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  • Writer's pictureTania

What’s for dinner?

Updated: Aug 27, 2018

Don't you just love that time of the day when you think "I have no idea what I'm cooking for dinner, and the kids are starting to prowl around the kitchen..."? No, me neither.

Panic sets in. You spend your time trying to keep the kids out of the pantry and the fridge, while figuring out what you can rustle up in the shortest time possible. Oh we've all been there. The key is having a few recipes up your sleeve that you can throw together with ingredients you normally have on hand, with a few extra tweaks for variety.

Make sure you have a good stock of pantry staples you can call on at short notice - tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, cannelloni beans and lentils, tinned fish, cartons of chicken or vegetable stock, sachets of tomato paste, dried pasta and packets of microwave rice are all handy.

I also like to ensure a supply of a few longer-lasting perishable items too - think sealed packets of wholemeal pita breads, a jar of pesto, eggs, cheese and an assortment of frozen vegetables.

Short-order dinner ideas

Here are a few meals I've thrown together when I've let my meal planning habit slip:

  • Spaghetti bolognese: a family favourite. Brown some lean mince and a chopped onion, add a tin of chopped tomatoes and a beef stock cube dissolved in a half a cup of water (you may need to add a little more water, just keep an eye on it). Add a grated carrot, a grated zucchini, 1/2 cup of dried red lentils, and in the last five minutes a good cup of finely chopped broccoli. Meanwhile, cook the dried spaghetti. Serve with a bit of grated cheese on top.

  • Crustless quiche: break 6 eggs into a bowl and whish with a little milk, and ground pepper. Scrub (don't peel) 3 medium sized potatoes, dice, and microwave them until tender. Finely chop whatever vegetables you have on hand (or use frozen corn and peas) and add to the bowl. Add one tin of drained tuna or salmon. Finally add the slightly cooled potato, pour into a greased quiche dish, and top with a bit of grated cheese. Bake for around 45 minutes at 180 degrees celcius.

  • Pita pizzas: slice each pita bread into two rounds (halve horizontally) and spread with herbed tomato paste. Top with whatever you have handy - onion, mushroom, tomatoes, pineapple, leftover shredded chicken or ham, and sprinkle with grated mozzarella aor Edam cheese. Bake at 180 degrees celcius for around 12-15 minutes, and serve with homemade coleslaw or salad.

  • Quick salmon pasta: this is the recipe in the picture above. Cook some dried spaghetti, and add some sliced green beans to the pasta for the last five minutes. Drain, then add one large tin of salmon, some halved cherry tomatoes and a good tablespoon of basil pesto.

Both the pasta and the pizzas are ready super-quick, the bolognese takes a bit longer (around 30 minutes), and the quiche takes around an hour from start to finish.

You can always fend the kids off with a piece of fruit until dinner, if you think an hour might be pushing it!

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