Many thanks to our guest blogger and Entire Health’s Dietitian – Nicola Weedon for these great ideas!!

I’m sure most people reading this can identify with the after work dinner rush – the 6pm dilemma of dinner, which can much too easily result in a trip to the closest takeaway shop.

Having a well stocked pantry with quick, easy and healthy options will not only help you to maintain a healthy weight but also save you a whole lot of money and time.

My pantry staples

Fridge & freezer staples

  • Rice (pre-cooked or dry)
  • Noodles
  • Pizza bases
  • Tomato paste
  • Tinned tuna or salmon
  • Sweet potato
  • Onion
  • Baked beans
  • Soy sauce 
  • Frozen fish fillets
  • Eggs
  • Fresh or frozen vegetables (any variety but I like to have broccoli, carrots, corn and peas or a good Asian mix)
  • Garlic
  • Chilli
  • Natural yoghurt or reduced fat ricotta cheese
  • Fat reduced cheese

 Eggs are my go-to for a super quick and nutritious meal. Omelettes or quiches can be whipped up in minutes and provide a high protein dinner. Add vegetables such as onion, garlic, capsicum and tomatoes for extra vitamins and fibre (See my recipe below for a quick and easy quiche).

Homemade pizza really couldn’t get any easier. Use a small lavash bread for the base, add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste or pesto, sliced lean ham or seafood, as many vegetables as you have in the fridge or freezer (think tomato, mushrooms, capsicum, baby spinach, onion, roasted pumpkin, cauliflower and sweet potato,) before sprinkling with low fat cheese and baking until golden and crisp.

Fried rice is another favourite and making use of the wide variety of precooked rice available, can be whipped up quicker than a trip to your local Thai takeaway. You could also try a quinoa and rice combination for something different and add a couple of scrambled eggs, some seafood or chicken to increase the protein content. Keep the oil content low and add lots of frozen vegetables to keep the meal light and healthy. Add chilli, garlic and soy sauce to taste.

A Baked jacket potato is another quick and easy dinner and keeping a few tasty additions on hand can really jazz up this meal. If you’re in a hurry, steam your sweet potato briefly in the microwave prior to baking. Baked beans, grated carrot and reduced fat cheese go well together or combine tinned tuna or salmon with frozen peas and corn and any other vegetables you have in the fridge and finish with a dollop of natural yoghurt or reduced fat ricotta cheese.

Steamed fish is one staple to keep in the freezer. The omega 3 fatty acids in oily fish, such as salmon, tuna and barramundi, are essential for good cardiovascular health and brain function as well as healthy skin and eyes. Choose fish without batter or crumb and instead go for lemon and herb or salsa for flavouring. You can often steam these in the microwave for less than five minutes before serving with steamed vegetables and brown rice.

Spinach and Ricotta Quiche

(Serves 4)

Ingredients

–        350g reduced fat ricotta

–        50g reduced fat cheese (parmesan and tasty work well)

–        2 cups baby spinach

–        1 cup diced pumpkin, steamed in microwave

–        4 eggs, lightly beaten

–        2 tablespoons parsley (you could also use 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs OR 1 teaspoon smoked paprika if you don’t have fresh herbs)

–        Salt and pepper to taste

–        Extra salad or vegetables to serve

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200°c.
  2. Combine eggs and ricotta and lightly beat to combine. Add lots of black pepper, herbs or spices and mix well.
  3. Layer spinach and pumpkin in a 20cm square baking dish. Pour over egg mixture and sprinkle with cheese.
  4. Bake in oven for 25-35 minutes or until cooked through and golden.
  5. Serve with extra salad or vegetables. Enjoy leftovers for lunch the next day!