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Back to Basics: Savoury Staples

As we near the end of our shortest month, we’re all full of pancakes and fancy dining. Whether you dined out or took the home-cooked route, it’s been quite a change to go back to the simplicity of everyday home cooking. But the reality is, there are ways to make every meal feel like a special event by adding a few homemade replacements to your menu. 

This series will outline some recipes we should all have in our repertoire, perfect for replacing those store-bought essentials and taking your meals to the next level. The great news is that you don’t need to be the next Michelin-star chef to nail these basic recipes, they are super simple with a maximum payoff. 

Roll your sleeves up and get your apron on!

Savoury Staples

This week, we will give you the recipes for some of our favourite savoury ingredients to push your meals from every day to extra special! The ingredients couldn’t be simpler, simply use what you already have and substitute where you feel necessary. Frozen vegetables are as welcome as fresh vegetables here!

A bad sauce can really make-or-break a meal. The simplest way around this is to make your own. These sauce recipes are easy to make, versatile, and (most importantly) absolutely delicious. Knowing how to nail your own sauce can transform the simplest of meals, and many of our recipes use these already. 

The great thing about these recipes is that you can change them completely with the addition of some extra ingredients like some sweet pepper in a tomato sauce, or some parsley and peppercorns in a béchamel to make some extra tasty results!


Tomato Base Sauce

One recipe we all should know is how to make a good tomato sauce, afterall, how many recipes require a tomato base sauce? Packed full of vegetables, it’s a great alternative to tinned tomatoes or jarred tomato cooking sauces. Make the most of the ingredients you have already at home, fresh or frozen, and transform your cooking with this sauce. 

You can also freeze this into smaller portions, defrosting as needed, perfect for week night meals!


This will make 3 litres of tomato sauce; feel free to amend the ingredients to suit how much extra you might need!

  • 1 tbsp veg oil
  • 2 onions, diced finely 
  • 100g spinach 
  • 50g carrots 
  • 200g casserole veg 
  • 50g cabbage 
  • 2 x 400g tin tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp Worcester sauce
  • 1 tbsp mixed herbs
  • 1.5l stock



  1. Heat a very large saucepan, add the oil and fry the onion for a few minutes, then chuck everything else into the pot and bring to the boil.
  2. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 45 minutes stirring occasionally until it is thick and looks glossy.
  3. Leave the sauce to cool, then blitz it in a food processor in batches or with a hand blender until smooth.
  4. Have a taste and if needed, add a teaspoon or two of sugar to neutralise the tomatoes. Brand-name sauces can have up to 6 teaspoons of sugar per jar, so your sauce will already be much healthier.


White Base Sauce or Béchamel

This white base sauce is really versatile and can be used for any recipe that calls for a creamy sauce. 


  • 30g butter 
  • 30g flour 
  • 500ml milk



  1. In a saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat then stir in the flour. It will clump together but don’t worry, it’s supposed to look like that!
  2. Cook for 2 minutes and then stir in the milk. Whisk continually until it starts to thicken.
  3. If you’re adding any extra ingredients such as cheese, parsley or peppercorns, add them now, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes.


Burger sauce

Don’t let the name fool you, this sauce is by no means limited to burgers, it can be a tasty condiment for loads of dishes (though I would suggest you limit it to savoury options!). It’s super easy to make, and so addictive; you’ll never go back to store-bought again! 


  • 115g mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 2 pickled gherkins, diced 
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1⁄2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp onion powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp paprika



  1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix.
  2. Use your hand blender or food processor to blitz everything together.
  3. Serve and enjoy!


Eggs are a great staple because they are filling and versatile. Everyone likes one kind of egg, whether that’s boiled, poached, fried, scrambled, or made into a tasty omelette. Buying free-range eggs might not be a priority in the weekly shop, especially when you’re shopping on a budget, but if you can afford it, we definitely recommend it. 



