Last month I showed you what I keep in my pantry for breakfasts and snacks. If you missed it, you can check it out here. This month it’s my pantry staples for lunch and dinner.
I like to keep my day to day lunches and dinners pretty clean and simple so I can indulge a little when I go out for a meal. Most of the items below are shown in the pictures.
For lunches I tend to have leftovers or a salad. Salads don’t have to be unsatisfying or boring! As well as the veggies, I always make sure I put in a portion of protein and a portion of carbohydrates to keep me going.
I buy my salad veggies as fresh as possible, but I always make sure I have some tinned sweetcorn and roasted pepper strips to add in. For my carbohydrate, these tins of bean mix are so easy and really bulk out a salad. Alternatively, you can buy tins of ready to eat lentils (shown in the photo above). They’re really cheap ($1.00 - $1.50 a tin). Both are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre. If I have some left over sweet potato or rice etc from the night before I’ll add that instead.
For my protein I’ll boil a couple of eggs, open a tin of tuna* or add some leftover meat from the night before. If you’re vegetarian/vegan, beans and lentils contain a good amount of protein.
*I buy tuna either in spring water or olive oil. Sometimes the olive oil is handy as you don’t have to make a separate dressing. Avoid the flavoured tuna. Look at the label, they’re full of sugar!
I mix olive oil, vinegar and some Dijon mustard for a tasty dressing.
If you'd like some more salad inspiration, see my article How to build a tasty and satisfying salad.
I always like to have some of my favourite frozen veggies on hand in case I haven’t had time to buy any fresh.
Protein wise I’ve always got some already portioned up chicken pieces and some fish. I also always have some mince on hand as it’s easy and versatile. I love turkey mince; it’s lean, tasty and has a really nice texture. If you haven’t tried it before, give it a go! Shown in the picture is turkey thigh mince. I usually buy turkey breast mince as it’s lower in fat but the supermarket doesn’t always have it. Other mince is fine, just try and buy as lean as possible.
I do throw in some brown rice and pasta sometimes but I actually prefer sweet potato or cous cous. Sweet potato is easy to roast in the oven with some veggies (capsicum, zucchini, eggplant, red onion) and tastes awesome with some Za’atar spice mix over the top before you put it in the oven (more on za’atar below). Cous cous is so quick and easy to make and can be eaten with most things.
As I mentioned before, I like to keep it simple for everyday meals, but I don't want to miss out on flavour. I use marinades and spices a lot, and garlic goes on everything!!! I make my own marinades, as the store bought ones are full of sugar.
My favourite marinade is equal parts tamari sauce and rice wine vinegar, a clove of garlic crushed, a splash of fish sauce and lemon juice and some chilli flakes. Wrap up some fish or meat in some baking paper with chopped veggies, pour over the marinade and bake in the oven - yummy!
In the white dish pictured above is some za’atar spice mix. It’s hard to find in the supermarket, but gourmet grocers or deli’s usually sell it. It’s awesome with roast vegetables or as a crust for meat. You could probably sprinkle it on pretty much everything for instant flavour.
I hope these two articles have given you some inspiration for your own day to day cooking. If you have any questions on any of the items shown or mentioned, or about some of the ingredients you like to cook with, please get in touch.