Those days as I recalled there isn't much frozen food unlike now when it's so convenient to store ready-to-eat where one just heat up with a microwave oven. Just like her, in my larder I would usually have a can or two (err may not have all at the same time though) of the following stuff for rainy days when I did not manage to go to the market and too lazy to go out to eat.
Tuna Fish: I usually have both in spread or in brine. The spread is convenient for snacks and sandwiches. Can be toasted with some grated carrots and cheese. Jazzing up by topping a piece of toast with tuna spread with homemade tomato sauce (based on Marcella Hazan's recipe).
Baked Beans: I loved baked beans!!! Yes I really do. I liked mine cooked rather than straight out of the can. Can just simply stir fry with celery and carrots as a dip for English muffins or cooked with scrambled eggs (yikes how come I haven't posted on this??? Let me go find the photo first!). I've even tried braising pork ribs with it!
Corned Beef: This comes in handy too to stir up some quick snacks by using onions, capsicum, corns, eggs... the possibilities are endless.
Fried Dace with Salted Black Beans: Loved this with congee (rice porridge) but when fried with kai lan... can dress it up to another level!
Luncheon Meat: I hardly have these but once in a long long while I would get a can. Very handy to just slice and fry, at times lightly coated with egg dip. Most times it can turn into a delicious fried rice.
Preserved Olive Leaves: Great with congee (rice porridge) too. If you have some minced meat stashed up in your freezer, you could come out with more variety of dishes such as Minced Pork With Preserved Olive Leaves. Packed a punch too when use it to fry rice.
Sardines in Tomato Sauce: Before tuna fish came in with a bang in the 90s, sardines no doubt IS the only ever ingredients people ever use in their sandwiches for parties or picnics!!! I remember helping my aunties making them on many occasions. Chopped shallots or onions are a must into mashed sardines and just seasoned with a squeeze of lime before spreading on buttered white bread. Capt'n Hook introduced me to fry rice with sardines and seriously this is good stuff too!
One dish that I'm sure you can find it on your dinner table is sardines that are just simply stir fried with onions! This dish is so simple to cook up, all one need to do is fry sliced onions in oil till slightly soften, add in sardines (I liked to remove the bones and internals first) and stir, mash up a little along the way depending how chunky one like the sardines. Just need to season with a bit of lime juice or in this case I've used lemon juice. Simply served with hot rice or in between 2 slices of bread and it's good to go.
Well, of course there are eggs and frozen goodies but those are reserved for another time ;-)