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8/13/10 6:57 A

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A Party in Your Pantry

In these cost conscious times, itís vital to make the most of what you already have. So delve to the back of your store cupboard and make the most of those forgotten cans, jars and packets!

Order! Order!
Start by getting everything out of your food cupboards ó a bit of organizing will make you feel better. Throw out any items that are past their best, like pasta, rice, grains and spices from the last century. Arrange everything in an orderly way, so that you can see at a glance what youíve got, and what youíve not, so that you can re-stock on essentials.

Ready, set, cook
Ok, so youíve got lasagna noodles and a jar of tomato sauce that have been around for a while, so make super-healthy summer veggie lasagna by roasting zucchini, butternut squash, red onions, peppers and tomatoes until tender, then mixing with the sauce and layering with 6 lasagna sheets. Top with 7 oz low fat soft cheese mixed with 5 Tbsp nonfat milk, then sprinkle with 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese and bake for 35 minutes.

A mean bean salad
A can of mixed beans (or cannellini or kidney beans), drained and combined with a can of green beans and corn makes a tasty Filling Foods salad ó just add 2 Tbsp tomato paste and 2 Tbsp lemon juice. Add that lurking can of tuna or salmon too, breaking it into chunks and mixing it in with chopped tomato, cucumber or pepper. Fabulous.

More fishy ideas
Cans of fish are store cupboard favorites. Try canned salmon or tuna mashed and mixed with low fat soft cheese for a delicious spread or sandwich filling, or use it as a dip with fresh vegetables. Add tuna or salmon to cooked pasta too, along with lightly cooked leeks or scallions, zucchini and tomato pasta sauce for a simply delicious supper. Or mix flaked red salmon and chopped fresh parsley with a can of peas, blended into a puree, and mashed potato to make easy fish cakes. Yum!

Love those lentils
Make tasty, fill-you-up lentil soup with 1 onion, 2 carrots and 2 celery sticks simmered with 2.5 oz red lentils in a quart of vegetable stock for 30 minutes. Blitz until smooth, then eat. Or cook French green lentils with chopped scallions and herbs, then serve with grilled fish or chicken for a tasty dish.

Juicy fruits
Canned fruit often lingers in the back of the cupboard, so bring it to life! Try drained raspberries, strawberries or pineapple pieces mixed with 0% fat Greek-style plain yogurt, with crushed meringue cookies to add a little indulgence. Or make a low fat English trifle with lady fingers: just drain the natural juice from a can of fruit cocktail over 8 lady fingers, sprinkle with 3 Tbsp sherry, add the fruit, then top with nonfat vanilla pudding and a squirt of low fat aerosol cream, if you like.

If there are foods in your cupboard that you really wonít use (yes, Iím thinking two cans of mushrooms and some octopus brought back from Mexico!) why not have a food swap with your friends or fellow Weight Watchers member? We love food ó and hate waste!

If you always do what you always did, then you'll always get what you always got.

 Pounds lost: 45.0 
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