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Food Opera (www.foodopera.com)


We have all have times when we know we need to cut back, whether it be maternity leave, redundancy, studying or down to one income. The challenge is keeping up the routine you are used to without feeling hard done by. This is my list of the top 6 things you need in your cupboard. They fill you up, can be jazzed up, are cheap and best of all taste great!

1. Pasta – there are so many shapes, types, sizes and flavours to choose from and anything goes with pasta. The most common would be your tomato sauce however adding garlic, olive oil and parsley – you have a really tasty snack – even better with a sprinkle of parmesan if the budget stretches. You could try your hand at poor mans pasta or try Nigella’s marmite pasta – she swears by it!

2. Rice – Rice like pasta is super versatile. Think fried rice, risotto, rice balls, sushi, rice and mince, rice with soup, coconut rice and even sweet rice such as puddings and rice custard. Try my rice pudding with a twist for a nourishing and fill me up meal to give the teenagers.

3. Potatoes – once again – so many ideas. Try baked with olive oil, herbs and a cajun spice, scalloped potatos, mashed with mustard and garlic, boiled with butter and parsley, cold in a salad with lots of mayo and boiled eggs, spanish frittata, gnocchi (step by step gnocchi) or potato dumplings.

4. Beans and lentils – these are probably the least common in many families however are a fantastic filler. I often add baked beans, cannellini beans or kidney beans to savoury mince. They thicken it up, make it go further and reduce the amount of meat we consume. Bean salad is another winner, maybe not the kids thing but really really tasty – anyone remember the KFC bean salad? I have looked high and low for a recipe and found this one. Another winning recipe is my lentil and cannellini bean salad  or the more expensive French puy lentils and tomato salad. Check out Monday’s post featuring Indian style dahl soup made with lentils.

5. Flour – I often forget about the humble bag of flour in my cupboard – so many uses, all you need it a little bit of time and a few ideas. Check out Ingrid’s apple yorkies, my amazing”NO BUTTER” cheese muffins or easy pizza dough.

6. Eggs – amazing packets of protein eggs are. They are super quick to prepare, delicious, seem to last ages in the fridge and come in their own packet! My breakfast staple is 2 boiled eggs eaten in the car whist rushing one to daycare, the other to school and then myself to work – it keeps me going to morning tea and I always have them in my fridge. My youngest loves scrambled eggs and is just starting to want to feed himself with a fork – he’s 14 months so scrambled eggs works quite well! My 5 year old however doesn’t appear to like them – well not when I cook them, Ingrid can make egg sandwiches and they are a hit but boring old mum’s sarnies he passes on! I digress – so what can you do with eggs – try quiches, frittatas, souffles, pancakes, egg roll wraps, hard boiled, mashed, mashed with tuna or salmon, added to a fish pie or a carbonara sauce. Check out these egg recipes from FoodOpera. Vanessa’s cloud souffle and Ingrid’s baked eggs. If you are feeling adventurous and feel like a trip away – check out egg dishes from around the world – the cheapest trip ever! Vanessa