Planning meals presents challenges at the best of times - how are you supposed to know what you want to eat next Wednesday? And nowadays, what if what you’re after isn’t at the supermarket? My compromise is to come up with a rough list of ingredients, and know that there are a variety of things that I could make with them depending on availability, and inclination.
During the lockdown, I have found, shopping roughly around 12 noon, that courgettes, aubergines, tomatoes and peppers are reliably available at my nearest supermarket. By 4pm, there are no aubergines left. I haven’t, sadly, seen a cauliflower for about a month, though friends who subscribe to veg boxes say these are still a regular occurrence. So here is a suggested supermarket shopping list of mine, with a list of five easy Roasting Tin recipes which I could make depending on the combination of ingredients available. Hopefully there’s already oil, salt, onions and a few spices in the cupboard at home, but if not, try to get these ingredients in addition to the following:
From the veg aisle: a combination of aubergines, red peppers, tomatoes, courgettes, sweet potato, spinach.
From the cheese aisle: any of the following - halloumi, feta, mozzarella, ricotta or vegan parmesan.
From the meat aisle (if you're not veggie): cooking chorizo.
From the dry goods aisle (or your storecupboard): any of the following - tinned tomatoes, bulgur wheat, pasta (here’s hoping), gnocchi, spelt, breadcrumbs.
From the baking aisle: almonds or pine nuts.
Fresh extras from home or the supermarket: lemons, fresh chillies, fresh herbs (e.g. basil, flat leaf parsley).
Once you’ve done your shop, here are my suggested recipes from the Roasting Tin books, which you could make depending on which ingredients you can get from the above – a mix of vegan, vegetarian or omni. As always, you can swap ingredients in and out as you need – with some suggestions for swaps below. Enjoy, and let me know what you’ve been cooking over on Instagram!
Easy swaps: exchange macaroni for other short pasta, like fusilli or penne. Use another creamy cheese in place of Boursin and add whatever vegetables you have in the fridge, such as tomatoes and red peppers.
Easy swaps: switch bulgur wheat for another grain, like spelt or basmati rice. If you don't have pine nuts, chop and add walnuts or cashews instead. Halloumi has enough tang to stand in for feta.
Easy swaps: try hazelnuts instead of almonds and courgette instead of aubergine.
Easy swaps: pearl barley for spelt, any root veg instead of sweet potato, roasted red peppers and a tsp of smoked sweet paprika if you are veggie or can't get hold of chorizo.
Easy swaps: feta or mozzarella instead or ricotta and make-your-own gnocchi if you can't track any down.