Cheating in the Kitchen

It’s 7.30pm on a Thursday night, and you’ve walked through the door after a hard day’s work, STARVING of course to find zero food in the house. What are your options for dinner? Takeaway? Duck down to the Thai joint? Frozen pizza?  Even the most organised of us find ourselves in this situation on occasions, or more often than we’d like to admit. So what are your ‘cheats’ in the kitchen?

The mid-week ‘no-food-in-the-house’ situation almost always leads to unhealthy eating choices, so I like to try and be prepared by having some serious back up ‘cheat’ options. I thought it worth sharing a couple of these, and would welcome you to let me know of your ‘cheats’ in the kitchen – sharing is caring peeps and inspiration comes from one another!

Here is a list of meals I can whip up in less than 20 mins, usually with the minimal ingredients I have lying about:

* Dumplings – the frozen version bought from the store or your fave Asian restaurant. My brother got me onto this ‘cheat’ (thanks Phil), Shanghai Village in Chinatown in Melbourne sell wicked frozen vegie dumplings for a pittance. Steam for a few mins and BAM, dinner.

* Rice Noodle Soup – easiest thing to cook, under 10 mins and super healthy. Recipe below.

* Home made pizzas – keep some wholemeal Lebanese bread in the freezer, and top with whatever you have around….passata, ricotta, vegies, red onion, cheddar/mozzarella, sweet potato, herbs from the garden etc. Bake for 10 mins in a hot oven. Done.

* Pasta – I always have wholemeal pasta and tinned tomatoes in the pantry. All it takes is whatever veg you have in the fridge – zucchini, eggplant, spinach, carrot, silverbeet, mushrooms – and/or even some lentils. Non-gluten lovers should keep a stock of your favourite gluten free pasta in the pantry so you can whip this up too.

* Bean burritos – if you have some wraps, tinned beans, a few spices and maybe some veg & cheese in the fridge – you’re set. You could always do a version with no wraps either – spicy beans (or mince/chicken), lettuce, cheese, avocado – delish!

* Frozen fish – next time you’re picking up seafood for dinner, double the order. Bung the spares in the freezer for the next time you’re caught short, pan fry and add whatever you have by way of veg.

Obviously if you’re a meat eater you can make a carnivorous version of any of these. I hope this helps at least one person on at least one occasion, my job here is done if so!

Have a great week everyone!

QQ x

Recipe: Vietnamese Rice Noodle Soup


1 clove garlic, sliced

1 tablespoon sesame oil

4 cups stock (whatever you have, I use Massel Vegetarian ‘Chicken’ flavour)

125 g Vermicelli Noodles

150 g tofu (meat eaters maybe throw in some chicken)

1 cup Veg – beans, snow peas, mushrooms or whatever else you have

1 tablespoon Fish Sauce

Juice of 1 lime

1-2 chillies, sliced

1 cup beanshoots

3-4 spring onions, sliced

Handful of herbs – Vietnamese mint, thai basil or coriander are ideal


Saute the garlic in a little oil. Add the stock and fish sauce, bring to the boil.

Add the tofu/chicken. Simmer for 1 – 2 mins, if using chicken simmer until it is cooked through.

Add the noodles, the lime juice and the veg and simmer for a final 1 -2 mins.

Taste for seasoning, it should be limey, salty and hot from the chilli, add any additional seasonings. Serve in large bowls and top with the beanshoots, fresh herbs and spring onions (and of course more fresh chilli if you like it).


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