26/05/2016 11:46 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:53 PM AEST

What's Your Emergency Meal?

Everyone needs one.

Nancy Mills
The perfect emergency meal.

Everyone needs to have an emergency meal--something you can make at the last minute when dining-out plans fall through, your phone service is dead or it's 3 a.m. and you're too hungry to sleep.

College students fall back on ramen soup and cereal. No refrigeration is necessary. Who needs milk on your cereal if you're desperate?

However, you can do much better if you plan just a little, although don't do what my friend Michael did. He knew he wanted to eat chicken at some point so he went out and bought some. Two weeks later, he decided to cook it for dinner. He was sick for a couple of days. A few years later he did it again. I wonder if he still keeps his doctor's number on speed-dial?

If you're going to buy meat for an emergency meal, keep it in the freezer and thaw it in the microwave. The freezer is a wonderful place. So is the cupboard, where you can easily keep some basics on hand, including cans of tomatoes and chopped clams. Spaghetti with Clam Sauce is easy to make. It's also filling, cheap and ready to eat in 20-25 minutes.

Spaghetti with Clam Sauce - serves 2 (adapted from Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen)

1 small onion

2 tablespoons olive or canola oil

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 15-ounce can ready-cut tomatoes

1 teaspoon soy sauce 1

6-ounce can chopped or minced clams

1/2 pound (8 ounces) spaghetti

Salt Black pepper

Chopped fresh parsley (if you happen to have some)

Fill a large pot about 1/4 full with water, cover and begin heating over high heat.

Make the sauce. Peel the onion and cut it into small pieces. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and stir for about 3 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften. Add the tomatoes and their juice, the soy sauce and the liquid from the can of clams. (Save the clams to add just before serving because lengthy cooking will toughen them).

Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking the sauce for about 15 minutes, or until it thickens. Remove from the heat, stir in the clams and season with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.

Cook and drain the spaghetti. To serve, either transfer the noodles to a large bowl and pour the clam sauce over the top or divide the noodles into 2 bowls and cover with sauce. Sprinkle with parsley, if you have some.

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