Healthy meals to make from your pantry staples

By Christina Ross – Accredited Practising Dietitian

Most of us are currently living in a very different way to how we were even a fortnight ago – a new norm which may also include changes to how we shop and prepare meals. And while it can feel unsettling to see our supermarket shelves bare, there are plenty of meals you can create from staples you’ll likely already have in your pantry, fridge or freezer. With a little creativity and swapping an ingredient or two for items you have on hand, you might find yourself inventing new family favourites! 

Salmon patties  Start with a can of salmon, breadcrumbs or potato, and an egg. Add to this any grated veggies or herbs you have on hand, then form into patties and pan fry. 

Chickpea salad  Canned chickpeas provide a convenient serve of protein and fibre in this dish. Rinse and drain well, then add a variety to chopped salad ingredients eg. tomato, cucumber, capsicum, fennel, radish, celery. Dress with olive oil and vinegar. 

Fried rice – A great way to use up leftovers and minimise food waste. To your cooked rice, add any leftovers, scramble an egg, stir through some peas, top with chopped cashews or peanuts. 

Buddha bowl – Buddha bowls are wonderfully flexible. Aim to include ingredients from each category to create a balanced meal;  

  • protein (eg. hard boiled egg, tuna, salmon, legumes)  
  • vegetables (to comprise 50% of your meal)  
  • wholegrains (seedy crackers, quinoa, brown rice) 
  • dressing (olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, herbs and spices). 

Tuna pasta – This is a great example of a pantry meal, using canned tuna, canned tomatoes or passata and dried pasta. You can add other vegetables, olives, anchovies or capers if you have them available too. 

Lentil bolognaise  A bolognaise that replaces the minced meat with canned brown lentils. Serve with pasta or over rice. 

Vegan chilli – A Mexican-inspired dish, where the protein is provided by canned kidney beans or black beans. To the beans add canned tomatoes, spices (ground cumin, coriander), other vegetables if you have access to them (eg. mushrooms, capsicum) and serve with brown rice or wholegrain wraps.