem the kale (save the stems!) and tear it up. Massage the torn kale with olive oil and lemon juice and toss with drained and rinsed cannellini beans and drained tuna. 

Tuna + passata + pasta

Mince a couple of cloves of garlic and soften it very gently in a few tablespoons of olive oil for 30 seconds or so. Add a large jar of passata and simmer for 20 minutes. Boil some pasta and toss it with the tomato sauce and a drained can of tuna. 

Tuna + egg + miso + bread + kale + lemon

Tear a slice of bread into tiny pieces and mix with two tins of drained tuna. Add a couple of teaspoons of miso and a lightly beaten egg, along with salt and pepper to taste and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Mix and for the mixture into patties, then fry to golden in some oil. Serve wrapped in a kale leaf or on a bed of lightly dressed kale. 

Eggs + miso + kale + lemons 

Look up a recipe online for miso eggs and get them curing at least four hours before your meal. Cook the rice ahead of time too and put that in the fridge to cool. Thinly slice kale leaves and massage them with olive oil and lemon. Mix the kale with just enough rice to make a salad and top with the miso eggs. 

Miso + frozen mixed vegetables + eggs + vermicelli noodles

Heat as much water as you need soup servings. Add the frozen mixed vegetables, vermicelli noodles and simmer gently for five minutes. Ladle out half a cup of water and dissolve enough miso in it to flavour your soup; generally three tablespoons of miso flavours about two cups of water. Serve the soup topped with a hard-boiled egg or miso eggs.

Eggs + kimchi + frozen mixed vegetables + rice 

Steam the vegetables and cook the rice. Soften some slices of garlic in a generous amount oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, then add some chopped kimchi, the cooked rice, and mixed vegetables, along with a few splashes of the kimchi liquid. Fry some eggs and serve the rice topped with a fried egg. 

Passata + kimchi + eggs

Heat few whole cloves of garlic in a few glugs of oil (ideally in a non-reactive frying pan) until the cloves are soft. Add a jar of passata and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Give a generous amount of kimchi a rough chop and add it to the tomato sauce. Break eggs into the sauce and cook them as you would when making shakshuka

Looking for more ways to put our ingredient haul to good use? Here are a few more.

Tuna and Fennel Salad Sandwich

(Photo credit: Jackson Roy)

Korean Kimchi and Green Onion Pancakes

Paul Sun Hyung Lee's Kimchi Soup

Miso Soup with Root Vegetables

(Credit: Meg Tanaka and Zenta Tanaka)

Kale Stem Pesto

(Photography by Leila Ashtari)

Jessica Brooks is a digital producer and pro-trained cook and baker. Follow her food stories on Instagram @brooks_cooks.

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