Classifying ingredients

Basic ingredients need to be understood. Which ones are dry, which are wet, which are perishable, which will keep, which need chilled storage.  Also check out ‘Know your ingredients’ post for more information. 

Type of product:

Dry goods:  flour, sugars, rice, pasta, cornflour, dried spices, dried herbs, stuffing, dried fruits, nuts, raising agents.  Store in a cupboard.

Fresh goods: vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, potatoes, salad ingredients need cool storage but not always the refrigerator. Fresh food is sometimes known as perishable food because the storage life is limited. Perishable foods 

Tinned: tinned food is preserved almost indefinitely through the canning process. It is a wonderful technology that produces edible food, safe food and in regulated measured amounts. The canning process can affect food products sometimes renders an end product that is quite dis-similar to the original raw state, pineapple for instance.  The use of juice, either sweet syrup, natural fruit juice or salt water also affects the nutritive value of the product. However, the reliability and convenience of tinned food is sometimes underestimated. Store in dry cupboard.

Frozen foods: all manner of food products can be frozen and require packaging to retain the product in good condition. Damaged packaging can result in ‘freezer burn’ which causes dry and tough patches on meat such as chicken portions. Some frozen food is raw and requires cooking after thawing for example chicken portions, pastry. Some frozen food can be cooked from frozen such as peas, potato wedgies, pizza. Some frozen products are assembled and ready-to-cook for example pies, lasagne and pizza.  Store in a freezer at minus 18 C.

Chilled foods:  Margarines, spreads, butter, lard, ready-meals, desserts, salad ingredients, ready-to-eat pies, pasties, quiches, ready-to-use pastry. This section includes dairy foods (see below). Store food in a refrigerator below 5C.

Dairy produce: milks, creams, yoghurts, butter, cheeses (hard, soft and cream)

Condiments: chutney, sauces, ketchups, mustards, vinegar, soy sauce, curry sauces, plum sauce. Store in cupboard.

Categories for basic ingredients could be linked to your storage areas:

  • refrigerator products, below 5⁰C, or chilled products at 2⁰C
  • shelf storage at ambient (20⁰C) room temperature
  • freezer storage at minus eighteen (-18⁰C) in a freezer
  • stockroom products, dry, airy and dark cupboard

The Eatwell Guide based on five food groups:


The Eatwell Guide shows the proportions that will achieve a varied and healthy diet.

  • Eat more fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables are a good source of important vitamins, minerals and fibre. Eating at least five portions (80g each) every day. Fruit and vegetables can be seasonal and local.
  • Eat a range of types and sources of protein with an aim to eat more plant-based proteins and less meat. Animal foods provide high-quality protein and essential vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron, zinc, iodine and vitamin B12. Plant based protein such as beans and other pulses, nuts, seeds, and plant-based meat alternatives such as soya or mycoprotein. Check plant-based milk or yogurt products have been fortified with vitamins.
  • Limit foods high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS). As well as being less healthy choices, foods such as cakes, biscuits, pies and pastries also can contribute to packaging waste
  • Choose sustainable sources of fish and seafood. Fish (select Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)) is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, and oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel also contain omega-3 fats that are beneficial for heart health. Government advice in the UK is to eat at least two portions (140 g each) of fish per week, one of which should be an oily fish.
  • Waste less food. Wasting less food at home, for example by checking date labels, storing food correctly, or finding creative ways to use leftover food, can all help the environment and save money.