No matter what you put in an omelette you can almost always guarantee that the result will be delicious. They are a great way to use up what you might have in your fridge and can be made vegetarian easily! The options really are endless!


  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • Cheese, grated
  • Leftover cooked meat and veg



  1. Heat the oil in an oven-safe frying pan over a medium heat and fry the onion until it has softened.
  2. Add in your leftover meat and veg to heat.
  3. Pour in the eggs and add the cheese, then stir the egg mixture as if you were making scrambled eggs, until it’s almost cooked.
  4. Cook for another few minutes without stirring so the bottom sets, then put your frying pan under the grill until the top has set.


If you have some potatoes at hand, you have the makings of a meal. 

But that doesn’t mean you should fill your freezer with your favourite frozen goods; make your own, afterall, anything you can buy frozen, you can also free at home! Taking the time to prepare your favourite potato variations can help take the stress out of weekday meal times, all you have to do is take them out of the freezer and enjoy!


Slow Cooker Jacket Potatoes

I’m sure we can all remember times when we groaned at our parents when we were told jacket potatoes were for tea. If you cook them correctly, and add a delicious topping, a jacket potato can be a deliciously moreish meal! 


  1. Prick the potatoes with a fork then rub a little oil into the skins.
  2. Place the potatoes in the slow cooker and cook for 8–10 hours on low, or 4–6 hours on high.
  3. Once they have cooked, add your favourite toppings and enjoy! Alternatively, once  cooled, you can wrap them in foil or plastic and freeze until needed. Easy!


Fondant Potatoes

Fondant potatoes can sound intimidating, but in reality they are super easy to make and take the humble potato and turn it into something really decadent!


  • 500g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 100ml vegetable stock



  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6.
  2. Bring a pan of water to the boil, then add the potato and parboil for 5 minutes.
  3. Drain and put them in a roasting dish, then pour over the stock and bake until the liquid has all been absorbed and they are soft. This will take around 25 minutes.


Twice-Cooked Chips

We all love a good chip, it goes without saying, but just because you’re eating at home doesn’t mean you can’t have good chips (the kind that you can’t stop eating). This triple-cooked chip recipe takes the humble chip and makes it even more delicious. Think crispy, fluffy, and salty!


  • 500g potatoes, peeled and cut into chips
  • 500ml oil 
  • Salt, to serve



  • Place the raw chips into a saucepan or colander and sit them under cold running water until the water runs clear. You can leave in cold water until needed, just drain and dry the potatoes thoroughly when you’re ready to cook them.
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan or deep fryer to 130°C – don’t leave the pan!
  • Put the chips into the hot oil and fry for about 10 minutes until softened but not coloured then remove the chips from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.
  • Increase the heat of the oil to 190°C then add the chips back in and fry for another 3–5 minutes until golden. 
  • Drain on kitchen paper as before then season with a little salt and they’re ready!


Potato Wedges

The humble potato wedge. Slightly spicy, perfectly golden, incredibly tasty. This recipe is super quick and easy, you’ll never buy store-bought again! 


  • 500g potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil 
  • 1 tsp Cajun spices



  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6.
  2. Bring a pan of water to the boil, then add the wedges and parboil for 5 minutes.
  3. Drain, then spread the wedges onto a baking tray. Pour over the oil and Cajun spices (or salt and pepper if you don’t like spice) and toss well until all the wedges are coated.
  4. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, turning occasionally to ensure they are golden all over.


Roast Potatoes

A good roastie is something to cherish. This recipe makes roast potatoes a doddle, making sure your roast dinners are something to savour rather than dread!


  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 500g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks



  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/Fan 200°C/Gas 7.
    Put the oil onto a baking tray and put it in the hot oven.
  2. While the oil heats, bring a pan of water to the boil, add the potatoes and parboil for 10 minutes.
  3. Drain and put the potatoes onto the baking tray and toss well. Bake for 30 minutes until tender and golden.


Root Mash

Root vegetables are packed with fibre and antioxidants, and low in calories, fat, and cholesterol. Take the family favourite mashed potato and give it a new lease of life with some carrots, swede, and parsnips!


