We've all been there – it's late after a very long day and all you can think about is devouring a bowl of your favourite crunchy breakfast cereal and calling it a night.
So is it really that bad to eat breakfast foods for dinner when we need something to fill our hungry belly as quickly as possible?
Or would it be better nutritionally to pick up takeaway food? The nutritional truth may surprise you.
It's time to forget that eggs and specifically omelettes are foods that should only be enjoyed at breakfast. Rather, a couple of eggs teamed with vegetables and a little cheese is one of the most nutritionally dense meals you can find. With close to 20g of protein per serve and loads of dietary fibre, an omelette is a low-energy, low-carbohydrate, nutrient-rich dinner that can be ready in minutes.
Even so-called healthy breakfast cereals can be loaded with carbs. Photo: iStock
You can do a lot better than a bowl of breakfast cereal as a replacement for dinner. Even "healthy" breakfast cereals contain plenty of carbohydrates and minimal protein (with the exception of the milk or yoghurt you add), so swapping a light, protein-rich dinner for an energy-rich bowl of cereal is not the best choice nutritionally, especially if weight loss is your goal.
Adam Liaw's proper baked beans are a world apart from the tinned variety. Photo: William Meppem
Baked beans on toast
Baked beans and legumes of all varieties are frequently mentioned on superfood lists for good reason. Packed full of protein, dietary fibre and slowly digested carbs, beans tick all the key nutritional boxes a healthy balanced meal offers. If you are looking for a lighter dinner option, team your beans with crackers or protein bread in place of regular toast slathered in butter.
Karen Martini's tuna, brown rice, sumac and green bean salad. Photo: Marina Oliphant
Tuna and rice
Not only is tuna and rice an extremely economical meal, but the combination works well when teamed with a little mayo, soy or sweet chilli sauce, and gives you a perfect mix of good quality wholegrain carbs and lean protein. Even better, throw some frozen vegies into the mix to add a serve of two of vegetables to this quick, easy and tasty meal.
This matcha coconut smoothie isn't as sweet as most. Photo: The Healthy Chef
Another easy and sweet mix of milk, yoghurt and fruit may seem innocent enough but if you consider that a large smoothie contains upwards of 30-40g of sugar depending on how much honey, fruit or syrup you add, it is not the lightest choice. If you prefer to drink your dinner late at night, opt for a lighter protein or meal replacement shake.
Frank Camorra's barbecue chicken with kohlrabi slaw. Photo: Marcel Aucar
Charcoal chook and salad
Not only is barbecue chicken affordable, it's also makes a delicious, nutritionally balanced meal when paired with a pre-made salad. To keep your fat intake controlled, stick to the white chicken meat and skip the skin, and opt for lighter salads such as Greek, green salad or cabbage if energy control is also your goal.
Frank Camorra's sardines on toast. Photo: Marina Oliphant
Crackers and topping
Not always foods we think of readily in Australia, but tinned mussels, oysters and sardines are not only inexpensive but protein-rich foods that can be enjoyed with crackers or toast for a light, nutritious meal. Or even better, make yourself a snack plate with cut up vegies and a little hummus or beetroot dip for a tasty end to a long day you can enjoy free of any food guilt.
Susie Burrell is a nutritionist and dietitian.