Updated 20th 2022
I remember when I was first diagnosed with coeliac disease having a good sort out in our kitchen. I went through all the cupboards (and fridge and freezer) checking for any food items that contained gluten and bagging up the things which I knew Neil wouldn’t eat, along with all the other bits and bobs that I could no longer have. I then set about making a list of things I wanted to restock the cupboards with. This time, knowing I’d have to thoroughly check each product to ensure there were no gluten containing ingredients or ‘may contain’ warnings displayed on the packs, tins etc.
I personally feel, when needing to live gluten free, having well stocked cupboards with pre-checked safe foods, allows you to crack on and cook and bake without the worry of accidentally adding something that isn’t gluten free. It also ensures that a gluten free diet can be enjoyable, varied and catered for with ease when at home.
On the subject of stocking kitchen cupboards, I recently read, that pantries are high up on peoples wish lists when planning a new kitchen. And I totally get it; one place to store everything and to grab from. They’re also generally pretty roomy, making them ideal for storing gluten free products in their own designated spot. Growing up, I was lucky enough to experience the delight of having a pantry in our family home. Of course, I just took it for granted at the time. But now when I pop ‘home’ to see my dad, I often open his pantry door, and gaze in for a moment, and dream how I’d plan and stock it, if it were mine.
Although we don’t have a pantry (it’s on my never ending wish list!) we do have lots of cupboard space, which is perfect to store all my gluten free supplies, many of which are naturally gluten free and what I used pre-coeliac days. And I thought, if I shared the things I tend to stock, you may find it helpful.
Gluten free cereals
I like to have a few different packs of gluten free cereal on the go and then I can choose on the day whatever I fancy. My current favourite is Tesco Free From branflakes. I like the gluten free bran flakes are high in fibre and they are the perfect base to add other goodies, such as dried cranberries, flaked almonds and coconut to.
Gluten free bread and crackers
Bread: To allow me to tick along nicely with my gluten free diet I simply have to have gf bread on hand. Most days I have a second breakfast around 10.30am (first breakfast is a bowl of cereal, not long after I get up) and it consists of toast with whatever topping grabs me on the day, along with a fresh coffee. The current gf breads you will generally find in my cupboard (dependant on where I’ve done my weekly shop) are Promise gluten free white loaf and Warburton’s gluten free bloomer with sourdough. Both of these loaves make great toast and the Promise bread makes rather wonderful soft butties!
Crackers: When it comes to gluten free crackers, I’m a fan of Schar crispbread. I find them super handy to have in. And as the crispbreads have a nice neutral flavour, they work well with an unlimited amount of sweet and savoury toppings.
*Stock cubes and stock pots
I’ve always used Knorr stock cubes and they’re still my ‘cube of choice’, so it’s great that so many of the varieties of the Knorr cubes (and also their stock pots) are naturally gluten free. All suitable packs state ‘gluten free’ if they are. The Knorr low salt variety are not suitable for a gluten free diet as they have a ‘may contain’ warning on the pack* I also like to have a tub of Marigold Swiss vegetable bouillon tucked in the cupboard. The bouillon is great for flavouring soups and for filling that ‘flavour gap’ in stews and other savoury dishes too.
I used to use Bisto Best for years, but, due to the fact it carries a ‘may contain’ warning and the information about its suitability is too unclear for my liking, I’ve stopped using it. Whilst I don’t feel that instant gravy is ever quite as good as making it from scratch, I find Marigold gluten free gravy granules when added to meat stock and veg water makes a very tasty gravy. I also use it to thicken stews and casseroles. To add a little richness of colour to a gravy or stew I find Sarsons browning works well.
*Herbs and spices
Although I do love different flavours, being quite a traditional cook, I’ve only tended to stock basic herbs and spices, like ginger, paprika, curry, chilli and turmeric. Generally, a jar of bay leaves too, which works well to bring out the flavours in a beef stew. However, recently I’ve become more adventurous (thanks to discovering Chetna and her wonderful recipes) and have now a larger selection to pick from. Herbs and spices need to be checked for ‘may contain’ warnings and any additional gluten containing ingredients that may have been added.
Gluten free stuffing mix
Whilst I know it’s quite simple to make your own stuffing (my friend shared this great family recipe with me) I do like to have a pack of stuffing mix on hand that I can jazz a little with a few other bits and bobs. I tend to firstly fry chopped onion in a little butter or chicken fat, then add the required amount of stuffing mix (I tend to use gf Paxo and Tesco Free From stuffing and think they’re both great). Ideally if I have it, I like to make my stuffing with roast chicken meat juice. If I don’t have cooked meat juices, I add enough boiling water needed to the stuffing and then season the stuffing with a little crumbled gf chicken stock cube. I quickly check the stuffing for additional seasoning before popping it into a preheated oven (200C/400F/Gas 6/180C Fan) and bake for approx 25 minutes or until the top of the stuffing has formed a delicious golden brown crust.
Gluten free breadcrumbs
I’m a huge fan of the Free From breadcrumbs from Tesco. I tend to just use them for coating fresh fish before pan- frying and also like to sprinkle them along with grated cheddar cheese onto a cottage pie before baking, as it gives this already tasty dish a delicious crunchy topping.
