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Here. 5 Cheap pantry staples you should celebrate today

Food trends, like most trends, come and go. Those in the culinary world can tell you this for free, but there are staples that remain relevant and stay with us in our diets time after time.

Pantry staples can be described as basic, versatile ingredients that are used frequently, are usually fairly inexpensive, and have a long shelf life (pantry, refrigerator, or freezer). One's personal list will take shape as one begins to cook regularly and develop favourite recipes or flavours.

Various ethnicities and cultures each have a set of staples that are often tied to their approach to flavours and history -- think the go-to samp recipe that you make when your nostalgia kicks in or the koeksisters you whip up to complete your Sunday spread.

Seasonal trends may influence how staples are prepared or how they're presented, the kind of condiments they go with will also vary from time to time but one thing's for sure, they stay with us.

South Africa has been in and out(ish) of adjusted lockdown levels over the last year and some change. Many have, during that time, honed their skills as home cooks -- raise your hand if you didn't make (or attempt) some adaption of a Banana Bread recipe (so we can ask what's wrong with you).

Anyway, we digress.

We're here to plug you with awesome ideas you can employ to jazz up those humble items in your pantry that often get overlooked. Read on...

1. Samp and Stock bones

This traditional and yet hearty meal is bound to earn you some noddy bagged from across the table. It is a people pleaser that packs crazy flavour.

Also, you will not have to rob a bank to make dinner -- chances are you already have some samp in your pantry and a pack of bones you were planning to use for a soup or stock?

2. Oats

The good ol' oats have been with us for generations. And besides all the wonderful health benefits oats hold for us, it also has the potential to pretty much turn into any dish

you desire for it to be -- baked, soaked overnight and eaten raw or cooked in milk and and and.

For an OTT finish you can add a poached pear (literally cook a sliced pear in sugar water with either orange or lemon juice). Other inexpensive trimmings include seeds and peanut butter -- these are also a great addition to elevate what would, otherwise, be a bland dish to an Instagram-worthy meal that your body will also thank you for. Win-win.

Does a breakfast staple get cheaper than Oats?

3. Eggs

No seriously, these have to be some of the most underrated stars in the kitchen -- baked quiche-style, sunnyside up, scrambled, French toast, poached, you name it this protein-loaded ingredient does not disappoint.

A bonus about this protein-rich ingredient is that you are not restricted to having it only at breakfast -- think egg on steak, Nicoise salad to name a couple.

Today's trend? Pesto eggs.

4. Flour

Think pancakes, pizza, muffins, idombolo, and so much more. The possibilities are endless. The best thing about flour is you can premake a batter which is super flexy -- depending on your desire, you can get either pancakes or flapjacks or even waffles from the same base. Better yet? You can serve these either sweet or savoury. A win even for those diners with no sweet tooth.

Add a pinch of salt and a cup of plain yoghurt to 375ml (one and a half cups) of self-raising flour to make one helluva versatile Two Ingredient dough.

Once you've tried this you will understand why it is top of the food trends list right now. You can use this to make naan bread, pizza dough, doughnuts, focaccia, garlic knots, soft pretzels. The list is endless.

Go on, try it.

5. Cheese

Whether you're into processed, soft or hard cheeses, there's a cheese for you. This dairy product is one of the most versatile there is -- Mozzarella on a homemade pizza, cheddar slices on a BLT sandwich, a cheese and ham jaffel or baked camembert, the world is your oyster here.

What are your go-to pantry staples and what do you use them to make?

Let us know in the comments.

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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

Duenna Mambana is a professional, experienced journalist and a trained chef.

With over 11 years of newsroom experience ranging from field reporting, news editing, and social media management, food has always featured greatly in her life although never really at the forefront until a few years ago.

Food media is a huge passion of hers. She is working towards marrying her skills as a journalist with her excellent culinary training -- this is how Bouquet Garni was born. 

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