Capsule Cooking, The New Food Trend That Makes Everything Easier

We’ve embraced capsule wardrobing, now let the same philosophy rule your kitchen


Londoners Eve O'Sullivan and Rosie Reynolds' new book 'The Kitchen Shelf' explores 100 delicious recipes made from just a handful of ingredients. Welcome to your capsule kitchen.


'As food writers, recipe testers and stylists, we've cooked quite literally thousands of recipes, and in all likelihood clocked up hundreds of miles running around looking for specialist ingredients. Our cupboards and fridges have at times been bursting with pastes, pickles, sauces, spices and tins, all fantastic bases for beautiful recipes. But like everyone after a long day at work, we look in the cupboard, hoping there's something easy and obvious enough in there to make an effortlessly delicious dinner that requires no forward planning.


The conclusion? Successfully managing to cook and eat good food every day is all about creating something special without the fuss – invest in a few versatile ingredients, then use them wisely.

Going minimal in a time of abundant choice sounds counterintuitive, but think of your kitchen shelf as a capsule wardrobe; you just need to nail a few recipes created from store cupboard staples that can be accessorised with fresh ingredients from the shop to give you a simple, stylish and delicious meal.

But it's not just about convenience. Ever conscious of food waste - and expense - many of us don't want to buy ingredients that we know we will use once then leave to gather dust at the back of our cupboards and wither away in our overstocked fridges.

The Kitchen Shelf way of cooking is about streamlining not over simplifying; it's about using a handful of dried herbs and spices to achieve different flavours that will have as big an impact on your confidence in the kitchen as it will your wallet.


Just like your wardrobe, if the basics are covered, you only need to focus on the potential of what you do have, not what's missing. A tin of tomatoes isn't just a boring pasta sauce – it's a Spanish stew, an Indian curry, a luxurious soup and even an on-trend dessert.

And a bar of chocolate is so much more than a treat after a long day; it's the secret ingredient of a knock-out chilli, a fantastically simple brownie for tomorrow's bake sale and a dessert that will take 5 minutes to make after work and result in endless compliments.

Think of the following ingredients as akin to the perfect black dress, those super-flattering jeans and a crisp white shirt, and you'll get the picture: a tin of chickpeas, bag of rice, tin of chopped tomatoes, bag of flour, jar of peanut butter, box of eggs, bag of pasta, tin of coconut milk, bar of chocolate and a bottle of milk.

As for the flavour part? All you really need is salt, pepper, olive oil, white wine vinegar, stock cubes, ground turmeric, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chilli flakes, ground cinnamon, dried oregano, dried thyme, smoked paprika, garlic, onions, soy sauce, a tin of anchovies, jar mustard, baking powder and a bag of sugar - you'll be surprised at how many of these you already have.

Now for those two fresh ingredients; maybe a head of broccoli, some smoked mackerel or a wedge of parmesan. Just like great accessories, they will turn something basic into something knock-out.

Cooking becomes a lot more fun when you feel you can make something great out of seemingly nothing.'

The Kitchen Shelf by Eve O'Sullivan and Rosie Reynolds, Phaidon £24.95 is out now

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