  • 150g swede 
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
  • 30g butter
  • Salt and pepper



  1. Put all the veg in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the swede is cooked through.
  2. Drain the veg then return to the pan.
  3. Add the butter then blitz with a hand blender or mash. Season with salt and pepper.


Potato/Vegetable Peel Crisps

You may have heard that a lot of the nutrients in potatoes are found just under the skin so we often end up throwing away the best bit, but did you know you can make crisps from them? You can also use parsnip or carrot peel, and season with chilli flakes, cumin or paprika.


  • Potato peel
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste 
  • Seasoning (optional)



  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6
  2. Put the peel on a baking tray and drizzle over the oil, then sprinkle over the salt, pepper and seasoning. Get your hands dirty, mixing it all in to make sure the peels are covered.
  3. Bake in the oven for 8–10 minutes.


A great way to reduce waste and create something super tasty is to make your own homemade stock. It can be made easily with stuff you would usually throw away, like a chicken carcass or vegetable peelings. Turn waste into liquid gold!




  1. Place the poultry bones into a large saucepan or slow cooker. 
  2. Cover with water and cook for a few hours on the stove top or overnight in the slow cooker. 
  3. Strain and discard the bones and you have a lovely stock. 


Just don’t mistakenly strain over the sink and watch your hard work go down the plug! So many people have said they’ve done this without thinking!



To make a stock that is full of flavour, you will need quite a lot of peelings, so it’s a good idea to keep a bag of peelings in the freezer you can add to over time. Potato peelings don’t work well for this recipe, but they would be great for some Potato/Vegetable Peel Crips! Make the most out of your waste!

Follow the same method as you would for poultry stock and you’ll have a flavoursome vegetable stock!



When you’ve cooked meat in water, such as a ham hock, make sure to save the juices when you strain your meat as they can be used as a meaty stock or to make gravy. 


Traditional Gravy

No roast dinner is complete without gravy and this recipe saves you from spending on shop-bought, pre-made gravy or granules. 


  • Juices from a joint of meat
  • 30g plain flour
  • 500ml stock (use appropriate stock for the meat you’ve cooked)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste



  1. Once your meat has been removed from the roasting tin, pour the juices from the tin into a jug and allow to settle.
  2. Put the roasting tin you used on the hob over a medium heat. When the juices in your jug cool, the fat will float to the top. Skim off the fat with a spoon and add it to the roasting tin along with the flour.
  3. Cook for 1 minute then gradually stir in the meat juices and stock. Use a wooden spoon to swirl the liquid around the pan to lift any baked-on juices.
  4. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring continually to make sure it stays smooth and lump-free. Season to taste and serve in a gravy boat or jug.


Much like potatoes, a staple you always need in your cupboards is bread. In this instance, wraps and flatbreads. By making these yourself, you’ll make considerable savings! They may not turn out as uniform as store-bought products, but the taste will more than make up for it (and it does add a certain bit of character, too). 


Ingredients (to make 6 wraps or 4 flatbreads):

  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil 
  • Pinch of salt
  • Cold water, to bind
  • Dried seasoning (optional)



  1. Add the flour, oil, salt and seasoning (if using) to a bowl, then add in a little water until you have a sticky dough.
  2. Tip out onto a well-floured surface. For flatbreads, hand press until they are about 1⁄2 cm thick.
  3. For wraps, use a rolling pin to flatten, using plenty of flour so they don’t stick.
  4. Place a dry frying pan over a high heat and cook on both sides – wraps will need 1 minute per side, flatbreads will need 3 minutes per side.


This is by no means an exhaustive list of recipes you should master, but these savoury staples will not only save you money but also make mealtime that bit more delicious! The convenience of store-bought products might be there, but by cooking these favourites yourself, you open up the possibilities for what you can do in the kitchen. 

Check back next week for our next instalment including breakfast favourites and sweet treats!


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