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As you well know, the Meal Packs app is designed to give you freedom of choice when it comes to your ingredients. We pride ourselves on a product that doesn’t involve shipping out tiny packets of the same ingredients to everybody – instead, you do your own shopping, choosing where you buy your ingredients and how much you spend on them.

We are mindful of creating the best recipes possible, no matter what your budget is. But sometimes you might have a bit of extra cash to spend on your staples. We asked our chefs which Meal Packs ingredients are worth spending a little more on. These are the ones that will make a difference to your cooking – trust us.

1. Eggs

While cheaper eggs are great in most things, there are some dishes where a poached or fried egg is the star of the show. That’s where the more premium egg brands come in. Our chefs tend to go for Clarence Court Burford Browns – their bright yellow yolks are rich and luxurious, and you’ll really notice the difference, as proved in our video last year!

2. Soy Sauce

From stir fries to fish cakes, our Meal Packs use soy sauce more than you might think. Might as well make it a good one then! Our chefs love Lee Kum Kee and Kikkoman sauces for Chinese-inspired cooking, and their soy sauce is no different. Catch the guys getting creative with Lee Kum Kee soy sauce and some of their other favourites here

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3. Harissa Paste

We love this North African red chilli paste for adding a smoky kick of flavour to all sorts of dishes, from chicken traybakes to tomato pastas. You can find it for a decent price in most supermarkets, but if you want to take things to the next level, our Food Team tends to use Belazu’s Rose Harissa Paste. Made with the addition of rose petals, it has a floral note that softens the spice of the chillies. And with Mary Berry, Yotam Ottolenghi and Nigella Lawson all said to be fans, who are we to disagree?!

4. Heritage Carrots

Ever noticed how nice those colourful carrots look in your recipe books? They’re probably heritage carrots. Their orange cousin may have dominated the culinary world, but the first carrots were actually often purple, yellow or white. Give heritage carrots a go to mix things up and add some colour to your cooking.

 

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5. Natural Yoghurt

Natural yoghurt is so versatile. In Meal Packs we use it to make dressings, raita and even flatbread. Our normals found it difficult to tell the difference once it’s mixed into a larger dish, but if you’re looking for a star of the show and want to splash out, Waitrose No.1 Natural Strained Greek Yogurt is one of our Food Team’s absolute favourites. It’s rich, creamy and it is also absolutely delicious with fruit and granola! Bring the cost down by buying a larger tub.

6. Tinned Tomatoes

Again, you might not notice the difference in your tinned tomatoes when they are used as the base of a dish. But if you want to treat yourself, our chefs recommend trying some nice tinned tomatoes for a more balanced flavour. Napolina do good ones, while Cirio or Mutti are some of the best you’ll find in a supermarket. Buy them in a multipack and stock up when they’re on offer – they’ll  be much cheaper and they’ll last forever! Another tip? Our chefs prefer tinned cherry tomatoes as they are often sweeter and easier to break up. 

7. Tomato Ketchup

Tomato ketchup is an absolute staple ingredient. It’s already got that perfect balance of sweetness and saltiness, making it a quick, game-changing addition to everything from sweet and sour tofu to fish and chips. When it comes to this sauce, we avoid the more vinegar-y options and go for good ol’ Heinz Tomato Ketchup. 

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8. Smoked Paprika

Spanish smoked paprika is one of our favourite spices, adding that perfect hit of smoky flavour to your food. This is thanks to the process of smoking the peppers and drying them over an oak fire before grinding them into a powder. All supermarkets do smoked paprika, but our chefs say La Chinata is second to none when it comes to this spice!

9. Dried Pasta

Last but not least, dried pasta. Though you can always get away with the supermarket version, a more premium pasta can make a big difference to simpler dishes like carbonara – it releases more starch into the cooking water, making your sauce much better. Our chefs often go for De Cecco. Buy it when it’s on offer, especially if the rest of the dish is cheap.

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