Back to basics: How to make household staples from scratch

Living Well | Megan Whitfield | Posted on 23 April 2020

Master the art of making your own household basics and pantry staples from scratch.

While the humble grocery run now has fresh appeal as a reprieve from the same old four walls, it’s important to try and minimise our trips to help the community and slow the spread of COVID-19. 

But this needn’t mean running out of staples – quite the opposite in fact. From fresh pasta to flatbread, pesto to shower cleaner, we’ve compiled a bunch of kitchen staples and bathroom basics that can be made from scratch in your kitchen.

So do your bit for everyone’s health by staying home and gain some new skills while you’re at it with this handy guide. 

Person kneading dough for bread


How to make household staples from scratch



The basics

Basic bread

Making bread is the classic self-isolation project. This basic bread recipe comes from the friendly team at the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, so it’s a perfect project to get the little ones involved in. The buns are delicious and not difficult to make, and kids will enjoy kneading and shaping the dough. Serve them warm from the oven.

If you’re having trouble finding baker’s flour – there’s been something of a run on the stuff – try your local bakery. Some (including Wild Life in East Brunswick and Clancy’s Bakehouse in Malvern East) are selling this raw ingredient alongside their ready-to-eat offerings. 

Fresh pasta  

Another staple, and an early victim of panic buying, is pasta. Avoid the crowds at the supermarket and create your own pasta from scratch courtesy of this deliciously simple recipe from RACV City Club’s executive chef, Jason Camillo. It includes instructions for hand-made or machine method pasta.

The fun stuff

Pumpkin and goat curd ravioli

You’ve got your fresh pasta, now for an impressively easy filling, also from Jason Camillo. These pumpkin and goat curd ravioli are quick to make, delicious and the ideal dish for a date night in. 

 Vegan greens pesto 

The perfect accompaniment to your fresh pasta, pesto is super easy to make at home and is a great way to use up excess greens. This vegan pesto recipe from the folks at the Queen Vic Market combines classic flavours with other vegetables you may otherwise find yourself throwing away. It's the perfect hiding place for home-grown herbs, and there are a whole bunch that grow in autumn.

Nonna's gnocchi and ragu

RACV City Club’s Jason Camillo learnt to make gnocchi with his Nonna when he was five. “I loved helping her roll out many kilos of these beautiful pillows of super-light, fluffy, silky dumplings and it’s one of my fondest memories,” Jason says. “The gnocchi when I was a child was made by boiling the potatoes but these days my Nonna is adapting the recipe and now uses a microwave. This is quite ingenious really, given that water is the enemy of gnocchi.”

Jason’s gnocchi instructions come with a simple recipe for ragu to accompany the pillowy potato parcels.

Herb and garlic flatbread 

With yeast currently in high demand, RACV Cape Schanck Resort’s award-winning executive chef Josh Pelham suggests trying flatbread instead. These garlic and herb flatbreads are easy to make and quick – and they’re delicious as a fresh-out-of-the-pan side to a hearty curry or flavour-packed dhal. 

Doughnuts with vanilla glaze

AFL games are cancelled which means no hot doughnuts from the van at the footy. But you can try making these vanilla-glazed treats from RACV Cape Schanck Resort’s Josh Pelham. Great for a movie-night snack or after-school treat for kids learning at home. 

Fresh gnocchi

You can gnocchi these up in an afternoon.


Vanilla glazed doughnuts

Doughnut miss out on making these vanilla-glazed delights.


Fresh ravioli

Get into the spirit of rav-YOLO.


The DIY essentials

Body scrub 

Kitchen staples can be useful in the bathroom too, says environmentalist and plastics pollution educator Sarah Tait, the brains behind eco-friendly brand Wanderlightly. Give her raw sugar and coffee body scrub recipe a shot for silky-smooth, reinvigorated skin. With just three ingredients it’s super-quick to pull together, and makes beautiful use of your waste coffee grinds.

For more easy, DIY beauty recipes, here's our guide to how to get glowing skin at home.

Deodorant paste 

Author of eco-friendly guide Naturally Inspired and founder of The Inspired Little Pot, Krissy Ballinger is well-versed in DIY beauty and cleaning products and suggests taking a look at what items in your personal care regime can be made from home – including this deodorant. Choose your own blend of essential oils to personalise the fragrance. 

All-purpose bathroom and loo cleaner

Krissy’s all-natural shower and loo cleaner has just three ingredients and will leave your bathroom sparkling clean. Add your favourite essential oils and you can kiss scented candles goodbye.

Plus, here are some more cleaning products you can make at home.



Master the basics for less with exclusive RACV Member savings

RACV Members can take five per cent off their grocery bill by pre-purchasing a Woolworths Wish e-Gift card online. Simply follow this link to the Woolworths RACV Member Offer website, enter your membership details, then redeem your gift card at thousands of participating stores across Australia. 

RACV Members save 5% on pre-purchased Woolworths WISH Gift Cards*