Inside Natalie Barr's kitchen

She's presented news on the country's top-rating breakfast television show, Sunrise, for 13 years but has also worked in print and radio here and in the US. A keen baker who objects to packet cake mix, she prefers traditional rather than experimental recipes. That said, she likes a challenge, has worked her way through the Australian Women's Weekly birthday party cookbook and reckons she can make the train cake in her sleep. A native of Bunbury, Western Australia, she now lives in Sydney with her husband, Drew, and their sons Hunter and Lachlan, 10 and 14.

The staples

My pantry: I use Cobram Estate light flavour olive oil because it's Australian and a good all-rounder, and for everything fancy I use Lomondo​ from near Mudgee. I eat Carman's no-fruit muesli all the time, even for lunch sometimes; I avoid fruit because I try to eat a low-sugar diet. The Jamie Oliver tomato and chilli pasta sauce is rich and has a bit of a kick – it's great in bolognese meatballs. I'm a bit of a 50-ways-with-mince person. I put Worcestershire sauce in everything to give it a richer taste – in brits, bolognese, anything mince-y.

My fridge: I'm very dairy-based, especially because I'm a non-sugar person, I love my cheeses. I put Meredith Dairy goat's cheese on crackers or bread. I love haloumi, any kind of cheese really.

I'm cooking

Every meal we have potatoes, somehow. I don't peel them anymore – much easier and more nutritious. I often do a bake where I just slice them, add salt, pepper and parmesan, chuck in a carton of cream and bang, in the oven, done in an hour.

Last dinner at home.

I made crumbled chicken, potato bake and stir-fried broccoli and beans. I use cornflakes crumbs because they're a bit crunchier.

Secret vice

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I've gone on and off sugar for the last couple of years but when I'm being slack I'll have Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate. Only Cadbury Dairy Milk. I don't like any other chocolate. If I'm off sugar then I'll make crepes and put xylitol​ (natural sweetener) and lemon juice on them.

I'm drinking

I have a timer on my coffee machine so at three in the morning when I get up it's ready. Strong flat white. I like a bit of herbal tea later in the day, maybe lemongrass and ginger. For years I didn't drink alcohol because I had terrible migraines and now I could still go weeks without it and not really notice. When we have people over we'll drink Carpineto Chianti.

My toolkit

The Rocket Espresso Milano​ coffee machine is an important fixture. I got a KitchenAid​ mixer in girly pale pink because this is such a boys' household – everything's brown or black or navy. We use the Victorinox knives and forks every day. And because I just dish everything up direct from the saucepan the trivets are great to have ready on the bench.

Favourite

When I got married nearly 20 years ago Mum gave me a book of all her favourite recipes. Now anything that's really good, like my pulled pork, goes into that book. It doesn't go in unless it's tried and tested. A few years ago I thought I'd lost it and I was devastated.

Inspiration

My mum and my nanna. Both good cooks. Nothing trendy, just hearty and simple. I cook what we grew up on – I'm not a quinoa-kale person.

Kitchen highlight

I love that the windows open right out to the garden and the benchtop extends outside so it becomes a bar.

Most memorable meal

Drew and I have always loved Pendolino​ in the Strand Arcade and now the boys are older we've started to have special family dinners there. We first did it for my birthday a couple of years ago, and to have the boys experience a place like that with fantastic food, the white tablecloths and the whole experience was pretty special.