We all have those days when we arrive home late. It’s dinner time, nothing is prepared, and everyone is hungry. So what’s for dinner?

As dietitians and parents we know every single meal we eat does not need to be perfect; that it’s our overall, long term dietary habits that keep us healthy. But when life is at its busiest and most chaotic, it is great to use as many opportunities as we can to eat well, and nourish our families.

What are your last minute meals based around pantry and freezer staples, with a little inspiration from the fridge for good measure?

Pasta is a great quick meal. It sometimes gets a bad rap, but choose a protein boosted, wholemeal or high fibre variety, keep your portion size in check, and boost with added protein foods and vegetables, and you have a great last minute meal on your hands.  So with just a few minutes extra, you can easily branch out from plain pasta with red sauce and cheese… here are three of our favourites to try.

Dried cheese tortellini (e.g. Barilla) + bought basil & almond pesto + 5 portions of chopped frozen spinach + pecorino. Boil pasta. Heat spinach until cooked through. Stir pesto through spinach, then toss through cooked drained pasta, top with grated pecorino. We serve with: steamed broccoli or green beans…  or whatever veg you have on hand!

Pulse pasta (like San Remo or Eat Banza) + tinned chickpeas + your favourite spice mix + left over roast veggies (we like pumpkin, garlic, broccoli) + chorizo + basil flavoured olive oil. Boil pulse pasta. Pan fry drained tinned chickpeas in a mild spice mix until just dried out. Pan fry diced chorizo. Heat left over roast veggies. Stir through together with a little basil oil to combine.

Your favourite pasta + passata + tinned tuna + frozen broadbeans + garlic + olive oil + parmesan. Boil pasta. Saute garlic in olive oil. Add passata, shelled broadbeans, tuna and 1/2 c grated parmesan and simmer. Toss through cooked pasta ( and add chilli and lemon zest for the grown ups!)

x Angela

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