Easy as 123 – 10 great meals from three ingredients

Even when the cupboard’s looking a bit bare, you can still whip up a quick lunch or a midweek supper.

Making a great meal doesn’t have to involve a trolley’s worth of ingredients. Keeping it simple saves time, money and effort – often with great results.

Corned beef chow

Fry slices of potato in a large pan, then when they’re nearly ready push them over to one side and fry some slices of corned beef quickly on the other side. Add baked beans (and a splash of Worcestershire sauce if you have some to hand) and stir until the beans are hot. Great comfort food for a winter brunch.

Quick Chicken

Stuff skinless chicken breasts with herby goat’s cheese but cutting a small slit in each piece and packing the cheese inside. Add a slice of tomato on top of each chicken breast and bake for 25 minutes in an oiled ovenproof dish. Tasty and quick.

Simple fish

Heat a little of the herby oil from a jar of roasted peppers in a pan and then add the peppers themselves, along with a handful of green beans and some chunks of white fish like haddock, cod or Pollock, skin side down. Cover and cook for five minutes until the fish is tender and flakey.

Veggie supper

Roasted squash is a classic winter warmer, great on its own or with a few simple greens. For a hearty supper with extra oomph, crumble blue cheese and pecan nuts over the squash as they come out of the oven. Works well with pumpkin, Jerusalem artichoke or sweet potato too.

Posh bangers for dinner

Fry good-quality meat or veggie sausages in a pan and cook through before adding a jar of your favourite tomato-based pasta sauce. Serve with polenta.

Store-cupboard salad

A light lunch or a quick starter made from store-cupboard ingredients: combine a can of tuna with a can of mixed beans (both drained and the beans rinsed), then add stuffed olives with a little of their oil.

(P)easy soup

Puree some cooked frozen peas (and enough water for the consistency you want) with some chopped spring onion, then add a swirl of pesto sauce for a vibrant green soup.

Nighttime noodles

Cook a nest of wholewheat noodles and some ribbons of savoy cabbage or pak choy in water flavoured with the granules from a packet of instant miso soup for a low-calorie oriental treat.

Fast Mexican

Cook and drain some spinach, and then layer it with grated cheese between two tortillas. Press this ‘sandwich’ together, put it in a dry, non-stick pan and press down gently with a spatula to fuse the whole thing together. After a couple of minutes turn it over and press the other side – when it’s all melted together you have a classic Mexican quesadilla.

1, 2, 3 Cake

For a dense, sugar-free fruit cake mix 500g dried fruit with 250g self-raising flour and 250ml of fruit juice. Slow-bake in a lined tin for two hours at 130 degrees, and (if you can keep your mitts off it) you can make it a couple of days before it’s needed.