Stock the cupboard for quick and child-friendly meals on the fly!

organised pantry

Does this happen to you… its 6pm, you open the cupboard and ask yourself “What am I going to do for dinner?”

Some of us are organised enough to sit down and plan the weeks’ menu and some of us aren’t. I fall into the second category which means I need a plan B. I have become pretty adept at whipping up meals from pantry staples and frozen bits and pieces so today I’m going to share with you my must haves in the cupboard so that you too can dish out delicious meals without the dash to the shops!

  • Diced canned tomatoes and frozen shredded cheese. You can turn anything into a parmigiana.
  • White sauce (milk butter and flour, pepper and salt) jazzes up many a sorry vegetable!
  • Tinned sweetcorn, frozen beans or peas, a bit of minced garlic and ginger (from a jar of course) and low salt soy sauce. Asian influence comes to town.
  • Good Olive oil.. a thousand variations but pasta with oil, pepper and salt and a sprinkling of cheese is hard to beat.
  • Couscous or polenta – makes a change from mashed potatoes and you need just add boiling water or stock. Serve it with lamb chops, chicken drumsticks or low fat sausages (lamb and rosemary are my favourite)!
  • A tin of chickpeas is always useful, throw them in for protein or keep a stock of hummus for lashing on crackers or bread.
  • The humble flatbread tucked away in the freezer makes a great entrance as a pizza base and uses up all those bits hanging around in the fridge.
  • Or a simple omelette from your stock of eggs. What about a grilled tomato and a couple of mushrooms with it…
  • Tacos are fabulous to get in some red meat (use lean mince) or red beans and spices. Topped with something fresh (cucumber, tomato, lettuce, avocado), and grated cheese makes a complete meal.


These are my ‘go to’ when there is not much time and not much left in the fridge. Each of the above ingredients keeps for ages so you don’t have to worry about it going off in the back of the fridge. Frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh ones, frozen grated cheese saves the day, and a variety of cereals (rice, pasta, couscous, polenta, noodles, flatbreads, and lentils) can change the face or your old favourites. Its always handy to have some long-life milk in the cupboard and some nuts or seeds if you’re not allergic. As I love spices there’s also a tub of curry paste and a tin of coconut milk on hand.

So there you have it: quick, nutritious and unplanned meals from the depths of your cupboard!

 Author: Jacqui Palmer, Paediatric Dietitian for My Nutrition Clinic

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