Locked, Stocked and Ready For Anything: The Essentials You Should Always Have At Home

Resourcefulness is a quality that we don’t really give enough thought to, usually. It’s only when we’re asked to write a number down that we realise we should have more pens in the house. When we get halfway through a recipe and notice that it calls for paprika, as often as not we’ll have to hope that black pepper will be OK. We make mental notes to make sure we remember next time. But making a mental note to buy pens is the very reason you need to buy pens. You forget.

This is why you need, occasionally, to sit down and make sure you’ve got a stock of things that you always end up buying at the last moment. Or, as often as not, those things that you have to substitute something else for in a pinch. If years of writing down phone numbers in lipstick on a bus ticket have taught us anything, it’s that preparedness matters. Have a cupboard in your home devoted to it.

What’s Going In That Cupboard?

Thanks for asking. You need to break it down into categories. This will help you find things quickly when you need them.


There are stores devoted to it, and many of us spend hundreds of pounds a year in them. Diaries, highlighters, cute notepads. We’re stationery junkies. And, just like someone with an addiction, when we really need something we still find ourselves scrabbling around in mess to find it.


There are times when you need a pen, usually when you’re on the phone and really don’t have time to turn the sofa upside down. So keep a box with pens, notepads and post-it notes ready to grab. You’ll be glad you did.

Simple Tools


Everyone should have a toolbox on their property and, if you needed a hammer right now, you’d probably know where to find it. But you know when you see an appliance online and want to know if it will fit in your kitchen? Or you see a TV table and don’t know if it will hold your TV (or fit in an alcove)?

So many of us don’t know where to find a tape measure. They’ve not just walked off, you’ve set it down after you last used it. And now you don’t know where it is. Get two of them. And keep a pencil in the same box so you can mark points on a wall that can then be rubbed off. And some cheap glue. You’ll need it at some point.

Party Supplies

How did you eat dinner yesterday? Be honest, was it in front of the TV? Or was it at the table with a bottle of wine and basic cutlery? The vast majority of us will have answered yes to one of those guesses. So if you’re having a dinner party, you’ll realise that there needs to be some more style to the way you dress the table. Keep a stock of linen napkins, a couple of good tablecloths and a tasteful centrepiece on deck.


None of it needs to be hugely expensive, and you don’t need to use it all the time. Most people don’t. But when you’re running around trying to make sure that the dinner party you’ve planned goes off well, you aren’t spoilt for time. You don’t have hours to go to a homewares store and see which tablecloths they have in stock that are reasonably priced. You don’t want to greet your guests still hassled and breathless from a last-minute shopping trip.

Shopping Bags

This one is a little different. Most of us do have a ball of shopping bags in our homes, picked up from grocery and other shops going back months. Part of the reason we have so many is, when we go out shopping, we don’t bring the ones we have with us. So we dutifully pay for the new bag, go home, put the shopping away and add the new bag to the several we already have.

Situate the stock of shopping bags in the boot of your car. Or, if you don’t drive, somewhere near your front door. When you next go shopping, take a few with you. You’ll save money and reduce the environmental impact. You’ll also cut right back the time you spend throwing your head back and tutting when you get to the till and need to buy more. And that’s a good enough reason to remember them.

Or you can keep forgetting until you have a few thousand, then go and stand outside supermarkets selling them for a penny below RRP. So many people forget them that you’ll make a lot of money, fast. It may be illegal, though, so maybe don’t.

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