As lockdown is set to lift to level 3, we’re still facing a few weeks in our bubbles. Personally, the level 4 lockdown has reignited a love for cooking in me (and an appreciation of easy recipes) I didn't even know was there. And I certainly don't want to forget again anytime soon.
It's also a great time to get the kids excited about making some of their favourite meals in the kitchen.
With a little creativity, you can create favourites like noodles, pizza and burgers at home for lunch or dinner at a minimal cost and with more goodness.
Countdown nutritionist Deb Sue says the benefits of "fakeaways" are endless.
"You know exactly how much salt, sugar and fat is going into the dish so they tend to be lower in all these," she explains. "And you can add more veg in it, whether that is a stir fry, fried rice, or curry."
Some of Deb’s favourite easy 'fakeaways' include oven-baked fish and chips (with less salt and fat), homemade burgers, curries and pizzas.
"Homemade pizzas are a crowd-pleaser because everyone can choose what toppings they want on their own pizza and you can load it with veg – onion, mushrooms, rocket, tomato, pineapple, capsicum, leftover roast veg… with a lot less grease!" she says.
"Our favourite fakeaways are kebabs and wraps. We load up the veg in these (lettuce, tomato, carrot, onion, mushrooms) and add some kind of protein. Falafels are a winner at the moment with a tahini yoghurt sauce."
I've put together a couple of delicious fakeaway recipes for you to try whipping up at home, all with ingredients you can pick up at your local Countdown.
Two-ingredient pizza bases
This recipe is an absolute go-to in my house - it achieves a thin, crispy base you can load with delicious and nutritious toppings. The yoghurt means the base has an extra hit of protein, plus it's so easy you could do it with your eyes closed. Top with whatever you like - I like a simple mix of reduced tinned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil from the herb garden!
● 2 cups self-rising flour, plus more for dusting
● 1 cup full-fat Greek yoghurt
1. Put a pizza stone or baking sheet on the centre rack of the oven and preheat to 200C.
2. Put the flour in a bowl, and make a well in the centre.
3. Scoop the yoghurt into the well and combine with a knife until a shaggy dough forms. It may feel a little crumbly but it will come together as you mix.
4. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until the dough is smooth and slightly elastic, about 10 mins. (If the dough feels too dry, add water, a tablespoon at a time and continue kneading until it is soft and pliable.)
5. Divide the dough in half, roll into balls and then use a rolling pin (or in our house, a wine bottle) to roll out into two large pizza bases.
6. Top with your favourite toppings, place them on the preheated stone or baking sheet and cook until the cheese is bubbling (if using) and toppings are cooked - about 10 mins.
Homemade crumbed fish and chip bake
This recipe from Countdown is a winner - the fish is crunchy on the outside, delicate on the inside and you're left feeling light as a feather. The best part? It's all cooked in one pan, so minimal clean up!
● 500g kumara, peeled, cut into 1cm wedges
● 2 courgettes, cut into wedges
● ¼ cup olive oil
● 2 lemons
● 2/3 cup panko crumbs or breadcrumbs
● ½ cup grated parmesan
● 1 Tbsp chopped parsley, plus extra to serve
● 4 firm white fish fillets
● 1/3 cup aioli, plus extra to serve
● 2 Tbsp gherkins, finely chopped
● 1 Tbsp capers, drained, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 220°C (200°C fan-forced). Line a large oven tray with baking paper.
2. In a bowl, toss vegetables in 1 Tbsp of the oil. Arrange in a single layer on the tray with lemon wedges. Season with salt and pepper, and roast for 20 minutes until starting to colour.
3. In a bowl, combine breadcrumbs, parmesan, parsley and remaining oil. Mix well and season.
4. Reduce oven to 200°C (180°C fan-forced) and take vegetables out of the oven. Add fish to tray, flat-side up. Spread each with 1 Tbsp aioli, then press crumb mixture onto fish.
5. Bake for a further 5-6 minutes until fish is just cooked through and the crumb is golden.
6. In a small bowl, combine extra parsley, lemon zest and juice, gherkins and capers.
7. Scatter fish bake with parsley mixture and serve with extra aioli.
Tip: To make this gluten-free, replace the breadcrumbs with gluten-free breadcrumbs. Check the label of the aioli to make sure it doesn’t contain malt vinegar.
This article is created for Countdown.