I like to have a few jars of curry and pasta sauces on hand; they come in handy when I’m short of time but still want to eat a hot tasty meal. There are some really good, naturally gluten free sauces available in the main stream aisles (more reasonable in price than the ones from the free from aisle). I don’t tend to stick to just one brand; it all depends where I’m shopping to be honest. Pataks, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Aldi curry sauces are pretty regular buys for me and when I spot my favourite ones on offer, I stockpile with a few extra jars. I’m particularly partial to Lloyd Grossman pasta (and curry) sauces and right now, I’m really into the spinach and ricotta one; just before I serve it, I like to add a generous handful of spinach into the pan and allow it to wilt down. I then transfer the pasta into a dish, grate a good helping of parmesan over the top and enjoy with a cheeky glass of red! An impressive supper with very little effort.
Gluten free mix and flour
My current favourite gluten free flour is ASDA own brand and I tend to have a couple of packs of self-raising and plain in the cupboard. The self-raising makes the most wonderful cakes and the plain flour is perfect for making gf pastry, shortbread, biscuits, sauces or to coat food before cooking. I’m not a skilled gluten free bread maker, but in the past I have used Juvela gluten free mix to make bread in the breadmaker and it always worked a treat. Another gluten free mix that I like to have in for general cooking and for making bread based products is Schar gluten free all purpose baking gluten free mix.
*Additional baking ingredients
To cover my cake craving at a drop of a hat and bake other things successfully such as pies, crumbles, shortbread, scones etc. I always have a supply of the following pre-checked things in for my bake days:
Bicarbonate of soda
Xanthan gum – works by holding the crumb together and giving ‘bite’ and better texture to your bakes – Great to use in pastries, scones, shortbread and fruit cakes. The things that have a tendency to crumble.
Chocolate – that’s good for using for tray bake, muffins, brownies, etc.
Vanilla and almond extract
Cornflour is a great gluten free staple. I like to have it in to pop together a quick savoury sauce, generally cheese sauce for a lasagne, or maybe a sweet chocolate or strawberry custard. It’s great too for thickening casseroles, stews, sweet and sour sauces and gravies. Also, good to add to biscuit recipes as it makes them nice and crisp – simply replace 25g (1oz) of gluten free mix within the recipe with 25g (1oz) of cornflour.
To cover my gf steamed sponge pudding and custard cravings I always have a tub of Bird’s custard on hand. And I find full fat milk makes the best ever custard!
I really love rice with all its versatility; the perfect accompaniment with a curry or as a meal in itself when used as a base for a nice creamy risotto, egg fried rice or paella. The hairy biker’s recipe for paella is a super one.
I’ve added the little *asterisk for rice, as on occasions I have been caught out with a ‘may contain’ warning on the pack. I have seen it a couple of times on packs of pudding rice, so it’s just made me be extra cautious when picking up rice of any variety.
Gluten free pasta
There are some great gluten free pastas available now. I’m huge penne fan, and always have a bag of this in. Generally, some spaghetti and lasagne too. I’ve purchased Tesco, Sainsburys, M&S and Waitrose brands of gluten free pasta and have been really happy with them all. And, of course, the beauty of pasta, is with a couple of other delicious everyday ingredients, it can create sheer magic on a plate!!
*Condiments, sauces, spreads and Jam
There are so many sauces etc that are naturally gluten free, but you always need to check to make sure. Also remembering food manufactures can change their recipes at any time. However, it’s worth spending the time needed to do the ‘gluten free checks’. As not only does it keep you safe from harm, it also means you’re not missing out on things unnecessarily. Here’s a handful of my favourite sauces, etc that will always be in our cupboard or fridge:
Heinz Tomato sauce
Tartare sauce (I’m a fan of the one from M&S; delicious on a gf fish finger butty!)
Various jam’, marmalade and curd
White wine or cider vinegar
Gluten free soy sauce – this is something that you’ll need to grab from the free from shelf!
Chilli sauce (I LOVE 1Linghams chili sauce – it’s seriously good and a splash of this in a homemade chilli works wonders!
I find having a good supply of tinned food in the cupboards can really save the day. Of course, as with all foods, tins and cans need to be checked for dietary suitability too. Here’s a few favourites that I like to stock up with in the cupboard:
Heinz baked beans
Chopped tomatoes – perfect for adding to casseroles, chilli, spaghetti Bolognese etc.
*Baxter’s soup – suitable varieties have a gluten free logo on the tin
Tuna /mackerel /sardines
Selection of tinned fruit. So handy to team up with yoghurt, when the fresh fruit bowl is empty!
*In the Freezer
*Oven chips – I don’t tend to buy oven chips anymore as I prefer to make my own chips in the oven. But when I do grab the odd pack I would generally buy supermarket own brand, crinkle cut. Oven chips do need to be checked to ensure they are gluten free, as frozen chips can sometimes have a wheat containing coating on them.
Frozen veg – I’ve recently started having a really good selection in the freezer. In particular I’m loving the convenience of having a bag of soffritto squirrelled away in the freezer as it’s so handy to use as a base for stews, cottage pies, lasagne, bolognese etc.
*In the Fridge
Lurpak full-fat spreadable butter (it’s great for baking sponge cakes) and I have my own dedicated tub of course!
Block butter for making pastry and cakes
Thanks so much for taking the time to check out my gluten free store cupboard essential post. Hope you’ve found it helpful to see the type of things I have on hand to get the very most out of my gluten free diet.
*Items within this category or individually marked with a * may not always be suitable for a gluten free diet (varied brands, ingredient change, seasonal products, preparation process, etc) and need to be double checked to ensure they have no gluten containing ingredients or ‘may contain’ warnings. And as always, if in doubt, leave it out.