Tuna pasta, tomato beans, sardine rillettes… Who hasn’t already improvised a dish from what they found in their cupboards as a means of express troubleshooting?
With the crisis, consumers have turned even more to these long-life, so-called “refuge” foods, in which they recognize many qualities: practical, easy to keep and use, easy to store, good-tasting and rich in nutritional qualities… And in this period of declining purchasing power, despite rising production costs, some still offer an interesting quality/price ratio. Which ? Let’s go around the shelves.
1/This way for starch sachets
Some starches (pasta, rice, quinoa, etc.) can be kept for years, even after the date of minimum durability (DDM): bacteria cannot develop there. Only the taste or appearance can be altered by time. It is therefore a reassuring food, provided that you pay attention to packages left open which can attract food moths. Prefer to put your products in airtight boxes!
At the nutritional level, pasta being mainly made up of carbohydrates, starch, it is an interesting source of energy. On the other hand, apart from those with eggs, they contain very little protein (less than 4%). In terms of prices, despite inflation which has more than doubled the prices of ”first price” packages in supermarkets, they remain affordable: count less than 1.50 euro per kilo. Something to make some plastered shells…
As for rice, it takes between 1.50 and 5 euros per kilo on average. It thus contains slightly more lipids and carbohydrates than pasta, but it is eaten more plain, without added fat. Note that whole grains, which are slightly more expensive, are more beneficial for the body because they contain more complex carbohydrates and are rich in fibre, and that quinoa (from 7 to 13 euros per kilo) is richer in protein than pasta and rice.
2/And fresh? A supply of eggs!
Eggs are widely recognized for their nutritional qualities: rich in vitamins and trace elements, they are also the cheapest animal protein on the market, two eggs of 60 g each providing as much protein as 50 g of meat (half a steak ), 50 g of fish (a small fillet) or three 125 g yoghurts.
In recent months, despite an increase in production costs, the box of twelve sells for around 3 euros, the organic version for around 5 euros. With them, you can therefore treat the whole family at a lower cost, by making them fried, hard, in an omelette, poached, scrambled…
It is also a fresh food that has a long shelf life, provided you store your eggs well (upside down, pointed side) and do not wash them before storing them in a cool place ( this risks damaging the cuticle of the shell, a natural barrier against microbes). Note that the regulations do not provide eggs with either a minimum durability date (DDM) or a use-by date (DLC), but a recommended use-by date (DCR) for all producers, set at 28 days after the laying date. All the more reason to make a small reservation…
3/ This good old can of tuna
Cans of tuna, but also mackerel, herring, anchovies, sardines… These are the ones we all have in our cupboards! Here are accessible solutions to easily benefit from the nutritional qualities of these animals at any time of the year – proteins, lipids (Omega 3 of the DHA and EPA type), minerals and trace elements (selenium, iron, zinc, iodine… ) or vitamins (vitamin D, B12) – while keeping much longer than fresh: two years against two days.
Canned fish is also two to three times cheaper. They cost around 10 euros per kilo on average (1), or 1 euro for a 100 g portion, compared to 3 euros for fresh tuna, for example. And despite the accumulation of several increases (fuel, transport, aluminum and steel packaging, sunflower or rapeseed oil, etc.) which increase manufacturing costs and therefore selling prices (between 3 and 5% increase since the start of the year), they remain affordable products, while fresh fish are among the products that have suffered the highest inflation in one year: +12.1% between April 2021 and April 2022, according to INSEE. As a bonus? The metal container is 100% and infinitely recyclable.
4/A stock of canned vegetables and fruits
Fresh vegetables have increased by +8.9% in one year, and fresh fruit by 4%, again according to INSEE. For those on a tight budget who are afraid to bet on perishable products, switch to canned goods, which are generally less expensive (beware, however, of jars, which are more expensive than metal cans) and keep longer while avoiding food waste. As a bonus, you can eat peaches or tomatoes with taste all year round without it being the season.
And on the health side? Contrary to popular belief, canned vegetables (spinach, beans, carrots, etc.) do not contain preservatives or additives, these being airtight and sterilized, but water, salt and sometimes sugar. . It is even recommended to consume the juice that bathes certain vegetables, such as peas or beans, because it contains nutritional elements (vitamins, minerals and antioxidants) of vegetables, which are also rich in fiber. Vegetables belonging to the starch family (lentils, chickpeas, white and red beans, beans, etc.), rich in vegetable proteins, also have a strong satiating power.
As for canned fruits, often accused of being too sweet, they are no longer so: since 2019, the covering liquids no longer have the name “syrup” and are no longer subject to a sugar content minimal. Their sugar level has thus been reduced to and is now close to the natural sugar content of fruits, while retaining their nutritional and taste advantages. On the compote side, the shelves are full of ”no added sugar” versions, lightened or fruit purees. The only downside: processed fruits (including jams) have not escaped inflation, and have seen a price increase of 5.9% over one year. Read labels carefully and always rely on the price per kilo.
5/A few slices of white bread
Faced with the rise in the price of the baguette, some consumers have erected sandwich bread as a fallback solution. However, if flour, sugar, coffee, oil, condiments and spices are among the great classics to have in your pantry, we often forget that this industrial product can save you in many cases: toast , sandwiches, croque-monsieur, meatloaf, toast, pudding, bread rolls, French toast, croutons, bites for the aperitif…
If it can be kept longer than fresh bread, it is also less expensive: 1.50 euros for ”first price” brands, between 1.50 euros and 3.50 euros for private labels and major brands, 4 euros per kilo for the organic range, 10.50 euros per kilo for gluten-free… But beware! Before choosing it, pay attention to the list of ingredients and the amount of salt, sugar, fat, additives and preservatives contained in the references that appeal to you. In addition, prefer wholemeal or cereal bread rather than ”plain” white, which is richer in quick sugars.
(1) Source Kantar 2021 – Household purchases in supermarkets. Data as of December 31, 2021